Takeaways From Nirmala Sitharaman’s Successful United States Visit
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had a busy week along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, traversing from Boston to the capital in Washington, DC before wrapping up her week with a cherry on top in the Big Apple.
Her visit followed closely on the heels of the inaugural in-person Quad summit in Washington, DC, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke of shared diplomacy and increasingly integrated economic synergy in the Indo-Pacific region. It comes just ahead of a ‘2+2’ bilateral meeting of foreign and defence ministers, and a major Indo-Pacific Business Forum that will showcase India to thousands of business participants across the region.
Sitharaman’s visit can be understood in this larger context of India embracing shared responsibilities abroad while doubling down on investment, and economic growth at home. To this end, the minister delivered a consistent message to CEOs and investors in all three US cities: After 30 years of gradual liberalization, and seven years of bold economic reform, India’s reality has surpassed its old, outdated reputation.
“India has come a long way and has made sweeping changes by way of reforms”, she said at a recent meeting while in the US.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the famed 1991 reforms, when India eschewed its soviet-style planned economy, and opened up to the world in a gradual process of liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation. Progress since then has been slow, and many critical economic reforms have languished for years, even decades. The changes are now beginning to fructify.
On October 21, India completed the herculean task of administering a billion COVID-19 vaccinations. Sitharaman touched on India’s post-pandemic economic rebound, especially after the horrendous second wave of infections, and new incentive programmes in place to facilitate foreign investment.
For example, budget measures to boost the post-COVID-19 economic recovery have led to much-needed reforms in insurance, banking, and capital market regulation. Inefficient State-owned enterprises are finally being privatised, exemplified by the recent sale of Air India. Schemes such as Gati Shakti, along with…