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Keynote Address by the External Affairs Minister at USIBC India Ideas Summit & 46th Annual Meeting (October 07, 2021)

October 07, 2021

USIBC President Nisha Biswal,
Ladies & Gentlemen


It is a great pleasure to speak to you at the USIBC India Ideas Summit and 46th Annual Meeting. I do so at a particularly significant moment in our relationship.

2. A fortnight ago, we saw the first in-person meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden. This was followed immediately thereafter by the first in-person Quad Summit. Together, these two events provided an opportunity to not only refresh our ties but give them an updated relevance in a larger context. Appropriately, the outcome document after the bilateral discussions was titled as a partnership for global good. So, we are focused on a relationship that has not only steadily expanded but is now consequential enough to be imbued with a bigger purpose. As stake-holders, let us reflect on how to take that forward.

3. Prime Minister Modi described our ties in terms of five Ts: tradition, technology, trade, trusteeship and talent. The tradition, of course, is one of our democratic values and ethos. This has not only brought our people much closer but has helped create a powerful bridge between our societies. In many ways, it is the basis for a sixth T: that of trust. The technology T is something that we all know very well. At one level, it is an expression of the creative urges of both our societies. It is equally a powerful driver of business between us. Not least, it has been the reason for deepening the connect of our two nations. And increasingly, a domain for us to work closely with the rest of the international community. The technology T, of course, derives directly from the talent T. We have both encouraged our best minds to freely address the challenges of our contemporary era. In that process, they have generated ideas, innovations and products that have transformed the nature of our lives. And consequently, the next T – that of trade – has flourished between us. The quality of commerce between India and the United States testifies both to the progress of our respective societies and indeed to our deeper partnership. In business as much as in strategy, we are endeavouring to overcome the hesitations of history. All of this has to be conducted keeping in mind the long-term future of our environment. Therefore, the relevance of the trusteeship T: a conviction in the well-being of our planet and in securing it for future generations.

4. This outlook of five Ts permeates both our bilateral Summit and that of the Quad. We have reaffirmed the principles on which our societies are organized and agreed to cooperate to nurture our way of life. When it comes to technology, the significance of trusted partners is very much in evidence. Trade discussions focused strongly on the need for reliable and resilient supply chains. With COP 26 around the corner, India – as the only G 20 nation in line to meet its Paris commitments – made the case for our sustainable future. And in a world where creativity and mobility have acquired a growing salience, the importance of the flow of talent was recognized, including through fellowships.

5. What is noteworthy about our conversations is that they have gone well beyond general arguments and are now expressed as specific initiatives or programmes. Consider some of the recent developments. The most pressing challenge – that of Covid – has been met through a Quad initiative which taps into the strengths of each of the participants. The climate action concern is addressed, amongst others, through the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership. The relevance of advanced technologies is captured by Quad initiatives ranging from AI, 5G and beyond to critical minerals, space and blockchain. Our trade potential is being more aggressively explored, bilaterally through Trade Policy Forum and in a larger group, through additional supply chains. The importance of infrastructure is similarly being discussed in terms of high quality and market-viable initiatives. The people-centric nature of our activities is affirmed in education, innovation, R&D and mobility. When it comes to defence and security, the benefits of India being a Major Defence Partner of the US are becoming evident. And our collective Quad commitment to maritime security is equally relevant. On many of the big challenges of the day – terrorism, pandemics or climate change – our thinking is along parallel paths. We not only work together on global issues but are dedicated to the well-being of the global commons. That provides the basis for coordinated action.

6. What does all this mean for those in business? To begin with, it clearly signals a very positive enabling environment. When polities have strong convergences, their economic energies tend to find partners much more readily. Second, both India-US relations and the Quad speak of a newer and more collaborative era of our ties. We are seeing value in each other more clearly and with less constraints. Three, in an era where technology is increasingly connected with trust and supply chains with reliability, we are contemplating how best to take forward post-Covid economic recovery.

7. So, as you deliberate on all these subjects and more, I also hope that you will take into account the transformation in India even amidst the pandemic. The nature of the public health response, the fiscal handling of the pandemic-induced challenges, the reforms in labour, education and agriculture, and the expansion of manufacturing are developments that surely merit your consideration.

8. At the end of the day, any relationship is only as strong as its economic foundation. You are all charged with strengthening that even in the normal course. But as we seek to come out of the pandemic with a more purposeful agenda of cooperation, your understanding and sentiments acquire an even greater value. I am sure you have had a successful summit.

Thank you for your attention.

New Delhi
October 07, 2021

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