BS Manthan: The momentum of reforms will continue, says Prime Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Nirmala Sitharaman will unveil a special limited edition of Business Standard as it enters its 50th year on the first day of Business Standard Manthan in New Delhi on Wednesday

From tariffs and relations between the center states to the way it is developing, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman covered a wide area the opening day of the BS summit; Telecom and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw spoke about India’s competitive advantage in the global semiconductor space. And there was much more…

The government will continue to pursue its reform agenda during its “third term” as political continuity, together with a predictable and stable economic environment and tax structure, is important to achieve the stated development goals, said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. while delivering the keynote address at the first edition of the yearbook Business standard meeting, Business ManthanWednesday in New Delhi.

The first day of the summit, celebrating Business Standard’s 50th anniversary, saw a galaxy of stars in attendance from the worlds of economics, politics, business and sports.

In a fireside chat that followed Sitharaman’s keynote speech, she explained the nuances of the higher tariff policy in some sectors. “Atmanirbhar Bharat is not a regressive step but a deliberate, calibrated step,” she said. While pointing it out

that imposing tariffs is not a permanent position of the government and that calibrations are being made of the policy, she said, “it is not a permanent closing of the door”.

Introducing the two-day summit, the Finance Minister spoke on a range of issues: on how revenue collection, supported by prudent expenditure management, has helped contain the budget deficit; how after the double balance sheet problem in 2014, India now had a double balance sheet advantage; why in the field of economics no disagreements should arise between the middle states on political grounds; and how the digital transformation captured the world’s attention and admiration. She also talked about how she relaxes: “Listening to a lot of music and reading a lot of books.”

As a route to becoming a developed country by 2047, she listed four ‘I’s’: infrastructure, investment, innovation and inclusivity.

Before her speech, Sitharaman unveiled the 50 years logo Business standard.

The summit, which was packed with multi-layered discussions, included discussions with Union Railways, Communications, Electronics and IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, who said India was on the verge of becoming a “manufacturing nation”.

“Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Viksit Bharat vision,” Vaishnaw said, “we will see an ecosystem that is good for India and the world.” India, he said, would become a manufacturing country, and many of those products would come from deep-tech sectors.

Looking to the future ahead of the general elections, and predicting the first 100 days of Modi government 3.0, he said: “We have a very good legacy from the last 10 years and the roadmap for the next 25 years.” In the coming years, he said, the government would bring about changes with continuity.

When asked whether India’s focus should be on manufacturing or services, Vaishnaw said the answer was not ‘or’ but ‘and’, with both manufacturing and services receiving attention.

While reimagining India towards 2047, Pennsylvania State University economist Rohit Lamba also made the point that finding the right mix for India in services and manufacturing would be crucial. “A Chinese fetish has crept in that jobs only come from the factory floor. We need to move away from this idea,” he said, emphasizing the need to shake thinking away from the cookie-cutter model.

He also made a strong case for ensuring quality education for children, linking it to the fortunes of the country. “We need to get primary and secondary education and the health of our children right – this is the main constraint,” Lamba said. He said there is evidence that if a child’s health and education are not developed at an early age, we will, among other things, “miss out on human capital.”

Virtually from London, Martin Wolf, chief economist commentator for the Financial Times, made the case for prosperous capitalist democracies.

Quoting Aristotle, he said that the best partnership is one that operates through the middle class. “A stable democracy is one with a stable, satisfied, independent middle class,” Wolf said.

He also presented data from the Washington DC-based non-profit organization Freedom House to indicate that a decline in freedom had been observed in every region of the world, including in the United States and India, the world’s two largest economies.

Meanwhile, the state of markets in a country headed for elections had the attention of GQuant Investech founder Shankar Sharma, a seasoned investor and financial expert. “The markets don’t care who runs the country,” he said, adding that they have a way to find their rhythm. Whoever wins, he said, “India’s organic growth story will be unstoppable in the coming decades.”

He did point to an ‘aging bull’. “Data shows that no bull market lasts longer than five years,” he said. “And an aging bull market is starting to draw blood.”

He advised caution when it came to the stock markets, suggesting that it would be wise to cap such investments at 30 percent and put money in gold and fixed deposits. In the markets, he said, large caps are aging, midcaps are neither here nor there, and while small caps are the story of the future, they are full of risks.

The challenges, opportunities, risks and complexities of artificial intelligence in a country as complex as India were discussed in another scintillating discussion. “If 2023 was the year of AI, 2024 will be the year of AI at scale,” said Irina Ghose, MD, Microsoft India.

In another conversation, on sports and its potential to drive India’s agenda for developed countries, Anju Bobby George, World Athletics Championships medal winner in long jump, said that “by 2036 (when India declares its candidacy for the Olympic Games) we are at the top.”

Earlier in the day, during the opening session of the summit, TN Ninan, former editor and publisher of Business Standard, and Akila Urankar, director of the board, discussed the paper’s journey over five decades since its inception and the vision that continues continues. to drive it.