Interview with Ashwani Kumar: ‘If gains don’t percolate, then GDP numbers are irrelevant’

Written by Sandeep Singh | Published:July 5, 2016 2:39 am
Ashwani Kumar Ashwani Kumar

Participating in the Horasis India meeting in Cascais, Portugal, Ashwani Kumar, former minister of law and justice said that while India is clocking strong GDP numbers, it has to be complemented with keeping the ideas of liberalism, equality and inclusion central to the democracy. While speaking to Sandeep Singh, Kumar said that the government will have to rein-in divisive voices and focus on agricultural growth to bring inclusion. Excerpts:

You have said that you are happy that the government is carrying on the policies of UPA . How do you see that?

It is the ultimate attestation of the relevance of the policies pursued by the UPA that almost all the flagship programmes that the earlier govt pursued have been taken forward by the Modi government, although under different guises and names. Therefore, in a way it is a reflection of the maturing of the Indian democracy that policies that are good for the country get to be continued.

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What do you think is required to be done and what does Brexit reflect?

For economic prosperity to make sense, it must have something for the have-nots and the only way to give dignity and stability to ordinary people is to ensure decent job with decent wage. Brexit is not only an action on immigration but reflects on anti-establishment too as prosperity of Britain through membership of the Union was confined to the charmed circle of London and it did not spread across the country. Similarly in India why every government is talking of economic growth with inclusion is because the lesson of history is that if the gains of economic growth do not percolate down, the GDP numbers have no relevance.When you talk of creating job at lower level it’s good, but the aspirational India is looking for blue and white collared job and that’s why there is a conflict between the aspirations and the possibilities that exist for realising their aspirations.

In the Budget this year, there was a big focus on Rural, will that help?

Yes, rural development adds overall to the numbers. Until the Indian agriculture grows at 3.5 per cent to 4 per cent, we will not have equitable growth and will only have pockets of prosperity. In order to bridge the gap between rural and urban, rich and poor, a massive dose of investment in agriculture is critical and within agriculture in irrigation and agricultural infra, and unless we do that we will not be able to secure equitable growth.

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