Greetings to all the industry stalwarts and all the members of CII, who are driving India's progress! Present at the event are my senior colleagues in the Union Cabinet, Shri TV Narendran, the President of CII, all the leaders of the industry, and diplomats from many countries, Ambassadors of India to different countries, ladies and gentlemen!
Today's meeting is very important in the context of the global pandemic. We can see the growing partnership between the government and the industry of India in the midst of such a huge crisis. The industry has contributed in every possible way whatever and whenever the country needed, from masks, PPE, ventilators to vaccinations. All friends of the industry and organizations have always been an important part of India's growth story. The economy of India is now gaining momentum again with your efforts. Now-a-days, there is hardly a day when there is no statement or report from a CEO about new opportunities. We have also seen reports regarding record hiring in the IT sector. This is the result of digitization and growth of demand in the country. Now we should endeavor to move towards our goals at double the speed using these new opportunities.
This meeting of CII is taking place in the midst of the 75th Independence Day, the Amrit Mahotsav of freedom. This is a huge opportunity for the Indian industry to set new resolutions and goals. The huge responsibility for the success of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign rests on Indian industries. And I want to tell you that the government is with you and with your every effort. The Indian industry should take full advantage of the environment that has been created today for the country’s development and the confidence that has been created in its capabilities. You can experience, see and feel for yourself the changes in India in the past years, whether it is in the thinking and approach of the government or in the working of the government systems. Today's new India is ready and raring to march with the new world. India, which was once apprehensive of foreign investment, is welcoming all kinds of investment now. India, whose tax policies once used to cause disappointment among investors, now has the world's most competitive corporate tax and faceless tax system.
India, where bureaucracy was identified with entangling people in laws and documents, is making a big leap in the ranks of the Ease of Doing Business. Where for years, the workers and the industries were kept entangled in the web of hundreds of laws; today dozens of labor laws have been assimilated under 4 labor codes. Where once agriculture was considered only as a means of subsistence; efforts are being made now to directly connect Indian farmers with the markets of the country and abroad through historic reforms in agriculture. As a result India is getting record FDI and FPI. The country’s forex reserves are also at an all time high.
I want to give you an example of what is the thought process of New India. There was a time when we would think that whatever is foreign is better. Industry veterans like you understand very well what was the result of this psychology? Even our own brands, which we had built after years of hard work, were promoted under foreign names only. Today the situation is changing rapidly. Today the sentiment of the countrymen is with the products made in India. It is not necessary that the company is Indian, but today every Indian wants to adopt products made in India. The country has made up its mind and now the industry has to make its policy and strategy accordingly. This will help you a lot while moving forward in the AtmaNirbhar Bharat campaign.
There is another factor which you should pay attention to is the growing confidence of the people of India. We can see this confidence in every sector. You experienced it recently during the Olympics. Today the youth of India are not hesitant when they take the field. They want to work hard, take risks and bring results. ‘Yes, we belong to this place’ is the sentiment of our youth today. The same confidence is in the start-ups of India today. Today unicorns are also becoming the identity of new India. There would be hardly 3-4 unicorns in India 7-8 years ago. There are about 60 unicorns in India today. Of these, 21 unicorns have come up only in the last few months. You must have taken note of it that these unicorns are emerging in different sectors. The emergence of unicorns in health-tech and social commerce is an indication of the change happening in India at every level. The tendency to take risks in business and rely on one's own ability is growing continuously. Even during this pandemic, the ambitions of our start-ups are on high. There has also been a record response from investors for Indian start-ups.
Record listing of start-ups is the beginning of a new era for Indian companies and the Indian market. This is also another proof that India has extraordinary opportunities and tremendous scope available for growth.
Today the enthusiasm in the country regarding technology is motivating the government for rapid reforms. The reforms we have introduced were not easy decisions, they were not simple changes. The demand for all these reforms was there for decades, everyone was underscoring the need for them. There would be a lot of discussions, but decisions were not taken because it was assumed that it would be difficult to bring about changes. But you have also seen how we have taken the same decisions with full determination. Even during the pandemic, the process of reforms continued. You are witnessing how the country has stood by these decisions. Commercial coal mining has been given the go-ahead, private sector participation is being encouraged openly, big reforms have been initiated in the defense sector and space and atomic sector have been opened to the private sector. Today, private players are being given opportunities in non-strategic as well as strategic sectors; the government is minimizing its control. All these difficult decisions are becoming possible today because the country trusts its private sector and all of you. As our (private) companies become active in these areas, their possibilities will expand. Our youth will get maximum opportunities and a new era of innovations will start.
It is the result of the country's faith in our industry that today the ease of doing business and the ease of living is improving. The amendments made in the Companies Act is a great example. Today so many provisions are being decriminalized, which were never less than a headache for our entrepreneurs. Similarly, several steps have been taken to encourage the MSME sector which will free it from limiting compulsions. Special attention is also being given to state level reforms. States have also been made partners and they are being given additional spending facilities. Along with Make in India, the country has also started implementing effective PLI schemes to speed up employment and exports. All these reforms are happening today because the government is under no compulsion; reforms are a matter of conviction for us. Even today the speed of our reforms remains the same. In this session of Parliament, many such bills have been passed which will give further impetus to these efforts. The Factoring Regulation Amendment Bill will help small businesses gain credit. The Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Amendment Bill will protect the rights of small depositors. More recently, we have corrected the mistakes of the past by deciding to do away with retrospective taxation. The way the industry has appreciated this decision, I am sure this will further strengthen the trust between the industry and the government.
There is a government in the country which is ready to take the biggest risk in the interest of the nation. You will recall that the GST was stuck for so many years only because those in the earlier governments could not muster the courage to take political risks. Not only did we implement GST, we are witnessing a record GST collection. I can count many such examples. Today there is a government in front of you, which is eliminating every restriction and pushing every boundary. Today there is a government, which is asking you to suggest ways to strengthen Indian industry.
Our ancestors have said that नैकं चक्रं परिभ्रमति i.e., the car cannot run with only one wheel. All wheels should be running properly. Therefore, the industry will also have to increase its natural tendency to take risks. We will have to choose new and difficult ways in realizing the resolve of AatmaNirbhar Bharat. The country also has high expectations from the industry to increase the pace of investment and employment. Decisive decisions are also being taken through the new PSE policy to rationalize and minimize the footprints of the public sector. The industry should also exhibit maximum enthusiasm and energy from its side.
The country has taken a huge step through the National Education Policy. It has a roadmap to create a new ecosystem ranging from schools, skills to research. The industry also has an active role in it. We have to work very seriously, especially regarding investment on research and development. We have to increase our investment on the R & D manifold for AatmaNirbhar Bharat and this is not possible only with government efforts. It requires huge industry participation. Our goal is to strengthen Brand India. Our aim is to give prosperity and respect to the country. We need to strengthen our partnership to achieve this goal. I am and will continue to be available for the resolution of your problems, for your every suggestion. May you all be inspired to take many resolutions during this Amrit Mahotsav of freedom and come forward with new determination and new energy! Best wishes to all of you! Thank you.