India should think big and devise ways to reap its demographic dividend, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said here Monday and accused the UPA government of failing to provide effective governance.
Addressing the first 'Think India Dialogue' of Network 18, Modi said there was a sense of discontent among the people.
He said the country needs to widen its canvas of thinking. "The thinking is on a small scale. The canvas should be bigger," he said.
"There is demographic dividend as 65 percent population is below 35. Democracy itself is a dividend," Modi said.
Widely seen as the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, Modi said the coming century was being described as the "Asian century" and India was bound to face competition and clash with China over development.
He said India was more powerful than China on two scores: demographic dividend and democracy.
Modi said India needs to invest in skill development of youth.
Referring to solar energy, he said Gujarat had encouraged the sector and helped bring per unit cost of electricity down from Rs.19 to Rs.12.
"If we think on big scale, we can change things," Modi said.
He said there was need to focus on employability in education.
Calling for decentralisation of power, he said the gap between people and administration was increasing.
Modi said political parties desisted from hard decisions because there was a constant cycle of elections in the country.
He said governance was about outcomes and not outlays.
Answering a query about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in defence manufacturing, Modi said the BJP was opposed to FDI in multi-brand retail and not in technology.
Taking a dig at the United Progressive Alliance government, Modi said attempt to improve delivery system was also being described as reform.
"Reform has become a very vague word. If there is major change in taxation system, if licence raj is finished, that is a reform," Modi said.
Modi accused the Congress of squandering money on schemes to get votes.
He said the government cannot act as a charitable trust and devise a scheme if money came to its coffers.
"If these things are stopped, then also it will be a reform in a substantial measure," he said.
Asked if he was referring to the proposed food security bill, Modi said he was not.
Modi earlier in the day addressed a meeting of the women's wing of industry lobby FICCI.