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Foreign Secretary's Remarks at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), Bhubaneswar (October 14, 2021)

October 14, 2021

Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Hon’ble Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
H.E. Mr. Suzuki Satoshi, Ambassador of Japan to India
Prof. Hrushikesha Mohanty, Vice Chancellor, KIIT
Prof. Sasmita Samanta, Pro-Vice Chancellor, KIIT
Mr. Yoji Taguchi, Chairman & Managing Director, Mitsubishi Corporation India Limited
Mr. Shusuke Suto, Managing Director, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries India Ltd

Distinguished guests, students,

Namaste, good afternoon and kon’nichiwa


It is my pleasure to join you today for the formal inauguration of the Japanese Language programme and Internship for KIIT students and the Mitsubishi CSR support for the Sports Complex at KISS. I would like to thank Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Prof. Mohanty and Prof. Sasmita Samanta for giving me this opportunity to be with you on this occasion and to visit Odisha, a state that has a rich ancient heritage and culture, historical sites and a beautiful landscape.

2. I would like to convey my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Suzuki Satoshi, Ambassador of Japan, for joining us today. As you know, the launch of this programme has been made possible by the active support of the Japanese Embassy and Mitsubishi. I would like to convey our sincere gratitude to them.

3. I am particularly happy to see so many young students in this hall. I understand a large number of students have also joined online.

4. I look forward to calling on the Honorable Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik later this evening. I am personally happy to be back in this beautiful state of Odisha after my district training in Cuttack in 1984.

5. The emphasis on the development of human resources in the state has been noteworthy. With the establishment of IIM, IIT, NISER, IISER, AIIMS, NLU and many other institutions of national importance, Odisha has emerged as one of the leading educational hubs in the country.

6. In this remarkable journey, Prof. Samanta and the institutions he has founded have had a central role. The high standards you have set here, with modern facilities, encompassing a wide range of disciplines, are worthy of emulation.

7. As we all know, India is witnessing a unique demographic shift. To convert this advantage into demographic dividend, we need to provide opportunities to the youth so that they can realise their full potential. In this regard, the contribution of KIIT in training our youth to not only acquire skills but become enterprising citizens of the country is truly commendable, and I would like to acknowledge the seminal contribution of Prof. Samanta towards the development of educational institutes of such high caliber.

8. Friends, today, I hope to provide some insight and details about the working of the Ministry of External Affairs. Our foreign policy, as those of other countries, seeks to advance our national interests in an external environment.

9. In practical terms, this can translate into many dimensions. For example, it includes mobilizing resources externally to support our national programmes like Make in India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, or Namami Gange; promoting foreign trade and foreign investment; helping our citizens abroad in case of difficulties; or facilitating people-to-people linkages with other countries that would create opportunities for Indian professionals to travel and work abroad. The Japanese language course at KIIT is an example.

Friends,

10. As we meet today, the global pandemic continues to rage worldwide and affect all aspects of our lives.

11. Let me talk briefly on how our diplomatic efforts contributed to the overall efforts of the Government in dealing with this pandemic. During the initial stage in January 2020 when there was a lockdown in China, we undertook special relief flights to evacuate our nationals who were stuck in Wuhan. A number of these were students, including some from Odisha.

12. Later, as many countries imposed lockdowns, and international commercial travel came to a standstill, a lot of Indian citizens were stranded across the globe. Our Ministry, along with other Ministries of the Government of India, undertook the Vande Bharat Mission, which has been the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the Government for repatriation of our nationals. In total, so far, more than 25 lakh persons have been brought back, including over 11,000 people from Odisha.

13. In addition, the Ministry and our Embassies abroad worked in tandem with other Ministries of the Government to secure provision of adequate supplies of PPE kits, testing kits etc. in India till our domestic production capacities were ramped up.

14. Another aspect was our supply of medicines to deal with COVID, such as hydroxychloroquine, to more than 150 countries in keeping with our well-earned reputation of India being the pharmacy of the world. Earlier this year, under the Vaccine Maitri programme, we shared vaccines with 95 other countries and UN peacekeepers. Rapid Response Teams from India visited a number of countries in our region to assist with expertise and capacity in dealing with the Covid crisis. These actions generated immense goodwill. The Prime Minister referred to this as ‘human-centric globalisation’

15. As Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said at the Global COVID-19 Summit recently, this goodwill generated was in evidence when the world stood with India as we were going through second wave of COVID-19 earlier this year. The overwhelming solidarity we received from our partner countries was a consequence of our efforts to help others when they were in need. This support, in the form of items like oxygen generating plants, ventilators and oxygen concentrators, was distributed to a number of states, including Odisha.

16. Going forward, vaccination against COVID will remain a main focus of governments across the world. In this context too, India is playing its part. As you know, India is a global vaccine manufacturing hub. We are close to achieving the landmark of administering a billion vaccines to our citizens. You would have seen reports of the recent visit of the Prime Minister to the US and to the United Nations recently, including for the Summit Meeting of Quad leaders. The Quad is a group of four countries consisting of India, Japan, Australia and USA. At the Quad Leaders’ Summit, a decision was taken for the Quad to supply a billion vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region. The US and Japan will finance the supply of Indian made vaccines to these countries with Australia providing the last mile logistical support.

17. You can see how these four countries have come together to pool in their strengths and emerge as a force for global good.

18. Just a few weeks ago, Japan hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In these Games, India secured its highest medal tally so far. Here too, our Embassies played an active role in providing support to our sportspersons, be it through facilitating their travel or ensuring adequate facilities in the athletes’ village.

19. There were many athletes from Odisha in the Indian contingent. It is a reflection of how the Odisha Govt. has nurtured sports over the years. The outstanding performance of our hockey teams, both men & women, is a testament to the high priority placed by Odisha on sports development. I am told that 3 athletes in the contingent were from KIIT University. I would like to again commend your efforts at building world class sports facilities and training.

