Reforms slow in some areas but on track: Indian PM

New Delhi, October 12:

The pace of economic reforms may have slowed because of political constraints but they are very much on track and will be pursued in the remaining term of the government, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh said today.

“It is not true that reforms have reached a dead end. Certainly reforms, particularly with regard to financial sector and the insurance sector, we have problems,” he said here.

“But we are in politics and politics is the art of the possible,” he told the annual Hindustan Times Summit during the question-and-answer session, following his speech on the theme ‘Imagine the India that can be’.

“We will need to sustain the growth momentum seen in recent years, and if we are able to sustain the growth momentum of recent years, you will see a lot more employment opportunities being created.” The prime minister said there was much more to economic reform than what popular perception deemed it to be and said credible steps had been taken in areas like healthcare delivery, education, infrastructure and urban development.

“But there are limitations on our capacities. I will not be honest if I were not to confess to you that there are constraints on our ability to go fast and fast enough,” he added. Referring to medium-term risks faced by the Indian economy, Manmohan Singh said as India integrates more with the global economy, some developments in other economies would certainly affect the country as well. “But these are acceptable risks and as of now, I feel, there is no great danger that these risks will overwhelm us or derail our economy.” In his speech, the prime minister recalled the pulls and pressures he faced in 1991 when he, as finance minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government, initiated the sweeping economic reforms.

“If we had dithered, if we had yielded to our critics, if we were not firm in our resolve, if we had been overwhelmed by self-doubt, we would have taken the country into a whirlpool of disaster,” he said. “Many people worried that our policies would lead to the de-industrialisation of India. But on the contrary, those reforms unveiled a new era of enterprise and creativity for India.”