HE Don Heflin, Cd’A, US Embassy Thank you.
Dr. Sonal Mansingh, MP
Dr. Shashi Tharoor, MP
Shri Ram Madhav, Member, Board of Governors, India Foundation
Amb. Surendra Kumar, Founding President, IAFA
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Namaskaram and good evening !
I thank the Indo-American Friendship Association for inviting me to its Tenth anniversary celebration. I am aware that IAFA has made significant contributions to bolstering the India-US bilateral partnership.
2. As two mature, pluralistic and vibrant democracies with shared values, India and the US are natural partners of choice in forging a stable, peaceful and prosperous 21st century. The India-US partnership is anchored in mutual trust and friendship, a shared commitment to democracy, converging strategic interests and the robust engagement of our citizens. I have personally witnessed the growing convergence in the strategic perspectives of India and the US over recent years. We have made significant progress in promoting mutually beneficial cooperation across sectors, especially in areas of strategic and defence cooperation, energy, economic and people-to-people ties. The elevation of our bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership illustrates this effectively.
3. Prime Minister Modi and President Biden have spoken twice on the phone. They reaffirmed the importance attached to the strategic partnership shared by the two countries.
4. Prime Minister Modi also participated in the Quad Virtual Summit [12 March]. The summit was truly a historic event, as the four countries adopted a positive agenda and vision for the Indo-Pacific region. The Quad vaccine collaboration initiative is a path breaking effort, envisioning manufacture of US vaccines in India – and delivery to countries in the Indo-Pacific region with support of Japan and Australia. It is an example of collective efforts which can be leveraged for global good, in these challenging times.
5. The ongoing crisis posed by the pandemic has demonstrated the importance and potential for our bilateral relationship. Against the backdrop of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, both countries have made efforts to revitalize economies and regional and global developments of interest to both countries. There has been substantive discussion on a coordinated Covid-19 response and efforts towards economic recovery. India and US are working together to provide high quality, safe, effective and affordable Covid-19 vaccine. Both sides also resolved to enhance supply chain resilience and seek alternatives to the current paradigm, which has come under severe strain during the pandemic and exposed critical vulnerabilities. India and US have sought to support the global economic recovery and to emerge from the pandemic more resilient than ever.
6. As you are aware, India assumed non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council in January this year, we are working together with our partners, including the US, towards seeking collective solutions to global challenges. In the re-imagined post-Covid world, reformed multilateralism shall be critical in addressing unprecedented challenges and delivering effective results.
7. Another such global challenge is that of tackling climate change. India is on track not only to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement, but is going well beyond these commitments in its fight against climate change. Despite our huge developmental challenges and limited availability of energy, we are taking ambitious action on renewable power, non-fossil fuel energy and increasing the green cover. India aims to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2022 and further increase this to 450 GW. We are also committed to achieve 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources and restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. Taking the lead globally, we have taken the initiative to launch multilateral partnerships such as the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
8. To face the challenges emerging from the Covid pandemic, India has made a tremendous whole-of-Government and whole-of-society effort. Our fatality rates have been among the lowest and the recovery rates among the highest in the world. We remain vigilant though and continue to devise and re-devise strategies based on our experiences across the country. Digital tools are being used for extensive contact tracing. The crisis has resulted in a high-order national response marked by cohesion, purpose and resilience. The crisis has stimulated innovation and enterprise in India and we are now able to manufacture cost-effective but high-quality critical health items for India and for the world.
9. The Vaccine Maitri Initiative has demonstrated Prime Minister’s commitment that India’s vaccine production and delivery capacity will be used to help all humanity in fighting this crisis. India will also help interested countries in enhancing their cold chain and storage capacities for the delivery of vaccines.
10. This is why Prime Minister Modi’s call of an Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India is important for the world. This is not about building walls or about protectionism; it is about building greater strengths at home to play a more effective role abroad. Atmanirbhar Bharat is a dependable Bharat, an India that the world can depend on.
11. The stimulus package of nearly USD 270 billion (Rs 20 lakh crores) launched by Prime Minister under the initiative aims to both reinvigorate the economy and provide a social safety net to our vulnerable sections. The vision is based on five key pillars, including - economy, infrastructure, technology, demography and demand, and meaningful assimilation of all these factors will help us achieve rapid growth and development.
12. The efforts by the government under the leadership of Sh. Narendra Modi ji is aimed at not only mitigating the socio-economic impact of the pandemic in the short term, but instilling confidence in our businesses and industries, making our manufacturing globally competitive, integrating our agriculture and small farmers with global food supply chains and embracing both investment and technology. The size of the economic relief and stimuli measures under the initiative is equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP, with structural reforms and relief measures under the initiative covering every section of the Indian economy, including small farmers, migrant workers and labourers, agriculture, the MSME sector, small businesses, start-ups, industrial infrastructure, healthcare and education, among others.
13. Record high FDI inflows indicate India’s growing image as an investor friendly country. Despite the pandemic, we received the highest ever FDI of over US $ 35 billion for April-August 2020. This is 13% higher than the same period in 2019, which was also a record year.
14. We believe that the US is a natural partner for India in our quest for building a resilient economy. One of the remarkable features of our bilateral ties is the strong bi-partisan support in both countries to strengthen its strategic partnership with India and work together on addressing global challenges. We look forward to working with the US for further strengthening and consolidating this multifaceted relationship for our mutual benefit and economic prosperity.
15. Close relations between India and the U.S. are important not only for our two countries but also for the international community. Our ability to work together has a positive impact in addressing regional and global challenges, whether it is in respecting territorial integrity, promoting maritime domain awareness, countering terrorism or ensuring prosperity.
16. It is my firm conviction that India-US ties are only going to get stronger; I am sure all of you present here today share my optimism. I would like to thank the Indo-American Friendship Association once again for its efforts in advancing the India-US partnership and wish them every success in their future endeavours.
March 15, 2021