Washington: The developmental plan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected in his poll slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” is a great vision, US Secretary of State John Kerry said today on the eve of his departure to India.
Kerry will be in New Delhi to co-chair the fifth annual India–US Strategic Dialogue with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
In fulsome praise of the developmental agenda encompassing inclusive growth of Modi, Kerry in a major foreign policy speech on India said that the US is ready to be partner with the new Indian government in its endeavour.
“The new Indian government’s plan, ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, together with all, development for all – that’s a concept, a vision that we want to support. We believe it’s a great vision, and our private sector is eager to be a catalyst in India’s economic revitalisation,” Kerry said in his address to a Washington audience at an event held by the Center for American Progress, a top US think tank.
“American companies lead in exactly the key sectors where India wants to grow: in high-end manufacturing, in infrastructure, in healthcare, information technology, all of them vital to sort of leapfrogging stages of development so you can provide more faster to more people,” he said.
India also wants to build a more competitive workforce, and already 100,000 Indians study each year in American universities, he said, adding US community colleges actually set a remarkable standard for 21st century skills training.
“We should be expanding our educational ties across the board, increasing opportunities for young people in both of our nations. I know Prime Minister Modi drew from that energy of India’s youth during his campaign. He repeatedly pointed out that while India’s one of the world’s oldest civilisations, it has the world’s youngest population.
“Prime Minister Modi has said that young people have a natural instinct to rise like a flame. And he has spoken about India’s duty to nurture that instinct, and we believe, frankly, that’s a duty for both of our nations,” he said.
“And that means strengthening the exchange in technical education, in vocational programs for high-skilled trades, and especially in areas where we can build on the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of both of our nations,” he said, adding that everyone knows about the extraordinary work ethic that
people in India have and the capacity to be able to do this and seize this opportunity,” Kerry said.
“One of the marked contrasts of this moment is this juxtaposition to parts of the world where young people demanded a participation in this world they see around them, and rose up against leadership that had stultified over the course of years, decades even – Tunisia, Egypt, Syria.
“They all began without one flake of religious extremism involved in the revolutions that brought change. It was all about young people gathering and forcing the notion that they wanted something more to life. They wanted opportunity, education, respect, dignity, jobs, a future,” Kerry noted.
“So this possibility I’ve just defined between India and the United States, which fits very neatly into Prime Minister Modi’s vision that he expressed in a campaign which was ratified overwhelmingly by the people of his country is exactly the vision that we need to embrace now, and that’s why this opportunity is actually so ripe,” Kerry said.
“This area of cooperation is particularly exciting, I think, and I’m particularly confident about these opportunities, because only countries that reward creativity the way the US and India do could have possibly launched Hollywood and Bollywood.
“Only countries that celebrate the entrepreneur the way we do could have launched Silicon Valley and Bangalore asglobal epicentres for innovation,” he said.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are in both of our DNA, and they not only make us natural partners; they give us natural advantages in a world that demands adaptability and resilience. The US and India cannot afford to just sort of sit back and rest on these currently existing advantages. We have to build on them and we have to build on them by investing more in one another,” he said.
“If India’s government delivers on its plans to support greater space for private initiative, if it creates greater openness for capital flows, if it limits subsidies that stifle competition, if it provides strong intellectual property rights, believe me, even more American companies will come to India. They may even race to India. And with a clear and ambitious agenda, we can absolutely help create those conditions,” he said.
“So as we work with our trading partners around the world to advance trade and investment liberalisation, India has a decision to make about where it fits in the global trading system. India’s willingness to support a rules-based trading order and fulfill its obligations will help to welcome greater investment from the US and from elsewhere around the world.
“The greater transparency and accountability that Prime Minister Modi put in place during his time as chief minister tells us he has already provided a model of how raising standards can actually increase economic growth,” Kerry said.
The US and India should continue to reach for the ambitious target that Vice President (Joe) Biden laid out last summer in India, to push from USD 100 billion to USD 500 billion a year in trade.
“And whatever impediments we may face along the way, we need to always be mindful of the opportunities and the bigger picture around this.
“It is completely in our mutual interest to address those obstacles that kind of raise their head here and there as you go along the way and to remember that a lot bigger opportunities will come from more robust ties, so we need to keep our eye on the prize out there and not get dragged down by one small or lesser particular aspect of a restraint.
The bigger picture has to guide us and the end game has to guide us,” Kerry said.