India will return to growth, won't depend on others: PM Modi to India Inc

Prime Modi Narendra Modi addressing India Inc on June 2, 2020
India would return to the growth path while the rest of the world was struggling with the coronavirus outbreak, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, even as the latest government data showed India's economy had in 2019-2020 grown at the slowest pace in 11 years.

“Getting growth back is our motto, too, as we reopen the economy. India will get its growth back,” said Modi in a video address at the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII's) 125th annual session. This was four days after his government announced a plan to gradually lift a nationwide lockdown in force since March 24 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

"There are so many sectors where we can do phenomenally well on the world stage,” Modi said while speaking of an 'Atmanirbhar Bharat'—his campaign to reduce India’s dependence on foreign goods. "Atmanirbhar Bharat means we will be fully integrated with the world and fully supportive. However, always remember, we do not want to be dependent on others."

"Coronavirus may have impeded our speed, but the reality today is that we have left the lockdown phase behind and now are in the Unlock 1.0 phase. Trust me, getting growth back is not so difficult after all," he said.

The Modi government had on Saturday said rules to ease the lockdown had an “economic focus” and would allow places of worship, hotels, restaurants and malls to resume business from June 8.

India's economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2019-20 fell to 3.1 per cent, a low not seen in more than 17 years, as private investment and manufacturing were hit hard. This was despite lockdown affecting activity on just a few days in March. Overall, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2019-20 fell to an 11-year low of 4.2 per cent. This was lower than the government's own projection of 5 per cent in both first and second advance estimates.

The lockdown’s full impact on manufacturing and services would become more apparent in the June quarter. Goldman Sachs has predicted a 45 per cent contraction from a year ago, at the high end of estimates, according to news agency Reuters.

Modi had first put India under a 21-day lockdown from March 25, saying the restriction was the only way to break the chain of coronavirus infections.

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