Davos: Pushing reformist measures to bolster investments and generating more job opportunities have emerged as the top challenges for global leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum as they deliberated on ways to boost sagging economic growth.
Indian leaders, including Anand Sharma and Kamal Nath, emphasised the need for more investments while presenting the India growth story to global investors including retailers. They also underlined the significance of inclusive economic growth.
Even as global economic uncertainties persist and austerity drives reforms in Europe, leaders gathered at this snowy resort town were optimistic with IMF Chief Christine Lagarde saying world economy needs to keep up the momentum.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who held discussions with various multinational firms including Wal-Mart, Tesco and Novartis, said there is need for reforms but "right to education and creation of jobs are a must too".
"... The major challenge in 21st century will be how to create jobs," the Minister said.
India, which has taken various reform measures to boost economic growth, assured global retail giant Wal-Mart that it will hand hold their entry into the country's multi-brand retailing sector.
Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath stressed the importance of inclusive growth and said, "the difference between urban and rural youth has gone and India today represents an aspirational class of society".
In the global context, the need for reforms in Europe, where many nations are in a debt trap, hogged the limelight.
Setting the reformist tone, British Prime Minister David Cameron said it is "about how we make the case for a more competitive, flexible and open Europe not just for Britain's sake, but for everyone's sake".
Coming back to India, Sharma underlined the country would have millions of youth joining the workforce in coming years and urged industrialists to create more job opportunities.
India's national manufacturing policy envisages creation of 100 million jobs in the next decade.
With sliding growth in most of the developed nations, employment opportunities are difficult to come by. Going by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 75 million youth worldwide are looking for work.
Striking an optimistic note, Kamal Nath said a lot should happen in the next decade and the best time for Asia and India might be there soon.
According to him, investors expect "too much from India" and a even a small dip in growth rate in profits is perceived to be very bad as there has been very high growth in the past.
"... The recent policy actions by the government, such as the steps with respect to fiscal consolidation and passage of key legislations, have demonstrated its commitment to creating an enabling environment for growth, and gone a long way in dispelling the fear of policy paralysis," ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochhar said.
India, which has initiated a slew of reforms in recent times, anticipates about USD 1 trillion investments in infrastructure in the next five years.
Meanwhile, a WEF report said lack of competitiveness in Europe is the root cause of financial instability and rising unemployment in the region. It also called for speeding the current pace of reforms.
First Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 23:08