‘It is Now India’s Turn to Sustain Asia’s Success’

Edited excerpts from India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address at the Asian Leadership Forum in Seoul, May 19, 2015

Business Standard, May 23, 2015

Asia must not have two faces - one of hope and prosperity; the other of want and despair. It must not be a continent of nations on the rise and others in decline; of regions with stability and others with broken institutions.

It is a great honour to share the stage with President Park (Geun-hye) and Sheikha Mozah and Ban Ki-moon. They are outstanding leaders of Asia. They reflect Asia's diversity, and its common spirit. I am delighted to visit the Republic of Korea in the first year of my government.

Long before Korean brands had found their way into Indian homes, Koreans had found their way into Indian hearts. Nearly a 100 years ago, India's great poet, Rabindranath Tagore called Korea the Lamp of the East. Today, Korea is proving him right.

Korea's economic miracle and global leadership in technology have made the promise of the Asian Century more real. Korea is a pillar of democracy and a force of stability in Asia and Pacific.

Asia's re-emergence is the greatest phenomenon of our era. It started in Japan and then extended to China, Korea and Southeast Asian nations. In the West, nations like Qatar are transforming their desert landscapes into booming economies.

It is now India's turn to sustain Asia's success.

It is a nation of 1.25 billion people blessed with the extraordinary resources in the form of 800 million youth.

India's potential has never been in doubt. And, in the course of the past year, we are translating promise into a reality. India's growth has rebounded to 7.5 per cent per year; and, the prospects of further increase are strong. The world speaks in one voice that India is the new bright spot of hope for our region and the world. The progress of one-sixth of humanity will also be an opportunity for the world. It will also give India the capacity to do more for our world. Above all, India's progress will be an Asian success story. And, it will help make our Asian dream a bigger reality.

Asia must not have two faces - one of hope and prosperity; the other of want and despair. It must not be a continent of nations on the rise and others in decline; of regions with stability and others with broken institutions.

India seeks an Asia of shared prosperity, where the success of one nation becomes the strength of the other. Growth must be more inclusive within and across nations. This is the obligation of national governments, but also a regional responsibility. That is why the future I dream for India is also the future I want for our neighbours.

As some of us in Asia become more prosperous, we must be prepared to share our resources and markets with those who need them. I am pleased to see many in Asia assume that responsibility. This is the principle that guides India's policies. And, it comes from our timeless belief in the world as one family "vasudhaiva kutumbakam."

We must also empower our youth with skills and education, so that they can look to the future with hope.

Over the next 40 years, three billion Asians will lift themselves into a higher level of prosperity. Asia's prosperity and rising population will place a huge demand on our limited resources. So, our footprint on earth must become lighter as our economic weight increases. That is why I have often called for a change in lifestyle and new pathways to prosperity.

Reverence for nature is part of our shared heritage. Combating climate change is in our enlightened self-interest. That is why India has set a goal of 175 gigawatts of new renewable energy capacity over the next five years. But coal and oil will remain the key source of energy for all of us for a long time to come. So, let us work together to make them cleaner and less harmful for nature.

Our vision of inclusive growth will be incomplete unless we pool our innovation and technologies to transform our region's agriculture. Many of us have similar ecosystems and rural economies. And, we have a long history of learning from each other.

By 2025, a majority of Asians will live in cities. Many urban clusters in Asia will exceed the population of mid-sized countries elsewhere in the world. By then, by some estimates, India will host around 11 per cent of the global urban population. So, creating livable and sustainable cities of tomorrow should be our collective goal. That is why in India, I have placed so much emphasis on urban renewal and smart cities. And, there is much that we can learn from cities like Seoul.

If Asia must rise as one, Asia should no longer think of itself in regional fragments. Today, what happens in West Asia has a strong impact on East Asia. And what happens on the oceans will have influence on the Asian highlands.

India is located at Asia's crossroads. And, we will assume our responsibility to build an inter-connected Asia. We must connect our regions through infrastructure and integrate them through trade and investments.

We must build institutions that promote cooperation on the principles of equality, co-existence and international rules and norms. This will also mean that we work together to safeguard our commons for the benefit of all - our oceans, outer space and the cyberspace.

Asia of dynamism, but also of uncertainties must lead in shaping its course. But Asia of growing weight will also have to take greater responsibility for the world. And, it must also seek a larger role in global affairs. We must work as Asians to reform the global institutions of governance, including the United Nations and its Security Council.

Asia of rivalries will hold us back. Asia of unity will shape the world.

In conclusion, I wish to say this: through its history, Asia has been linked by the flow of religions, culture, knowledge and trade. And, Asia has also given much to the world - great religions, our staples such as tea and rice, some of the finest human creations, and some of the most significant inventions and technologies. We have risen from tragic conflicts and the long shadow of colonialism. We have also seen Asia's strength and spirit.

Let us now draw upon our heritage and synergies, our ancient wisdom and youthful energy, to pursue a common purpose. For ourselves and the world.

Source: http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/it-is-now-india-s-turn-to-sustain-asia-s-success-115052300806_1.html