TOKYO: Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday sought to reassure investors that his reformist agenda would translate into better governance for India.
During an official visit to Japan, he told business leaders in Tokyo that he wanted to cast off the image of a country shackled by red tape and poor infrastructure.
“We have carried out various deregulation measures,” Modi, who swept to power in May, told a forum hosted by the Nikkei newspaper and the Japan External Trade Organisation.
“I’ve come to assure you there is no red tape but only red carpet that awaits you in India,” he said.
Modi said India was also the only place where Japanese industry would pleasantly find all the three ‘Ds’ — democracy, demography and demand.
“I have come here to assure you that if you have to look anywhere outside Japan, you do not need to look here or there,” he said, adding: “We particularly want to encourage and invite small and medium enterprises, as also small-scale industries.”
The prime minister said India now had a government working on development and wanted to step up manufacturing. He said he wished for India what he himself experienced when he was young, when he did not have to think twice if a product said “Made in Japan”.
Later, speaking at a reception hosted by the Japan-India Association and the Japan-India Parliamentary Friendship League, the prime minister said India and Japan were now working as “special strategic and global” partners.
Modi suggested expanding links between people’s representatives by creating a Young Parliamentary Association and a Women’s Parliamentary Association.
“If we have a Young Parliamentary Association, it can represent the thought and ideology of the new generation. There can also be an arrangement for the women parliamentary members of the two countries to meet and share ideas,” he said.
The prime minister said there was an unwritten spiritual connection between the two countries, adding that there was growing interest among the Japanese to learn Hindi and yoga.
In the evening, while inaugurating a Vivekananda Cultural Centre in the Japanese capital, he told the Indians present that India and Japan’s friendship would determine the course of the 21st century.
“There is no doubt that the 21st century belongs to Asia. But India and Japan’s friendship will determine how it will actually look like,” Modi said.
“The state and direction of the 21st century will depend on the direction in which Japan and India try to take the world,” he said.
There are around 23,000 Indians in Japan.
Terming his Japan visit as “very successful”, Modi said it was for the first time that the word trillion was in news.
“So far we would hear only about millions and billions. Now we are hearing about trillions,” Modi said, hinting at Japan’s offer of investment of 3.5 trillion yen (Rs.2.03tn) to India in the next five years.
Modi started the penultimate day of his five-day trip to Japan by visiting the University of the Sacred Heart where he said that India was committed to peace and this commitment has “significance far above any international treaties or processes”.
“Commitment to peace and non-violence is ingrained in the DNA of the Indian society.... This commitment to peace that was intrinsic to Indian society has significance far above any international treaties or processes,” Modi said while responding to a question on how India could enhance the confidence of the international community as a non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) state.
Another highlight of Modi’s programme yesterday was his audience with Japanese Emperor Akihito, during which he gave the latter a copy of the Gita.
Modi also kicked off a new initiative on training for Japanese youth started by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) at its various facilities in India, asking them to return to Japan as India’s ambassadors.
“You are going as employees of TCS. But I want you to come back to Japan as ambassadors of India,” Modi told the first batch of 48 trainees who will proceed to India to undergo training for six-eight weeks at various TCS offices.