Davos: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the keynote speech at the World Economic Forum at Davos today. Speaking to global CEOs, Modi urged the business community to do business with India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, in 1997 when former prime minister of India visited Davos, India’s GDP was 400 billion dollars, but after two decades now it is more than six times.
Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to attend the WEF in Davos since Deve Gowda in 1997.
Delivering a keynote address at the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meet in Davos, Modi said, “I am happy to be in Davos to address the World Economic Forum. This Summit seems to find solutions to the various problems the world faces. I thank the people and Government of Switzerland for the warm welcome here.”
The Prime Minister said in 1997, Amazon was just a forest and tweet was just about a bird. He said WEF is creating a shared community in a fractured world.
Modi said, “Technology is assuming immense importance in this era. We have mountains of data now.”
He also said, data is a big asset today and is posing a big challenge. Modi further added, “There is lack of consensus between us, but there is a feeling of solidarity between us.”
The Prime Minister said India has always believed in values of integration and unity, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means the entire world is one family. He added that it is relevant to bridge distances.
Modi said the world is facing constant challenges and there are three main challenges in front of the world.
The Prime Minister said the glaciers are receding, the Arctic ice is melting, islands are going under water or are about to.
He added: “Heat and cold, excessive rain and drought – effects of extreme weather are seen everywhere. Even here, we are seeing the highest snowfall in 20 years.”
Modi said concerted action is required to tackle climate change. Care towards the environment is part of Indian culture.
“We should have shed our divisions and united to tackle the challenge, but we must ask honestly if we have done so. Everyone says climate emissions must be reduced, But how many developed countries reach out to developing nations with the technology required to do so?” Modi asked.
He further added, “Thousands of years ago, our sacred texts, read that we humans are the children of mother Earth. But then why do we see a war between humans and environment?”
Recalling the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said, “Mahatma Gandhi always endorsed utilisation based on need, and opposed greed. But we have wandered far from that thought and exploited nature. We must ask ourselves, is this development or is this deterioration?”
He said to preserve climate, India has set an ambitious target of 175 GW power from renewable energy and we have already achieved 33 per cent of that target.
The Prime Minister said the second biggest challenge is terrorism. He said, “Terrorism is a big threat to humanity. We all are aware about the threats of terrorism.”
Modi said the big threat ahead of our world is artificial creation of good and bad terrorists. It is painful to see some youngsters getting radicalised, he further added.
Modi said the third challenge is increased self-centredness around the world.
He said, “Globalisation around the world is shrinking. Every one talks of an inter-connected world but the shine of globalisation is reducing. We must see if the global organisations created after World War II reflects the new dynamics of the world today. Some world powers don’t just want to shun globalisation but they want to stall it. An example of this is new tariff barriers.”
Modi further said that Mahatma Gandhi had said he didn’t want the walls and windows of his world be closed from all sides. He said he wanted the air of the world to come in freely but that shouldn’t uproot his home.
The Prime Minister said India follows the philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. He said: “We Indians understand the value of diversity. We understand the importance of freedom and democracy.”
Modi further added that in 2014, India’s 600 crore voters, for the first time gave a complete majority to one party. He said: “We have always strived for ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ (Development for all). And this forms the bedrock of all policies of my government. Be it opening bank accounts for all Indians to ensure financial inclusion, or digital inclusion, or gender justice. Progress is only real when it helps everyone and everyone joins us in the journey.”
Modi stated the path of India’s progress is reform, perform and transform. He said: “This is why investing in India, travelling to India, manufacturing in India has become much easier than before. We have pledged to end license raj, we are removing red tape and laying out the red carpet. New doors for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) are being opened. 1,400 laws that were hurdles to progress have been scrapped. Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been implemented, technology is being used to increase transparency. Democracy, demography and dynamism are shaping our destiny today.”
Modi said in 3.5 years (after he was voted to power), India has seen massive changes that accept the aspirations of 1.25 billion Indians. The Prime Minister said, “Innovation and entrepreneurship are making young Indians job givers, not job seekers. For a shared prosperity, we have to work together, shedding our differences.”
Modi said the world’s economic and security organisations need reforms, and the world’s economic progress must be faster.
He said, “India has always cooperated with the world to tackle challenges. India has been the largest contributor in the UN peacekeeping force in terms of troops. India has always been the first responder to crises in neighbouring and friendly nations. A predictable, stable, transparent and progressive India will continue to be the good news in an uncertain world.”
Modi added, “India will always be a unifying and harmonising force. Rabindranath Tagore had written of a heaven of freedom where the world is not divided by narrow walls. Let’s make that a reality.”
Inviting the CEOs to India the Prime Minister said, “I invite you all to come to India – If you want wellness with wealth, come to India; If you want wholeness with health, come to India; If you want peace with prosperity, come to India. Remember, that you will always be welcome in India.”
The top annual global business is being attended by 70 head of states. 38 heads of major international organisations such as the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, and nearly 2,000 CEOs including over 100 from India are present at the summit.