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Prime Minister's Statement on the subject ''Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured Word'' in the World Economic Forum (January 23, 2018)

January 23, 2018

*(Disclaimer: PM's speech was delivered in Hindi. This is an approximate translation of his speech)

His Excellency the President of the Swiss Federation,
Honorable Heads of States and Governments,
Mr. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive President of World Economic Forum,
Senior and distinguished entrepreneurs, industrialists and CEOs of the world
Media friends,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to participate in this forty-eighth annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. First of all, I compliment Mr. Klaus Schwab on his initiative to create a powerful and comprehensive platform for World Economic Forum. In his vision, there is an ambitious agenda whose aim is to improve the condition of the world. He has linked this agenda very firmly to economic and political thought. I want to express my gratitude to the Government of Switzerland and its citizens for the warm hospitality.


The last visit of Indian Prime Minister to Davos was in 1997 when Mr. Deve Gowda came here. In 1997, the GDP of India was slightly over 400 billion dollars. Now after two decades it is almost 6 times. The theme of this forum at that time was, "Building the Network Society." Today, 21 years later, if we look at the achievements and priorities of technology and digital age, this topic seems to be centuries old. Today, we are not only in the network society but in the world of big data, artificial intelligence and Cobots. In 1997, the EURO currency was not in vogue. And the Asian financial crisis was not known at all, neither was any symptom of BREXIT. In 1997, very few people had heard of Osama bin Laden and the name of Harry Potter was also unknown. Then chess players were not at serious risk of losing to a computer. And Google was not incarnated in the Cyber Space.

And in 1997, if you searched the word "Amazon" on the Internet, you would have got information about rivers and dense forests. In that era, only birds used to tweet, not humans. That was the last century.

Today, after two decades, our world and our society are a network of very complex networks. In that era also, Davos was ahead of the time, and harbinger of future. Even today Davos is ahead of the time.

This year's Forum's theme is "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World". It means, building a shared future in a world full of cracks. With new changes, the balance of economic power and political power is changing with newer powers. This reflects an image of far-reaching changes in the nature of the world. There are new and serious challenges to peace, stability and security in front of the world.

Technology-driven transformation is deeply impacting not only our living, working, behavior, dialogue but even the international groups and politics & economy. A great example of connecting, twisting and breaking of the technology - is seen in the use of social media. Today, Data is the biggest asset. The biggest opportunities are being created by the global flow of data, and the biggest challenges too. Mountains of data are accumulating and there is a race to take control of them. Because, it is being speculated that the one who control the data will control the world.

Similarly, the rapidly changing technologies and expansion of destructive forces in the areas of cyber security and nuclear security have made the existing challenges much graver. While on the one hand the new dimensions of science, technological and economic progress are capable of showing humanity new ways of prosperity, and on the other hand, these changes have also created such rifts that can cause pain. A lot of the changes have been creating such barriers which have not only made the path of peace and prosperity for the mankind difficult but they have made it almost impossible. These fractures, these divides and these barriers are caused by lack of development, poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunities, and the predominance over natural and technical resources. In this context, we have several important questions that seek proper answers for the future of humanity and for the legacy of future generations.

Whether our world order is stoking these cracks and distances? Which are the powers that give preference to division over harmony, which are the powers that place conflict over cooperation? And what are the tools available with us through which we can realize the dream of a shared and happy future by bridging these distances and fractures?


As a representative of India, Indian-ness and Indian heritage, the subject of this forum for me is as contemporary as it is timeless. Timeless, because in India from time immemorial we continue to believe in uniting the mankind and not in dividing them or creating fissures. In the ancient books written thousands of years ago in Sanskrit, Indian philosophers have said: "Vasudhaiva kutumbakam". It means the whole world is one family. In essence, we all have been joined with each other like a family and our destiny links us with a common thread. Today, this concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family) is even more relevant in bridging the gaps and distances. But today one serious thing is that there is lack of understanding among us to deal with the difficult challenges of this era. While on one hand there is harmony and cooperation within the family, however, on the other hand, there may be some differences and disputes too. But the soul of the family, its inspiration, is the feeling that when the shared challenges come, all of them unite and face them, and collectively share the achievements and happiness. However, this is a matter of concern that these divisions, these cracks have made the struggle of mankind even harder and more difficult.


