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India headed for robust economic growth, says FM

Describing the Indian economy's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as 'distinct' and 'pronounced', Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday exuded confidence about India posting robust economic growth this decade.

Sitharaman is here to attend the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In her first public appearance before the Atlantic Council think-tank, the finance minister told a select group of Washington audience about how the people together with the Indian government successfully faced the challenge posed by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns.

"So, as we look at India, given the pandemic and the recovery from it, and also where we stand today, we see the decade before us...2030 as a very robust decade where India would definitely be one of the fastest growing economy," she said.

She noted that before and after COVID-19, India undertook various structural reforms and also converted the pandemic into an opportunity to push them further.

The minister said a distinguishing feature of India's response to the pandemic has been an emphasis on supply-side reforms rather than total reliance on demand management.

She listed out the successful rollout of GST and digitisation programs as some of the key elements of the reforms that were started before the pandemic.

"...prior to the pandemic, because digitisation was happening, we brought in a financial inclusion programme never seen anywhere in the world," she said.

Also as a result of the programs, which she described as digital revolution, three of the largest public digital platforms in the world are from India -- Aadhaar, which is the largest unique digital identity platform; UPI, which is the largest digital payments ecosystem; and Co-WIN, the largest vaccination platform, Sitharaman said.

India's low-cost, at-scale digitisation improves ease of living for its citizens in all income categories, the minister noted.

"Adoption of technology, I am so pleased to see, that it has gone down to villages... They're now very savvy about using it. And of course the India stack has also done a bit more by saying you don't need to have a smartphone, you can do it to with a feature phone. So technology is also moving to involve many more people," ," she pointed out.

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