Text of Prime Minister's speech at 2014 SAARC Summit in Nepal

Published By : Admin | November 26, 2014 | 19:20 IST
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Prime Minister Sushil Koiralaji, my colleagues from South Asia

I am delighted to return to Kathmandu.

Koiralaji, congratulations on organising an excellent Summit

Thank you, Nepal, for your warm hospitality once again.

Greetings to the Observer countries present here.

This is my first SAARC. But, this is the second time I am meeting most of you together. I stepped into the office with the greetings of the entire world.

But, what moved me, dear colleagues, was your personal presence, with the good wishes of one-fourth of humanity.

Because the future I dream for India is the future I wish for our entire region.

The last Summit was three years ago. Only two of us here were present in Addu. Even Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has come here after her re-election. President Rajapaksa will soon go into one and I wish him good luck. I especially welcome our newest colleague, President Ghani.

Ours is a region of thriving democracy; of rich inheritance; the unmatched strength of youth; and, a strong thirst for change and progress.

In the last few months, I have travelled around the world.

From the middle of the Pacific, to the southern coast of Atlantic Ocean, I see a rising tide of integration.

And, negotiations on major trade agreements such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Because the barriers of boundaries inhibit progress; international partnerships add speed to it.

Because, in the life of an individual or a nation, a good neighbourhood is a universal aspiration.

Where does South Asia wish to stand in this world?

Nowhere in the world are collective efforts more urgent than in South Asia; and, nowhere else is it so modest.

Big and small, we face the same challenges - a long climb to the summit of development.

But, I have great belief in our boundless potential.

And, confidence - that comes from the many inspiring stories of innovation and initiative in each of our countries.

There is much to learn from each other; even more - to do together.

That was the vision and aspiration that brought us together as SAARC 30 years ago. We have travelled a long distance together since then.

We have an agreement, an institution or a framework of cooperation in every field. We also have many successes.

Yet, when we speak of SAARC, we usually hear two reactions – cynicism and scepticism. This, sadly, is in a region throbbing with the optimism of our youth.

Today, less than 5% of the region's global trade takes place between us. Even at this modest level, less than 10% of the region's internal trade takes place under SAARC Free Trade Area.

Indian companies are investing billions abroad, but less than 1% flow into our region.

It is still harder to travel within our region than to Bangkok or Singapore; and, more expensive to speak to each other.

How much have we done in SAARC to turn our natural wealth into shared prosperity; or, our borders into bridgeheads to a shared future?

Yet, South Asia is slowly coming together.

India and Bangladesh have deepened their links through rail, road, power and transit.

India and Nepal have started a new era of cooperation in energy; and, India and Bhutan are making those ties stronger by the day.

With Sri Lanka, we have transformed trade through a Free Trade Agreement.

We will soon launch a new arrangement to meet Maldives' need for oil.

Distance and difficulties have not held back India and Afghanistan.

And, bus and train sustain contacts between people in India and Pakistan

We have given five South Asian partners duty free access to 99.7% of their goods and are prepared to do more with others.

For India, it has been a privilege to provide assistance of nearly 8 billion U.S. dollars in South Asia over a decade.

It may not seem a great amount in these times, but we are grateful for the opportunity to have made a difference to the lives of a few brothers and sisters in our region.

Each of us has taken our initiatives.

However, as SAARC we have failed to move with the speed that our people expect and want.

Some argue that it is because of the region's development gap. But, that should actually spur us to do more.

Or, is it because we are stuck behind the walls of our differences and hesitant to move out of the shadows of the past?

This won't resolve our differences, but will certainly deprive us of opportunities.

Today, goods travel from one Punjab to the other Punjab through Delhi, Mumbai, Dubai and Karachi – making the journey eleven times longer and the cost four times more.

India, too, has its share of responsibility –because of our size and location. I know that many of your goods, too, have to do a Parikrama of India to reach their destinations.

Just think of what we are doing to our consumers - and to our environment!

We must shrink the distance between our producers and consumers and use the most direct routes of trade. I know India has to lead, and we will do our part hope, each of you will, too.

