We need Viksit Bharat ambassadors to counter naysayers, says FM Sitharaman

 Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, addressing the Viksit Bharat Ambassador event in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam on Monday, sought to break down the purpose and rationale behind Modi government’s ambitious Viksit Bharat 2047 mission and also why there was a need for the ‘ambassadors of change’.

The Finance Ministers exhorted the participants, including students, professionals, and retired officials, to become ‘Ambassadors’ of the Viksit Bharat pledge and help contribute to achieving the objective by 2047 and also admitted that if the country was to achieve such heights, greater participation of the citizens remains a pre-requisite.

She also urged the Viksit Bharat ambassadors to speak good stories about India.

“Speak of the good achievements of people of India for the sake of people of India,” she said.

Shedding further light on their role, she said that Viksit Bharat Ambassadors will boldly put forth the statistics and data to counter the doubters and naysayers.

“We need Viksit Bharat ambassadors to counter naysayers. There is a need for constant fight against forces which are undermining us,” she said.

She cited the example of India adapting digital technology for payments. “There were 131 billion UPI transactions from India in 2023-24 alone,” she said.

The Finance Minister pointed out that from vegetable and fruit sellers to toddy sellers and even alm seekers during Sankranti, everyone is using QR code.

The Union Minister also said that while 1991 marked a milestone in India’s economic history with the economy being opened up, this did not help the country till 2014.

She claimed that before 2014, the decade was completely lost because of bad policies and massive corruption.

She claimed that due to the initiatives taken by the Modi government during the last 10 years, the country has improved its ranking to the fifth largest economy from 10th place in 2014.

“India is poised to become the third largest economy in two years,” she said.

The Union Minister, further interacting with the Viksit Bharat participants, spoke about several initiatives and reforms that put the nation on a strong growth trajectory.

She pointed out that last year the highest number of patents were granted.

Over 1 lakh patents were granted in 2023-24. There were record-breaking copyright registrations at 36,378 and there was a three-fold increase in GI registration. There were also highest-ever design registrations of 27,819. She attributed this to the emphasis the government is giving to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

The exports from the services sector soared to the highest-ever mark of $340 billion in 2023-24.

Replying to a query, she said the government identified 13 sunrise sectors in which India is already showing leadership potential. These include renewable energy, advanced chemistry, green hydrogen, and Artificial Intelligence.

She spoke about some of the recent initiatives to harness the skills of youth. In the interim Budget for 2024-25, the government created Anusandhan corpus for Rs.1 lakh crore to support and create new avenues for India’s tech-savvy youth and make India a global hub for innovation. It will provide long-term financing and support for research and innovation in sunrise domains.

“Since the announcement of Atmanirbhar Bharat in 2020, India’s defence exports have grown rapidly. Till recently we were importing the majority of defence equipment. Now our defence exports are Rs. 22,000 crore by March 2024.”

Sitharaman said that the government is also setting up India’s Artificial Intelligence Mission with a budget outlay of Rs 10,300 crore. This will be used for improving computer infrastructure and for developing indigenous AI capabilities attracting AI talent and financing AI startups.

She said India’s semiconductor mission will make the country a global hub for electronics manufacturing and design.

The Finance Minister also said the roll-out of India’s 5G network was the fastest in the world.

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