Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today termed the country's weakening economy as a "reflection of the state of its society", and claimed that sustained growth can be achieved only if the central government realises that social harmony and progress are not mutually exclusive factors.
"The state of our economy is deeply worrying, but I will argue how the state of our society is even more worrisome. The state of an economy is a reflection of its society, and our social fabric of trust and confidence is now torn and ruptured," Manmohan Singh said in an address delivered shortly after official figures showed India's gross domestic product (GDP) slowing to 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarter.
The former Prime Minister, who was speaking at a national conclave on economy in the national capital, said that the government can bring the nation back on the road to progress only by changing the climate of society "from one of fear to that of confidence". "Only then can we start growing at 8 per cent per annum again. Merely changing economic policies will not help revive the economy," he said.
Manmohan Singh, who is credited with opening the Indian economy nearly three decades ago, claimed that one needn't be an expert to figure out that the country was going through a bad phase. "The GDP figures released today are as low as 4.5 per cent. This is clearly unacceptable for a country that aspires to grow at 8-9 per cent. The sharp decline of the GDP from 5 per cent in Q1 to 4.5 per cent in Q2 is very worrisome," he said, urging the ruling BJP to set aside its "deep-rooted suspicions" and nurse India back to being a harmonious and mutually trustworthy society.
The Congress had earlier made a similar suggestion at a press meet, accusing the BJP-led central government of pushing the country's economy into a coma through its "divisive" policies. "India's GDP has collapsed to an abysmal 4.5%, and we are in a virtual free-fall. But why is the BJP celebrating when this is the lowest our GDP has sunk in six years? That's because GDP means Godse Divisive Politics to them, and by that measure, India can be seen to have achieved double-digit growth. It's all about perspective," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said, adding that investments of all kinds - private or public - were at an all-time low under the BJP government.
India lost its position as the world's fastest growing major economy last year. Global credit rating agency Moody's has lowered its economic growth forecast for India to 5.6 per cent for the current financial year, dealing another blow to the government's target of making India a $5-trillion economy by 2024.
(With inputs from Agencies)