DR. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, was at the Canada India Centre for Excellence at Carleton University to deliver the annual Dhahan Lecture on Monday.
On the subject of “India: Challenges and Opportunities,” Ahluwalia delivered a comprehensive and engaging overview of the economic challenges facing India amid a slowdown of global financial markets.
He cited global issues such as a decline in GDP and growth rates, combined with domestic constraints that include regulatory issues. However Ahluwalia pointed to upcoming fiscal reform, such as modernization of the tax system, financial inclusion mechanisms, and the introduction of a goods and service tax, which he described as a  “game-changer” in private sector development.
In addition, a unique identification system – the largest database in the world enrolling 100 million people a month – holds the promise to address bottlenecks and leaks in the delivery of government services.
A central theme of the India’s government economic plans is the concept of inclusive growth, which in addition to a reduction in poverty, includes the participation of marginalized groups.
Within future challenges, there are many opportunities for Canada-India trade and bilateral relations, particularly in energy, given the demand requirements within India. Ahluwalia, who is also co-chair of the Canada India Energy Dialogue with Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, stated that Canada’s knowledge of energy generation and transmission, along with public partner partnerships, could be at the heart of the relationship between the two countries.