India has huge potential for domestic investment: World Bank

A senior World Bank official on Tuesday said India has huge potential for domestic investment. Speaking during an interactive session on “Contemporary socio economic challenges” at Lucknow University, Onno Ruhl, World Bank’s country director for India, said about 50 million women in 15-24 age group are neither working nor studying. “This is a huge number which is equal to the population of some countries. A developing country like India needs to attract domestic investment more than pulling foreign direct investment in order to grow” he Ruhl.

Elaborating on the issue, Prof Arvind Mohan from the Institute of Management Sciences, Lucknow University, said, “A large chunk of women population in India remains unemployed. If this is addressed, both socio and economic challenges can automatically be taken care of. “Socially, more women work force means more women empowerment. It will also tackle gender and caste related issues. In economic terms, increase in working women will reduce the proportion of dependant population, thus increasing the savings,” said Prof Mohan.

Further, Ruhl said, foreign investment cannot be the benchmark of India’s development. “The World Bank funding can’t be confined only to the rapidly-growing Indian economy. The plus point is India has a large young educated population which needs employment,” said Ruhl, adding that domestic investment has always been India’s development story.

Ruhl also threw light on the upcoming projects for UP. Speaking to reporters, he said, “A pro-poor tourism development programme is in the pipeline. The World Bank team is focusing on the Buddhist Circuit and Agra-Braj Corridor in order to use tourism as an anti-poverty tool and simultaneously increasing the revenue generation.”

On Tuesday, Ruhl also met the officials of the department of economic affairs and chief secretary to discuss the tourism project. He also reviewed the existing water sector restructuring projects and spoke of earlier ones such as sodic lands reclamation which aims at increasing agricultural productivity, state roads project for improving the performance of the core road system in the state and others. “The irrigation project was a good one while the roads project was just okay,” the World Bank official said.

When asked about the state government’s response in implementation of the projects, Ruhl said, “The response is positive. But the task is not easy.” Citing the example of sports icon Sachin Tendulkar, Ruhl said the government policies should be the best. “Sachin may not have scored a century in every match but his performance was consistent. To grow fast, the goal should be the best,” he added.

During the interaction, Ruhl also spoke on India urbanisation. Rural areas adjacent to India’s major metropolitan cities are witnessing faster economic growth and generating higher employment than the mega-cities, said Ruhl. “With the right policies in place, the faster a country like India urbanizes, the faster it could reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity,” he concluded.

Source: The Times of India

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