India finance chief on beating China's growth

While India is on track to overtake China as the fastest growing major emerging market in the world this year, the country's finance minister Arun Jaitley says he's not rejoicing yet.

"I'm not unusually excited because I know what China has already achieved. China grew at 9 percent plus for thirty years," Jaitley told CNBC on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting of its board of governors in Baku, Azerbaijan.

To achieve that, India has to ramp up investment into both rural and urban infrastructure and focus on the development of its manufacturing sector, he said.

"It's only then that we achieve the 9-10 percent growth rate, and once we are able to do it for a decade or so, we can lower poverty rates. It's only then, I'll feel excited about it. Today it's just the beginning of the whole process," he said.

Asia's third-largest economy is forecast to expand 7.5 percent in the current fiscal year ending March 2015, using the government's new method for calculating gross domestic product (GDP), up from 7.2 percent in the previous year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

China's economy, by comparison, is expected to grow 6.8 percent in 2015, down from 7.4 percent last year.

Another factor that would boost economic activity is lower interest rates, according to Jaitley, who has been calling on the Reserve Bank of India to cut borrowing costs.

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"I have not the least doubt that interest rates in future will come down even more, and that's when the competitiveness of the India economy will continue to rise," he said.

At its last meeting on April 7, the RBI kept rates on hold at 7.5 percent, saying that it would wait longer to assess inflationary pressures before making its next move. It has cut rates twice this year, in January and March, by a total of 50 basis points.

Hitting back at critics who say Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has been slow on reforms, Jaitley insisted that the current government has done more than in its first year than any other in the country's history.

"Never in Indian history has there been a government, which in its first one year, has undertaken such a large spate of reforms," he said.

Jaitley said he didn't believe the stock market's pullback in recent weeks was tied to stalling reform momentum.

The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex, which is flat year-to-date after rising around 30 percent last year, "has its own logic," he said.

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"The Sensex is dependent on a large number of factors, including fund flows, whether the investors want to sell, whether they want to buy, whether the buyers want to come in or do they want to go elsewhere. That has nothing to do with the reforms in India," he said.

Investment strategists attribute the reversal of fortunes in stocks to a combination of factors including weak corporate earnings, soft growth momentum and uncertainty over the government's tax policy.

They say a potential market stimulant would be the passage of the controversial Land Acquisition Bill.

Opponents of the bill argue it will hurt the interests of farmers, while the government says it's required for economic development.