NEW YORK — Few major economies have performed as well in recent years as India’s, which registered an impressive 7.5 percent GDP growth in 2015. But in an address delivered at Asia Society in New York on Monday, Arun Jaitley, the country’s Minister of Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information and Broadcasting, said that India is far from realizing its vast potential.
“Given our own standards and expectations, of being able to grow faster and eradicate poverty and transform ourselves into a developed economy, we could probably do a little bit better,” he said.
Jaitley is optimistic that India will manage this feat. Under the Make in India initiative, launched in 2014 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New Delhi has embarked on an ambitious program to create jobs for millions of its citizens, who together comprise the world’s second-largest population. Infrastructure development is central to this plan. India has invested in building regional airports throughout the country and, according to Jaitley, there are now 233 highways under construction.
But the country’s challenges to achieving its economic goals remain significant. Despite its breakneck growth in recent years, India remains a poor country dominated by an agricultural sector that employs more than half of the national population. And while India has taken steps to spur growth — such as maintaining low interest rates — the economy remains hampered by high logistics costs.
Nevertheless, Jaitley remains confident that, given the country’s trajectory, India will continue to show rapid growth in the years and decades to come. “This is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss,” he said.
In addition to Jaitley, Monday’s event also featured remarks by Indian ambassador to the U.S. Arun Kumar Singh, CII President Naushad Forbes, and Shaktikanta Das, Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs in the Indian Ministry of Finance. Asia Society Policy Institute President Kevin Rudd introduced each speaker and then moderated a Q&A session following the prepared remarks.