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VARANASI : Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has said that the government of India, through its policies and schemes, is making sure that the goal of equitable growth is achieved. She was interacting with the students of Department of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, in Banaras Hindu University on Sunday on the theme of “Future of Indian Economy & Strategies to make India an Economic Global Power”. Responding to a question on the Growth vs Equity debate by a student Pratiksha Shukla, Smt. Sitharaman said that the government has been putting a greater emphasis on the issue of equitable growth. “You cannot continuously favor growth at the cost of equity. Unless private and public investments happen together, the multiplier that is needed cannot happen”, said the Finance Minister.

Answering the question on unemployment asked by Neetika Khandelwal from Mahila Mahavidyalaya, the Finance Minister said employment now is more driven towards self-employment and the government has been laying a greater focus on facilitating, boosting and supporting an ecosystem which enables people to become job providers. With regard to rural employment challenges, she said that the government is encouraging rural youth to come up with innovative solutions to the challenges in rural areas, which may then be translated into employment opportunities with the help of policies, funding and infrastructure. She said by training and skilling of the rural population, supporting and financing self-help groups and several other measures, the challenge of rural employment could be addressed.

Varun Yadav, a postgraduate student, sought to know the government’s strategy on boosting the growth of the manufacturing sector. The Finance Minister said that for various reasons the policies in India and the handling of the sector wasn’t able to support manufacturing the way it should have. She added that India’s manufacturing sector has been a victim of predatory pricing from certain countries which adversely impacted the sector in India. She cited the example of active pharmaceutical ingredients among others and said the areas where India had an advantage, ended up becoming weak. “The government now, with the right approach and policies, is committed to support rapid growth in the sector”, she informed. Mrs. Sitharaman also referred to the Covid19 pandemic scenario to highlight the fact that India from facing acute shortage of PPE and ventilators reached a point where it started supporting other nations. She said that Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative of Aatmanirbhar Bharat is a great move in this direction.

The minister also touched upon several other areas like digital currency, Start-up initiative, fluctuations regarding Indian rupee in international markets, implementation of schemes and programs and government spending on social sector, on which students asked a number of questions. She said that facts and data available can testify that the government of India is doing all that is required when it comes to spending on the social sector. Citing examples of increased fellowship amount for SC and ST students, she added that the funding for MNREGA has also been hiked and no state is left without money given under the scheme. The minister advised that general assumptions and conclusions should not be drawn regarding fluctuations on Indian rupee in international markets. “One needs to contextualize it and understand what’s actually happening rather than just going by general view”, said Mrs. Sitharaman. The minister said that timely and effective implementation of schemes and programs have been the biggest USP of the government under Hon’ble Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modi. On the Start Up initiative the Finance Minister highlighted the favorable ecosystem created by the government of India that helps Startups grow and flourish and even in smooth exit. She informed that the number of registered startups has gone up to 77000 from the previous 14000, which is reflective of the transformative measures taken by the government.

The Finance Minister was all praise for Banaras Hindu University for facilitating the interaction with students. She said that BHU is a unique and very prestigious institution which has arranged such a program for its students. She said that the students must be proud of the fact that they get to study in an institution like BHU where they gain theoretical knowledge as well as get to know the ethos and values.

Delivering the welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sudhir Kumar Jain said that the university is committed to create opportunities for its students so that they not only grow intellectually and professionally but also become changemakers. He added that BHU is a nation builder and is way more different from any other educational institution.

Head of the department of Economics, Prof. Bhupendra Vikram Singh delivered the vote of thanks. Prof. Binda Paranjape, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, was also present on the dais. The Finance Minister also released the newsletter of the department.

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