Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said 1.3 billion Indians have embarked on one mission — to create an “Atmanirbhar Bharat", which seeks to merge the local with the global and ensure the country’s strengths act as a global force multiplier.
“Time and time again, India has shown that our goal is global good," said Modi in his special keynote address at the third leadership summit of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) via video conference.
Modi said ‘Atamanirbhar Bharat’ is about transforming India from being just a passive market to an active manufacturing hub at the heart of global value chains. “The road further ahead is full of opportunities. These opportunities are in the public and private sector. They cover core economic sectors as well as the social sectors," he said.
Pitching India amongst the best investment destinations worldwide, Modi said the country’s political stability and policy continuity makes it the best place for global investors looking for attractive business opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said India was among the first nations in creating a responsive system of lockdowns and to advocate the use of masks and face coverings as a public health measure while ramping up its health infrastructure.
In record time, Modi said, medical infrastructure was scaled up including for COVID-19 hospitals and ICU capacities while ramping up its count of testing labs from just one in January to almost 1,600. The outcome of these efforts has been that a country with 130 crore people and limited resources has shown to have one of the lowest death rates per million in the world and also a steadily rising recovery rate, he said.
Modi said the pandemic has also shown the world that the decision on developing global supply chains should be based not only on costs but also on trust.
“Along with the affordability of geography, companies are now also looking for reliability and policy stability. India is the location that has all of these qualities," he said. “It is a government, for which ease of living is as important as the ease of doing business."
Modi cited a slew of reforms that have made India one of the lowest tax rate destinations with a further incentive for new manufacturing units and asserted that the country is committed to democracy and diversity which, he said, investors are looking at. Modi said his government’s reforms have made doing business easier and red-tapism lesser.
The work is underway on the world’s largest housing programme with renewable energy infrastructure is being expanded and rail, road and air connectivity being boosted, he said. “Our country is creating a unique digital model to build a national digital health mission. We are using the best of fintech to provide banking, credit, digital payments and insurance to millions. All these initiatives are being taken using world-class technology and global best practices," he said.
Noting that the current situation demands a fresh mindset that is human-centric with a spirit of cooperation between everyone, Modi said India did the same by scaling up its healthcare facilities in a record time to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said India was among the first globally to advocate masks and face coverings as a public health measure and also among the first to create a public campaign about social distancing.
Modi said his government launched one of the largest support programmes for the poor globally following the COVID-19 outbreak in the form of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojna, under which free foodgrain has been provided to over 80 crore people.
The pandemic has impacted several things but it has not impacted aspirations and ambitions of 130 crore Indians, he said, noting that India is becoming one of the leading attractions for foreign investment.
“Be it America or the Gulf, be it Europe or Australia-the world believes in us. We have received over $20 billion of foreign investment flows during this year. Google, Amazon and Mubadala Investments have announced long-term plans for India," he said.
The road ahead is full of opportunities in the public and the private sector, including the economic and social ones, said Modi, citing examples of coal, mining, railways, defence, space, and atomic energy among those that have been opened up further.