Governor of Uttarakhand, Smt. Baby Rani Maurya Ji, all my Cabinet colleagues, Chief Minister of the State, Trivendra Singh Rawat Ji, all the members of the Uttarakhand Cabinet, the Minister of Communications and Information of Singapore, Mr. S. Iswaran, the Ambassadors of Japan and the Czech Republic, the entrepreneurs from around the world, ladies and gentlemen.
I welcome and greet all the friends who have come from across the country and the world to this sacred place of Baba Kedar nath ji and Char Dham: Uttarakhand. I believe that you will experience India's economic environment along with our cultural diversity which is thousands of years old, get acquainted with it and return with a new feeling.
We have gathered here on the land of Uttarakhand at a time when both economic and social transformations are sweeping India. The country is passing through a major phase of transformation. We are moving towards a new India. Every major international organization is saying that India is going to be the main engine of world's growth in the coming decades. Now, India's economy has stabilized, fiscal deficit has narrowed down and the inflation rate is under control. The middle class is growing at a rapid pace. The youth power of more than 80 crores that has made up the demographic dividend is full of aspirations and capabilities.
Economic reforms in speed and skill are going on in India at an unprecedented rate. More than 10000 initiatives have been taken by the Central and the State governments in the last two years. India has improved 42 points in Ease of Doing Business just because of these initiatives. In the process of reforms, we have done away with more than 1400 laws. Besides, reforms have also been made in the taxation system of India. Efforts are being made to make tax-related solutions more transparent and efficient.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has made doing business easier and has strengthened the banking system. The greatest tax reform in India since independence has been in the form of GST. GST has turned the country into a single market and has helped in expanding the tax base.
Our infrastructure sector is also growing at a record speed. Last year, 10 thousand kilometers long National Highway was constructed in India. This means that the work was progressing at a rate of 27kilometer per day. This speed is double than that of the previous governments.
The railway lines are also being constructed at double speed. Besides, work is underway for new metro, high speed rail projects, dedicated freight corridor in several cities. The government is moving ahead with the modernization of 400 railway stations.
India's aviation sector is also growing at a rapid pace. To speed up the process further, about 100 more airports and helipads are being constructed. Work is going on to improve the air connectivity to tier-2 and Tier 3 cities through UDAN scheme. Work is also underway to create more than 100 national waterways.
Besides, targets of myriad schemes like housing for all, power for all, clean fuel for all, health for all and banking for all are about to be soon achieved. In short, we can say that because of this all-round change there is a favourable environment for you and the investors from around the world.
The recently launched Ayushman Bharat Yojana has increased the possibility of investment in the medical sector in India. In the near future, new hospitals, medical colleges, paramedical human resource development institutions will come up and paramedical infrastructure will be strengthened in tier-2 and tier-3 cities because of this scheme. You can imagine that more than 50 crore Indians will be getting health insurance assurance of up to Rs.5 lakh under Ayushman Bharat Yojana. That is, a population of more than the total population of America, Canada and Mexico put together will receive this benefit. Population of more than that of entire Europe will get this benefit. Thus, we will require a number of hospitals as well as doctors to deliver these benefits. There is an immense possibility of investment and the payment for the patients is ready beforehand. This means that there is an assurance of return for the investors. This is a major opportunity for capital investment that opens up the possibility of setting up best quality hospitals in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
Today the rate at which expenditure on infrastructure is being made is like never before. Therefore, immense possibilities of investment are also opening up lakhs of opportunities for employment. Potentiality, policy and performance are the means of progress. New India is the best destination for investment and Destination Uttarakhand is a shining part of that. Uttarakhand is among those states that represent New India and our demographic dividend. Today's Uttarakhand represents the youth and their zeal. I believe that the government under Trivendra Rawat Ji is making tremendous efforts to turn the seamless possibilities of this region into opportunities. This platform of Destination Uttarakhand represents these efforts. Now it is pertinent to put these discussions, confidence and enthusiasm on ground as soon as possible so that the youngsters of Uttarakhand get maximum opportunities for employment.
When Late Atal Bihari Vajpayee ji had decided to create Uttarakhand, circumstances were not favourable. Apart from political instability we had an uphill task before us to a better future. However, today Uttarakhand is moving ahead at a rapid pace on the path of development.
Several steps have been taken to promote and empower Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). The emphasis is being laid on providing higher credit, support capital, interest subsidy, lower tax and innovation for small enterprises. Recently, it has been decided that loans of up to Rs.1 crore for the MSMEs will be approved in a very short time.
Several facilities are now available online to ensure that no investor has to visit government offices for getting project clearances. A web portal named 'PARIVESH' is for online environmental clearances which has not only simplified the process but has also accelerated it.
Several steps have been taken in the last four years to expand connectivity in Uttarakhand in every possible way. Uttarakhand is being connected through highways, railways and airways. Every village is now getting metaled roads. Moreover, the work for Char Dham all-weather road and Hrishikesh- Karnaprayag rail line is progressing at a rapid pace.
The tourism sector in particular is going to benefit from better connectivity. The nature has not only enriched this state with abundance, but it is also blessed with religious faith and culture. Uttarakhand tourism is a complete package of nature, adventure, culture, yoga and meditation. It is an ideal destination. With a separate tourism policy, the Uttarakhand government has given tourism the status of an industry. For the first time in 18 years, 13 new tourist destinations in 13 districts have been identified for developing. This will definitely open up employment opportunities for the state's youth.
