Manufacturing boost imperative to job creation: Anand Sharma

Mumbai, Feb 20 (IANS) The share of manufacturing in the country's GDP must climb from the current 16 percent to 26 percent to address the challenges of job creation for the youth, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here Wednesday.

Admitting that creating jobs was a major challenge confronting the nation, Sharma said it was necessary to go back to the high rate of economic growth of around nine percent per annum. The National Manufacturing Policy will act as a key instrument to achieve this goal.

"High growth is not an option, but an imperative. The large issue is not just numbers but the social dimension. If we fail to address the issue of job creation, the social cost will be unbearable," Sharma said.

His comments came at a special CII interactive session, "Transforming India: Role of Youth" before 500 students at the St. Xaviers College here.

Sharma briefed students about the National Skill Development Mission, which plans to impart job skills to 500 million persons by 2022.

Stressing the government's seriousness to make India a major manufacturing hub, the minister said it was in the process of establishing 12 stand-alone world-class industrial townships across the country.

Of these, nine would fall within the upcoming Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the biggest industrial infrastructure project in the world.

Of the 12, the Dholera Industrial Centre in Gujarat would be the largest, spread over 900 square km, Sharma said, adding that master plans for seven of these projects are ready.

Emphasising the importance of technology, Sharma said that technology is leading the change in the world.

Keeping this in mind, the government has doubled expenditure on research and development from the current one percent of GDP to 2 percent, and the new IITs, IIITs, NIDs and others are being established to address the growing needs of youth, so they are prepared for technological challenges.

Predicting immense opportunities for the India in the years ahead, Sharma said that with the ageing west and with China too faced with an ageing population, India, with a large young population, would have 57 million surplus skilled workers ready to absorb job opportunities around the world.

Referring to last week's visit by French President Francoise Hollande and the ongoing trip by British Prime Minister David Cameron to Mumbai and Delhi, Sharma said: "The world is looking at us. India must capitalize on its strengths to assume global leadership in the 21st century."

Present at the CII initiative were former CII president and vice-president of Tata Steel B. Muthuraman, CEO of DMIC Amitabh Kant and St. Xaviers College Principal Fr. F. Mascarenhas.

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