Mr Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Rajya Sabha, speaking at the Valedictory Session of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Annual Session 2019 said, “Our major priorities need to be agriculture reform and labour reform through education and skilling. We cannot take advantage of the demographic dividend if we do not create jobs. The country has two-thirds of youth population. It cannot deal with a situation of youth unrest.” He noted the importance of the expansion of manufacturing and the need for skilling our people to achieve that goal.
He emphasized that what we have today was assiduously built over decades through the vision of our leaders and the efforts of our people. Indian industry, and the confidence they showed at the moment of liberalization, is a testament to this. “We created an environment that encouraged entrepreneurship and investment,” he said.
“As a country, we do have challenges, but how we address them is the more fundamental question. We share the widespread concern for fiscal prudence. We must find a way to reduce borrowings of the government and increase revenues,” added Mr Sharma. “One of the ways to do this,” he continued, “is to reduce government. A country like India has always needed a large civil service. What is needed now is the consolidation of some departments and ministries and reducing red tape.”
He advocated a focus on the socio-economic situation in the country to decide national priorities. He identified some urgent sectors of reform such as education, legal sector, health, and electoral reform.
Touching on the political narrative in recent times and the deterioration of dialogic process between the centre and opposition, Mr Sharma said, “An environment of debate and dialogue is necessary in a healthy democracy.”
Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Past-President CII, and Chairman Hero Enterprise, moderating the dialogue with Mr. Sharma, noted that one consistency across all parties is the belief that to address the challenges of the Indian system, like poverty, India needs to grow economically. “We need to address the implementation gap and create a common minimum programme for all parties to agree to,” he said.
April 5, 2019