Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said India’s target to become a $5 trillion economy by 2024 would be achieved only because of a “strong foundation” built by previous governments, ANI reported.
“Finance Minister, while presenting the budget, had said that by 2024, India’s economy will reach $5 trillion,” Mukherjee said while delivering a lecture “Furthering India’s Promise” organised by Samruddha Bharat Foundation in Delhi. “It isn’t coming out of heaven. There’s a solid foundation and the foundation has been built not by Britishers but by Indians after Independence.” Mukherjee was the finance minister between 1982 and 1984 as well as 2009 and 2012.
In her Budget speech on July 5, Sitharaman said India would become a $3-trillion economy in the current financial year, and added that structural reforms were needed to achieve the target of becoming a $5-trillion economy by 2024.
Mukherjee said the Congress governments left a strong foundation of $1.8 trillion to build on. “Those who criticise Congress rule of 50-55 years, they forget that from where we began and where we left,” ANI quoted him as saying. “If Indian economy is to be built to $5 trillion, we left a strong foundation of $1.8 trillion from almost zero.”
He said the foundations for India to become a $5 trillion dollar economy were laid by previous governments, including those of Jawaharlal Nehru, Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao.
“India has grown in leaps and bounds because Jawaharlal Nehru and others established IITs, ISRO, IIMs, banking network etc,” NDTV quoted the former president as saying. “This was built upon by Dr Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao when they liberalised the economy. That unleashed India’s economic potential. It is on that foundation that the finance minister can claim today that India will be a $5 trillion dollar economy.”
Mukherjee said that those who criticise the Congress rule are ignoring “where India was at Independence and how far we have come”, NDTV reported. “Yes, others also contributed, but the foundations of modern India were laid by our founders who firmly believed in a planned economy, as opposed to today, when the Planning Commission has been disbanded.”
After Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, he dissolved the Planning Commission, which formulated five-year plans, and replaced it with the NITI Aayog.
Mukherjee said the five-year plans built the vision for economy, health and education. “The investment used to be made based on these plans,” PTI quoted him as saying. He agreed that non-Congress governments played a vital role in developing the country but added that excluding Congress “would be absolutely absurd”.