Industrialists Anand Mahindra and Gautam Adani led the pep squad for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Rs 20 lakh crore support package announced on Tuesday to help the Indian economy mitigate the damage caused by the coronavirus crisis and the nationwide lockdown.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will announce further details on the package, equivalent to around 10 percent of India's GDP, in the coming days, PM Modi said in an address to the nation as he confirmed that the lockdown will be extended for a fourth phase on May 18 but with new rules.
Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, said the announcement with a push on self-reliance dubbed "Mission Aatmanirbhar Bharat", could be as significant as the liberalisation of India's economy in 1991.
This was the PM's Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) speech; an opportunity to change the narrative from ‘Survival' to ‘Strength.' We will know tomorrow whether or not this is going to be a transformational moment like 1991. What I also believe is I won't get much sleep tonight!— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) May 12, 2020
The #AatmanirbharBharat package is not just historic for its scale but for its diverse vision focussing on land, labour, liquidity, & laws, a canvas covering wide sections of people. This could be a defining moment in PM @narendramodi & his govt's vision to transform India.— Gautam Adani (@gautam_adani) May 12, 2020
Indian industry lobbies - Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), Confederation Of All India Traders (CAIT) and others also praised the package, saying it will go a long way in making India self-reliant and bringing the economy back on the track.
"We appreciate that the Prime Minister spoke about the areas of land, labour, liquidity and simplification of laws which are the key challenges of the economy. Reforms in these four areas will truly unleash the next wave of economic growth within this crisis situation," CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said.
FICCI President Sangita Reddy said the strengthening of the five pillars ~CHECK~ economy, infrastructure, system, demography and demand will pave the way for India returning to a higher sustained growth path again.
"We expect that the contours of the package to be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will address the needs of the poor and needy, MSMEs and also the industry and common man on the whole. The stress on land, labour and liquidity is what is required to make India self-reliant," she added.
Along with the economic package, the bold reforms across all the sectors - agriculture, taxation, infrastructure, human resource and the financial system - would go a long way to attract investment and revive demand in the economy, Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (Assocham) Secretary General Deepak Sood said.
The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) also hoped that a focused package to support the Indian Automotive Industry would be announced by the Finance Minister, when she announces the details of the package.
The global coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that India imposed on March 25 has triggered an unprecedented economic crisis, driving lakhs of people out of work and dragging down growth.
India's economy, which was already growing at its slowest pace in six years before the onset of the coronavirus, is set to take a severe hit amid the lockdown, economists have warned, saying that unemployment could rise to record levels.
India has more than 70,000 cases including 2,293 deaths and is set to surpass China, the origin of the outbreak, within a week. PM Modi said strict stay-at-home orders would be extended beyond May 17 with a new set of rules.
In March, the government said it was providing around Rs 1.7 lakh crore in direct cash transfers and food security measures, mainly for the poor, but was widely accused of doing too little.