External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, who is on a two-day Qatar visit, has told the Indian community that the economic impact of Covid-19 “can be put behind us” and the “economic confidence is visible”.
In over one hour virtual meet, EAM said, “The general sense is the economy is coming back and coming back very very strongly. The feeling is Q1 & Q2 of this financial year was obviously extremely tough, the feeling is now, all the feedback we get in terms of the critical sectors of the economy have been very positive.”
Explaining that, he said, “There are areas, particularly the services sector, informal sector where recovery is not going to be so rapid. But again, there is economic confidence which is also visible, both the feeling that we can put the pandemic behind us as well as the economic consequences can be put behind us.”
India’s growth contracted to minus 23.9% in the first quarter of this financial year, and in the second quarter, it came out at minus 7.5% as the COVID-19 crisis took a toll on the economy. India, along with all major economies, saw contraction due to the pandemic.
EAM said India is “shifting gears” via Atmanirbhar Bharat which is “an expression, a desire to build stronger capabilities at home so that our participation in global economic activities is more effective.”
Adding, “One of the issues with COVID has been that a lot of countries have been redoing supply chains, looking at on shoring many activities. Qatar is looking at its own near-term future, they have their own priorities, world cup football is significant among them and these are opportunities to draw the countries closer.”
Qatar hosts more than seven lakh Indians with bilateral trade at USD 10.95 billion in FY 2019-20.
This is EAM’s first visit to West Asia amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In September, Jaishankar made a stopover in Iran, while going to Moscow. November saw a visit to the UAE and Bahrain and currently, he is in Qatar. The increased high-level engagement between India and West Asian capitals comes even as both sides come closer in a number of areas from security to defence to people to people ties.