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India is heaven for investors; want to make it $20 trillion economy: PM Modi

San Jose: Projecting India as a "heaven" for investors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his government is working on deregulation and ensuring 'ease of doing business' as he aims to convert the country's economy
PTI September 28, 2015 7:28 IST
PTI

San Jose: Projecting India as a "heaven" for investors, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his government is working on deregulation and ensuring 'ease of doing business' as he aims to convert the country's economy from 8 trillion dollars to 20 trillion dollars.

In a Townhall Q&A at the Facebook Headquarters here along with its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Modi spoke about efforts to revive the faith among foreign investors, saying reforms are taking place speedily and the government had managed to "restore the lost confidence" during the last 15 months as he appeared to take a dig at the previous UPA dispensation.

He said his government was laying thrust on three sectors particularly agriculture, services and manufacturing  along with building the physical and digital infrastructure simultaneously.

During the 45-minute session, he also spoke in detail about the benefits of social media, particularly how it has been useful to him to connect with the people within the country and abroad, and how it can help take corrective steps if some government steps go wrong.

He became emotional while answering a question from Zuckerberg on his over 90-year-old mother as he highlighted how she had raised him by going through difficulties like washing utencils of others and working as a labourer.

Read Modi: PM Modi visits Facebok headquarters, attends townhall with CEO Mark Zuckerberg

"It is my dream to convert Indian economy into USD 20 trillion from the present USD 8 trillion," Modi said in presence of the audience, which mostly constituted of Indians.

Noting that India is a "heaven" for investors, he said, "I do not believe that there is dearth of money. Countries have money but do not know where to invest. I am giving them the address.

Here is the place (India) "We are bringing technology, transparency, efficiency, ease and effectiveness in governance," Modi said.

The Prime Minister asserted that during his 15-month tenure, the "scale and speed" of reforms has improved significantly and even the global bodies like World Bank and IMF have forecast a high growth for India.

At the same time, he said India is a huge country and it will take time for the changes to become visible, as he answered a question about the slow pace of reforms.

"It is not a scooter whose direction you can see changing easily. A 40-compartment train takes time... India is such a huge country," he said.

While talking about the speed of reforms, Modi appeared to take a dig at the previous governments as he said that nationalisation of banks was undertaken 40 years back but 60 per cent of the population was without a bank account till his dispensation introduced the Jandhan scheme last year.

"180 million accounts were opened within 100 days of our government. This is the speed and scale of change," he said.

The nationalisation of banks was undertaken by Indira Gandhi.

For the Townhall Q&A, 40,000 questions and comments had been received but Modi answered only six, of which two were from Zuckerberg, during the 45-minute session.

Talking about the results of his government's efforts, the Prime Minister said that FDI from only the USA had gone up by 87 per cent in the last 15 months and FII was also increasing.

"Despite global recession there is 40 percent growth in FII. Make in India is going to be successful," he said.

"India has 3Ds which are its unique strength -- Democragraphic dividend, Democracy and Demand. I have added new D - Deregulation. My philosophy is that government has no business to be in business. It is not government's job to run a hotel. Let a businessman run it," he said.

Speaking about the ease of doing business, he said his government had taken on board the states in this regard as India is a federal country.

He said the states are now engaged in "unprecedented" competition in the context of reforms and ease of doing business.

"The World Bank last time rated India at 140th position in terms of ease of doing business. However, recently it did a rating of states... I am confident that by the time, the World Bank does the rating again at the national level, India will be much above than 140th position," Modi said.

Zuckerberg, while welcoming Modi to the headquarters, said he considers India a "temple" of knowledge from where he took inspiration to build Facebook more than 10 years back.

He said India needs to be leader online and appreciated Modi for his 'Digital India' campaign.

The Facebook chief said he was personally impressed at how Modi used social media to connect with people directly.

The Prime Minister said he was aspiring to connect 6 lakh villages of the country with optical fibre network in five years as he understands the importance.

"Earlier, humans used to settle along the rivers. Later habitations used to take place along the highways. In future, people will settle down along the places having optical fibre lines," he said.

Modi said, "In the last 15 month, the perception about India has changed. We have regained the lost confidence. This I believe will bring change."

He said when he adopted social media, he never thought that he would one day become the Chief Minister or Prime Minister but was just curious to know the world.

"Social media helped me gain information about the world. This brought a big change in my thought process. This connected me with the world and the world accepted me as I am," said Modi while noting that he was not much educated and came from a poor background.

While explaining the benefits of social media, he said, "Government has a problem, there is usually a gulf between government and the people. By the time, you realise that, the five years (term) is over."

"But the power of social media is such that you know about reactions instantly. There is instant voting on decisions because of social media. If some decisions are wrong, they can be corrected. Earlier, it could happen only after five years. This is why I tell leaders all around the world, don't run away from social media...Get connected. Good governments run on feedback. For realtime feedback, social media is great help and if a government is alert, it can take corrective measures and speed up work."

Modi said India has to emphasize on two things ´┐Ż physical and digital infrastructure. "Highways and I-ways are equally important," he said, adding that in view of the situation in India, these could not be done one after another but simultaneously.

Talking about the strength of social media, he said it has played a big role in governance and helped in connecting with people within the country and abroad.

He gave the example of how he connected with people of China through Weibo, its version of Twitter.

"China has a different social media structure. But I am active in Chinese social media. I greeted Chinese Prime Minister on his birthday. It went viral on Chinese social media," Modi said.

He said he also greeted the Israeli Prime Minister in Hebrew which too went viral in Israel. "The best fun was, when he responded 'thank you' in Hindi on twitter."

Describing it as "the new face of diplomacy," the Prime Minister said earlier diplomacy involved connections between capital cities and leaders of different countries. But now through social media, one can connect directly with people of other countries... Social media is a big catalyst of social change."

To a question on status of women, he said India is the only country in the world where women are seen as a Goddesses.

"It is true that there have been diversion and deterioration," he said, adding his government was working for empowerment of women.

"As far as government is concerned, if we want to achieve our developmental goals, we can't keep 50 percent of our population within four walls. Government policies need to be proactive. The government is taking steps in that direction," he said.

"For women empowerment, we have to ensure that they have a role in decision-making process," he said.

Zuckerberg asked Modi about his mother while saying that family is very important for both of them and introduced his parents who were present there.

Congratulating Zuckerberg's parents for giving birth to such a genius, Modi got emotional as he said, "I am from a poor family. I used to sell tea at a railway station. No one would have imagined that the world's largest democracy elected a tea seller as their leader. I salute the people of India."

With choked voice and wet eyes, he continued with pauses: "My father is no longer in this world. My mother is more than 90 years of age. She is illiterate... When we were small, she would clean utensils, do manual labour..."

He said in India, there are lakhs of such mothers who sacrifice their lives for their kids.

"That is why I would like to thank mothers everywhere and I hope that their blessings would keep us on the right path."

Zuckerberg appreciated Modi's Digital India campaign, saying there is still a billion people in the country to be connected to internet.