Infrastructure is our region's greatest weakness and it's most pressing need.

When I thought of coming to Kathmandu by road, it made many officials in India nervous.

Because of the condition of roads at the border!

Infrastructure is my greatest priority in India. And, I also want to set up a Special Purpose Facility in India to finance infrastructure projects in our region that enhances our connectivity and trade.

We speak of ease of doing business in India. Let's extend this to our region. I promise to ensure that our facilities at the border will speed up, not slow down, trade.

Let's all make our procedures simple, our facilities better, our standards common and our paper work less burdensome.

India will now give business visa for 3-5 years for SAARC. Let's make it even easier for our businesses through a SAARC Business Traveller Card.

Excellencies, India has a huge trade surplus with SAARC countries. I believe that this neither right nor sustainable.

We will address your concerns and give you a level playing field in India. But, I encourage you to attract Indian investments to produce for the Indian market and create jobs for your youth.

I also look to a future when your companies can easily raise funds in India for investments at home;

and, when we have cross-border industrial corridors, so that we can take advantage of the natural synergies and connected lives in our Border States.

I also believe that if we can light up each other's towns and villages, we can build a brighter tomorrow for our region.

Or, face a future when someone looks down at us from Space, and says that this is world's darkest corner.

Let us treat electricity as a commodity like any other that we invest and trade in. India will fully support these initiatives in the region.

We should also think with ambition to use solar energy and micro grids to quickly provide clean power to villages across the region.

Our relations become stronger when we connect the lives of the ordinary citizens of our countries. That is why connectivity and services by rail and road are so important. We should also connect ourselves more by air.

We will not only make a difference to the lives of our people but also promote tourism in the region

We should use the strength of shared heritage and our diversity - to encourage tourism within our region, and present South Asia to the world. We could begin with the Buddhist circuit, but we don't have to stop there.

As we seek to build bridges to prosperity, we must not lose sight of our responsibility to the millions living without hope.

We must work with our compassion of our hearts, but also with the power of science.

In the area of health, India will meet the shortfall in funds to establish the SAARC Regional Supra Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV.

We offer the five-in-one vaccine for the children of South Asia.

We will support monitoring and surveillance of polio-free countries, and provide vaccines where it might reappear.

And, for those coming to India for medical treatment, India will provide immediate medical visa for the patient and one attendant.

Information technology has removed all barriers to quality education. India is prepared to connect our South Asian students through online course and E-libraries. When we set up India's National Knowledge Network, we will be happy to extend it to the SAARC region.

The dream of a South Asian University has become a reality in New Delhi. But, to be truly South Asian, it must also have partnerships with at least one university in each SAARC country.

Excellencies,

India's gift of a satellite for the SAARC region will benefit us all in areas like education, telemedicine, disaster response, resource management, weather forecasting and communication.

We will also host a conference in India for all South Asian partners next year, to strengthen our collective ability to apply space technology in economic development and governance.

And, we plan to launch our satellite by the SAARC Day in 2016.

As neighbours, we should also be together in good and bad times.

India's capability and expertise in disaster management will always be available to South Asia.

Equally, as we reach out to our Indians caught in conflicts and disasters around the world, we will also be there for all our South Asian citizens.

Excellencies, a prosperous SAARC needs the strong foundation of a secure South Asia.

If we are sensitive to each other's security, and the lives of our people, we will deepen friendships, spur cooperation and advance stability in our region.

Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives.

Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes.

For India, our vision for the region rests on five pillars – trade, investment, assistance, cooperation in every area, contacts between our people – and, all through seamless connectivity.

This is the call of our times. This is the age of social media, where boundaries matter little.

There is a new awakening in South Asia; a new recognition of inter-linked destinies; and, a new belief in shared opportunities.

The bonds will flow.

Through SAARC or outside it.

Among us all or some of us.

We can all choose our paths to our destinations. But, when we join our hands and walk in step, the path becomes easier, the journey quicker and the destination closer.

I say this as much to my government and people, as I say to you.

We are meeting in the lap of Himalaya, which has nurtured us through the ages. Today, it is calling us to act.

Let us work to change cynicism into optimism.

