Vice-president Venkaiah Naidu said India should reject the politics of populism and move toward that of pragmatism, which will benefit society in the long term. He also welcomed the bankruptcy code that will end crony capitalism, heal banks and get credit growth moving again.
“Freebies are not a solution. It is important to improve living conditions, create opportunities, reach the unreached, fund the unfunded and recognise the unrecognised — that is the way forward,” Naidu said during his keynote address at the Economic Times Awards for Corporate Excellence in Mumbai on Saturday evening. “This is the real democratisation of economy and democracy.”
He also called for an end to the “loot and scoot” approach that has damaged the country’s banking system, while urging entrepreneurs not to lose sight of equity and ethics while increasing contributions to corporate social responsibility. “Ours is a banking-led economy, still short of a typical market-led economy. Certain aberrations, which cropped up in recent years in the form of ‘misuse’ of the assets of the banks have shaken the confidence of the people in corporates and banks. Bad loans have crippled many banks. This needs to be fixed quickly,” Naidu said.
Banks and companies need to aim for a new normal to ensure that every rupee is put to the most productive use. “There is no place for a ‘loot and scoot’ approach,” he said. “Economic offences must not be allowed to go unchecked. Constant vigilance, effective supervision and timely action to bring the offenders to book will restore the financial system to good health.”
While noting that India is still not a market-led economy, the process of formalisation is well under way, helping to boost tax revenue among other things.
This “can be gauged by the rapid rise in the number of income tax payers,” the vice president said. “While the total direct tax collection in 2013-14 was `6.38 lakh crore, the total income tax collection for 2017-18 was `10.02 lakh crore.”
Urging corporate India to invest more in the country’s agriculture sector, Naidu said there is an air of optimism as people look forward to economic change.
“We need to convert challenges into opportunities and ensure a 9% GDP growth on a consistent basis to improve the quality of life of our citizens,” he said. “The country can leapfrog in development by adopting innovative solutions across all sectors from education to urbanisation, from health to infrastructure.