Former Indian Ambassador to Jordan, Libya and Malta

The past 76 years of free India are replete with stupendous achievements that are all the more remarkable considering the country had to make, as India’s first prime-minister Jawaharlal Nehru put it, a ‘Tryst with Destiny’, to bringing out an exploited one-sixth of humanity from the vagaries of the colonial yoke.

Some of the major challenges immediately following independence in 1947 included socio-economic development and nation building through education and industrial development, eradication of poverty, food self-sufficiency in a drought hit era, and bringing together a nation divided by the colonial power for its vested interests.

These challenges were exacerbated in the following years as the world became increasingly divided into Cold War blocs, a political alignment to which India did not subscribe. During that tumultuous period, India not only helped in the emancipation of a large number of colonized countries, but also created a ‘third way’ with a more equitable force in the form of the Non-Aligned Movement(NAM), to serve the national interest and the cause of peace and development especially for the developing and underdeveloped world. It became a champion for the rights of oppressed people at the international fora while discharging its obligations as a responsible international actor and a voice of reason.

India, before the advent of the colonial powers, contributed to over a quarter of the global GDP, which went down to less than 4 percent by the time the last colonial power, Great Britain, vacated the country on 15 August, 1947, leaving behind a decimated industry and an administrative bureaucracy that was created to serve the colonial power.

Over the last 76 years, India has managed to make tremendous progress in all domains. The country engineered a Green, Yellow and White Revolutions with continuous upgradation in technology in the agricultural, food, and dairy processing areas, not only to meet the demands of a burgeoning domestic population, but also to emerge as a net exporter and a source of food-security to countries around the world.

And, despite opposition from global powers including the former colonial powers, India also emerged as a credible and responsible nuclear and space power in the world — both areas that it intends to employ for the global good.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking at the inaugural of curtain raiser activities of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav in 2021 reiterated and reaffirmed that “We are proud of our Constitution. We are proud of our democratic traditions. The mother of democracy, India is still moving forward by strengthening democracy. India, rich in knowledge and science, is leaving its mark from Mars to the Moon. Today, India’s startup ecosystem has become a center of attraction in the world.

Today, India is moving out of the darkness of scarcity to meet the aspirations of more than 130 crore (1.3 billion) people.”

India has the largest young aspirational population and the fastest growing market economy which is ready to cater to the needs of teeming billion plus people who take pride in the Indian story. As a result of umpteen initiatives by the present government, hundreds of archaic laws have been dispensed with. India‘s global ranking for DBI (Doing Business with India) has moved up significantly, even as more needs to be done.

India has become a favorite investment destination garnering the highest annual FDI inflow of $83.57 billion in FY21-22 despite the global pandemic. Computer software and hardware became the top recipient sector of FDI Equity inflow with a share of around 25 percent which indicates that India figures prominently for global investors as the AI driven Industrial Revolution 4.0 moves to a higher orbit. India also boasts of a fast growth in billionaire ‘unicorns’ globally.

Moreover, the FDI equity inflows in manufacturing rose by 76 percent in FY 2021-22 well supported by the Indian policy framework and ‘Make in India’ and the Performance Linked Initiative (PLI) schemes. This is a remarkable achievement and a testament to Indian economic and political resilience.

Likewise, for the first time Indian exports of goods and services reached over $600 billion in 2021-22 despite the global problems and supply constraints due to the pandemic and the ongoing Eurasian war. India has always been a trading nation and is working hard to reclaim that status yet again. Along with this, India is also focusing on self-reliance with a global footprint – ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, especially in the manufacturing sector and to be an integral part of alternate value and supply chains which are resilient and reliable for the national interest and the global good.

In this context, India’s participation in the I2U2, Quad, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and other regional and sub regional connectivity oriented frameworks acquires a renewed salience and focus. Likewise, vigorous moves to expeditiously implement the North South Transport Corridor (NSTC), strategic connectivity projects like Chabahar in Iran to Afghanistan to Central Asia and Europe, or North-Eastern India to ASEAN corridors, aim at providing crucial trade and economic linkages for India’s centrality in global supply chains.

As India wishes to lead through the AI driven Industrial revolution 4.0, its Digital India, Innovate, Start Up and Stand Up India campaigns have become the hallmark of a unique digital footprint. Some initiatives like the access to internet, banking at the doorstep and direct payment into accounts to nearly a billion Indians are the game changer and are providing the leadership position to India in the comity of nations. PM Modi recently, while speaking at the inaugural of first bullion exchange, noted that India already accounts for 40 percent of global digital payments.

Meanwhile, India’s foreign policy has become more robust and confident with impeccable credentials as the country pursues a value based foreign policy. This policy, driven primarily by strategic autonomy to subserve her own national interests, is also aligned with global welfare, and the country has emerged as a trusted and respected voice of reason on the global stage. India at the UN Security Council (UNSC) no longer pleads for a place on the horseshoe table but claims it on the basis of her credentials.

Additionally, India continues to play the global leadership role as a voice of the developing and underdeveloped countries calling for, among others, the waiver of Intellectual Property Rights for vaccine development, or at the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on fishing and agriculture issues, and on the need for reforming multilateral institutions.

India is also on the forefront of the fight against Climate Change through its leadership and partnership in various global initiatives. Some of the initiatives that India has initiated in cooperation and partnership with other countries include the International Solar Alliance (ISA), Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), and the ‘One Planet One Health’ initiatives, as it has emerged as a first responder in the crisis situations from natural disasters to the pandemic.

With a clear focus on multilateralism and primacy of the UN Charter, India navigates her foreign and security policy with dignity and confidence as she engages with diverse partners across various groupings like the Quad, BRICS, SCO, G20 and Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) where India becomes a pivot. Her Neighborhood First, Act East and Link West and Africa for Africans policies provide her the effective fulcrum for mutually beneficial partnerships.

India’s capacity building assistance under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) covers over 160 countries and includes supply of essential medicines, medical supplies and deputing professionals and paramedics during medical crises, including during the pandemic have given it unparalleled heft as a responsible global centric power always rising to the occasion. India has emerged as a first responder during the crises with the ‘Share and Care’ attitude, immensely adding to its soft power which has translated into an unprecedented support for India at the international fora, including at the declaration of June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

As a new global order emerges out of the current churn and transition, India is all set to take up a benign leadership role during the ‘Amrit Kaal’ — the next 25 years leading up to 2047 — with a strong polity, stronger economy and efficient foreign policy which is robust, resilient and result oriented and with the global good at the core.

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