Remarks by Ambassador Ajay Bisaria at Opole University: October 6, 2015
Your Magnificence Rector of Opole Technical University, Rectors, Vice Rectors,
Excellencies Governor and Marshal of Opole, Excellency Mr Mayor,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and
specially my young friends, students at this hallowed centre of learning.
Congratulations on entering a new academic year. It is an honour and privilege for me to wish you success, on behalf of the people of India. As you enter your new class, remember you have the most responsibility any generation has ever had. The world needs you to be successful, because in fact the world depends on you deeply. As the engineers, scientists, technocrats who will design our world in the coming years, we depend on your talent to ensure that the dreams of a fragile planet turn to reality. We need you to innovate for economic growth, we need you to address human deprivation, we need you to fight climate change- something we all experienced this summer in Poland and in India. We need you to make this world better than the one you have received.
But what has all this got to do with Resurgent India?
You may well ask: why should young people in the heart of Europe, embarking on a journey of technical education, be interested in India, or its resurgence? Why are these images of a new India relevant to you? The answer is simple: globalization. Our world is more inter-connected than ever before. The worldwide web links us, our common challenges link us. And so do the solutions. Global poverty and climate change are problems without passports. And the 17 sustainable development goals that emerged in New York last month are the world’s collective response. The migrants knocking at the doors of Europe come from a troubled part of Asia. In turn, when Europe sneezes from a euro crisis, Asia catches a cold. Financial developments in Europe or the US or China affect India’s growth. But India today is itself a growth engine, providing alternative ballast for the faltering global economy. So it makes sense for smart young people in Opole to watch developments in India: we are linked like never before.
India began its journey as an independent nation almost half a century before Poland did. The paths have been similar: of building strong democracies based on freedom of thought, free markets and concern for the weak. But while Poland’s story has been that of shock therapy and a dramatic transformation in two decades, India’s march has been a gradual one. At about the time Poland became independent, India opened a new chapter of reform to speed up its growth and address the challenges of its large, complex economy and multi-hued polity. A democracy of more than a billion people needed to find unique solutions to its special problems.
A new Indian government, elected only last year, has put into place several new policies and programmes to put India on a higher growth trajectory. These programs are aimed primarily at unleashing the creative energies of an increasingly youthful and aspirational India. But they also present a bouquet of diverse opportunities for global partners. Among the measures that have been rolled out are those aimed at a friendlier business environment. Our new Make in India policy aims to encourage domestic and foreign investors to make India a manufacturing hub, raising the share of manufacturing in our GDP from 16 to 25 percent. To support this process, India plans to create as many as 100 smart cities and rejuvenate 500 others, also to provide opportunities for skilled employment to the millions of urbanizing young.
The results are beginning to show on the ground. Global investors are seriously looking at India’s offer of ‘democracy, demography and demand’. We have seen an almost 50 percent increase in foreign investments till April this year. The Indian economy is now the fastest growing amongst the large economies of the world, with a growth rate in 2014 of 7.4 %. India hopes to grow at over 8 % in 2015 and move to a trajectory of double-digit growth over the next decade. We stand on the threshold of one of the most ambitious transformations in history, aimed at bringing hope and development to millions.
But why should all this matter to young people like yourselves?
Simply because this process also creates an unprecedented economic opportunity for global partners to not just contribute to India’s growth story, but also profit from it.
How can that happen? Through technology, digitisation, sustainability and balance.
First, India seeks capital and technology. As India re-imagines its engagement with the world, its approach is to align its global engagement to national priorities of growth, development and security. This presents a win-win, particularly in terms of the technologies India can absorb, and the myriad economic opportunities it can offer. For instance, a ‘Link West’ policy highlights India’s engagement with the US and Europe, critical suppliers of capital and technology to fuel India’s growth. Can the innovators in this room promise us the technologies of the future?
Second, a resurgent India cannot but be a digital. With our Digital India programme alone, we hope to leapfrog to a technology future that will empower Indians in unimaginable ways. And India can empower the world. Indians head Google, Microsoft and Adobe today, while Indian employees drive other technology majors. Our Prime Minister was recently in the Silicon Valley and invited the leaders of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and other digital giants, to partner Digital India. Not to connect the elite through social networks, but to use the power of networks and mobile phones to launch a new era of empowerment and inclusion. A billion cell phones take people to the mobile age. 180 million new bank accounts and direct transfer of benefits to the poor give us hope to eliminate poverty in our lifetimes. Information highways or I-ways for ideas are now as important to India as highways for cars.
Technology today empowers democracy and makes government more responsive to its citizens. This is especially relevant for a country with 800 million impatient youth under the age of 35 years. Can Poland’s digital labs incubate ideas to transform India?
Third, India’s growth has to be sustainable in the long-term. Technical knowledge is key to our common sustainable future. India is asking the world for its technology, so we can frog leap into a path of low carbon growth, despite our massive population of 1.3 billion people. Can your future work produce technical solutions for sustainable growth?
Fourth, while harnessing the finest in global and digital technologies for India’s growth, we do not forget the balancing role of ancient technologies that have driven our civilization. I am delighted that we make this connection today in Opole where we inaugurate the diploma programme in holistic health. One more symbol of our global village would be when young people in Opole will adopt modern scientific methods to review yoga and Ayurveda at Opole and at the beautiful research centre at Sulislaw close to here.
Our connection through yoga and Ayurveda here in Opole reflects the larger bond that India and Poland have enjoyed through centuries. We are bound by a deep understanding of each other’s culture; we have strong traditions of Polish experts studying Indology, visiting India and enjoying Indian music and dance. We have this year agreed to double our trade levels, we hope a freer flow of investment will help Polish business to make India its window into Asia and for India to see Poland as a springboard into Europe.
India looks forward to your presence in its growth, and hopes to be part of yours. Once again, I wish you all the best.