The Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Mr. Piyush Goyal said that India must not restrict itself to be the back-office of the world, but must aspire to be its front-office. He was addressing Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (FICCI) National Executive Committee Meeting in New Delhi today. The Minister asked FICCI to re-orient themselves and aspire to become a think-tank rather than restricting themselves to being advocates for day-to-day industry issues. He asked the organization to study global trends and patterns in business and find meaningful and effective means to engage with these developments.

Mr. Goyal said that the world had huge expectations from India and not just for the immediate future but for the long term. He said that the world expected India to drive global growth, provide the talent pool that the world needs and spearhead technology transformations. The Minister said that world over, companies were planning to set up manufacturing plants and R&D facilities in India and hoping to hire its young and talented work force in significant numbers. The Minister pointed out that India’s large population is now considered as a boon by the world because of its potential to be the market of the future. He reminisced that there was a time when the people of India were worried about the very basic necessities of life such as food, clothing and shelter. He highlighted that Modi government’s relentless focus on improving the lives of people by ensuring that every single citizen had a good home with electricity, cooking gas, clean water and internet connectivity, toilets, road connectivity etc. had empowered India’s population to be aspirational.

Mr. Goyal said that the government was also taking sustained efforts to combat hunger by supplying food grains to over 80 crore people under National Food Security Act (NFSA) and in addition, providing 5 Kilograms food grains per month per person under PMGKY. He added that the government was able to ensure that no home went without food even during the challenging times of the pandemic. Mr. Goyal said that India not only diligently vaccinated its population but also ramped up and augmented its healthcare infrastructure, including medical oxygen and ICU beds during the pandemic. He pointed out that India’s Ayushman Bharat which covered 500 million people was the largest successful health care program in the world. All these initiatives, the Minister said, had succeeded in meeting the basic requirements of life, empowering and enabling India’s population to aspire for better things in life and a better quality of life. The burgeoning middle class and greater participation of women in the workplace will create more and more opportunities for our manufacturing and service sectors, he added.

The Minister spoke of India’s fast adoption of technology and said that with over 800 million smart phones, education had reached millions of homes during the pandemic through these devices. He spoke of the government’s ceaseless efforts to take good quality 4G to the remotest of areas in India and said that the country was now preparing for the roll out of 5G across the length and breadth of the nation. He asked industry to partner with the government to ensure that the whole nation has access to the multifarious advantages of 5G. Mr. Goyal also emphasized on the need for India to embrace innovation. He asked the youth of the nation to nurture the spirit of enquiry and relentlessly tinker with ideas and find solutions for day-to-day problems of human existence using all possible tools that digital technology has to offer, from Artificial Intelligence to Machine Learning,the Minister assured that the government has been trying to keep macroeconomic indicators strong. He observed that there was a time in India, almost a decade ago, when double digit inflation was considered as normal.

He said that the government had mandated RBI to target inflation and keep it between 2-6%. He pointed out that while several developed nations were grappling with high levels of inflation, India has been successfully keeping inflation at moderate levels. Applauding RBI for its proactive interventions, the Minister said that RBI now had a holistic vision for macroeconomic stability. Speaking of Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), the Minister said that just as UPI had democratized digital payments, enabling interoperability and bringing down transaction costs, ONDC would also help democratize the e-Commerce sector and bring in more transparency and fairness in the entire ecosystem. He further elaborated that ONDC, a set of open protocols, would safeguard customer’s choice, provide better market access to sellers and help bring the remotest corners of the country into the eCommerce framework by empowering them with digitization.

Terming ONDC as a public good, Mr. Goyal said that it would help save jobs and safeguard and empower small mom and pop stores in the remotest parts of the nation with the possibilities of technology. Mr. Goyal also asked Indian pharma industry to become part of international quality protocols such as Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S). He asked pharma majors to handhold smaller manufacturers to institute Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) so that India, which is touted to be the pharmacy of the world, is able to maintain the trust of the world. Mr. Sanjiv Mehta, President, FICCI, Mr.Subhrakant Panda, Senior Vice President, FICCI and other dignitaries were present at the National Executive Committee Meeting.