The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today called upon all nations to ensure that economic offenders who abscond to other countries are immediately repatriated back to the countries where they are wanted. He said that system should be tough with the people who loot public money and seek safe heavens abroad.
Interacting with the industrial and trade fraternity of South Gujarat at an event organised by the ‘South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Surat today, the Vice President appealed to the industry to isolate such black sheep who bring a bad name to the entire business community and emphasised the need for ethical corporate governance in the country.
Urging the governments to resist the temptation of populist policies, the Vice President wanted them to focus on creating right infrastructure, facilities and ecosystem for the people and the businesses to grow without impediments. He stressed that wealth need to be created before it can be distributed and called for giving due respect for wealth creators. “Entrepreneurship should be appreciated and not envied”, he said
On this occasion, the Vice President also said that the push for an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” presents a huge opportunity to Indian businesses and called upon them to rise to the occasion and replicate the PPE kit success story in other sectors as well.
During the discussion, he highlighted the fact that before lockdown, India had negligible production capacity of PPE kits and face masks like N-95, but within a short span of time, we have emerged as the second-largest producer of PPE kits. “We are not only meeting our own demand today, but also exporting these essential items to several countries”, he said.
Describing the ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ as one of the important lessons imparted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Vice President said that the larger part of Indian economy cannot remain forever dependent on foreign supplies. Such dependence makes us vulnerable to any blockage or disruption in the global supply chain, he cautioned.
Referring to the huge fall in the consumer prices of essential items like PPE kits, Shri Naidu said that the pandemic has also taught us that we can lower the costs if we develop capacities to produce such goods within our country. This will not only benefit our consumers but also save our precious foreign exchange required to procure these goods from global markets, he said underlining the need for self-sufficiency in key areas of healthcare, defence, energy and infrastructure.
Recalling India’s healthy pace of economic growth during pre-Covid times, the Vice President noted with optimism the projected growth rate of 11.5 percent in this year’s Budget. “This rate can doubtless be considered as the highest among the larger economies of the world”, he said.
He reminded the audience of India’s rich tradition of trade and commerce and said that we can certainly regain that past glory and make India a ‘sonekichidiya’ once again.
Pointing to the rapidly changing technological scenario and impending fourth industrial revolution, Shri Naidu asked the Industry to be prepared for it. He said that India’s demographic dividend gives us a significant advantage in this and opined that our youth can bring about the desired transformation if they are properly skilled, motivated and given the right opportunities.
Urging the industry to play a more proactive role in skill training of the youth and mentoring of budding entrepreneurs, Shri Naidu stressed upon the critical role of the private sector in scripting the success story of any economy. He commended Gujarati business community for their handholding and community support to the new entrants into the business world and implored all businessmen to emulate this by supporting and mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Stating that our youth should not be mere job-seekers and they should rather become job providers, Shri Naidu called for enhanced industry-academia interface to unleash the latent spirit of entrepreneurship among Indian youth.
On this occasion, the Vice President also praised the role being played by the private sector in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are not only vaccinating our huge population but also providing free doses of domestically developed Covid-19 vaccines to many poor nations”, he pointed out.
Observing that in this age of intense competition, future will belong to those nations which have an edge in technological evolution, Shri Naidu stressed the need to constantly keep upgrading one’s skill sets. “We will have to innovate and invent”, he said and appealed to the private sector to increase its spending on R&D. He also called for earmarking CSR funds to promote research in academic institutions.
Recognising the need to have systems in place for fair and equitable sharing of India’s limited resources, Shri Naidu opined that such systems are best possible in a democracy where the will of the people is supreme in providing direction to governance. In a democracy, constitutional positions are held by elected representatives who can not disregard public sentiments for long, he said.
Thus, democracy provides the right kind of opportunity and a level playing field for businesses by eliminating the personal bias in the selection of winners in business battles.
Shri Naidu also appreciated Gujarat’s success in co-operative movement. Noting that in the past several co-operatives became victim of politics and vested interests, he said that it is time to strengthen the co-operative movement across the country.
Mentioning that Surat is renowned for its silk and diamonds, the Vice President credited the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of its people for making Surat a major industrial hub and throbbing centre of commerce in the country.
Gujarat Minister, Shri Ishwar Parmar, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Shri C. R. Patil, Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), Smt. Darshana Jardosh, SGCCI Chairman, Shri Dinesh Navadiya and others were present during the event.
Following are the excerpts from the speech –
“Sisters and brothers,
I am very pleased to be here with you in this august gathering today. Surat, renowned the world over for its silk and diamonds, has earned the reputation of being a major industrial hub and throbbing centre of commerce in the country. This is because of the hard work and entrepreneurial spirit of people like you and I congratulate all of you. Your spirit of enterprise is truly legendary indeed.
India was growing at a steady and healthy pace till this pandemic disrupted the normal course of our lives a year ago. Our per capita income rose from USD 1631 to USD 2099 between the years 2014 and 2019, which points to a growth of 29% in the last 5 years. COVID-19 threw the entire world out of gear and severely impacted our economy as well. Consequently, India had to suffer a huge setback to the tune of 7.5% of our GDP.
