Sharing his views on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's clarion call for self-reliant India, former chief of the New Development Bank of BRICS countries, KV Kamath, said we must become Atmanirbhar in a cost-competitive and efficient way.
In an exclusive interview with Network18, Kamath said, "Atmanirbhar Bharat is the call of the day. We need to become self-reliant efficiently. Atmanirbhar Bharat is a much bigger concept."
"Historically speaking, if we were to execute Atmanirbhar Bharat 15 years ago, we did not have the scale. Industries were trying to gear up for a new scale, new quality connotation, new cost connotation, new competitiveness. All that was gained, but we still did not become truly Atmanirbhar in a wider context that the Prime Minister indicated. Now what we need to really look at is what are those constituents or support that we would need to provide to corporate India and the entire system to make this work," Kamath said.
Speaking about the credit flow to MSMEs, he said there are 3 components to this. "Cost of credit, the flow of credit and the momentum of credit. I think all 3 have to be in sync. Government has done its part by lending large package in terms of guarantee support now we need to make sure that the banks truly are able to lend this out," he added.
The veteran banker also said that he disagrees with economists who believe self-reliant India will lead to isolation vis-a-vis international trade.
"I don't think that is true at all. India is a very large market. As we enter the $5 trillion economy, the domestic market will expand, which means the domestic companies will have a large space to operate in," he said.
Further, speaking on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, Kamath said that steps taken by the government have worked well for the Indian economy. Kamath said that new entrepreneurs have a new spirit and they can overcome the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
"Agriculture sector has bounced back very quickly and rural India has been less affected by the challenges of COVID-19 crisis," Kamath said, adding that coronavirus is not going anywhere soon and we need to learn to live with it.
According to media reports, the 72-yer-old IIM-Ahmedabad alumnus is being considered for a senior role in BJP-led government. However, Kamath rebuffed the claims saying he is not looking at any role with the government right now. "I need time to be with family. My thoughts are always with the country, but I need to put my feet up," he said.
Kamath was the CEO of ICICI Bank for 13 years until 2009, and the chairman of Infosys for nearly four years till 2015. His latest assignment was a five-year stint as the founding-president of the five-nation New Development Bank in Shanghai.Read all the stories on KV Kamath's exclusive interview with Network18 here