Let us turn South Asia of flowering hope into a rich field of peace and prosperity.

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Start-ups are going to be the backbone of new India: PM Modi
January 15, 2022
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Startups makes presentations before PM on six themes
“It has been decided to celebrate January 16 as National Start-up Day to take the Startup culture to the far flung areas of the country”
“Three aspects of government efforts: first, to liberate entrepreneurship, innovation from the web of government processes, and bureaucratic silos, second, creating an institutional mechanism to promote innovation; third, handholding of young innovators and young enterprises”
“Our Start-ups are changing the rules of the game. That's why I believe Start-ups are going to be the backbone of new India.”
“Last year, 42 unicorns came up in the country. These companies worth thousands of crores of rupees are the hallmark of self-reliant and self-confident India”
“Today India is rapidly moving towards hitting the century of the unicorns. I believe the golden era of India's start-ups is starting now”
“Don't just keep your dreams local, make them global. Remember this mantra

Namaskar,

My colleagues in the Union Cabinet Piyush Goyal ji, Mansukh Mandaviya ji, Ashwini Vaishnaw ji, Sarbananda Sonowal ji, Parshottam Rupala ji, G. Kishan Reddy ji, Pashupati Kumar Paras ji, Jitendra Singh ji, Som Prakash ji, stalwarts from the world of start-ups from across the country, our young friends, other dignitaries and brothers and sisters,

All of us witnessed the success of Indian start-ups and also saw presentations from some of the stakeholders. All of you are doing a great job. This year of 2022 has ushered in even more possibilities for the Indian start-up ecosystem. The ‘Start-up India Innovation Week’ event assumes greater significance in the 75th year of independence. Your role in building a grand India on the completion of 100 years of its independence is immense.

I congratulate all the start-ups and the innovative youth who are raising the flag of India in the world of start-ups. It has been decided to celebrate January 16 as National Start-up Day so that this culture of start-ups gets as far as the far-flung parts of the country.

Friends,

The Start-up India Innovation Week is meant to celebrate the successes of the last year and also to discuss the future strategy. This decade is being called the ‘Techade of India’. There are three important aspects to the massive changes that the government is making in this decade to strengthen the innovation, entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem.

First, to liberate entrepreneurship and innovation from the web of government processes and bureaucratic silos; second, to create an institutional mechanism to promote innovation; and third to handhold young innovators and youth enterprises! Programs like Start-up India, Stand-Up India are part of such efforts.

Steps like eliminating the hassles of angel tax and simplifying tax filing, facilitating access to credit and ensuring thousands of crores of rupees of government funding reflect our commitment. Under Start-up India, start-ups have been given the facility to self-certify compliances related to nine labour and three environment laws.

The process of simplification of government procedures which started with the self-attestation of documents has reached the stage of eliminating over 25,000 compliances today. Startup Runway on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) platform is also very useful to enable start-ups to provide their products or services to the government easily.

Friends,

Trust in the ability and creativity of one’s youth is an important basis for the progress of any country. Recognizing this potential of its youth, India is making policies and implementing decisions today. There are more than 1,000 universities, 11,000 stand-alone institutions, 42,000 colleges and lakhs of schools in India. This is the great strength of India.

Our endeavour is to institutionalize innovation in the country by creating an attraction for innovation among students since childhood. More than 9,000 Atal Tinkering Labs are giving children a chance to innovate and work on new ideas in schools. The Atal Innovation Mission is ensuring new platforms for our youth to work on their innovative ideas. In addition, the network of thousands of labs in schools and colleges across the country promotes innovation in every field. We are emphasizing innovation and technology-based solutions to deal with the challenges of the country. We have engaged the youth by organizing many Hackathons and they have given us many innovative solutions in record time.

You must also have experienced how different departments and ministries of the government are in touch with the youth and start-ups and encouraging their new ideas. Whether it is new drone rules, or the new space policy, the priority of the government is to provide opportunities for innovation to as many youths as possible.

Our government has also simplified the rules related to IPR registration. The central and state governments together are supporting hundreds of incubators in the country today. Today, institutions like iCreate are playing a very important role in enhancing the innovation ecosystem in the country. iCreate, i.e., International Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, is giving a strong start to many start-ups and encouraging innovations.

