Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday wooed global investors by showcasing the recent agriculture and labour reforms and faster-than-anticipated reflation of the economy and asserted that the government will do whatever it takes to make India the engine of global growth resurgence.
Speaking to 20 top global investors, the Prime Minister said the 'Self-Reliant India' campaign does mean the country is becoming a closed economy but rather offers opportunities to be part of the India growth story.
India's quest to become 'Aatmanirbhar' (self-reliant) is not just a vision, but a well planned economic strategy, he emphasised.
"It is a strategy that aims to use the capabilities of our businesses and skills of our workers to make India a global manufacturing powerhouse, a strategy that aims to use our strength in technology to become the global centre for innovations, a strategy that aims to contribute to global development using our immense human resources, and their talents," he said.
The Virtual Global Investor Roundtable (VGIR) 2020, organised by the finance ministry, witnessed participation of chief executive officers and chief investment officers of the 20 top institutional investors from the US, Europe, Canada, Korea, Japan, Middle East, Australia and Singapore.
These pension and sovereign wealth funds have total assets under management of about USD 6 trillion.
"I am happy that global investor community has been showing confidence in our future. The last five months have seen a 13 per cent rise in FDI inflows compared to last year. Your active participation in this roundtable increases the confidence even more," Modi said.
Some of the prominent funds that participated in the event included Temasek, AustralianSuper, CDPQ, CPP Investments, GIC, Future Fund, Japan Post Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Korean Investment Corporation, Nippon Life, Mubadala Investment Company, Ontario Teachers, Teachers Retirement Texas and Pension Denmark.
Soliciting global investments, Prime Minister said India is the best place for generating long-term returns.
"If you want returns with reliability, India is the place to be. If you want demand with democracy, India is the place to be. If you want stability with sustainability, India is the place to be. If you want growth with a green approach, India is the place to be," Modi said.
India offers "democracy, demography, demand as well as diversity. Such is our diversity that you get multiple markets within one market. These come with multiple pocket sizes and multiple preferences. These come with multiple weathers and multiple levels of development", he said.
This diversity also comes with open minds and open markets in a democratic, inclusive and law abiding system, he noted.
Pointing out that the country's growth has the potential to catalyse global economic resurgence, Modi said any achievements by India will have a multiplier impact on the world's development and welfare.
"A strong and vibrant India can contribute to stabilisation of the world economic order. We will do whatever it takes to make India the engine of global growth resurgence. There is an exciting period of progress ahead. I invite you to be a part of it," he added.
Talking about various reform initiatives undertaken by the government, Modi said opening up the agriculture markets throws up new exciting possibilities to partner with the farmers.
With the help of technology and modern processing solutions, India will soon emerge as an agriculture export hub, he said.
To improve manufacturing potential of the country, the government ushered in 'one nation, one tax' system in the form of GST, one of the lowest corporate tax rates and added incentives for new manufacturing, he noted.
Besides, he said, the faceless regime for income tax assessment and new labour laws resume balancing the welfare of workers and ease of doing business for the employers.
Production-linked incentives in specific sectors and empowered institutional management to handhold investors have been put in place to promote foreign fund inflows into the country, he said.
With regard to infrastructure development, he said the government has an ambitious plan to invest USD 1.5 trillion under the National Infrastructure Pipeline.
A pioneering multi-modal connectivity infrastructure master plan is being finalised, Modi said, adding India has embarked on a massive infrastructure building spree of highways, railways, metros, waterways and airports across the country.
Besides, he said, the country is building millions of affordable houses for the new middle class.
The Prime Minister further said he is conscious of the requirement of these global fund houses who seek best and safest avenues for their investments.
"I am addressing some of the best financial brains, the ones who can convert new areas of innovation and growth into sustainable business propositions. At the same time, I'm conscious of your requirement to provide the funds in your trust the best and safest long-term returns," he said.
Foreign investments in India this fiscal at USD 35.7 billion was the highest-ever for the first five months of a financial year, recording a growth of 13 per cent over the same period a year ago.
The Prime Minister will be having one-to-one interactions with the heads of these fund houses over the next few weeks to address their concerns.
Some of these investors are engaging with the government for the first time and to be a partner in the government's vision for making the country a USD 5 trillion economy by March 2025.
He assured investors that the government is building a New India, which is free of old practices and India is changing and for the better.
Observing that today investors are moving towards companies which have a high environmental, social and governance score, he said the country already has systems and companies which rank high on this and India believes in following the path of growth with equal focus on ESG.
Emphasising that the government has taken various steps to enable private enterprise to flourish, he said strategic disinvestment and monetisation of assets are on a scale not seen before.
After the event, Mark Machin, CEO of CPP Investments, said the VGIR 2020 roundtable was a very productive and helpful forum, which provided us insight into the government's vision to build out the India economy and accelerate the growth of international institutional investment in India.
"India is an important market for CDPQ -- we have invested several billions in sectors such as renewables, logistics, financial services and technology-enabled services -- and we aim to strengthen our presence over the coming years," Charles Emond, CEO of Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), said.
Pension fund investors dedicate large portions of their portfolios to assets expected to benefit from growing economies and markets and the structural reforms undertaken by India are likely to provide a strong foundation for such high growth well into the future, said Jase Auby, Chief Investment Officer, Teacher Retirement System of Texas.