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Dear Friends,

On the evening of the 19th, my trip to Myanmar, Australia and Fiji concluded. While on the way back I was reflecting on the last ten days - what did we achieve, what were the outcomes for India and that is when I thought I should also share some thoughts with you through my Blog.

To begin with, it is vital to understand the historic uniqueness of this visit.

In the case of Australia, this was the first bilateral visit by a Prime Minister of India in 28 years. Fiji witnessed such a visit almost 33 years back. On one hand, the IT and Communication revolution brought the world closer but on the other hand, we could not reach the shores of these two countries, each important in its own way, for almost three decades.

I thought this must change.

I attended five Summits including the one with leaders of Pacific Islands that I hosted in Fiji and met 38 world leaders. The number of full bilateral meetings I had stands at 20. In fact, I had the opportunity to meet leaders from every part of the world! These meetings were frank, comprehensive and fruitful. We covered substantial ground on several issues. I met a wide range of business leaders as well.

During these bilateral meetings, I noticed one thing- that the world is looking at India with renewed respect and immense enthusiasm! I see a global community that is tremendously keen to engage with India.

With every leader, we discussed how we could make our relations more extensive, diverse and wide-ranging. Strengthening trade and commerce and drawing industry to India was a central part of the discussion.Numerous leaders I met were very optimistic about our ‘Make in India’ initiative and are keen to come to India and be a part of the extensive and diverse opportunities India has to offer. I see this as a positive sign, one that will bring several opportunities to India’s youth and give them the right exposure that will make them shine. Such exposure has become imperative keeping in mind the pace at which the world is developing. Several world leaders also showed keenness on our plans to create ‘Next Gen Infrastructure’ and smart cities.

I had the opportunity to address the Parliaments of Australia and Fiji during this visit.

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Coming from the world’s largest democracy, it is always heartening to visit these temples of democracies and to share thoughts from within the hallowed portals of their four walls. There is no bond that is stronger than a bond between two democracies. On one hand it gave me an opportunity to reach out to the wider political leadership of these nations and on the other hand it opened new avenues for co-operation. Once again, the lawmakers were very upbeat about India.

Both addresses were a first for any Indian Prime Minister. In fact, I was told that my address to the Fijian Parliament was a first by any world leader. This is not a personal achievement, but it is a reflection on the respect that the 125 crore people of India have in the eyes of the global community.

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At the G-20 Summit, India placed the issue of existence and repatriation of black money at the forefront of the world community.

I am glad that the world community took note of this because this is an issue that does not selectively affect one nation. The menace of black money has the potential to destabilize world peace and harmony. Black money also brings with it terrorism, money laundering and narcotics trade. As democracies firmly committed to the rule of law, it becomes our obligation to collectively fight this evil and there was no better occasion than the G-20 to raise this. Our efforts paid off with the official communiqué reflecting this issue.

The ASEAN Summit was an opportunity to engage with the Leadership of ASEAN nations as we discussed how to deepen engagement both as a group of nations and with each Nation individually.

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It is my conviction that ASEAN and India can explore new frontiers together. We share the bonds of culture and history and at the same time are blessed with the vigour and energy of our youth.

I discussed affordable housing with PM Razak of Malaysia, energy issues with the Sultan of Brunei and urban development issues with PM Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore.

In Fiji I met with leaders of the Pacific Island Nations. This is a region that is important to us. I am very happy to have taken a significant and concrete step towards stronger bilateral relations with each of these nations individually. There is a lot we can do for these nations and there is a lot we can learn from them.

Wherever I went, I witnessed immense warmth from the people. I am extremely grateful to President Thein Sein, Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Bainimarama the leaders of the three nations who hosted me.

My individual meetings with them also covered significant ground on how to take relations with our respective nations ahead.

With President Thein Sein my talks were centered around the 3Cs of culture, commerce and connectivity. Prime Minister Abbott and I made unprecedented progress in the areas of energy, culture, and security and are moving very positively on the issue of nuclear energy. The Framework for Security Cooperation is a fitting recognition of the increasing security ties with Australia. There will be a ‘Make in India’ roadshow next year to invite Australia companies to India. During my meeting with Australian business leaders, I could see their willingness and eagerness to invest in India and such a roadshow will surely be very valuable in this context.

On a personal note, the affection from the Indian community was touching. Be it in Myanmar, Australia and Fiji, I will not be able to describe their warmth in words. I could see that they were proud of India and of the changes happening in India. I could see dreams and expectations in their eyes. As I said during the Indian community programme in Sydney, we are fully aware of the expectations and we will leave no stone unturned in creating the India of their dreams.

There was immense glee on the faces of our diaspora when I announced the visa-on-arrival facilities and the OCI and PIO merger in Australia and Fiji. It is our aim to make the diaspora an integral part of our development journey and since the last few months we have channelized our efforts in this regard. We want to create an environment where our diaspora also feel that they can contribute towards India’s development. That is also the reason I urged NRIs to keep sharing their views and thoughts on www.mygov.in.

I fondly remember the reception at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was very kind of PM Abbott to specially fly down to Melbourne and host the reception, where cricketing greats including Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, VVS Laxman, Allan Border, Steve Waugh, Dean Jones and Glenn McGrath joined.

Friends, my eastward travels over the past few days have been a reminder to me of what the world expects from India.

I saw in their eyes a desire to see India playing its part for a peaceful, stable and developed global community.

I also saw a reflection of the energy of our youth, keeping pace with rapid changes across the world.

I am convinced, with even greater consciousness, of the positive difference India can make on the world stage.

