GUWAHATI, Jan 14 - Meghnad Desai, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics, visited the Royal Group of Institutions recently and interacted with students of Royal School of Business on ‘Asia Rising: Implications for the World Economy.’
Interacting with the students on India’s role as an emerging economic power, Desai spoke on India before independence, and also dwelt on the changes triggered by liberalization of the economy in the early 1990s.
Referring to India’s adoption of free market principles in the early 1990s, Desai said that following the strong economic reforms, the country’s economic growth progressed at a rapid pace with very high rates of growth and large increases in the incomes of people.
Mentioning that India recorded the highest growth rates in the mid-2000s, and was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Desai said that the growth was led primarily due to a huge increase in the size of the middle class consumer population, a large workforce comprising skilled and non-skilled workers, good education standards and considerable foreign investments.
“India is the 17th largest exporter and 11th largest importer in the world. Economic growth rates are projected at around 7.5%-8% for the financial year 2011-2012,” he said.
Desai stated that until the liberalization of 1991, India was largely and intentionally isolated from the world markets, to protect its economy and to achieve self-reliance.
“Foreign trade was subject to import tariffs, export taxes and quantitative restrictions, while FDI was restricted by upper-limit equity participation, restrictions on technology transfer, export obligations and government approvals,” Desai said, adding that India’s labour regulations – among the most restrictive and complex in the world – had constrained the growth of the formal manufacturing sector where these laws had their widest application.
During his one-hour interactive session, Desai answered questions on inclusive growth, free trade, and gender inequality. He was of the view that one major impediment to Indian economic growth was the disparity existing in gender difference.