The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Feel-good hangover lingers
- Advani lavishes praise on Jaswant’s sound policies

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today commended finance minister Jaswant Singh for pursuing sound fiscal policies that have propelled India into the league of the fastest growing economies of the world.

He has fulfilled the promise of putting more money into tax-payers pocket, said Advani to a thunderous applause while addressing the plenary session on India and the Diaspora: Vision 2020.

The cracking growth puts India on the path to reaching a government forecast of 7 per cent growth for 2003-04, its highest in three years and just slightly behind rival China.

“The 21st century will belong to India as the “feel good” factor translates into a “feel big” factor,” asserted Advani. He added: “If the 20th century belonged to the West, the 21st century will belong to India.”

The deputy Prime Minister attributed the ‘feel good’ factor due to the series of liberal economic policies pursued by the Bhartiya Janata Party when it formed the government nearly five years back.

“This has not happened suddenly,” he said. “Our short-term objective is to become a developed nation, like Singapore or Taiwan, from being a developing nation. Our long-term goal is to be on a par with America,” Advani added.

Analysts say the government wants to benefit from the feel-good factor of an economy that is rebounding strongly. After growth of 4.3 per cent in fiscal 2002-2003, the gross domestic product is expected to expand at least 7 per cent, according to the Reserve Bank of India's latest estimate.

“The economic agenda is playing a greater role in electoral politics and has been put forward by the government as a poll strategy which is a good sign,” said Milind Nandurkar, debt manager of Sun F&C Mutual Fund.

The Indian economy grew 8.4 per cent in the year to the second quarter of 2003-04. Sales of cars, mobile phones and televisions also surged as people took advantage of three-decade low interest rates.

Advani said the pick-up in consumer spending reflects the finance minister’s promise to enhancing the gross national contentment rather than gross domestic product.

The development in certain specific sectors, which includes telecom and bio-technology, has created India into a land of opportunities, he said.

“One of our biggest achievements is that the world over there is respect for India and for Indians. This has given us the confidence that we can become a superpower...India has become a land of opportunities,” Advani added.

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