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Right to layoff workers in Gujarat a major Modi "achievement" of the two years of NDA rule: Panagariya

By Our Representative
Top Narendra Modi aide Arvind Panagariya believes, one of the major achievement of his boss is his ability to push through the exit policy in India. Thus, he says, in Gujarat, firms of all sizes located in the special economic zones (SEZs), special investment regions (SIRs) and national investment and manufacturing zones (NIMZs) have “the right to lay off workers” at will.
Economist at the Columbia University hired by the Prime Minister to run Planning Commission successor Niti Aayog,Panagariya's statement comes amidst failure of SEZs to pick up in Gujarat and strong opposition to SIRs being planned at a dozen odd spots, with the Gujarat government thinking of abandoning many of them, including the one in Dholera, south of Ahmedabad.
Panagariya, who has written an article to mark Modi's current visit to the US, circulating it through his Twitter account, says, other major achievements of the NDA government include 100 percent FDI in defence through the approval route, 100 percent FDI in in marketing of food products produced in India and 49 percent FDI in insurance.
Refusing to recall "achievements" in health, education and environment, Panagariya blames it on “space considerations” which “do not allow” to report on the “progress” in social sectors.” The “achievement” he recounts is “enhanced efficiency through rapid expansion of biometric identity based direct benefit transfers that eliminate multiple accounts in the name of the same beneficiary and ghost accounts.”
Without giving any figures, Panagariya says, the government has “also chosen empowerment over entitlement and thus focused on accelerating building of rural roads, electrification of villages and broadband connectivity. With the groundwork, thus, in place, we can count on growth and the progress in reducing poverty accelerating yet further in the years to come.”
Calling his view “strictly personal”, Panagariya claims that the GDP of India reached 7.6 percent in 2015-16, even as refusing to go into the latest the controversy surrounding it, with top consulting firm Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) calculating it at 5.2 percent, down from 7.2 percent a year ago, and blaming the latest 7.6 percent figure based on inflated “discrepancies”.
Praising the Modi government for neutralizing certain “counter-productive measures” of the UPA such as the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, Panagariya says, the government now seeking to unveil “a model land-leasing law to help modernize tenancy laws across states.”
Asserting that the “turnaround” under Modi has come on the “back of concerted efforts at accelerating infrastructure building” , Panagariya cites such examples like roads construction “climbing up from 11.7 kilometer (7.2 miles) per day in 2013-14 to to 16.5 km (10.2 miles) in 2015-16”, and “domestic civil aviation” improving, with “total number of passengers carried” having jumped “from 66.4 million in 2014 to 80.8 million in 2015.”
Panagariya further believes, “There has been a total absence of any allegations of corruption during the two-year tenure of the government.” He adds, “Often overlooked, this is a major achievement in a country that has seen corruption scandals break out under virtually every government in recent decades.”
In yet another claim, Panagariya says, “The wealth of crony capitalists in India has fallen to 3 percent of the GDP in 2016 from 18 percent of the GDP in 2008.”

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