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Welcome Address by Minister of State for External Affairs, Smt. Meenakashi Lekhi at Raisina Dialogue 2022 on "India@75: Our Role in a Changing World"

April 27, 2022

Ladies and gentlemen,
A very, very warm, good morning

I would like to extend my warm welcome to all of you for the 7th Raisina Dialogue. And as we have gathered here, after two years, it makes it all the more important for all of us, because these two years have seen the worst of its kind problems for the world. And coming out of pandemic has not been easy for anyone that I know of. And these two years have also seen 180 degrees change all around us. And this change, in some ways has given us resilience, has proven that human existence and mind can overcome any difficulty. And on the other side, we've lost many loved ones, and we've gone through the kind of problem we had not anticipated. So, this is I would say the background note on which we all gather here and meet together.

And when we are here, I would say that during pandemic, the manner in which India performed, restored itself and the world is based out of two major principles and value systems which we value very dearly. One is the concept of integral humanism, which we call Ekatam Manavvad. And this Ekatam Manavvad is all about oneness of humanity, that is evolution from self to collective, and which further gets impetus by the other thought process and that is that no one be left behind and this in our language is called Antyodaya, which is the last person in the last row needs to be looked after, and needs to be taken along whenever you take a decision to move forward or progress. So progress will always be incomplete until and unless you see it from the perspective of the last person in the last row. So Ekatam Manavvad and Antyodaya have been the guiding principles for our existence during Covid. And these philosophical thinkings are further reinforced when it comes to diplomatic work that we have been doing and mirroring our policies, which is based out of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, that the world is one big family and when the world is to be treated like a family, again, it's all about respecting creation, respecting each other's values, respecting each other's boundaries, integrity, this is basically the principle on which our diplomacy has been working also.

So three systems which I would say what India respects and expects, are peace, mutual trust, and respect, when dealing with people also, when dealing with nations. And we also value non-aggression and nonviolence. So our philosophy, our principles more or less our existence is based on these principles. And thus basing these principles our behaviour, our action, our reaction, our foundational methodologies while dealing with the world at large -these have been the major verticals on which we have based our existence and coexistence, if I can use the word. With changing times, Excellencies, the role of India is going to be more pivotal than ever before. The globalized world has seen its own challenges. And the self-reliant India, the Aatmnirbhar India is for the world, which again, during pandemic, we have reinforced this thought that whatever we did, we did it not just for our interests, we did protect our interests, but in addition to protecting our interests, our services, our goods, everything was available for the world, and thus a strong India is good for the world, a strong India stands on the right side of the world. So the present scene as we see, especially the oceans are going to be absolutely important. And the comradery with the great powers is going to be the focal point of our engagement with the world, especially in Indo-Pacific. Our oceans are our common heritage. That's what we believe in. And this century is going to be shaped by what happens in Indo-Pacific. And as the name suggests, it's Indo Pacific. So India will have its own element of existence and challenges. And what is most important is that this particular region as a geographical entity, has about 65% of the world population, has 63% of the world GDP, had 46% of the world trade and 50% of the current maritime trade. So which indicates how important Indo-Pacific region is in the global existence, when we are discussing global strategies.

And the present maritime landscape also privileges our cooperation and not contestation, which is for mutually beneficial games. It's not a time for contestation, it is a time for cooperation if I may reemphasize my thought, as we see that the Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, has also spoken on this particular aspect. And he said, and I'm quoting, "when the oceans are open, the seas are secure, countries are connected, the rule of law prevails, and the region is stable, nations small and large, prosper as sovereign countries”. I think this sets the node and the mood of what the discussion should be focused on. Because when oceans and seas are free, open, inclusive, these can be a common pursuit of progress and prosperity for all stakeholders in the region and beyond.

India historically, and even traditionally, has had connections with all our partners, have interest in our small island nations in the Indian Ocean, and we are committed to nurture security partnerships with these states. And these small island nations are again not just in existence are extensions, but we do treat them as our family and they have had a long-standing relationship with India. 21st century threats as I see are not the traditional threats as we are used to till the 20th century, the nature of threats has changed. So the threats do exist, but far larger in number and far greater in depth. As we have seen during pandemic that the threat to global order exists, not just in open, but in the shadows. And these shadows are run through cyber attacks by a warfare, supply chain disruptions and shortage of critical goods to minerals. And it is imperative that we all foster cooperation between all stakeholders in respect of these shared threats and rebuild, among other things, the supply chain management is what we need to work at. And thus the integral and equitable approach is what needs to be emphasized when we are dealing with the issues of development. It has to be all inclusive, all touching, all pervading, and all alliable and this has to be the priority for the world. Again, I'm quoting the Prime Minister here, when he said that "when India grows, the world grows, when India reforms the world transforms”, and we have decided to reform and transform the world.

