'Tough Reforms Difficult in India, We Are Too Much of a Democracy,' Says Niti Aayog CEO

Amitabh Kant denied having made any such statement and some media outlets that published PTI copies on his remarks have taken them down.

New Delhi: Niti Aayog chief executive officer, Amitabh Kant, stoked controversy on Tuesday after saying at an online event that it is difficult to carry out tough reforms in India as ”we are too much of a democracy”.

While a video clip of the talk in which he can clearly be heard making these remarks has been shared online, Kant said on Twitter that he did not say these lines.

Hindustan Times and Mint, which had published copies released by news agency PTI on Kant’s remarks, took down the stories from their websites a couple of hours after they were published. A few other news outlets have retained their versions of the same PTI copy.

In a video clip shared by user @tej_as_f, Kant can be heard saying in answer to a question, “Tough reforms are very difficult in the Indian context, we are too much of a democracy.”

Kant said at the web event that for the first time, the Centre has displayed determination to carry out reforms across various sectors, including mining, coal, labour, agriculture. “This government has demonstrated political will to carry out hard reforms,” he added.

Stressing that the next wave of reforms should be pushed by the states, he said: “If 10-12 states will grow at higher rates, then there is no reason why Indian won’t grow at higher rates. We have asked union territories to privatise Discoms. Discoms must become far more competitive and provide cheap power.”

On the ongoing farmers’ protest against the Centre’s new farm laws, he asserted that agriculture needs reforms allowing farmers to have a choice in selling their produce.

“It is very important to understand this that MSPs (minimum support price) will be there, mandis will remain, farmers must have a choice to sell their products as they benefit out of this,” he noted.

On Modi government’s ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, he said it is not about looking inwards, but unleashing the potential of Indian companies.

He said that the government has identified 10 champion sectors for production-linked incentives (PLI) scheme, and those sectors will play a major role in making India a manufacturing hub, and give the country economies of scale.

“The PLI scheme is going to provide a huge opportunity to these sectors for 4-5 years to export,” he added.

He further added that it is not easy to compete with China without hard reforms, and called on the states to carry out the next wave of reforms, with the Centre pitching with its own reforms.

(With PTI inputs)