The Narendra Modi government is determined to take policy initiatives that will protect the interests of India’s poor as well as domestic businesses, he told a gathering of ministers, top industrialists and chief executives at a glittering ET Awards ceremony in Mumbai on Saturday night. He also said the government had a road map for Rs 100 lakh crore investment, which would lift the economy.
“We are in challenging times,” he said. “The world is seeing turmoil all over and within the turmoil… I still see India as that oasis that can lead world growth, which can actually lift the sentiment of trade and industry across continents. But I certainly think we have to first address our own self-confidence.”
The minister invited industry to participate in infrastructure investment and jointly work with the government to address problems at any level. He also said India would negotiate with other countries and overseas investors from a position of strength, without being overawed by the size of the company or the amount it would invest.
The minister’s comments come amid concern about a slowdown in growth and consumer demand as well as lacklustre industrial output. Goyal cautioned industry leaders against negativity.
“Warren Buffet had said let’s not talk ourselves into a recession and sometimes I feel many of us are tending to ourselves lose that self-confidence, that mojo,” Goyal said.
He said there was a huge opportunity for India and this was recognised by various countries that are urging the country to participate in regional trade deals. However, the Indian government will keep the country’s own interests uppermost.
“No more will India negotiate on the back foot; the country plays on the front foot,” he said. “The PM is ready to bite the bullet. That’s what happened, when Indian concerns were not addressed… India refused to be part of an unfair trade deal. Going forward, every engagement of India with the rest of the world will depend on national interest, interest of the people of India.”
India has opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) because its concerns weren’t addressed.
Goyal said the government was also keen to ensure that international agreements do not hurt domestic industry.
“We shall not allow, in the garb of investment, or large investment, anybody to bring unfair trade practices to India, howsoever big the company may be,” he said. “We believe our self-confidence is going to determine the future of India.”
The minister told industry leaders that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was focused on making sure that India is recognized as an honest nation, and that government policies should make sure that the poorest people benefit.