The government is working on a package of structural reforms across sunrise sectors to convert India into a global manufacturing and exporting hub, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said. In an interactive online session organised by All India Management Association (AIMA) on post-COVID-19 scenario for Indian economy, he listed healthcare, education, mobility, genomics, AI, 5G network, fintech and manufacturing as high priority areas for rapid and radical structural reforms. "These are the new areas of growth where disruption is inevitable and where speed, scale and size are required," Kant was quoted as saying in a statement by the AIMA. Manufacturing would be a key focus area for the government in the post-COVID-19 period, as India wants to take advantage of the supply chain disruptions in China, Kant said. The government has contacted about 1,450 companies across the world for manufacturing in India, Kant said adding that facilities need to be created for global manufacturers to invest quickly and move forward.
He pointed out that the plan includes creating 2-3 autonomous zones without regular labour and land laws and stressed that India also needs to make its ports more efficient. To promote manufacturing, Kant suggested that the states should fix electricity and land rates which would not escalate for the next 25 years. He also suggested that for the next three years, every single tender of the government must be given only to Indian companies. "India has to beg, borrow, steal technology from abroad. China did that and that is why it could produce at low costs," Kant said. On the issue of MSMEs, the Niti Aayog CEO said that the unorganised sector can be allowed to become organised in a dignified way by making the organised sector less regulated and tempering labour rules and employers' contributions.
To promote startup economy, the government will set up seven groups to look at technology to drive the new India led by startups, Kant said, adding, "These groups will work on reforms in areas such as digital payments, farm to fork, healthcare, education, AI etc." Talking about the impact of COVID-19 and reviving the economy, Kant said that India's GDP will definitely take a hit but India has to protect both life and livelihood. "The countries that tried to protect their economies had both life and economy infected," he stated. Kant pointed out that India had flattened the curve and contained both the infections and the deaths at extremely low levels by imposing the most stringent lockdowns in the world.
"India's share of the global COVID-19 fatalities was only 0.6 per cent and its infection rate had actually gone down to 3.4 per cent after increasing testing from the early testing level of 4.7 per cent," he said. According to Kant, India's commercial hubs were facing a bad situation and until the virus was contained there, the economy would not return to normal. "Without a vaccine, full-fledged economic activity is very difficult," he said.