The rise of India means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that you can trust
In what is being seen as a veiled barb at China amid growing Indo-US strategic proximity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told American investors that India is a country they can “trust” and that both India and the United States are “natural partners” and “two vibrant democracies with shared values” , even as he donned the hat of investment salesman and made a fervent appeal for even more foreign investment from the US in various sectors in India including healthcare, energy, infrastructure, insurance, defence and space, and civil aviation.
Earlier US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo too slammed China for bullying its Himalayan neighbours obviously referring to the recent India-China standoff on Ladakh.
PM Modi reminded the American investors that “in the middle of COVID, India has attracted foreign investment of more than 20 billion dollars between April and July, 2020”, adding that India is country with “openness in people and governance” and that it was the “best time to invest” in India. Delivering the keynote address through video-conference at the “India Ideas Summit” organised by the US-India Business Council, PM Modi declared, “May the India-America friendship grow further!” Tongue-in-cheek, PM Modi told the US investors, “I have given you a few options and that too without any consultancy fees.”
But sounding a note of caution, the Prime Minister said, “I firmly believe that our approach to the future must primarily be a more human-centric one. Our growth agenda must place the poor and vulnerable at the core. ‘Ease of Living’ is as important as‘Ease of Business’. Recent experience has taught us that the global economy has been too focused on efficiency and optimisation. Efficiency is a good thing. But, on the way, we forgot to focus on something equally important. That is resilience against external shocks. It has taken a global pandemic to remind us how important resilience is.” He reminded the audience, “India is contributing towards a prosperous and resilient world through the clarion call of an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India). And, for that, we await your partnership!”
Wooing American investors, PM Modi said, “The rise of India means a rise in trade opportunities with a nation that you can trust ... Today, there is global optimism towards India. This is because India offers a perfect combination of openness, opportunities and options. Let me elaborate. India celebrates openness in people and in governance. Open minds make open markets. Open markets lead to greater prosperity. These are principles on which both India and the USA agree.”
He added, “Investment is the best show of confidence. ... FDI inflows in Indiain 2019-20 were 74 billion dollars. This is an increase of 20 percent from the year before that. Friends in USIBC inform that ‘pledged investment’ from the US has already crossed40 billion dollars this year! Also see what has happened even during the ongoing pandemic. In the middle of COVID, India has attracted foreign investment of more than 20 billion dollars between April and July 2020!”
The Prime Minister further said, “For this vision, there are few better partners than the United States of America. India and the USA are two vibrant democracies with shared values. We are natural partners. The US-India friendship has scaled many heights in the past. Now it is time our partnership plays an important role in helping the world bounce back faster after the pandemic. American investors often look out for the perfect timing to enter a sector or a country. To them, I would like to say: there has never beena better time to invest in India!”
Making a pitch for India in the connectivity and IT sector, he said, “India is emerging as a land of opportunities. Let me give you one example of the tech sector. Recently, an interesting report came out in India. It saidfor the first time ever, there are more rural internet users than even urban internet users.Imagine the scale! There are about half a billion active internet users in India now. Half a billion connected people. Does this sound huge to you? Hold your breath. Because, there are over half a billion more people who are being connected.”
On the Agriculture sector, he said, “The options to invest in India are extensive. India invites you to invest in the hard-work of our farmers. India has done historic reforms in the agriculture sector recently. ... the best time to tap investment opportunities in Indian agriculture sector is now!” On the health care sector, Mr. Modi told US investors, “India invites you to invest in healthcare. The Healthcare sector in India is growing faster than 22 percent every year. ... India and the US have already built a robust partnership in the Pharma sector. To achieve scale and speed, now is the best time to expand your investment in Indian health-care sector!”
Seeking US investment in the civil aviation sector as well as defence and space, PM Modi remarked, “Civil Aviation is another area of great potential growth. The top private Indian airlines plan to include over a thousand new aircraft over the coming decade. To give flight to your aviation targets, this is an ideal time to invest in the Indian aviation sector.” He added, “India invites you to invest in defence and space. We are raising the FDI cap for investment in defence sector to 74 percent.”
On the infrastructure as well as finance and insurance fronts, PM Modi told American investors, “India invites you to invest in infrastructure. Our nation is witnessing the largest infrastructure creation drive in our history. Come, be a partner in building housing for millions, or building roads, highways and ports in our nation. India invites you to invest in finance and insurance. India has raised FDI cap for investment in insurance to 49 percent. Now 100 percent FDI is permitted for investment in insurance intermediaries.”