And friends,

We can see the results of these efforts of the government. Whereas 4,000 patents were approved in 2013-14, more than 28,000 patents were granted last year. In 2013-14, about 70,000 trademarks were registered, whereas more than 2.5 lakh trademarks have been registered in 2021. In 2013-14, only 4,000 copyrights were granted, whereas this number crossed 16,000 last year. India's ranking in the Global Innovation Index has also improved a lot due to the campaign that is underway in India regarding innovation. In 2015, India was confined to 81 in this ranking. Now India is ranked 46 in the Innovation Index; it has come down from 50.

Friends,

India's start-up ecosystem is creating waves in the world today. It is the strength of India's start-up ecosystem that it is full of passion, sincerity and integrity. It is the strength of India's start-up ecosystem that it is constantly discovering itself, improving itself and growing in strength. It is constantly in a learning mode, in a changing mode and adapting itself to new situations. Today who would not be proud to see that India's start-ups are working in 55 different industries? Everyone will be proud of it. Where there were not even 500 startups in the country five years ago, today this number has increased to 60,000. You have the power of innovation, you have new ideas, you are full of youthful energy and you are changing the way of doing business. Our start-ups are changing the rules of the game. That's why I believe start-ups are going to be the backbone of new India.

Friends,

This spirit from entrepreneurship to empowerment is also resolving the issues of regional and gender disparity in our development. Earlier, big businesses flourished only in big cities and metros; today there is at least one start-up in every state of the country spread over more than 625 districts. Today almost half the start-ups are operating from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. These are converting the ideas of youth from ordinary and poor families into businesses. Today lakhs of youth are getting employment in these start-ups.

Friends,

The speed and scale at which India's youth are creating start-ups is a testament to the strong will and determination of Indians in this era of a global pandemic. Earlier, only a few companies could become big even in the best of times. But, 42 unicorns emerged in our country last year only. These companies worth thousands of crores of rupees are the hallmark of self-reliant, self-confident India. Today India is rapidly moving towards creating the century of the unicorn. And I believe the golden age of India's start-ups is starting now. The diversity of India is our greatest strength. Our diversity is our global identity.

Our unicorns and start-ups are messengers of this diversity. From simple delivery services to payment solutions and cab services, your scope is huge. You have so much experience working in diverse markets and diverse cultures in India itself. Therefore, start-ups from India can easily reach out to other countries of the world. So don't just keep your dreams local, make them global. Remember this mantra -- let us innovate for India, innovate from India!

Friends,

It is time for all to mobilize in the virtuous period of freedom. This is the time to move towards goals with ‘Sabka Prayas (collective efforts). I was happy when a group made important suggestions regarding the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan. The extra space available in GatiShakti projects can be used for building EV charging infrastructure. Under this master plan, the entire infrastructure grid, including transport, power, telecom, etc is being brought on a single platform. Your participation in this campaign of creation of multimodal and multipurpose assets is very important.

This will also give impetus to the creation of new champions in our manufacturing sector. The country's ambitious plans are in front of you in many sectors related to defence manufacturing, chip manufacturing, clean energy and drone technology.

Many investors of the country and abroad are investing in drone start-ups following the implementation of the new drone policy recently. Drone companies have received orders worth about Rs 500 crore from the Army, Navy and Air Force. The government is using drones on a large scale for mapping village properties for the Swamitva scheme. Now the scope of drones is increasing in home delivery of medicines and in agriculture. So it has a lot of potentials.

Friends,

Our rapid urbanization is also a big focus area. Today, work is happening on a large scale in developing our existing cities and building new cities. There is a lot to be done in urban planning. We have to create such ‘walk-to-work’ concepts and integrated industrial estates, where there are better arrangements for the workers. New possibilities are waiting for you in urban planning. For example, a group just mentioned the national cycling plan and car-free zones for big cities. This is very important to promote sustainable lifestyles in cities. You must be aware when I went to the COP-26 summit, I talked about the Mission LIFE and my concept of LIFE is Lifestyle for Environments (LIFE). I believe that we need to make people aware of the use of those things by using technology. For example, the P-3 movement is imperative today. P-3 movement, i.e., Pro-Planet-People! Unless we make people aware of the environment and make them soldiers in the fight against global warming, we cannot win this battle. Therefore, India is involving many countries in this Mission LIFE.

