Riyadh: External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar on Saturday expressed confidence that India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year and will at least grow at 7 per cent.
The External Affairs Minister, who is on a two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, was interacting with the Indian community at an event.
“Many other new challenges have come up because of the Ukraine crisis. Prices of oil and food have gone up. Price of shipping has gone up. But we are still very confident that India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year. We are confident that we will get at least 7 per cent GDP growth,” he said.
We have posted the highest export that we have ever had. So our total exports are 672 billion dollars. The idea of India as a trading power that has become credible, Jaishankar added.
The External Affairs Minister said that India’s economic recovery after Covid period is worth studying.
“Everybody’s economy took a hit. We ourselves went through a certain period of a complete lockdown. The challenge which everybody had was how quickly do you recover, and how much do you recover. Here too, I would say, what we have done is definitely worth studying,” the Minister said.
“Many countries spent a lot of public money during the Covid period. Almost, I would say, like a knee-jerk… They were in a hurry to respond to the crisis situation. So they didn’t all of them necessarily use their funds their resources wisely,” he added.
He said that India instead focussed on creating a safety net.
“Here is a program to give free ration to 80 crore people. No country in the world has done it. There is a program to give money in the bank account of more 40 crore people,” he elaborated.
The Minister credited the government schemes for avoiding a Spanish flue like situation during the Covid waves.
During Spanish flue, as many people died of food shortages and unemployment as with the disease, that didn’t happen, he added.
The Minister lauded the country’s effort to deal with the Covid waves.
“In 2020, the real national achievement was that a country which did not make masks, which die not make ventilators, people did not know PPE kits. That we could not only produce what 1.3 Billion needed, but we could also set up centers of dedicated treatment for people who came down with Covid. We went through 2020 with very very rapid build up of our capacity,” he added.
Appreciating the country’s effort in the vaccination drive, the External Affairs Minister said that India was able to produce vaccines in large numbers.
“There were made in India vaccines available for 1.3 billion people. We were not a country that was left behind. We pretty much did it at the same time as everybody else,” he said.
Jaishankar said that he still goes to places where large number of people have not been vaccinated.
Sometimes there are vaccines, but they are not able to get the shots done, he said.
The External Affairs Minister appreciated the contribution of the Indian community living in Saudi Arabia.
During the ongoing visit, Dr Jaishankar will co-chair the inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC), established under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council, with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
The two Ministers will undertake a comprehensive review of the entire bilateral relationship and will discuss the progress under the four Joint Working Groups of the PSSC Committee namely Political and Consular, Legal and Security, Social and Cultural and Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation.
The meetings of these Groups and Senior Officials (at Secretary level) have been held over the past few months.
Both sides will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest including their cooperation at the UN, G20 and GCC.
India-Saudi Arabia relations have strengthened considerably over the past few years including in political, security, energy, trade, investment, health, food security, cultural and defence fields.