Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a pitch for a larger slice of global manufacturing, seeking foreign investments in diverse areas such as defence, logistics and space, and pledged to carry out deep structural reforms to make India an easier place to operate for foreign companies.
“India remains one of the most open economies of the world. We are rolling out the red carpet for all global companies to come and establish their presence in India. Very few countries will offer the kind of opportunity that India does today," Modi said at the India Global Week virtual conference.
The prime minister is pushing to make India the centre of the global supply chain, encouraging foreign companies to set up production facilities in the country, as a new era of geopolitical tensions between the US and China make Western firms wary of their dependence on the world’s second largest economy.
India has been promising a stable and predictable regulatory regime and offering incentives, particularly in high-tech areas, to get more foreign enterprises to relocate to India from China.
“Our reforms in agriculture provide a very active investment opportunity to invest in storage and logistics," Modi said. “There are investment opportunities in defence sector. With relaxed FDI norms, one of the world’s biggest militaries invites you to come and make products for it. Now, there are more opportunities for private investment in space sector. This will mean greater access to commercial use of space tech for the benefit of people. India’s tech and startup sector is vibrant. There is a market of millions of digitally empowered aspirational people," he added.
Modi said the story of global revival will have India playing a leading role and that it is already seeing green shoots of economic recovery.
“History has shown India has overcome every challenge, be it social or economic. The same spirit continues now. On the one hand, India is fighting a strong battle against the global pandemic. With an increased focus on people’s health, we are equally focused on the health of the economy," he added.
Portraying the Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign as a people’s movement, Modi said 1.3 billion Indians have given a call for self-reliance. “A self-reliant India merges domestic production and consumption with global supply chains. Atma Nirbhar Bharat is not about self-contained or being closed to the world. It’s about being self-sustaining and self-generating. We will pursue policies that promote efficiency, equity and resilience," he added.
India should rightly seek to play an important role in the post-covid world, Jitesh Gadhia, an investment banker and a member of the House of Lords, said at another forum at the event. “Supply chains are emerging as the key pivot. India can’t wait around; otherwise some of those opportunities will go to Vietnam and Bangladesh. I hope India puts its foot on the accelerator to capture some of those opportunities," he added.
At a time when countries such as the US have put curbs on business and student visas for immigrants, Modi told the global audience India is a powerhouse of talent that is eager to contribute and ever ready to learn. Modi said the coronavirus pandemic has once again shown that India’s pharmaceutical industry is an asset not just for India but for the entire world. “It has played a leading role in reducing the cost of medicine, especially for the developing countries," he added.