Efforts on to raise productive capacity of eastern India: Jayant Sinha

Bhubaneswar: Union minister of state for Finance, Jayant Sinha on Saturday said the Centre, as part of its economic policies, has laid emphasis on the sustainable growth of eastern India.

“What we are trying to do as far as India’s economic growth is concerned is to build India’s productive capacity which means for is that eastern India is to raise its productive capacity as well,” he said while addressing the sixth annual convention of OTV “Foresight 2016” in the city here.

Stating that productive capacity includes both hard and soft assets, the Union minster said it is a very different approach from the previous UPA government which was much more inclined to demand side and consumption oriented.

“When we talk about productive capacity, we are talking more about the supply side and investment driven growth. That’s what we mean about productive capacity which is the hard assets and soft assets which are of great importance to eastern India. The hard assets are roads, bridges, highways, ports, educational infrastructures. The soft assets are of great importance for eastern India as it includes skills and employability of our young people which means the strength of our economic institutions, innovation and entrepreneurial eco system of the country. It is therefore, a supply side and investment view of the world and not a demand side and consumption oriented view of the world. If we build productive capacity in India, especially in eastern India, then we have the ability for sustained growth over a long period of time which is vitally important for us”, he said.

Talking about the growth rate in the eastern Indian States, Sinha said Odisha and Jharkhand have witnessed 8 percent growth and West Bengal and the north-western have posted 7-8 percent growth which is not enough to just grow at this rate for two, three or four years.

“For eastern India, it is vitally important that we should grow at least at 8-10 percent for decades. Only then, we will be able to develop the full potential of Eastern India. Unless we are focussed on the supply side and productive capacity, we won’t be able to transform eastern India. So sustaining that fast growth by investing in productive capacity and supply side, that’s really the way to transform this part of the country,” he observed.

Referring to the growth rate in East Asia, Sinha said everybody talks about China and other East Asian countries which have been growing at 9 percent for decades.

“But if you look at the southern and western regions in India which are growing at 8-9 percent for decades and have sustained the fast growth for a longer period. It is in Central India like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and in eastern India where we have not been able to grow in that way. In order to accomplish in terms of our policy objectives which is fast and sustained growth by building up productive capacity, we are following a set of important principles,” he said.

“Our government is under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has repeatedly said that we are a pro-poor government not because it is a political requirement, but because it is our moral responsibility. We have a government that is focussed on the poor particularly in the eastern India where there is lot poor people who are languishing in extreme poverty. We have to lift them up without any qualms or sacrifice in terms of resource allocation towards pro-poor policies” Sinha pointed out.

He further said since the present government is a pro-poor government, it is pro-market government. “Unless our companies, businesses, trade and commerce flourishes, we will not have the resources to be able to come up with sufficiently good pro-poor policies and allocate enough resources to lift these poor people from extreme poverty,” he noted.

The third principle is minimum government and maximum governance which means a rules-based, policy driven non-discretionary state which sets up very clearly what is required to be able to operate in this region through which businesses can flourish, Sinha said.

The fourth and the most important principle is “cooperative federalism” to develop policies between the Centre and the states that can really enable the states to flourish. “Unless the state grows and the eastern India grows, the country, as a whole, cannot progress.

With that as the framework and context, we have put in place some of the policies specifically for Eastern India to drive growth.

“The first one is connectivity. Connectivity in all dimensions is the priority for the growth of eastern India. This obviously includes roads. For Instance, right now in Jharkhand we are rapidly building out National Highways. The Ranchi-Jharkhand Highway, which a vital corridor for Jharkhand, still does not have a high quality highway. Today, it takes threes hour to reach Jamshedpur from Ranchi. Once the Ranchi-Jharkhand Highway is built, it will take one-and-half-hour to reach Jamshedpur. With the construction of the National Highway, we will be able to hold all the corridors between Hazaribag, Ranchi, Dhanbad and Jamshedpur which will drive industrialisation and growth in Jharkhand. In the same way, we are identifying important corridors in Odisha and eastern India to connect them with highways. We are also in discussing with the Bangladesh about building of highways down through the neighbouring country,” said Sinha.

While efforts are on development of ports in this region including Odisha, priority is given to telephone operators like BSNL and other operators that are equally important for providing telecom, mobile and internet services in the hinterlands of the eastern part of the country.

“Connectivity is really the foundation for what we want to do. So we are working hard to connect eastern India, not just with rest of India but with south-east Asia as well,” the Union minister pointed out.

He also said thrust is on a series of social security programmes which are going to be very beneficial for the country. The social security programmes like Jan-Dhan Yojana, Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Suraksha Bima Yojana and Universal Health Coverage will be equally important for the eastern India to ensure robust safety net for everybody so that the people, without any recourse and support, will be able to work themselves out of poverty.

“We will try to provide them these social securities so that they could pass the extreme poverty,” Sinha stated.

The third part of concern is agriculture. As far as agriculture is concerned, irrigation is a vital driver to make the farmers able to grow two-three crops.

Through Pradhan Mantii Krushi Sinchai Yojana, we trying to make sure at least 60 per cent on Indian land gets irrigation.

“I had a discussion with the Chief Minister and Finance minister here yesterday on what could be done for better irrigation through Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). So agriculture and agro processing industries become vital for eastern India,” he pointed out.

Pointing out to the fourth area the Centre is looking into is ‘Make in India’.

“As part of the campaign, we have number of industries in eastern India. Whether it is in iron and steel, in refining, aluminium, we have to make sure that we are globally competitive industries. We have under taken varieties of steps like auctioning of natural resources, iron ore mines, infrastructure, building up of power plants to provide support for industrialisation.

“Talking about the Smart City programme of the Centre, Sinhas said Bhubaneswar and other cities, which were included under the programme, are going to get substantial resources over the next few years so that they can become growth magnet.

“That’s really a vision for the Eastern India. If we will be able build to the productive capacity of eastern India and build the productivity capacity, we will be able to sustain growth that is important for this region.”

“Eastern India is rich in resources, in talent, in temperate weather and agricultural potentials. But the people are poor. It is all our collective responsibility to work together for the people of the eastern India so that they can get the quality of life they deserve,” he said.