Fresh thinking needed for economic policy: Manmohan Singh


Amidst intense conversation on the state of economy under the Narendra Modi government, Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said that a “fresh thinking” was needed to evolve a new design for the country’s social and economic policy.

File Photo: PTI

Speaking in Bangalore, Singh, the architect of the Indian economic reforms that started in 1991, said that the policy should be a judicious mix of both high rate of economic growth and a strong focus on containing economic inequalities.

Noting that the opening of new opportunities for people born without social and economic privileges was the beacon behind economic reforms he was associated with, he said the process was still incomplete, and “we need fresh thinking.”

“Development planning and the Planning Commission were designed to ensure that while our economy grew, inequalities did not grow. With the abolition of the Planning Commission fresh efforts have to be made to keep inequality under control,” Singh was quoted by PTI.

He, however, said that the economic liberalisation that he was associated with both in the 90s and between 2004-2014 as the finance minister and prime minister respectively was incomplete.

Dr Singh added, “I must confess that the process is still incomplete and we need a lot of fresh thinking to work out a new design for our social and economic policy which will be a judicious mix of both high rate of economic growth and a strong focus on containing the growth of economic inequalities, and working actively to reduce so.”

He was the finance minister in the Narasimha Rao government during 1991-96 and the prime minister for a 10 years starting 2004.

Singh, a widely respected economist globally, has shot to a new prominence after accurately forecasting the adverse impact of demonetisation on the Indian economy. While speaking in the parliament in November last year, Singh had warned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s note ban decision would sink the economic growth at least by 2%.

In the latest GDP data announced last month, the Indian economy had indeed contracted by 2 percent. Both Modi and his finance minister, Arun Jaitley, too have confessed for the first time that Indian economy wasn’t in good shape.