Category — Politics

At Davos, Modi Promotes India’s Development Agenda

In a keynote address to the World Economic Forum 2018 in  Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi projected India as a country with a vast market and strong and stable fundamentals, and exhorted world leaders to consider India as an attractive destination for doing business. He then went on to outline “the five pillars” of India’s development agenda:

  • Modi’s first pillar of support to improve the business climate in India is instituting much needed reforms. Recent reforms in India have touched many facets of India’s economy: direct tax, banking, creating a digital database of citizens, expanding the tax base, controlling inflation and corruption, and reducing fiscal deficit. Indeed, there has been a sharp rise in FDI in the past three years–from $36 billion in 2014 to $60 billion in 2017. Modi added that India “has resolved many regulatory and policy issues facing businesses, investors and companies,” and its states are now competing to attract business investment.
  • The second avenue of support for business is the increasing use of technology to transform governance and deliver public entitlements and services. Both the Federal and State governments are deploying technology to ensure that time-bound decisions are delivered to business entities.
  • The third pillar to improve the economy is the Indian government’s focus on upgrading physical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports in tier I, II and III cities, as well as sea ports. “The scale and scope of this task is immense. Our Sagarmala [meaning, sea necklace] project seeks to connect our long coastline and ports to the hinterland,” he said.
  • The prime minister said he was aware that India needs to be aligned with the world in major policy areas such as “the entry and exit of businesses, IPRs, or arbitration and commercial adjudication. We have moved very decisively to brush up the framework to bring them in line with global best practices,” he added.
  • “The fifth pillar is inclusive economic development. As I said, the biggest reason for fracture within the countries is inequality and disparity leading to divide and distrust,” stated Modi.
PM Modi in Davos for World Economic Forum Meet

PM Modi in Davos at World Economic Forum

January 24, 2018   No Comments

India, Japan to Collaborate on AI, Robotics for Defense

India and Japan will work together to introduce artificial intelligence and robotics in the defense sector by the end of January. Kentaro Sonoura, national security adviser to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said, “You should expect to see increased bilateral cooperation to develop unmanned ground vehicles and robotics.”

The Center for Artificial Intelligence, India’s leading lab that works on AI, has been working on robotics since last year and it said that it will equip India’s armed forces with a host of robots that can work as a part of any team, much like the soldiers.

Graphic of a robot soldier

Japan is aiming for a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”  This was a coming together of Japan’s Indo-Pacific policy and India’s Act East policy. “We need to share the importance of rule of law and freedom of navigation among related countries. The next step is infrastructure development based on global standards, so that connectivity among countries is increased. The third step would be maritime law enforcement and disaster management that would ensure the stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

January 22, 2018   No Comments

10 ASEAN Leaders to Be Chief Guests at India’s Republic Day Celebrations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established in 1967  with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand as founding members. Later, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia joined the group making up what is today the ten member states of ASEAN. Its purpose is to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region, and promote regional peace and stability.

To mark the 25th anniversary of India’s relations with the bloc, Prime Minister Modi invited the leaders of all the ASEAN countries to be chief guests at India’s 69th annual Republic Day parade on Jan 26, 2018. The acceptance of Modi’s invitation by all ASEAN charter members is an indication of the growing importance of their relations with India – both as a bloc and bilaterally.

The expected chief guests are:

President of Indonesia,

Prime Minister of Malaysia,

President of Philippines,

Prime Minister of Singapore,

(former) Commander of the Royal Thai Army

Sultan of  Brunei

Prime Minister of Vietnam,

Prime Minister of Laos

State Counselor of Myanmar

Prime Minister of Cambodia

India is a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, and  trade and investment ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing. The ASEAN region along with India comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people — one fourth of the global population — and their combined GDP  is over $3.8 trillion. Investment from ASEAN to India has been over $70 billion since 2000, accounting for more than 17 percent of India’s total Foreign Direct Investment. India’s investment in ASEAN  companies during the same period has been more than $40 billion.

PM Modi at Asean-India Summit Nov 2017

PM Modi at Asean-India Summit Nov. 2017

January 18, 2018   No Comments

Juster: India Can Be ‘Alternative Investment Hub’ for U.S. Firms

At his first policy speech since taking over as Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, Washington’s envoy to New Delhi said that a number of U.S. companies have reported increasing difficulties in conducting business in the largest market in the region, China. “Accordingly, some companies are downgrading their operations there, while others are looking with great interest at alternative markets. India can seize the strategic opportunity – through trade and investment – to become an alternative hub for U.S. business in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

Flags of US and India

Observing that ‘America First‘ and ‘Make in India‘ are not incompatible, he added that investing in each other’s markets will be mutually beneficial. He noted that accelerating the economic and regulatory reform process already begun by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will help ensure that India is seen as an increasingly efficient, transparent and well-regulated market. “This will further promote growth and development. Continued reforms and trade liberalization will also enable Indian products to more readily become part of the global supply chain, thereby accelerating job creation,” Juster stated.

January 16, 2018   No Comments

Ambassador Juster Pitches for U.S.-India Free Trade Agreement

Delivering his inaugural policy address on U.S.-India Relations at Carnegie India, U.S. ambassador to India, Kenneth I. Juster said, “I want to see a U.S.-India Free Trade Agreement … a strategic view of our economic relationship could lead to a road map for a U.S.-India Free Trade Agreement.” He also said though bilateral trade had reached $115 billion in 2016 from  just $20 billion in 2001, there was still plenty of room to expand the flow of goods and services in both directions for trade to become more reciprocal.

US and India Flags

Juster further said that greater U.S. trade and investment, combined with a strong environment protecting intellectual property, will lead to increased flows of capital and further sharing of intellectual know-how. “Technological transformation needs a constant upgrade, which occurs when countries are involved in unimpeded international economic and data flows,” he said.

Juster also said that a strategic view of the bilateral economic relationship could eventually lead to a road map for a U.S.-India free trade agreement. “To be sure, we are a long way right now from that aspiration, and there are many intermediate steps to be taken. But we should find creative ways to use our trade policy forum and our commercial dialogue to enhance understanding, build confidence and solve problems,” he said.

 

January 14, 2018   No Comments