Narendra Modi’s US visit for sustainable development
by Krishnarjun on 07 Oct 2015 1 Comment

Narendra Modi’s multipurpose visit to United Sates of America in the last week of September, the second since he became prime minister, was a significant step in his continuous efforts to revive the Indian economy. In his rather hectic trip, apart from attending the UN meeting on millennium development goals and meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the UN session, he met Fortune 500 CEOs, leaders in the finance sector, and technocrats.


Despite his hectic political and diplomatic engagements, the prime minister made a special and important visit to Silicon Valley on the west coast, considered the hub of modern digital economy and innovation, which concluded with an interaction with Indian Diaspora.


The Silicon Valley visit is in sync with the prime minister’s political, economic and diplomatic agenda, as explained in his speech at UN convention on post-2015 agenda for sustainable development, where the Indian prime minister outlined his agenda for sustainable development before a global audience.


In his speech, Narendra Modi referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s emphasis on thinking about future generations that would come into existence beyond the present and the responsibility of the present generation towards them. He observed that whenever humanity came together to address global problems, the world has progressed, recollecting the emergence and role played by UN after a devastating Second World War. He commended UN summit on agenda 2030 for sustainable development as a similar effort to find global solutions to problems that emerged and continue from previous decades, reflecting the increased maturity on social, economic and environmental issues.


Referring to 1.3 billion people below the poverty line, Mr Modi said that removing poverty is not just a question of providing dignified livelihoods or a moral obligation, but removing poverty is a pre-condition for world peace, a just system and sustainable development. He noted that UN agenda-2030 has parallels with the “antyodaya” of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyaya and it is a happy coincidence that it came up during his birth centenary. The prime minister also appreciated a separate development agenda for small island nations.


Mr Modi said it is a matter of great satisfaction that the development path chosen by India is similar to the UN sustainable development agenda. He highlighted the efforts of the Indian government to bring financial inclusion through jan-dhan accounts, insurance coverage, and pension schemes to the poor. Though the world is much focused on private and public sectors, he emphasised the need for a “personal sector” with individual, small and innovative entrepreneurs.


Providing housing, water, energy, education, health and sanitation, much needed for a dignified life, in a time-bound manner is priority for his government, Narendra Modi stressed. He claimed steps are being taken to improve manufacturing, infrastructure, farm productivity and to shield farmers from the vagaries of weather.


The prime minister emphasized India’s commitment to prosperity through sustainable development and consumption. He said Indian tradition and culture play a definite role in this commitment, but it also shows the commitment and responsibility for the future generations. Indian culture, he emphasised, considers the earth as mother. He brought the attention of the world gathering to India’s ambitious plans for next seven years on renewable energy, with a huge target of 175GW solar energy, improving energy efficiency, big scale increase in green cover, enhancing public transportation, clean rivers and cities, and transforming waste to wealth.


The prime minister emphasized the need for global cooperation to achieve sustainable development goals and deal with climate change. Global collaboration for development and sharing of renewable technology and efforts to impart education on environment on a global scale is the need of hour.


Mr Modi hoped developed nations would fulfill investment commitments and responsibility to development and climate change without linking them together; he also hoped technology facilitation and innovation for global good and not just for private returns. The world is interconnected and no one can be isolated from destitution and disturbances in any part of the world, he reminded.


The Indian leader stressed the need for UN reforms and Security Council extension, for better and broad-based representation to maintain credibility, legitimacy and to work more effectively towards meeting global goals and challenges. “We have to work towards a world where every living entity feels secure with opportunity, dignity and keep environment in a better shape when we leave for future generations, there can be no great or lofty goal than this but it’s also the most challenging. At seventy years of age for UN, the expectations from all of us is with our wisdom, experience, liberal attitude, compassion, skill and technology we can win over this challenge, I have strong confidence that we can achieve it”, he said, concluding his speech with a prayer for peace, prosperity and happiness to all.


This speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is very important to understand his development and policy objectives. He sees technology as an enabler for his sustainable and environment friendly development objectives. His search is for next generation technology that suits sustainable development, and as a global innovation hub, Silicon Valley fits into his agenda.


Unlike the twentieth century, faced with resource and energy crunch and pollution, this century has witnessed much focus on environment-friendly innovation. Next generation technologies are about renewable energy, recycling waste to wealth, enhancing farm productivity through organic methods, water desalination and environment friendly manufacturing processes.


Even with all the hype around the Indian economy and India’s emergence on the world stage, Narendra Modi understands the big holes and weak links in the Indian economy better than any expert. The Indian domestic consumption far exceeds the ability and skill to innovate and manufacture them locally. His Make in India campaign is an attempt to bring smart manufacturing to India bypassing the 20th century pollution-intensive technologies and techniques.


India is at a position where it can take advantage of the new emerging technologies without much suffering the consequences of industrialisation of previous centuries. The game changer for 21st century technology and economy would be solar power combined with emerging sophisticated, portable and reliable power storing technologies. With abundant energy from sources like solar, that don’t need combustion for energy release, there is a possibility of recycling waste and scrap to wealth without much environmental costs. 


Solar power is doubly important for India with a huge import bill to meet domestic energy demand. Without a reliable domestic energy source it’s almost impossible to sustain Indian economic development. Renewable energy can put economic development in India on auto pilot and make it sustainable with domestic resources without bothering about exchange rates or foreign investment. The combination of solar and power storing technologies is extremely important for India to move its transportation sector and economy away from fossil fuel and carbon emissions.


Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley and companies like Tesla was a step in the quest for technologies that can help in India’s sustainable development. The mainstream media saw his visit as an attempt to attract investment, but he was primarily shopping for technologies that can decrease India’s resource dependence and sustain its consumption.


The Digital India initiative needs a vibrant electronics design and manufacturing eco-system without which it’s a non-starter. He expects a vibrant partnership with Silicon Valley through digital India initiative for a digital hardware and software base in India. With Indian origin heads of IT giants he also emphasized the need for including Indian languages on IT platforms for Digital India’s success.


Renewable energy, electronics and defense manufacturing are the missing links in the Indian economy to make it a sustainable and self-evolving system. The Prime Minister, in a grand meeting, sought cooperation from the highly accomplished Indian Diaspora in Silicon Valley to help India on technology and take advantage of the opportunities it offers in the technology sectors. He refuted the perception of “brain drain” linked with the Diaspora and explained the phenomenon as a deposit of high skills that can help Indian progress.


Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned for promoting Indian economic and diplomatic interests through his extensive foreign visits and hectic meetings with global business and technology leaders. Indian economic interests and security are an integral part of his diplomacy. It remains to be seen how far and how soon his efforts and declared objectives of sabka sath sabka vikas and sustainable development are achieved. 

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top