Uttarakhand has the potential to become an organic state. I am glad that efforts are going on under the cluster based organic farming to make it an organic state. The central government is also working hard to provide a market for organic farming.
Also, food processing is being emphasized along with it. The government has approved 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the food processing sector to strengthen it. India is one of the pioneering countries in the field of food processing. It includes production of food grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. In all of these fields, India stands within first three ranks. Our focus is on food processing sector so as to ensure that there is no wastage in farmers' production and they take maximum advantage out of it. Uttarakhand has a bright future in this regard.
I would like to make a special request to you all for making greater investments in agriculture and agri-business. The impending value addition in the agriculture will play a pivotal role in increasing the incomes of the farmers. And I believe that with greater private investments in the agriculture sector, food processing, value addition, cold storage, warehousing or transportation with special types of carriages and tapping into the strength and potential of the rural economy will give a new dimension to the economic potential of India.
India is heading towards becoming a world leader in terms of renewable energy today. Today, India has the power to lead the world. We have decided that by 2030, 40% of the electricity generation will be from non-fossil fuel based resources. Moreover, by 2022 that marks 75 years of Indian independence, we have set a target of producing 175 GW of renewable energy. Solar power forms a major part of this target. This is the concept behind International Solar Alliance (ISA). To ensure that the energy needs of the world are fulfilled and the environment is protected, we have one mantra - ’one world, one sun, one grid'. The state government is also making efforts to promote renewable energy in Uttarakhand. Hydel power is the strength of this state. Uttarakhand has the potential of becoming an energy surplus state with the addition of power like solar energy. Uttarakhand has the power and the potential to make India energy-rich.
In the last four years, Make in India has turned into a major brand. We urge Make in India to be not only for India but for the whole world. The world has accepted our invitation and now India is becoming the hub for not only Information Technology but also for electronic manufacturing. Today, the world's largest mobile phone manufacturing unit is operating in India along with more than 120 factories. World's several major brands are now part of Make in India.
At the same time, India is making great strides in the field of automobile sector. Japan is the partner of Uttarakhand for this event. Friends, you will be glad to know that Japan’s products, its cars are now manufactured in India and Japan imports the cars.
Today through this programme, I invite you all to invest in different sectors and to become a part of the growth story of Uttarakhand and New India.
I believe that the MoUs that are going to be signed in the next two days will fructify very soon and if we channelize the potential of the states to the maximum level, no one can stop India's progress and growth story. It is wonderful that today a healthy competition has started among the states. Every state wants to beat the other and be more innovative. Every state wants to do it according to its capability. When a state progresses with its capabilities, I don't think it will lag behind for long.
The strength of our states is greater than many of the countries of the world. The potential of our states is immense compared to several of the smaller countries of the world.
I want every state to dream big. I still remember when I had become the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Even that date was 7th October. The year was 2001. I had no experience. I didn't know how a government functioned. I had not seen any office. I was completely new. Journalists came and started posing difficult questions. They were trying hard so that I made a mistake or said something that would not allow my career to take off in the first place. So, one person asked me that as I wanted to build Gujarat, who was my idol? Whom would I follow to build Gujarat? Usually it is assumed that while answering such questions, people say they want to follow America or England. I gave a different answer. I said that I would like to build it like South Korea. They were confused. I said "please shut off your cameras. Let me explain it to you. You must not face any difficulty”. I said that the population of Gujarat is almost similar to that of South Korea. Both have coastal boundaries; their journey for development is the same. I said, 'I have studied it in so much detail that if we follow that path, we will definitely move ahead; and we will never stop’.
I believe that every state has that potential. It can compete and leave many such countries behind. Every state of our country can move ahead with this capability. Our youngsters have that strength, potential and capabilities.
The Russian President was here the day before yesterday. First of all, we had attended a very different programme. He was very fond of an educational institution of Russia. He had once taken me there. I had requested him to bring those students to India. And I said that I also wished to send some of the students from India to your place. So this time he had brought 20 students with him. 20 Russian students had worked with 20 Indian students for 5-6 days. Those students had done such a wonderful task that both I and the Russian President were stupefied! There is immense potential in our children. They should get the right opportunities and exposure. Today Uttarakhand has taken one step forward in that direction. 18th year is very significant. Uttarakhand is age-old but the Uttarakhand government is 18 year old. The enthusiasm and dreams of 18 years, the intensions of 18 years to do something new are amazing! Uttarakhand must be careful to not waste this 18th year. It is an extremely valuable time.
We have been hearing about Special Economic Zones (SEZs) for economic development for the past several decades. However, Uttarakhand has a different SEZ. It is there for centuries due to the penance of rishis and sages, mother Ganga and Devadidev Himalayas. This is rather a region of Spiritual Eco Zone. The strength of the Spiritual Eco Zone is million times greater than the Special Economic Zone. Uttarakhand must extend its schemes centred on it for development.
I believe that under the leadership of Rawat Ji, this 18 year old enthusiastic government will help the state to scale new heights and in 2025, when you will attain the age of 25 years, several of your dreams will already be fulfilled. This great effort has given an auspicious start. I am extremely delighted and I assure you that you will get complete support from the central government.
Thanks a lot!