The challenges which I have indicated, in terms of numbers they are numerous and their expansion is also vast. Here, I will discuss only three principal challenges that have posed the biggest threats for the mankind.

The first threat is of Climate Change. Glaciers are shrinking, the ice at Arctic is melting and many islands have either submerged or are on the verge submersion. Extreme heat and cold, excessive rains and floods or extreme drought – the impact of extreme weather is growing day by day. Under these circumstances, we should be united by coming out of our narrow interests. But did that happen? And if not, then why? And what we can do to improve these conditions. Everyone says that carbon emission must be reduced. But how many countries or people are there who want to help the developing countries and societies in providing the appropriate technology and necessary resources?

On several occasions, you must have heard of deep synergy with nature in the Indian tradition. In our ancient text written thousands of years ago, the man was described as: - "Bhumi mata, putro eham prithvya:" i.e., we the human are children of Mother Earth. Why there is a kind of war between the nature and mankind if we are the children of mother earth?

In the beginning of one of the most important religious texts called Upanishad, a seer has described to his disciples about the changing nature of the world: 'Ten Tyakten Bhujjitha, Magradhakasyasividdhnama'. It means that one should enjoy the worldly pleasures with austerity and one should never covet what belongs to others. Around two thousand five hundred years ago, Lord Buddha has given primacy to the concept of Aparigrah, which means using things as per the necessity, in his teachings. The concept of ‘trusteeship’ propounded Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Indian nation, was also in favor of using and exploiting things as per the need; He straightaway opposed the idea of greed-based exploitation. This context needs thinking, that how did we travel from austere usage to need based usage and now we have reached the stage of greedy exploitation of nature? Is this our development or is it our downfall? This horrific state of our mind, the horrific glance of our selfishness, why doesn’t it force ourselves into self-contemplation? If we ponder over it then we will find that there is a panacea for the treatment of this dreadful mismanagement in the environment today - the harmonious balance between human and nature of the ancient Indian philosophy. Not only this, the overall system of Indian traditions such as Yoga and Ayurveda derived from this philosophy could not only heal the environment and the divide between us, but also facilitates physical, mental and spiritual health and balance. To save the environment and to counter the effects of climate change, my government has set a very big goal before the nation. By 2022 we have to produce 175 GW of renewable energy in India and in the last three years, we have achieved 60 GW, which is more than one-third of the target.

In 2016, India and France jointly envisioned a new international treaty based organization. This revolutionary step has now morphed into a successful experiment. As the International Solar Alliance, this initiative is now a reality after the required ratification of the treaty. I am happy that in March this year, on my joint invitation with French President Macron, the leaders of member countries of this Alliance will participate in the first summit of the Alliance, which will be held in New Delhi.


The second major challenge is terrorism. In this regard, you are well aware of the growing and changing nature of this serious threat to India's concerns and for the entire humanity in the world. I would like to draw your attention to just two aspects here. Terrorism in itself is dangerous but even more dangerous is the artificial distinction created between good terrorism and bad terrorism. The other present-day serious aspect on which I want to draw your attention is that of educated and accomplished youth being radicalized and engaging in terrorism. I hope that this forum will discuss the serious challenges faced by us due to fracture caused by the cracks of terrorism & violence and their solution.


The third challenge which I see is that many societies and countries are now becoming more and more self-centered. It seems that globalization is shrinking in contrast to its name. The consequences of such attitudes and wrong priorities cannot be underestimated in comparison to the threats arising out of climate change or terrorism. Though everyone talks about an interconnected world the sheen of globalization is reducing. The ideals of the United Nations are still universally valid. World Trade Organization is also pervasive. But does the structure, system and methodology of the world organizations formed after the Second World War reflect the aspirations and dreams of the mankind of today and today's reality?

