Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said mere changes in the policy alone will not help revive the economy as a “toxic combination” of deep distrust, pervasive fear and a sense of hopelessness in society is stifling economic activity and, hence, economic growth.
“With an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and low global oil prices, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to catapult India to the next phase of economic development and create new jobs. I urge the Prime Minister to set aside his deep-rooted suspicion of our society and nurse us back to a harmonious, confident and mutually trustworthy society that can revive the spirits and help our economy soar,” he said.
In his valedictory address at the National Economy Conclave organised by the Samruddha Bharat Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies here, Dr Singh spoke of a palpable climate of fear in society.
“Many industrialists tell me they live in fear of harassment by authorities. Bankers are reluctant to make new loans, for fear of retribution. Entrepreneurs are hesitant to put up fresh projects, for fear of failure attributed to ulterior motives. Startups that are an important new engine of economic growth and jobs, seem to live under a shadow of constant surveillance,” he said.
“Policy makers in government and other institutions are scared to speak the truth or engage in intellectually honest policy discussions. There is profound fear and distrust among our various economic participants. Public trust in independent institutions such as the media, judiciary, regulatory authorities, and investigative agencies has been severely eroded,” he said.
He pointed out that India is now a $3 trillion global economic powerhouse driven largely by private enterprise and not a tiny command and control economy that can be bullied and directed at will.