Tourism has continued to grow and expand in the country and it is the next big area of growth for India, said Amitabh Kant, the outgoing CEO of government think tank NITI Aayog.
"My view always has been that tourism can be a very big creator of jobs, it can create a vast number of services. Tourism can really drive job creation in India and therefore we need to really focus our energy on tourism and culture. Our strong point is heritage so that is a big advantage in the coming days," Kant told CNBC-TV18 in an interview.
Kant, who took over as the NITI Aayog CEO in 2016, will step down from his post at the end of this month. He will be succeeded by Parameswaran Iyer, a 1980 batch retired IAS officer. In his six-year tenure, Kant drove several key policy initiatives aimed at promoting India's industries, manufacturing sector and the startup ecosystem, among others.
Kant has played a pivotal role behind the Modi government's flagship 'Make in India' scheme, the e-mobility program, and lately the production-linked incentive scheme for different sectors.
Kant said NITI Aayog, which really is the government's think tank, is supposed to do things which are very different from what ministries do. "That is why the NITI Aayog thought of a much larger canvas like the production linked incentives, green hydrogen, Atal Innovation Mission, etc," he said, adding that there have been a range of initiatives, including constantly doing output and outcome-based monitoring of the different ministries," he said.
He said at NITI Aayog, they thought afresh, which is why they looked at areas of manufacturing, advanced chemistry, cell batteries, electric mobility, green steel, gig economy, among others. "The entire digital payment movement was driven from NITI Aayog, post demonetisation and look at how massive it has grown today. So this has been the contribution of NITI Aayog, getting into newer areas of growth, sunrise areas of growth and making transformational changes in India,” he said.
NITI Aayog's job is to bring in constant reform, push for structural changes, push for infrastructure creation, ensure that India becomes a manufacturing nation, and push for both asset monetization and disinvestment, these are critical, Kant said. "But while we continue to do these, NITI Aayog will also focus on improving learning and health outcomes. It will focus on areas of nutrition. It will also focus on aspirational districts," he added.
From a larger perspective of India, growth is important, but so is lifting people above poverty and social equity, he said. "Therefore it is very important that while we look at cutting edge areas of growth, we also look at how to enhance improvements in education, health and nutrition,” Kant said.
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