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Seventh edition of Times Network India Economic Conclave concludes

Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Dr. S Jaishankar, Hardeep Singh Puri, Yogi Adityanath and other prominent speakers delivered key insights and solutions to set up an action plan for India

Times Network concluded the seventh edition of its flagship property, Times Network India Economic Conclave (IEC) in New Delhi. Themed, ‘India’s Decade: Reform. Perform. Transform’, the conclave focused on India’s outlook and vision for the new decade with an aim to unleash India’s potential to supersede the world economic order.

The hallmark platform for economic thought leadership, IEC on Day 2 witnessed a stellar line-up of policymakers, change-makers, growth agents, disruptors, and global thinkers, mining actionable strategies to expedite India’s economic growth.

Union Minister of Railways, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal said, India is in a sweet spot as far as external trade is concerned. He said indications also pointed to a robust recovery on the domestic front. Goyal estimated that imports in the ongoing fiscal year had fallen by over 20% while exports fell by less than 10%. “So overall we will see a significant improvement in our trade deficit. It is a good possibility we will close the year on a surplus,” he said. Goyal also pointed to various factors that indicated that the economy was already bouncing back on the domestic front, including a housing sector that was picking up. “There are signs of a resurgent economy despite the gradually inching up Covid numbers the mood of the nation is very very positive,” he said.

Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said India sending vaccines to foreign countries was a smart move and beneficiary countries were immensely grateful. "It is both smart and the right thing to do," he said about India shipping vaccines to nearly 80 countries. "Today countries in the CARICOM, the Pacific Islands and Africa are immensely grateful. What we did is a message to our neighbours, to the world and in line with our international vision," he said.

He also said that the vaccines to foreign countries were not at the expense of Indians. "In a fair world, people would recognise that and give us the credit," he said. About Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh, Jaishankar said better Indo-Bangladesh relationship will be a game changer for India's north-east. "The symbolism of the visit should not be underestimated," he said while hailing the 2015 ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement. "We have settled our land boundary agreement, that is huge. None of our other boundaries are settled. "Our cordial relationship with Bangladesh will be a game changer for the Northeast, for states like Assam. Tripura is a big beneficiary of better Indo-Bangladesh relationship," said Jaishankar adding that the government's "look east starts with Bangladesh".

About China, Jaishankar said the country's salience on the global economy was undeniable and added that previous governments ought to have worked towards developing like it instead of only marvelling China's achievements.

Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Steel Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said by 2030, as much as 40 % of India's incremental energy requirement will be met by renewable energy verticals. "While we continue to depend on crude import, India is taking big strides in the field of renewable energy. India is a major producer of solar energy and we are steadily moving towards ethanol blending, biodiesel conversion and compressed biogas. There is the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHM) that will draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source. By 2030, 40 % of India's incremental energy requirement will be met by renewable energy verticals," he said.

He also said the energy demand will continue to multiply in the next 2 decades but affirmed India was on track in terms of energy security.

Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare and Science & Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan said the government was relying on achieving herd immunity in the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination drive.  Speaking at the Conclave, he said the scientific data shows there would be no need to ensure that every single person in the country gets their Covid-19 shots. “Even if you have enough people vaccinated these actually give enough protection in the population to prevent the virus from going from one person to the next. So, it is really like having a barrier of people who are protected, who break the chain of transmission. So, you do not need every single person in the population to necessarily be protected,” Harsh Vardhan explained. He said the government had more experience and was more prepared to deal with an inevitable second wave of Covid-19. Harsh Vardhan also said partial lockdowns or night curfews would have little impact on the transmission cycle of the virus, adding the government was closely monitoring the dynamic situation.

Union Civil Aviation and Housing & Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said the Centre on Thursday decided on a definitive timeline to complete the sale of Air India. “There was a meeting at various layers where it was decided that the financial bids have to come in within 64 days. So, we are now looking at a timeline. After that it is a question of taking a decision and handing over the airline,” Puri said the Times Network India Economic Conclave.

He expressed confidence that a buyer would be found for Air India, which he said is now making money. Puri said the aviation sector had been a remarkable success stories of the pandemic because it got its act together quickly. He also said he expects a full recovery for the sector despite the ongoing wave of Covid infections. “The total revival of the sector in terms of domestic aviation has been delayed by 15 to 20 days. I expect the second wave of the pandemic to peak in the next week or 10 days,” Puri further added.

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