Friends,

Smart mobility will also make the life of cities easier and will also help in achieving our targets of carbon emission.

Friends,

India continues to strengthen its identity as the world's largest millennial market. Millennials are the cornerstone of the prosperity of their families as well as the self-reliance of the nation. Our needs and our potential are limitless from a rural economy to Industry 4.0. Investment in research and development related to future technology is the priority of the government today. But it would be better if the industry also expands its contribution in this.

Friends,

One more thing you have to keep in mind in this decade of the 21st century. A huge market is opening up in the country as well. We have stepped into the digital lifestyle just now. Only about half of our population is online. With the speed, scale and price at which the government is working to provide digital access to the poor and villages, India will have about 100 crore internet users in a very short time.

As last-mile delivery gets empowered in remote areas, it is also creating a rural market and a large pool of rural talent. That's why I request the start-ups of India to move towards villages. This is an opportunity as well as a challenge. Be it mobile internet, broadband connectivity or physical connectivity, the aspirations of villages are rising today. Rural and semi-urban areas are looking forward to a new wave of expansion.

The way the start-up culture has democratized the Idea, it has empowered women and local businesses. From pickles and papadum to handicrafts, the scope of many local products has expanded widely today. Due to increasing awareness, people are becoming vocal for the locals. And just now our friend Kartik from Jaipur talked about making local the global and mentioned virtual tourism. On the occasion of 75 years of independence, I would urge you to hold a competition among children of schools and colleges regarding the virtual creative work of the monuments and events related to independence from the pages of history in their districts and cities. And start-ups like you can compile it and the country should be invited for a virtual tour for 75 years of independence. It will be a big contribution from the start-ups during the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. If you make a beginning regarding an idea which you like and how to bring forth that idea in which format, I think we can take it forward.

Friends,

During the Covid lockdown, we have seen how small innovative models at the local level made people's lives easier. Start-ups have a huge opportunity for collaboration with small local businesses. Start-ups can empower and make these local businesses efficient. Small businesses are the backbone of the country's development and start-ups are the new game-changer. This partnership can transform both our society and economy and women’s employment especially can get a lot of strength from this.

Friends,

Many suggestions have come here regarding the partnership between government and start-ups in many sectors, including agriculture, health, education, tourism, etc. Like there was a suggestion that our local shopkeepers are hardly able to use 50-60% of their capacity and a digital solution was offered to them so that they could know which items had emptied and which ones needed to be bought. I will suggest that you connect the shopkeepers with their customers. The shopkeepers can inform their customers that they would be running out of stock of some products in three or seven days. If a message is sent to them, then families will not have to search the boxes in the kitchen to see which products they would be running short of after some days. A message can be sent by a shopkeeper to his customer that he is going to run out of stock of turmeric in three days. You can even convert it into a very large platform and can become a very big aggregator and can become a bridge between shopkeepers and customers.

Friends,

I assure you that every suggestion, every idea, every innovation of the youth will get the full support from the government. The next 25 years, which will take the country towards the 100th year of independence, are very important friends and most important for you. This is a new era of innovation i.e. ideas, industry and investment. Your exercise is for India. Your enterprise is for India. Your wealth creation is for India and job creation is for India.

I am fully committed to converting the energy of the youth into the energy of the country. It has become very important to understand your suggestions and ideas because there is a new generation that thinks in a new way. I am sure that all the government departments will benefit from the ideas that have emerged from the seven-day brainstorming and will try to implement in government policies and see how it impacts the life of society. I thank you all for taking your valuable time out to take part in this event because you belong to the world of ideas and sharing those ideas with everybody is very important.

I wish you all the very best. There is already the atmosphere of the holy festival of Makar Sankranti. But do take care of yourself from Corona.

Thanks a lot.