Observing that any country, to be a global player, should have a global influence, Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu on Tuesday said that such an influence could come through areas such as politics, economy, military power or soft power, and India has huge potential to influence people through its soft power, which has been repeatedly displayed by the Indian Peacekeeping Force deployed in various countries.
“India, however needs to create building blocks, set up institutions and formulate strategies to be a superpower,” he added, pointing out that India is no more looked upon as a spoiler, but as an enabler; a player who drives the process, rather than stalls the process.
Prabhu, who was delivering a lecture at the two-day international conference on ‘Emergence of India as a global power: Challenges and opportunities’, in commemoration of the golden jubilee of the Srinivassa Sinai Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, in the city, further sharply retorted that in the last few years, India has become flavour of the season, with people speaking about India very favourably, except when we talk about ourselves in India.
Stating that economy is a very complex issue, Prabhu said that in China, to make the economy grow, some 50 leaders meet and decide about the same. “And then they have the ability to make sure that what the 50 people decide will happen everywhere, including the marketplace,” Prabhu quipped, pointing out, “Here in India, our economy is completely driven by the private sector, by the entrepreneurship, which make it difficult for few leaders to sit in New Delhi and decide about it.” He further observed that in India, all the policies have to be aligned to the market forces.
“Many of the programmes introduced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi are actually part of a much larger picture that must be seen in a proper perspective,” Prabhu observed, mentioning that economy must grow, and to make economy grow we have to change the profile of the economy. “The ‘Make in India’ programme has a potential to create many opportunities, besides creating demand for services and demand for agriculture,” he said, stating that if manufacturing drives the economy, then it becomes the engine of growth, and therefore is important.
“If one has to compare Indian Railways with the Chinese railways, then one must compare Indian investment with Chinese investment in the particular sector,” Prabhu said, adding that if we have to get the end results from our railways, then we need to invest in railway infrastructure. “And the Indian government has started such an investment for the first time,” Prabhu mentioned, informing that the government has stepped up investment in its railways significantly, besides modernising it, working on signalling, redeveloping the railway stations, and so on. “We have invested Rs 1,20,000 crore in railways, three times the amount invested by the previous government,” he noted.
Prabhu also observed that ‘Digital India’ programme will complement the global digital revolution, just as the digital revolution is set to sweep the world. “We may be late starters in creating digital connectivity and other related issues, but we will use digital platform to dispense services, to carry out businesses, for the governance, and even handling railway related complaints on real-time basis,” he maintained, stating that creativity would come only when there are challenges, and India provides this perfect scenario.
Chairman of Dempo Charities Trust Srinivas Dempo, in his opening remarks expressed pride over the fact that the Prime Minister has handpicked Suresh Prabhu and Manohar Parrikar, both with Goan background for achieving high economic rate of growth through railway engine of growth and defence engine of growth. He also stated that China bulldozes issues to get its infrastructure in place, while India shows that democracy is not equalled with inequality and sluggishness in the system.
A trustee of the Trust Pallavi Dempo, college principal Radhika Naik, vice principal Harip Khanapuri and convenor of the event Nikhil Varerkar were present on the occasion.
The audience along with the students of the college later participated in an interaction with Prabhu.