Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India is in no hurry to withdraw the COVID-19 induced stimulus and emphasised that it will continue to build support required for economic growth.

“The emphasis on building health infrastructure will continue,” and so will government spending on capital expenditure and infrastructure, she said in an interview with Bloomberg during her visit in the United States.

Reiterating the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) economic policy outlook, Sitharaman highlighted the need to keep policy easy as the country recuperates from the pandemic.

World Bank and RBI have pegged India’s gross domestic product (GDP) projection at 9.5 percent for the year 2021-22. Sitharaman displayed concern over record-shattering fuel prices in the country.

The challenge I will face, and the teams are also watching in the ministry, is the way the fuel prices are leading to a big crest,” Sitharaman told the publication. “This uncertainty is a big element for me,” she said.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Following her visit to Washington DC where she took part in the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Finance Minister met the world\’s leading business officers in New York. She heavily emphasized India\’s recently launched Rs 100-lakh-crore infrastructure master plan, digitisation and the \’Make in India\’ initiative.

She met Mastercard Executive Chairman Ajay Banga and Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach along with FedEx Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) Raj Subramaniam.

“The initiatives and progress towards #financialinclusion and #DigitalTransformation formed part of the discussion,\” the Ministry of Finance had said in a tweet.

The meeting focused on the recently launched initiative of National Infrastructure Master Plan \’Gati Shakti\’ and India’s third-largest start-up ecosystem and the unicorn base (start-up companies reaching a high valuation).

On October 13, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Rs 100-lakh crore national master plan for multi-modal connectivity that aims to develop infrastructure to reduce logistic costs and boost the economy.

PM Gati Shakti targets to cut logistic costs, increase cargo handling capacity and reduce the turnaround time, Modi said at a function to launch the plan.

[Inputs from PTI]

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