There is a big gap between the old systems of these institutions and the needs of many developing countries especially in the present world order. As opposed to globalization, the forces of protectionism are emerging. Their intent is to not only safeguard themselves from globalization, but also to alter the natural flow of globalization. One of its result is that we are witnessing new types tariff and non-tariff barriers. Bilateral and multilateral trade agreements and negotiations seems to have been stalled. Cross-border financial investment has decreased in most countries. And the growth of global supply chains has also stopped. The solution to this worrisome situation against globalization is not in isolation. Its solution lies in understanding and accepting the change, it lies in making smart and flexible policies with the changing times. India's Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi had said, "I do not want that the walls and windows of my house are closed from all sides. I want the breeze of the cultures of all the countries to freely move in my house. But at the same time it will not be acceptable to me that this wind blows away my feet off the ground." Following Mahatma Gandhi's this philosophy and contemplation, today’s India is welcoming the life providing waves of the world with full confidence and boldness.


India's democracy is the fundamental base of our country's stability, certainty and sustainable development. For an India which is full of immense variety of religion, culture, language, costumes and food habits, democracy is not just a political system, it is a way of life, it is the philosophy of life. We Indians know and understand very well the importance of democratic environment and liberties in converting the multiplicity of diversity in the unity of goodness, cooperation and resolution. Democracy in India does not just nurture our diversity, but it also offers the necessary environment, road map and template for their proper development to fulfill the hopes, aspirations, expectations and dreams of more than 1.25 billion Indians.

Democratic values along with inclusive economic development and progress has the power to bridge all the gaps. In 2014 for the first time after 30 years sixty crore voters of India have given any single political party full majority to form a government in center. We took a resolution for the development of not just any particular class or few people but for everybody. My government’s motto is, "Together with everyone, development for everyone.” The vision for our progress is inclusive and our mission is inclusive as well. Whether it is financial inclusion of millions of people by opening their bank accounts for the first time, or it is direct benefit transfer to the poor and the needy by the use of digital technology or even the campaign of 'Save Girl Child – Educate Girl Child' for gender justice. We believe that progress could be called progress, development is development in its true sense when we all can move together. We are not making just minor reforms in our economic and social policies, but we are making radical transformations. We have chosen the path of reform, perform and transform. Today the way we are making investment in Indian economy easier is unprecedented. It is the result of that investing in India, traveling to India, working in India, manufacturing in India, and exporting products and services from India to the world, everything has become much easier than earlier. We have taken the resolve to completely get rid of the era of licenses and permits. Instead of red tape we are laying the red carpet. Almost all sectors of the economy have now been open for foreign direct investment. It is possible to have investments through automatic channel in more than 90 percent cases. The Central and the State Governments together have carried out hundreds of reforms. We have eliminated over 1,400 such old laws, which were creating hurdles in the business, in the administration, and creating problems in day to day life of the common man.

For the first time in 70 years of independent India's history, an integrated tax system has been implemented in the country in the form of Goods and Services Tax i.e. GST. We are using technology to increase transparency and accountability. Our commitment and efforts towards transforming India have been welcomed by the business community around the world. In India, democracy, demography and dynamism together are realizing the development and shaping the destiny. Decades of control had gripped the capabilities of the people and the youth of India. But now our government’s bold policy decisions and effective steps have transformed the circumstances. In a short span of less than three and a half years, the long-term and major changes that have taken place and that are happening in India is the triumph of 1.25 billion Indians and their expectations, their virility and their ability to accept the change. The people and youth of India are now ready to contribute to the creation of an economy of $5 trillion by 2025.

Not only this, when innovation and entrepreneurship will help them to transform from a job seeker to a job giver then the number of avenues that will be opened for their country and for your business, can only be imagined. You all are prominent leaders of the world, and you all are well aware of the ongoing changes happening in the world, the improvement in the ranking and ratings of India, and the path that we have chosen for the future. But even more important from all these figures is the fact that the people of India have welcomed our policies, new initiatives for change in their future and golden signals of a promising future. Voluntary renunciation of subsidy, or election after election expressing their faith in our policies and reforms through democratic methods - many such proofs confirm the widespread support of these unprecedented changes in India.


