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EAM's remarks at the India - Nordic - Baltic CII Conclave

November 05, 2020

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It is a great pleasure to join the India-Nordic-Baltic Conclave hosted jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of External Affairs. The quality of participation and the nature of the agenda brings out how well this initiative has been received.

2. Even otherwise, India and the Nordic-Baltic nations have much in common. Our shared values have led to a similar outlook towards global challenges and opportunities. They have also been the basis for a substantial trade and investment relationship, one that has grown even further in recent years. That our meetings with many of you, individually and collectively, virtually and physically, has been raised to the summit level speaks for itself. I myself have had the privilege of being in touch with all of you during the course of the year.

3. But why we meet today is not just to reaffirm a strong set of relationships. Our gathering is intended to analyse the extraordinary challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and seriously examine whether the crisis can be turned into opportunity. Given the hit taken by virtually every economy in the world, it is apparent that recovery is the primary focus. Equally, looking at the uncertainty and volatility of this period, we are also naturally keen to promote more resilient global supply chains. However, this is not just a moment when we should concentrate only on recovering lost ground. It is also an occasion to do so – and more – in a different and better way. Therefore, to recovery and resilience, we must add reform. And by that, I mean in particular harnessing the lessons of our pandemic response to serve the cause of global welfare. Our growth must consequently be greener, be smarter and be more digital. And given the meshing of capabilities, outlook and ambition, I truly believe that the India-Nordic-Baltic partnership can make a real difference here.

4. It is, therefore, extremely appropriate that this Conclave is focussing on renewable energy and clean technologies, and the factories of the future, on AI and blockchain-led transformation, on supply chain and logistics and on fintech. Naturally, with a greater digital focus, we also need to give more attention to its infrastructure as well as data and cyber security. Underlying all of this is, of course, a focus on engineering and innovation. For an India that sees the world as much as a workplace as a marketplace, these are conversations that must advance further. And not least, all of us today are bound by common maritime interests that are reflected in the importance of developing the blue economy.

5. The learnings from the pandemic response, if applied creatively and imaginatively, can transform governance in many societies. We, in India, have direct experience of providing direct financial and material support to our citizens in this period, perhaps on a scale unprecedented in history. Where public health was concerned, our ability to manufacture required items was only matched by the establishment of dedicated treatment facilities. And all of this was underpinned by an amazing societal discipline and public awareness, the results of motivation and leadership. The real takeaway from this experience is the importance and ability of responding to the rising expectations of an aspirational society.

6. This realization drives the thinking behind Atmanirbhar Bharat, a self-reliant India that would bring its greater capabilities to bear at the global level. This means policies that will promote entrepreneurship, employment, innovation and skill. It would strike a balance between what we build at home, what the world has to offer and what we can contribute. It signifies not only a Make in India, but a make for the world. Our expectation is that the reforms we have undertaken in domains like labour, agriculture and education, when combined with making it easier to do business, to create start-ups and to promote skilling, will lead to much broader and smoother pathways for international collaboration. And these avenues, as I said at the start, will be greener, smarter and more digital.

7. I wish this Conclave all the best for productive discussions. I thank my colleagues who have joined me at this inaugural session. And I appreciate the efforts of Team CII and Team MEA in putting this event together.

New Delhi
November 05, 2020

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