Mumbai: It is not the government’s job to be in business and the present dispensation is closing the ‘chapter of socialism’ started in 1970s which has been blamed by many for unfulfilled potential of the economy, Union Minister Jayant Sinha said today.
“If we are not where we want to be today, in terms of our own economic activity and our own GDP per capita and eliminate poverty, many economic historians believe, is because we took that turn to socialism in the 1970s,” he said.
Sinha vowed that the NDA government is out to undo the damage which has been caused.
“The good news is that we have started a new chapter. Our NDA government is finally closing the chapter of socialism, thinking that it is not the job of government to be in business,” he said.
Launching a coffee table book that traces the evolution of state-run New India Assurance here this evening, he said, “between 1969 and 1973, many of our well-run economic institutions were nationalised.”
It can be recalled that in the late 60s and the early 70s, the then Prime minister Indira Gandhi unleashed a wave of nationalisation in the banking and insurance space.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, while the world’s best private sector banks were either taken over by their governments or went belly up, none of our domestic banks, including the NPA-ridden public sector banks had to be bailed out, which led many policymakers to credit the nationalisation for the health of the domestic financial sector.
The private sector finance professional-turned politician said it was these years from the 1970s onward which prevented us from becoming “worthy inheritors and successors of a glorious business heritage that we had”.
He added that even though the country opened up in 1991, the reform process was “grudging and halting”. Sinha said Indians are naturally enterprising and evidences of this are found across the globe where we migrated.
“The Indians were born entrepreneurs, born businesspeople, extraordinarily talented,” he said, adding this talent is witnessed across the globe in Diaspora places like Fiji, Trinidad, Britain and the US. He used the analogy of a cricket field to explain the stance of his government, saying, “the role of the government is to ensure that the ground is well maintained, the grass is green, that we roll the pitch well, that we have a scoreboard and we have two umpires.”
After the event, Sinha came out strongly against the practice of giving mementos to visiting ministers, and asked New India Assurance to hand over the certification of donation to a charity instead of the plaque in the future.