As the fastest growing digital technology and numbers if at all are to be seen, then we will see that online transactions in 2020 was one of the highest during Covid across the globe, and higher than many other equally large countries with India is expected to touch $1 trillion digital payments in 2026 as compared to $300 billion in 2021. The digital future of India is not just a matter of conjecture, but it is a certainty as the numbers speak for itself. And we truly believe that science and technology and the innovations is what have helped India develop. And what India has done has a great potential for the world also, because our tech solutions have the scale and also competitive low costs which is unparalleled in the world. When we discuss the FinTech solutions, UPI is something we must discuss, because with UPI, we have about 3.5 billion transactions every month, and UPI has seen a growth which is unparalleled with any other platform of this nature. And Co-Win as we discussed and we saw during vaccination drive, that every single day, a few million transactions are happening through Co-Win and the data has been kept. So because of all this our surrounding countries and our neighbours and friends have also come on board with us whether it is several countries including Nepal, Bhutan, UAE and Singapore have partnered with us on the digital payments of UPI, and RuPay card. With these countries joining us and partnering with us, the system's likely to become still stronger and far more inclusive.

Ladies and gentleman, when India becomes Aatmanirbhar, which means self-reliant, we provide for the world and the disruptions, which are caused by the supply chain management, India can step in to those spaces, and occupying those spaces become necessary. Because this is a lesson that pandemic has taught each one of us that global value chains’ diversification is a necessity and cannot be delayed any further. Diversification of global supply chains with democratic and trustworthy friends, is always welcome, because the other value systems which we share, will further reinforce and strengthen our friendship. And I remind everyone that democracies always have a cost to pay. And it is that cost which keeps the humanity alive, which everyone should be prepared to take on.

Ladies and gentleman,

When we discuss economy, I must say we've shared a very, very balanced approach because we have tried to balance economy and ecology simultaneously. And when we are balancing economy and ecology, the very first targets which India has set itself up for is 450 gigawatts of renewable energy and that is the target which we are likely to achieve and we are working on it. And we have also started a campaign to make India the world's largest green hydrogen hub. This is to further enforce the ecology aspect along with the energy resilience. When Honourable Prime Minister was presenting itself as a bridge between the developed and developing nations, International Solar Alliance was one such platform and partnership, which was offered and initiated by the Honourable Prime Minister to bring developed and developing nations on board while balancing ecology and economy. And I'm very glad that many countries have joined and many more countries are willing to be part of the International Solar Alliance. The challenges of 21st century are very different from the ones which the previous centuries have seen. And we are battling climate change, we are battling technological disruptions, we are battling growing inequality, we have also seen bio warfare, we've seen the manner of things which are possible and radical. Thus the time is ripe for radical collaborations to deal with these challenges. No one country can manage itself and manage everyone else. It's the time for right thinking and collaboration, when it comes to dealing with these challenges, and helping lifesaving solutions.

COVID-19 was the time which showed us the key role digital applications can have and the key role which was played by digital application was also showing us the gaps and vulnerabilities that systems are exposed to. While the digital space is increasing, so is the attack on that cyberspace and digital space is growing. So, the cyber attacks, cybercrimes, manipulation of data, data handling, data theft, are as common as the digital space is widening itself. So are these challenges, further creating disruptions in human existence. And when we are setting ourselves for discussing during the day, I would be hoping that we get some answers on these questions. Because when we are dealing with diplomacy, the newer element of diplomacy is going to be cyber diplomacy. When we discuss rule based order, it will also have the global footprint while dealing with all these negative aspects of digital world. And thus, the rule based order needs to exist even in cyberspace, and also more democratic spaces in the cyberspace itself is what we should be working on.

The challenges which existed in the past centuries have not really disappeared, regressive thinking and extremism, whether it is terrorism and other such activities still remain a challenge. Thus digital space can further be challenged by these very agencies in terms of propaganda warfare. And similar value system needs to exist while dealing with the challenges of the past with progressive thinking and using science and technology and science and technology based solutions is what we all need to work at and come up with. And that is, again a challenge for further cooperation.

Ladies and gentleman,

While we are all sitting together, taking our policies forward, making decisions on emerging technologies and economies, I would say G20 happens to be one such strong platform, which is dealing with economic issues. In the past G-20 presidencies have been with the emerging economies, and thus emerging economies need to work together in strengthening the world and redesigning many systems of global economic architecture, which has to give more stable governance, inclusive world and rule based world order. International community needs to speak in unison and deal with protecting global order, protecting global laws and protecting global value systems. The new world has to have a pillar of multilateralism, freedom, independence, security and prosperity, alleviation of poverty, the world along with sustainable development, equal opportunities, rights, democracies and commitment to peaceful international order. Earlier we realize that these are our dreams and goals, better it will be for the world to put its focused energies on these issues and work on shared value system, multilateralism and India remains committed to these values. I would like to end my address by a line of Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, which says, शुभोकोर्मो-पोथे / धोरोनिर्भोयोगान, शोबदुर्बोलसोन्शोय /होकओबोसान। (Shubho Kormo-Pothe/ Dhoro nirbhayo gaan, shon durbol Saunshoy/hok auboshan) which means let's move forward fearlessly on the path of auspicious action, and may all weakness and doubts be eliminated while we commit ourselves to the greater goal of peace, harmony and make the world a healthy, safe and prosperous world.

Thank You.
Jai Hind.

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