With Prime Minister Narendra Modi gearing up for the EU-India Summit to be held in Brussels on Wednesday (March 30), a senior Indian official has compared diversity issues in India and the 28-member European bloc in an attempt to explain India’s economic growth.

Arvind Panagariya, the Vice Chairman of National Institution for Transforming India Aayog (or Niti Aayog – a state-run policy think-tank established by Prime Minister Modi), said that India, as a democratic country, is far better placed than the EU. He also described the world’s largest democracy as a fine example of cohesive unit, saying that India would certainly experience high growth rates in the coming years due to its democratic characteristics.

Speaking at an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi over the weekend, Panagariya said it was unfortunate that first Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew once called India a “noisy democracy”. The noted economist advised the international community to consider challenges faced by India, saying that otherwise, it would be difficult to understand the South Asian country’s growth story. Despite its huge diversity and varied traditions and cultures, India has ensured a steady economic growth because of its democratic character, explained the Niti Aayog vice chairman.

Panagariya once again urged the global community not to consider India as a noisy democracy. He said: “You hear the noise, I hear the music”. Panagariya stressed that even the EU failed to compete with India. “Europeans, with far less diversity than India, today are still struggling to become a single state. The whole movement towards a single Europe is ridden with so many difficulties. Even as a single monetary union, there are fears that Greece might drop out of this union and tomorrow Spain might drop out of this union,” Panagariya told the audience. On the contrary, India, with much greater diversity, has stayed as a single nation and grown over time, he added.

Panagariya portrayed a bright picture of Indian democracy, saying that its democratic character would help India achieve an 8-10% growth rate in the next 15-30 years. At the same time, he admitted that India would have to take some bold steps in order to make its growth more inclusive.

Meanwhile, Vice President of the European Parliament (EP) Ryszard Czarnecki has sent a letter to Prime Minister Modi in which he expressed hope that the Indian premier’s upcoming visit to the Belgian capital could lead to rejuvenating and strengthening India-EU strategic partnership. He also appreciated the PM’s ‘Make in India’ programme, saying that there were strong prospects of fluid trade relationship between the two parties with Modi at the helm of Indian Affairs.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]