Image Source : AP/FILE PM Modi and other ministers at Make in India initiative launch

Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the ‘Make in India’ initiative can add to engines of global growth and help democratise the global economy, and highlighted the importance of creating multiple, reliable and resilient supply chains. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is in Astana to attend the SCO Summit, delivered Modi’s remarks at the extended format meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Council of Heads of State in the Kazakh capital.

 “Make in India’ can add to engines of global growth”: PM Modi at SCO 

Modi said that India has contributed significantly to enhancing the economic agenda of the SCO grouping with institutionalised mechanisms such as the SCO Startup Forum and Special Working Group on Startup and Innovation. With 130,000 startups in India, including 100 unicorns, our experience can be useful to others, a Ministry of External Affairs statement cited the prime minister as saying in his remarks. “When it comes to geo-economics, the need of the day is to create multiple, reliable and resilient supply chains. This is an important takeaway from the Covid experience. ‘Make in India’ can add to engines of global growth and help democratise the global economy. India is open to partnering with others in capacity building, especially nations of the Global South,” the statement said.

The prime minister said technology not only held great promise in his times but was increasingly a game changer in both development and security. “The digital era needs more trust and transparency. AI and Cyber security raise crucial issues of their own,” he said. “When it comes to medical and wellness tourism, you may be aware that World Health Organisation has set up a Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Gujarat. In SCO, India has taken the initiative for a new SCO Working Group on Traditional Medicine,” the prime minister said.

“Enhancing education, training, and capacity-building are key pillars of India’s international cooperation. We are committed to further building on them, be it with the C5 partners, or those of ‘Neighbourhood First’ or the extended neighbourhood.” “India has shown that digital public infrastructure and digital financial inclusion can make such a huge difference. Both were discussed during our SCO Presidency. They also expand the scope for international cooperation, involving SCO members and partners,” he said.

PM Modi takes jibe at China 

“While standing resolute on challenges, it is equally important to actively and collaboratively explore avenues of progress. The current global debate is focused on creating the new connectivity linkages that would better serve a rebalanced world,” he said. “If this is to gather serious momentum, it requires the joint efforts of many. It must also be respectful of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states and be built on the foundation of non-discriminatory trade and transit rights to neighbours,” he said, in a veiled jibe at China, whose President Xi Jinping was present at the summit.

China has invested billions in various power projects and road networks in Pakistan under the USD 65 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The CPEC is opposed by India as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). For the SCO extended family, “we flag the progress made on Chabahar port recently through a long-term agreement between India and Iran. This not only holds great value to landlocked Central Asian states but also de-risks commerce between India and Eurasia,” Modi said.

India and Iran in May signed a 10-year contract for the operation of a terminal at the strategically important Chabahar port in Iran, a move that will boost regional connectivity as well as trade ties.

Why PM Modi’s pitch is crucial at the SCO Summit?

This is the first time India will take over the management of an overseas port that will also have a multiplier effect on trade among India, Iran and Afghanistan as efforts continue to directly tap the potential in Central Asia, bypassing neighbouring Pakistan. Talking about Afghanistan, Modi said India and its people have a historical relationship with Afghanistan that is the bedrock of the ties between the two countries. “Our cooperation covers development projects, humanitarian assistance, capacity building and sports. India remains sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the Afghan people,” Modi said.

The prime minister also touched upon granting English the status of a third official language, which he said was crucial as more countries sought association with SCO as Observers or Dialogue Partners. “We must strive to communicate better and deepen our consensus.” Congratulating the Kazakh side for hosting a successful summit, Modi said India as a ‘Vishwa Bandhu’, or the friend of the world will always strive to deepen cooperation with all its partners. The prime minister also extended its best wishes to the success of the upcoming Chinese presidency of SCO. India became a member of SCO in June 2017 at a summit in Kazakhstan.

(With inputs from agency)

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