Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday said that the Indian government was not really competing with China in economic growth, but instead concerned about doubling the farmers' income in next five years. He was speaking at World Economic Forum's session on 'India's Role in the World'. When noted journalist Fareed Zakaria, who was moderating the session, asked the Minister that how India planned to beat China in near term, Prabhu said: "We are not in competition with any other country in the world. India is growing close to 8 per cent and by this rate it would be 5-trillion economy in just matter of few years. We are not very much concerned about economic competition but how to double the farmers' income in next five years. Economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent in India will be a reality soon."
Speaking on archaic labour laws, land acquisition and huge logistic cost, Suresh Prabhu said: "For the first time the government has created logistical department in the commerce ministry and the department is working to make logistics 100 per cent digitalised to make sure logistic cost is down." When a panellist asked whether India has any plan to introduce quota for women-owned business in the government contracts to promote them, the Minister said: "Instead of giving reservations to women, we should empower them to earn on their own. If all the women in India get only minimum wage, the GDP of the country will rise by 1 to 1.5 per cent."
Social activist and president of the microfinance company Mann Deshi Mahila Sahkari Bank, Chetna Sinha, also flagged the women empowerment issue and said that Prime Minister Modi in his inaugural day speech told the world investors that India would roll out red carpet for them. "But how it would be if we have red carpet for street vendors, and for women who are doing businesses on the road," she said. "In India, we have 72,000 weekly markets. And, in each market over 1000 women vendors are working. So, around 72 million women in India are currently doing their business on streets, and they want to grow their business. If red carpet is rolled out for them, they are going to drive the Indian economy." Sinha echoed the views of IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, who earlier this week said that if women in India get equal participation in labour workforce then India's GDP would rise by 27 per cent. "If the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in India would expand by 27 per cent," she had said.