White Paper on economy in 2014 could have worsened woes: Modi

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New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he did not bring out a White Paper on India’s economy when he took over in 2014 because making public “intricate details” could have multiplied the distress rather than mollifying it.

In an interview to Swarajya magazine, the Prime Minister said his government tolerated a number of “political allegations” and accepted “political damage” to ensure no further damage to the country.

“The details about the decay in the Indian economy were unbelievable. It had the potential to cause a crisis all over. In 2014, industry was leaving India. India was in the Fragile Five. Experts believed that the ‘I’ in BRICS would collapse. Public sentiment was that of disappointment and pessimism.

“Now, in the midst of this, imagine a White Paper coming out giving intricate details of the extent of damage. Instead of being a mollifier, it would be a multiplier of the distress,” Modi said in response to a query whether bringing out a White Paper on the state of the economy in 2014 would have made things worse.

He said there were several “landmines” laid in various sectors and his government accepted this uncomfortable truth and hit the ground running from the very first day to stabilise things so that the Indian economy could be strengthened for the long haul.

“We tolerated a number of political allegations, we accepted political damage but ensured no damage to our country,” he said, adding that the positive results of government’s approach are for everyone to see.

“Today, India is the fastest growing large economy of the world with strong fundamentals to propel further growth. Foreign investment is at an all-time high, GST has revolutionised the tax regime, India is an easier place to do business than ever before and, most importantly, we are seeing unprecedented levels of trust and optimism,” he said.

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Further justifying the decision not to bring out the white paper, the Prime Minister said his government preferred to think of “India First” instead of putting politics first.

“We all knew that the economy was in doldrums, but since we were not in government, we naturally did not have the complete details of the state of the economy. But, what we saw when we formed the government left us shocked! The state of the economy was much worse than expected. Things were terrible. Even the budget figures were suspicious,” he said.

Modi said when these issues came to light, his government had two options — to be driven by “Rajneeti” (political considerations) or be guided by “Rashtraneeti” (putting the interests of India first).

“Rajneeti, or playing politics on the state of the economy in 2014, would have been extremely simple as well as politically advantageous for us. We had just won a historic election, so obviously the frenzy was at a different level.

“The Congress party and their allies were in big trouble. Even for the media, it would have made news for months on end. On the other hand, there was Rashtraneeti, where more than politics and one-upmanship, reform was needed.

“Needless to say, we preferred to think of ‘India First’ instead of putting politics first. We did not want to push the issues under the carpet, but we were more interested in addressing the issue. We focused on reforming, strengthening and transforming the Indian economy,” he said.

Speaking about the state of internal security, he said that government’s strategy is showing result in the Maoist-affected areas and hoped that situation in Kashmir would improve under Governor’s rule.

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“In Kashmir, now that Governor’s rule has been imposed, the focus will be on good governance, development and accountability, with the government-appointed interlocutor, former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma, providing the necessary feedback on the way forward for peace in the Kashmir valley,” he said.