There is a high tide of hope for change in India. This May, across India’s immense diversity, 1.25 billion people spoke unequivocally for political stability, good governance and rapid development. India has a government with a majority in the Lok Sabha, our lower house of parliament, for the first time in 30 years. A young nation with 800 million people under age 35, India is brimming with optimism and confidence. The young people’s energy, enthusiasm and enterprise are India’s greatest strength. Unleashing those attributes is my government’s biggest mission.
We will pursue this mission by eliminating unnecessary laws and regulations, making bureaucratic processes easier and shorter, and ensuring that our government is more transparent, responsive and accountable. It has been said that doing the thing right is as important as doing the right thing.
We will create world-class infrastructure that India badly needs to accelerate growth and meet people’s basic needs. We will make our cities and towns habitable, sustainable and smart; and we will make our villages the new engines of economic transformation. “Make in India” is our commitment—and an invitation to all—to turn India into a new global manufacturing hub. We will do what it takes to make it a reality.
We ran our election campaign on the promise of inclusive development. To me, that means many things: skills education, and opportunity; safety, dignity and rights for those in every section of our society, especially women; a bank account for every Indian; affordable health care within everyone’s reach; sanitation for all by 2019; a roof over every head by 2022; electricity for every household; and connectivity to every village. In addressing these daunting challenges, I draw confidence from countless extraordinary stories of ordinary Indians that I have seen through decades of travel across India.
I also strongly believe in the possibilities of technology and innovation to transform governance, empower people, provide affordable solutions for societal challenges and reach people in ways that were unimaginable not so long ago. The number of cell phones in India has gone up from about 40 million to more than 900 million in a decade; our country is already the second-largest market for smart phones, with sales growing ever faster. When I think of the growth in computing power and storage capacity and its miniaturization that the world has witnessed over the past two decades, I am confident that this can be replicated in renewable energy. With solar and wind power, thousands of Indian villages will be able to get access quickly to reliable, affordable and clean energy, without waiting for large, faraway conventional power plants to be built.
For this reason, India’s journey to prosperity can be a more sustainable and environmentally sensitive one than the path followed by countries that came of age in earlier eras. This is a journey of our choice, rooted in our tradition that worships nature’s bounties.
India will pursue its dreams in partnership with our international friends. History tells us that India’s natural instinct is to be open to the world. India will be open and friendly—for business, ideas, research, innovations and travel. In the coming months, you will feel the difference even before you begin your travel to India.
The United States is our natural global partner. India and the U.S. embody the enduring and universal relevance of their shared values. The thriving Indian-American community in the U.S. is a metaphor for the potential of our partnership, and for the possibilities of an environment that nurtures enterprise and rewards hard work. Our strengths in information technology are especially important for leadership in the digital age. The partnership between our businesses takes place in the comfort and certainty of similar political systems and shared commitment to rule of law. In education, innovation, and science and technology, the U.S continues to inspire India.
India and the U.S. have a fundamental stake in each other’s success—for the sake of our values and our many shared interests. That is also the imperative of our partnership. And it will be of great value in advancing peace, security and stability in the Asia and Pacific regions; in the unfinished and urgent task of combating terrorism and extremism; and in securing our seas, cyber space and outer space, all of which now have a profound influence on our daily lives.
The complementary strengths of India and the U.S. can be used for inclusive and broad-based global development to transform lives across the world. Because our countries’ values and interests are aligned, though our circumstances are different, we are in a unique position to become a bridge to a more integrated and cooperative world. With sensitivity to each other’s point of view and the confidence of our friendship, we can contribute to more concerted international efforts to meet the pressing global challenges of our times.
This is a moment of flux in the global order. I am confident in the destiny of our two nations, because democracy is the greatest source of renewal and, with the right conditions, offers the best opportunity for the human spirit to flourish.