The Union Budget 2021-22 has projected a GDP growth of nearly 11.5% in the coming year. This can doubtless be considered as the highest when it comes to the larger economies of the world.
Experts and analysts have pointed out that our economy has begun to bounce back. As the world came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic, among the many lessons we learnt, is that of the ambitious mission of an ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’—a quest for a ‘Self –reliant India.’ This is a useful lesson imparted to us in these challenging times as the larger part of Indian economy cannot remain forever dependent on foreign supplies which are prone to disruption. Such dependence makes us vulnerable to any blockage or disruption in the global supply chain.
We have witnessed that before the countrywide lockdown was imposed last year, there were very few Indian manufacturers of PPE kits and face masks like N-95. But, today, we can claim with justifiable pride that India is the second-largest producer of PPE kits. We are not only meeting our own demand today, but also exporting these essential items to several countries. As a result, there is a huge correction in the consumer prices of these commodities with more access to these goods in India.
These testing times have taught us that we can lower the costs to the advantage of our consumers if we develop capacities to produce such goods within our country. This will also bring down our foreign exchange expenditure required to procure these goods from global markets. All these factors necessitate the need to have a comprehensive policy for self-sufficiency in key areas of healthcare, defence, energy and crucial technologies related to the infrastructure segment.
This push towards “Atmanirbhar Bharat” presents a huge opportunity to Indian businesses. I call upon the Indian industry to rise to the occasion and replicate the PPE kit success story in other sectors as well. Many have already done so, as we have seen. A range of other local products were manufactured for mass consumption—be they sanitizers, face masks, surgical gloves or ventilators and life-saving vaccines.
The Bronze Age port town of Lothal is testimony to India’s rich tradition of trade and commerce. Let me remind you that in the first century AD, the Roman writer Pliny had lamented about the heavy drain of gold from Rome into India by way of payment of her imports from India. We can certainly regain that past glory and restore India to its pre-eminent status of sonekichidiya of the world.
We are living in a rapidly changing world. The fourth industrial revolution is knocking at our door and we must be prepared to make the most of it.
India’s demographic dividend gives us a significant advantage in this regard. With over 62% of its population in the working-age group (15–59 years), India is one of the youngest nations in the world today. Our youth can bring about the desired transformation if they are properly skilled, motivated and given the right opportunities. The Government on its part has taken several initiatives to enhance ‘ease of doing business’ and to create an enabling ecosystem for start-ups. But governments alone cannot accomplish everything. Participation of the private sector is critical in scripting the success story of any economy. I urge the industry to play a more proactive role in skill training of the youth and mentoring of budding entrepreneurs. I have often heard stories of Gujarati business community doing handholding of new entrants into the business world. This is something commendable and I would urge all businessmen to take a leaf from their book when it comes to mentoring young entrepreneurs.
Our youth passing out of colleges should not be mere job-seekers—they should rather become job providers. Enhanced industry-academia interface will help unleash the latent spirit of entrepreneurship among Indian youth.
Another area that I would like to emphasize is ethics in corporate governance. There are no two opinions about the crucial role played by wealth creators in the nation’s progress and they deserve all respect for this. But there are some black sheep who bring a bad name to the entire business community. I urge the industry to isolate such elements and make ethical and moral behaviour an inalienable part of corporate culture in our country.
Today, if India is at the forefront of fighting this Covid-19 pandemic, then a large part of the credit should go to our private sector. We are not only vaccinating our huge population but also providing free doses of domestically developed Covid-19 vaccines to many poor nations. This spirit of ‘share & care’ is at the core of Indian philosophy.
We live in an age of intense competition and therefore, need to constantly keep upgrading our skill sets. We will have to innovate and invent. The future will be conquered by nations which have an edge in technological evolution. Keeping this in mind, the Government of India has developed a number of policies to support R & D and for technological up-gradation. I would appeal to the private sector also to increase its spending on R&D. Similarly, it should step forward and earmark CSR funds to promote research in academic institutions.
Sisters and brothers,
Though India is a vast country, in terms of percentage, we occupy only 2.4 percent of the total land area of the world. This landmass supports around 17 percent of the world population. Clearly, our resources are limited in terms of per person distribution and therefore, it becomes imperative to have systems for fair and equitable sharing of these limited resources among all sections of society.
Such systems are best possible in a democracy where the will of the people is supreme in providing direction to governance. In a democracy, constitutional positions are held by elected representatives, and therefore on the principle of natural justice. Those who work in favour of the benefit of the people are likely to be chosen to govern and in contrast, those who fail to keep the larger interest of the masses in mind, are likely to suffer the consequences.
In business therefore, the democratic setup offers equal opportunity to all irrespective of their caste, creed, region or religion. Thus, democracy eliminates the personal bias in the selection of winners in business battles. It provides the right kind of opportunity and a level playing field for business aspirants to independently create a better business model.
I am sure that the present governments are trying their best to create a fair and free business environment. Introduction of ‘Faceless Assessment’ by Income Tax Department is one such example. I hope the industry will benefit from such steps.
In the end, I thank ‘South Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry’ for organizing this intellectually stimulating session with Industrial and Trade Fraternity of South Gujarat.
I wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.