Centre's 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' campaign shouldn't result in protectionism, says Raghuram Rajan

Observing that it is not yet clear to him what the government means by 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', Rajan said if it is about creating an environment for production, then it is a re-branding of the Make in India initiative.

Former Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan (File photo)
New Delhi: India should not create a “tariff wall” in its drive towards an Atmanirbhar Bharat, because that will not help the country in becoming part of the global supply chains, economist and former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan said on Wednesday.

Talking of the Atmanirbhar Bharat, or the self-reliant India, initiative that was launched in May, Rajan said he “can’t quite tell” what it was.

It could either be a “rebranding” of Make in India or a move towards protectionism, he said, citing recent decisions by the country to impose import tariffs.


“When we talk about Atmanirbhar Bharat, I am not quite sure which side is being emphasised. If it says that let’s create the environment for production, I think that makes a lot of sense. It basically iterates what Make in India (means), it’s basically repositioning, rebranding Make in India,” Rajan said at the 12th Annual International G20 Conference of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. “If it is about protectionism, and unfortunately India has erected a lot more tariffs … it doesn’t make any sense, to my mind, to go that way,” he said.

Rajan said India needed to have world-class manufacturing and manufacturers here should have access to cheap inputs as they were the basis for strong imports.

“By all means, we need to create infrastructural support, logistics support that being part of the global supply chains would require but let’s not create a tariff wall, because we know that doesn’t work,” he said.
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India should also focus on its educational sector for there lies potential in it becoming a source of service exports, he said.

India should adopt an individual fiscal commission that monitors the country’s debt targets and points out any lack in transparency, or instances where the true fiscal position is being hidden, Rajan said. “Adopt a debt target, and put in place legislation that shows you will move towards that fiscal target,” he added.
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