20. Moreover, the CSR initiative by Mitsubishi at KISS has immense potential to further enhance cooperation between India and Japan in sports in terms of training of players, exchange of coaches and mutual use of facilities. I understand that some Japanese volunteers have already engaged in this effort in Odisha.

21. Now as the world appears to be coming to terms with living with Covid, we are actively engaging with other countries to facilitate the travel of students and professionals to their educational institutions and companies abroad. We have introduced a system of mutual recognition of vaccination certification so that vaccinated people do not face restrictions on travel. By the way, all of us do need passports to travel abroad. The Ministry of External Affairs has in the last few years taken a series of reform measures to ease the process for citizens in obtaining passports and today it is much easier and quicker to obtain passports.

22. I mentioned earlier the rich cultural heritage of Odisha. Over centuries, Odisha (or ancient Kalinga) had extensive contact with countries of South East Asia and East Asia. Even today, the Bali Jatra keeps alive the memory of ancient Sadhabas (Odia mariners) who used to sail to distant lands of Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka for trade and cultural exchange. These maritime trade routes of Kalinga were also instrumental in the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism across the seas to South East Asia.

23. Incidentally, about a week back, I visited the famous Dalida Maligawa Temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka, which houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. This was brought there by Princess Hemamala & Prince Dantha from Kalinga in ancient India!

24. These links were disrupted during the colonial period. Today, as you may know, the Government is seeking to rebuild such historical and civilizational linkages within our neighbourhood, with South East Asian countries and the wider region through our Neighbourhood First policy, the Act East Policy and the vision for the Indo-Pacific. We are promoting economic cooperation and cultural ties with these countries.

25. Today, India is a prominent global economy. As we grow and develop, it will be beneficial for us too if our neighbours in South Asia see a stake in our growth and see their development linked with our own growth. We have to take them along so that when we develop, they too develop and the fruits of that are mutually shared.

26. Therefore, the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has planned a special emphasis on comprehensive development of relations with our neighbours. It includes several connectivity projects to connect India with Bangladesh and Myanmar, and eventually push all the way by road, by sea, by air to Vietnam, to Japan.

27. But what does all this mean for India? It means greater trade, greater investments, people-to-people ties, less illegal migration and more security. In other words, we will be living in a zone of prosperity. When Prime Minister Modi talks about "Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas”, it is not only just for our country. It encompasses our entire neighborhood.

28. Let me briefly talk about how Japan has played an important role in India’s economic modernization. Currently, Japan is the fifth largest investor in India. The number of Japanese companies in India has been increasing steadily and today, there are more than 1450 of them in India.

29. Japan is also one of the most important development partners for India. Its loans have been deployed over sectors ranging from healthcare to sustainable development. The introduction of metros starting with Delhi has transformed our lifestyles. The audience I am sure is aware of the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR) project which will shape the landscape of India for decades to come.

30. Odisha itself has been the beneficiary of such projects. Several projects including in the area of hydro-electricity development, improvement in the power transmission system, irrigation, sanitation and forestry sector development have been undertaken with Japanese assistance, have had an important role in Odisha’s overall developmental efforts.

31. Through the Digital Partnership agreement with Japan, we have been actively promoting interaction between the Indian and Japanese startup ecosystems. It is estimated that overall, Indian startups have raised more than US$ 15 billion from Japan. Softbank, the big Japanese multinational company, has invested billions of dollars in Indian startups like PayTM and Oyo Rooms, whose founder and CEO, Ritesh Agarwal, incidentally hails from Odisha.

32. I had mentioned about creating opportunities for our youth. In this regard, Government has placed high priority on Skill Development. The India-Japan partnership is playing an important role here too. We have an agreement on "Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Programme” for training 30,000 persons over 10 years with Japanese style manufacturing skills and practices.

33. This is being implemented across India through Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC) to train engineering graduates as mid-level managers and Japan-India Institutes for Manufacturing (JIM) to train shop floor leaders. So far, Japanese companies have set up 7 JECs and 17 JIMs. In this regard, I would suggest that Japanese side should also consider starting a JEC at KIIT. A JIM can also be set up in cooperation with Japanese industry at the KIIT Industrial Training Institute (ITI).

34. Similarly to allow our skilled manpower to go to Japan, we have instituted a "Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP)”. Under this, skilled blue-collar workers can go to Japan for 3-5 years on internships. Earlier this year, we signed the "Specified Skilled Workers (SSW)” agreement. Once this system is operationalized, Indian skilled workers can go to Japan and work in 14 designated sectors on the same terms and conditions as Japanese workers.

35. A requirement to be able to qualify for these programmes is of course knowledge of Japanese language. I am therefore very happy that KIIT for taken the initiative of starting this Japanese language course. I wish to congratulate all those students who have undertaken to learn Japanese language.

36. These are a few examples of how our diplomacy works to promote our interests and in the process opening up new opportunities for individual growth.

37. To make the public-at-large aware of what we do, the Ministry has in the last few years taken measures to broaden the range of our interaction with people across the country, especially the youth through various novel initiatives.

38. We have also started an internship program, to recruit young people as interns for around 3 months from every state in the country. In this, priority is accorded to women and those from aspirational districts and weaker sections. I would encourage you to apply for this internship programme. We will try and include interns from Odisha in every batch.

39. Before I conclude, let me again convey my sincere thanks and gratitude to all the participating companies of Mitsubishi Group, CMD Mr. Taguchi, MD Mr. Suto and their entire team for their tremendous efforts in making this cooperation possible, and to the leadership and team of KIIT and KIIS. I wish you the very best in your future endeavours.

Dhanyavaad, Thank you and Arigatou Gozaimashita.

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