On Tuesday April 16, the Finance Minister of India, P. Chidambaram visited the Harvard campus for a set of events sponsored by the South Asia Institute and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard.
Finance Minister Chidambaram first attended a luncheon with members of the Harvard community and then spoke to a packed room about the opportunities and challenges facing India as the center of economic power shifts to the East. Much of his comments and questions from the audience focused on the need for India to foster more inclusive growth. The Finance Minister discussed how much of India’s potential among women, Dalits, and other minorities went untapped due to a lack of support and inclusion of those individuals in India’s growth. In fact, the Finance Minister went so far as to say that non-inclusive growth was a significant factor holding down India’s growth rate.
The Finance Minister also drew a geopolitical distinction between India’s rise and that of other countries in the region stating that India had no desire to become an imperial or a regional power. Instead, India’s focus was on helping other countries catch up to the rest of the world. Citing Afghanistan as an example, Minister Chidambaram pointed out that none of the $1 billion in aid being given to Afghanistan was military related. The Finance Minister’s visit was part of a week-long visit to Canada and the U.S.A. that will culminate at the IMF/World Bank spring meetings and the G-20 Finance Ministers’ meetings that will take place on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington DC.