Looking at all kinds of fractures and all kinds of cracks in the world, it is necessary for our shared future that we pay attention in several directions. First of all it is imperative that there are links of cooperation between the world's greatest forces. It is necessary that the competition between the major countries of the world must not become a wall between them. To face the shared challenges, we have to work together with a larger vision bypassing our differences and working together. The second requirement is that adherence to the international system based on the rules has become more important than ever. Especially when we are going through such times where changes happening all around can lead to uncertainty, then it becomes important to follow the international laws and regulations in their correct spirit and form. The third important point is that there is a great need to improve the world's major political, economic and security related institutions. Participation and democracy in them should be promoted in accordance with the current realities of the world. The fourth important thing is that we need to further accelerate the economic progress of the world. The recent signs of economic growth in the world are encouraging in this regard. Technology and digital revolution increases the likelihood of such new solutions, which could help us to tackle the old problems of poverty and unemployment in a new manner.


India has always extended its support in such kind of efforts. Not only from today, not even from the time of its independence, but since the ancient times India has always been a proponent of cooperation by all in tackling challenges. In the last century, when the world went through the crises of two world wars, despite having no personal interest of its own, despite having no economic or territorial interests, India stood for the protection of the high ideals of peace and humanity. More than 1.5 lakh Indian soldiers gave their lives. These are the same ideals because of which India has contributed the largest number of soldiers in the UN peacekeeping operations since the establishment of the United Nations. These are the same ideals whose inspirations and powers encourages us to help our neighbors and friend countries during the times crises and natural calamities. Whether it is an earthquake in Nepal, or floods, hurricanes, or other natural disasters in our neighboring or friendly countries. India considers its most important duty to provide help and support as the first responder. When the flames of violence started to grip the citizens of many countries in Yemen, we not only saved the Indians but we also saved more than 2,000 civilians from other countries as well. Despite being a developing country itself, India has always been coming ahead and collaborating in capacity building and development cooperation. Be it the countries of Africa, or a neighbor of India, or a country of South East Asia, or even Pacific Islands, our framework of collaboration and our projects are based on the priorities and needs of those countries.


India never had any political or geographical ambitions. We do not exploit the natural resources of any country rather develop it together for that country. The direct result of the cordial coexistence of diversity in the Indian terrain for thousands of years is that we believe in a multi-cultural world and in a multi-polar world order. India has proved that all disputes and cracks can be eradicated with democracy, respect of diversity, harmony and co-ordination and cooperation and dialogue. It is India’s tried and tested recipe for peace, stability and development. Not only this, a predictable, stable, transparent and progressive India will continue to be the good news in an otherwise state of uncertainty and flux. An India where enormous diversity exists harmoniously will always be a unifying and harmonizing force. Not for us, not only for our country, since ancient times the Indian society, the thinkers and sages and monks of India have dreamt that: Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramaya, Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu, Makashchid Dukh Bhag Bhavet – which means all of them become happy, all of them are healthy, there is welfare of everybody and nobody should suffer. And they have also shown the path to achieve this ideal and to realize this dream.

Sahnavatu, sah nau bhunaktu, sah veeryam karvaa-vahe,Tejaswinadhitmastu ma vidvishavahe.This thousands of years old Indian prayers means that we all work together, walk together, our talents flourish simultaneously and there is never any hatred between us. The great Indian poet of the last century and Nobel laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore had imagined such a heaven of freedom, "where the World has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls”. Let us together create such a heaven of freedom where there is cooperation and co-ordination and not divide and fracture. Let us all get the world rid from its cracks and unnecessary walls.


India and Indians have considered the whole world as a family. 30 million people of Indian origin are living in different countries. When we have considered the whole world as our family, then we Indians are also a family for the world as well. I invite you all that if you want to have wealth with wellness, then work in India. If you want the wholeness of life with the health, then come to India. If you want peace with prosperity then stay in India. If you come to India, you will always be welcome in India. For giving me this valuable opportunity to interact with all of you, I thank World Economic Forum, Mr. Klaus Schwab and all of you from the bottom of my heart.

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