The world is looking at India with renewed enthusiasm.

We must reciprocate with a renewed commitment to our shared values and goals.

Together we shall script a better future for India and the rest of the world.

 Yours,

Narendra Modi

More information relating to the visit

Myanmar

Bilateral with President Thein Sein

Meeting with Aung San Swu Kyi

Indian Community reception

Videos from PM's visit to Myanmar

Opening Statement by the PM at India-ASEAN summit

G20

Speeches and Interventions

Text speeches

G20 bilateral/retreats

Australia

QUT

Addressing Australian businessmen in Brisbane and Melbourne

Meetings with Tony Abbott

Meetings with Australian political leaders

Address to Australian Parliament

Indian Community programme

War Memorial

Videos from PM's visit to Australia

Fiji

Welcome ceremony

Address to Parliament

Address to University

Videos from PM's visit to Fiji

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Reforms by Conviction and Incentives
June 22, 2021
షేర్ చేయండి
 
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The Covid-19 pandemic has come with whole new set of challenges to Governments across the world in terms of policy-making. India is no exception. Raising enough resources for public welfare while ensuring sustainability is proving to be one of the biggest challenges.

In this back-drop of financial crunch seen across the world, do you know that Indian states were able to borrow significantly more in 2020-21? It would perhaps pleasantly surprise you that states were able to raise an extra Rs 1.06 lakh crores in 2020-21. This significant increase in availability of resources was made possible by an approach of Centre-State bhagidari. 

When we formulated our economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we wanted to ensure that our solutions do not follow a ‘one size fits all’ model. For a federal country of continental dimensions, finding policy instruments at the national level to promote reforms by State Governments is indeed challenging. But, we had faith in the robustness of our federal polity and we moved ahead in the spirit of Centre-State bhagidari. 

In May 2020, as part of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat package, the Government of India announced that State Governments would be allowed enhanced borrowing for 2020-21. An extra 2% of GSDP was allowed, of which 1% was made conditional on the implementation of certain economic reforms. This nudge for reform is rare in Indian public finance. This was a nudge, incentivising the states to adopt progressive policies to avail additional funds. The results of this exercise are not only encouraging but also run contrary to the notion that there are limited takers for sound economic policies.

The four reforms to which additional borrowings were linked (with 0.25% of GDP tied to each one) had two characteristics. Firstly, each of the reforms was linked to improving the Ease of Living to the public and particularly the poor, the vulnerable, and the middle class. Secondly, they also promoted fiscal sustainability.

The first reform under the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ policy required State Governments to ensure that all ration cards in the State under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) were seeded with the Aadhaar number of all family members and that all Fair Price Shops had Electronic Point of Sale devices. The main benefit from this is that migrant workers can draw their food ration from anywhere in the country. Apart from these benefits to citizens, there is the financial benefit from the elimination of bogus cards & duplicate members. 17 states completed this reform and were granted additional borrowings amounting to Rs. 37,600 crores. 

The second reform, aimed at improving ease of doing business, required states to ensure that renewal of business-related licences under 7 Acts is made automatic, online and non-discretionary on mere payment of fees. Another requirement was implementation of a computerized random inspection system and prior notice of inspection to reduce harassment and corruption under a further 12 Acts. This reform (covering 19 laws) is of particular help to micro and small enterprises, who suffer the most from the burden of the ‘inspector raj'. It also promotes an improved investment climate, greater investment and faster growth. 20 states completed this reform and were allowed additional borrowing of Rs. 39,521 crores. 

The 15th Finance Commission and several academics have emphasised the crucial importance of sound property taxation. The third reform required states to notify floor rates of property tax and of water & sewerage charges, in consonance with stamp duty guideline values for property transactions and current costs respectively, in urban areas. This would enable better quality of services to the urban poor and middle class, support better infrastructure and stimulate growth. Property tax is also progressive in its incidence and thus the poor in urban areas would benefit the most. This reform also benefits municipal staff who often face delay in payment of wages. 11 states completed these reforms and were granted additional borrowing of Rs. 15,957 crores. 

The fourth reform was introduction of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in lieu of free electricity supply to farmers. The requirement was for formulation of a state-wide scheme with actual implementation in one district on a pilot basis by year end. Additional borrowing of 0.15% of GSDP was linked to this. A component was also provided for reduction in technical & commercial losses and another for reducing the gap between revenues and costs (0.05% of GSDP for each). This improves the finances of distribution companies, promotes conservation of water and energy and improves service quality through better financial and technical performance. 13 states implemented at least one component, while 6 states implemented the DBT component. As a result, Rs. 13,201 crore of additional borrowings was permitted. 

Overall, 23 states availed of additional borrowings of Rs. 1.06 lakh crores out of a potential of Rs. 2.14 lakh crores. As a result, the aggregate borrowing permission granted to states for 2020-21 (conditional and unconditional) was 4.5% of the initially estimated GSDP. 

For a large nation with complex challenges as ours, this was a unique experience. We have often seen that for various reasons, schemes and reforms remain un-operational often for years. This was a pleasant departure from the past where the Centre & States came together to roll out public friendly reforms in a short span of time amidst the pandemic. This was made possible due to our approach of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas. Officials who have been working on these reforms suggest that without this incentive of additional funds, enactment of these policies would have taken years. India has seen a model of ‘reforms by stealth and compulsion’. This is a new model of ‘reforms by conviction and incentives’. I am thankful to all the states who took the lead in ushering in these policies amidst tough times for the betterment of their citizens. We shall continue working together for the rapid progress of 130 crore Indians.