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India has an image problem: Nobel laureate

By Apurva Venkat
July 07, 2016 10:34 IST
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Joseph Stiglitz says India should not bothered on inflation and instead focus on rapid growth.

IMAGE: Stiglitz said with India growing in the global economy, this was not how it should be portraying itself. Photograph: Reuters

At a time when the National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre is going all out to improve the country’s image globally, Nobel laureate and economist Joseph E Stiglitz on Wednesday said there is a lot of improvement needed on that front.

Stiglitz, who was in Bengaluru to give a lecture on “Global inequality – causes and consequences,” said India’s image has taken a beating globally, especially as a result of the Narendra Modi government’s policy to crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and students of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“India should be aware that it has an image problem abroad. It should be a matter of concern that NGO's are subjected to a condition that makes it difficult for them to operate. This has got a lot of attention abroad. There are very few governments that have made it difficult for NGOs to operate. Also, very few countries, mainly authoritarian ones, have engaged in the harassment of students in universities. These two events have had a strong effect on public opinion abroad,” said Stiglitz.

“It puts (India) in the club of countries such as Egypt, Russia and Turkey. Most people in India will not want to be in this group. These events have also have been in the spotlight and have had had an effect foreign investors,” he added. 

Stiglitz said with India growing in the global economy, this was not how it should be portraying itself.

Speaking about the state of Indian economy, Stiglitz said the country should look at a high rate of growth and give lesser importance to inflation.

“When there is high level of unemployment, inequality thrives. India should make sure that the overall economy grows at a rapid rate. That means, not getting overly obsessed about inflation.Excessive focus on inflation almost inevitably leads to higher unemployment levels and lower growth,” said Stiglitz, Professor of Economics at Columbia University, who received Nobel prize in 2001.

Stiglitz applauded the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).

“The NREGA is one of the most important programmes ever introduced. It is the single most innovative programme from India, which is a lesson for the rest of the world. However, to make sure there is no inequality, the government should look at the continuation and strengthening of the programme,” he added.

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Apurva Venkat in Bengaluru
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