Economy to grow by 11% despite pandemic: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has said the Indian economy is poised to grow by about 11% despite the COVID-19 crisis.

“It is not only the pent-up demand that is set to rebound but there is also the prospect of new growth in the post-COVID era as per the Reserve Bank of India’s monetary policy for FY 2021-22,” Mr. Jaishankar told the media at the BJP State office here on Saturday.

On the standoff on the LAC in eastern Ladakh, Mr Jaishankar said military commanders of India and China had held nine rounds of negotiations after the skirmish in Galwan Valley to ease the tensions following an agreement on the disengagement of troops.

“I believe some progress has been made but there is no visible expression of that on the ground. But, talks will continue,” he said.

Investment boost

“While according priority to the infrastructure, manufacturing and healthcare sectors, efforts are on to increase investments in the agriculture sector and giving the much-needed push to liquidity, productivity, and credit flow where needed,” the Minister said.

Bad banks would take care of the non-performing assets that pushed some banks into an existential crisis, he said, listing out various initiatives contained in the budget.

Regarding the COVID pandemic, Mr. Jaishankar said the rate of infections has come down appreciably and the recovery rate was one of the highest in the world.

By converting the crisis into an opportunity, India became the ‘pharmacy of the world’ by supplying medicines like paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine to countries across the globe. Besides, the number of manufacturers of ventilators has increased to 25 and there were 16,000 COVID treatment centres and thousands of industrial units were making masks and personal protection equipment.

The COVID pandemic was indeed a big test for atmanirbharta (self-reliance) which the country passed with a concerted effort.

The Minister further said due emphasis has been laid on developing the human capital for which agreements have been signed with the UAE and Japan.

A whopping four million Indians, including 2.40 lakh from Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Telangana, were airlifted from countries that were badly hit by COVID, through 17,000 flights under Vande Bharat Mission, he said.

To enable people to travel freely and securely to foreign countries, passports are being issued at nearly 500 locations consisting of 93 passports offices, compared to less than 100 a few years ago, the Minister said.

Due to the personal prestige of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Gulf Kingdoms were looking at Indians with due respect and helping them in coping up with loss of jobs and other exigencies, Mr Jaishankar said.

Commenting on the development of AP, Mr. Jaishankar asserted that Andhra Pradesh would benefit considerably from the budgetary allocation of ₹1.14 lakh crore to 14 major projects. These include projects like the Visakhapatnam-Chennai industrial corridor passing through the State.

There were several other schemes that would have a direct and indirect impact on the State, he claimed, saying that the budget was a clear expression of confidence that the country is on the forward march.

Meeting in Moscow

Mr. Jaishankar said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had met his Chinese counterpart in Moscow last year and he had interactions with top Chinese Foreign Ministry officials too.

It was then resolved to disengage in some areas but since it is a complicated process, it might take some more time for things to fructify, he suggested.

Mr. Jaishankar pointed out that the Indian government has, in fact, given priority to the Ministry of Defence in the Budget, keeping it’s requirements in view. The allocation to capital expenditure under MoD has been increased by 18%, he stated.

Commenting on the regime change in Washington and it’s implications for India, Mr. Jaishankar said Mr. Modi earned a lot of respect in the U.S. since his visit to that country when Barack Obama was the President, Joe Biden the Vice-President and Antony Blinken the Deputy Secretary of State.

“We still have an appeal and relationships that transcend politics,” he stated, indicating that it has been a collective endeavour of the world’s two largest democracies to get along in the evolving global geopolitical scenario.

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