Ru­draksh will be a gar­land of love of Ja­pan to Varanasi

Business Standard - - DEMOCRACY AT WORK - NAREN­DRA MODI

The gov­ern­ment and the people of Ja­pan have al­ways shown great af­fec­tion to­wards me and my coun­try. In fact, 1.25 bil­lion people of In­dia have the same af­fec­tion for the Ja­panese people. I am par­tic­u­larly grate­ful to Prime Min­is­ter Abe for his en­cour­age­ment and sup­port at a per­sonal level. Abe and I do not miss any op­por­tu­nity to meet. This close­ness and un­der­stand­ing have helped us bridge a num­ber of gaps in our bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. Last year has seen the high­est ever dis­burse­ment of Of­fi­cial Devel­op­ment As­sis­tance from Ja­pan in a fi­nan­cial year. Sim­i­larly, the num­ber of Ja­panese com­pa­nies work­ing in In­dia has gone up steadily in the last few years. From the ac­tiv­i­ties launched to­day, you can see the depth of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries. First is the Mum­bai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Project. We are grate­ful for the sup­port of the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment for this project. I hope that the con­struc­tion of the 500-km-long bul­let train will be­gin soon and it would be­come op­er­a­tional by 2022–23.

Along with the high-speed rail project, a train­ing in­sti­tute is also tak­ing shape. It will pre­pare the mak­ers of a New In­dia — the highly skilled man­power re­quired to build, op­er­ate and main­tain the high speed rail­way.

Sec­ond is the devel­op­ment of Ja­panese in­dus­trial town­ships — coun­try­wide, four lo­ca­tions have been fi­nalised. Apart from Gu­jarat, they are lo­cated in Ra­jasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Third is our co­op­er­a­tion in auto-mo­biles. The Suzuki plant at Man­dal is ex­port­ing cars world­wide, and foun­da­tion has been laid for the pro­duc­tion of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies to power the next gen­er­a­tion hy­brid and elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Fourth is for hu­man re­source devel­op­ment through the Ja­pan-In­dia In­sti­tutes of Man­u­fac­tur­ing. They are be­ing de­vel­oped by Ja­panese com­pa­nies. In ad­di­tion to Gu­jarat, they will be de­vel­oped in Kar­nataka, Ra­jasthan and Tamil Nadu.

You know that the an­cient and holy city of Varanasi is my sec­ond home. The project of Varanasi Con­ven­tion Centre is a sym­bol of cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Ky­oto city of Ja­pan and Varanasi. It was con­ceived by Prime Min­is­ter Abe and I when we vis­ited Varanasi to­gether in 2015. I have named it Ru­draksh — the sym­bol of love, and a prasad of Lord Shiva to hu­man­ity. This Ru­draksh will be a gar­land of love of Ja­pan for Varanasi. It will also be a trib­ute to our shared Bud­dhist her­itage present at Sar­nath, too. For Ja­pan’s fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to this project, I ex­tend my warm­est per­sonal thanks to Prime Min­is­ter Abe. You have also seen some other an­nounce­ments for in­vest­ment by Ja­panese com­pa­nies.

On the po­lit­i­cal and strate­gic side, too, this visit of Prime Min­is­ter Abe has been very pro­duc­tive. We have con­cluded a num­ber of agree­ments on very im­por­tant mat­ters. All this shows the depth of our un­der­stand­ing and the com­fort and con­fi­dence, which we have with each other.

Over the last three years, we have worked very hard on the front of ease of do­ing busi­ness. A se­ries of ad­min­is­tra­tive re­forms have sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved the busi­ness sen­ti­ment in the coun­try. Th­ese re­forms and ini­tia­tives are all aimed at pre­par­ing In­dia for the 21st cen­tury. They are aimed at trans­form­ing the coun­try and mak­ing a New In­dia. Pow­ered by the en­ergy of our youth, we are po­si­tion­ing In­dia as a global man­u­fac­tur­ing hub. For this pur­pose, we have launched the Make in In­dia cam­paign. We are also de­vel­op­ing In­dia into a knowl­edge-based, skill-sup­ported and tech­nol­ogy-driven so­ci­ety. A grand be­gin­ning has al­ready been made through our drives like Digital In­dia and Skill In­dia. For the same pur­pose, we have started the Start-up In­dia cam­paign. In­dia is ranked 3rd in the Global StartUp Ecosys­tem, and has seen a mo­men­tous rise in the past cou­ple of years. The Start-Up In­dia ini­tia­tive also aims to build a strong ecosys­tem of in­no­va­tion. On the in­fra­struc­ture side also, my gov­ern­ment has launched am­bi­tious ini­tia­tives. Th­ese projects cre­ate and present life­time op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­vestors. This in­cludes the 100 Smart Cities Mis­sion, hous­ing for 50 mil­lion home­less, build­ing roads, bridges, ports, rail­ways tracks as well as sta­tions.

Ja­pan can ben­e­fit tremen­dously with the size and scale of our po­ten­tials and skilled hands that In­dia of­fers! In fact, all of In­dia’s devel­op­ment agenda is rel­e­vant for Ja­panese com­pa­nies. To al­low en­try of cap­i­tal and tech­nol­ogy, we have worked hard on open­ing our econ­omy. Ev­ery day we are mak­ing it eas­ier to in­vest and do busi­ness in In­dia. We have al­ready re­solved a num­ber of reg­u­la­tory and pol­icy is­sues fac­ing the busi­nesses and com­pa­nies. We have got very good re­sults of th­ese ef­forts. I can list some of the re­cent global recog­ni­tions: In­dia has moved up in the index of Ease of Do­ing Busi­ness of World Bank. We have moved up 32 places in the last two years in the Global Com­pet­i­tive­ness Index of the World Economic Fo­rum — this is higher than that of any other coun­try. We have also moved up 21 places on the Global In­no­va­tion Index of the World In­tel­lec­tual Prop­erty Or­ga­ni­za­tion in two years. We moved 19 places on the Lo­gis­tics Per­for­mance Index of 2016 of World Bank and we are third among the top 10 FDI des­ti­na­tions listed by the UN Con­fer­ence on Trade and Devel­op­ment. In­dia’s big­gest tax re­form, the GST, has been in­tro­duced re­cently. With this, we are also mov­ing to­wards a modern tax regime, which is trans­par­ent, sta­ble and pre­dictable. To­day, In­dia has one of the most lib­eral FDI regimes in the world. More than 90 per cent of the FDI ap­provals have been put on au­to­matic route. We have abol­ished the For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Board. This lib­er­al­i­sa­tion has seen In­dia’s FDI reach $60 bil­lion in the last fi­nan­cial year. FDI flows from Ja­pan have al­most tripled in the last three years. The new In­sol­vency and Bank­ruptcy Code will make it eas­ier for in­vestors to have an exit. We are set­ting up com­mer­cial courts and com­mer­cial di­vi­sions to en­sure speedy dis­posal of com­mer­cial mat­ters. Ar­bi­tra­tion pro­ceed­ings will now be­come faster as the ar­bi­tra­tion law has been amended. We have also an­nounced a new in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights pol­icy. Th­ese are just a few ex­am­ples of the di­rec­tion in which we are mov­ing. We will do more and more; bet­ter and bet­ter; faster and faster.

Edited ex­cerpts from Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s speech at the In­dia-Ja­pan Busi­ness Lead­ers Fo­rum, in Gand­hi­na­gar on September 14

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