Opening session of second edition co-sponsored by Gateway House and Ministry of External Affairs
- Inaugural remarks by M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, Mohammed Shahriar Alam, State Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh, Yves Leterme, former Prime Minster of Belgium, and Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law & Justice and Minister of Electronics and IT
- Key comments:
o Hon’ble M.J. Akbar: “The era of poverty alleviation is over, the age of poverty elimination has begun.”
o Hon’ble Mohammed Shahriar Alam: “The global business community should focus on South Asia to reap benefits of its growth.”
o Hon’ble Ravi Shankar Prasad: “I am going to make a mission statement: India’s digital economy in 5-7 years is going to become a one trillion dollar economy.”
o His Excellency Yves Leterme: “Economic integration and interdependence to avoid conflict is at the heart of the European Union project.”
by Suman Gupta
Mumbai, February __– Gateway House, Indian Council on Global Relations, and the Ministry of External Affairs, inaugurated the second annual Gateway of India Geoeconomic Dialogue (GOIGD) in Mumbai this evening. The event, India’s leading forum for the meeting of business and foreign policy experts, takes place in the context of a developing Indian role in global politics and economics, against a transforming international geopolitical backdrop.
Hon’ble ministers M.J. Akbar and Mohammed Shahriar Alam discussed the importance of strong bilateral relations between India and Bangladesh and the comprehensive steps that these nations have taken together in the areas of investment, connectivity and the resolution of land and water disputes. Both ministers agreed on terrorism being the biggest threat towards the region’s otherwise notable economic progress. M.J. Akbar stated that even though South Asia has the fastest growing economies in the world, “we are not able to reap its benefits and live up to our true potential”, as a result of the ongoing violence in the region. “We need to address peace and security issues,” he added, noting “nobody will talk under the shadow of guns, and those who do are showing weakness”. Overall the two leaders agreed for a sustained engagement for dialogue, which was the only way to move forward to a mutual solution.
Yves Leterme added a European perspective to the conference in his keynote on “Europe at the Crossroads” and spoke of the challenges affecting the European Union and the West. He spoke of the increasing dissatisfaction with multilateralism, evidenced by Brexit, and the need to change political thinking in Europe to break away from “right left politics” and emerge from relative economic stagnation when compared with growing economies like India.
Hon’ble Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad emphasized the importance of digitization to facilitate and efficient, corruption-free and secure system of governance in India. He spoke of India’s digital revolution and Digital India’s stated objective to bridge the digital divide, noting “technology must be affordable, innovative and developmental for the deprived”. Equally, he stressed that he supported further multilateralism in internet governance, hoping to see this develop more in the future. In his closing remarks, he stated his “vision to make India and Indians a digitally empowered society”.
The main session of the GOIGD takes place on 14 February. The conference will be attended by around 250 representatives from policy, business and foreign affairs in India and overseas.