Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath on Friday underlined the need for better governance at the state and the Centre, saying that would lead to development both at the grass root level and in urban areas. Nath made these observations at the second edition of The Sunday Standard Best Bankers’ Awards function in New Delhi.
‘Reform’ has become a catchphrase, he said, and added that India needs the reforms to reach the last man in the queue. “Most important is the reform in governance, both at the centre and the state levels. India started reforms 15 years after China and it was objected to by what was called the Bombay Club (a nomenclature given to a group of Bombay-based industrial houses which then had a considerable say in India’s policy formation). “Some of them even went to the extent of calling it a somersault on our stated policy. But since we did not have any models to follow, we had India-specific reforms. Reforms have to be calibered and the Indian reform story is calibered. Seven governments and five Prime Ministers have followed that course and that is the reason why the Indian bubble has not burst,” he said.
The Indian banking system is based on prudent fundamentals, he said. Citing his brush with the high and mighty bankers of the developed world during his visits to Davos for the World Economic Forum in the 1990s, the minister said: “Many bankers told me you need to reform your banking sector. Now, when I go there, I tell the same set of bankers, ‘Look where you are and see where we are. Our banks are giving money to the government while your governments have to give money to the banks’.”
Going forward, however, banks need to make a paradigm shift in their approach, he said, and added that technology must reach the unbanked sector to make the growth more inclusive. He said Infrastructure was one area where the government needed to concentrate, he added, and called upon banks to help fast-track infrastructure.
Finally, the minister called upon the people to not get swayed by the prevailing mood of pessimism. “This mood of pessimism must go. Whatever is not boom is not gloom either; highs come and go,” he observed.