A day ahead of meeting the visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, the first world leader beyond South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and Mauritius, prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the country needed skill, scale and speed to compete with China.
Releasing a book 'Getting India Back on Track: An Action Agenda for Reform' edited by Bibek Debroy, Ashley J. Tellis and Reece Trevor and published by the Americain think-tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Modi known for his stress on building infrastructure, said the focus needed to shift from highways to "i-ways" and optical fibre networks.
In the past while the cities were built on river-banks, currently they come up along highways." But in future, they will be built, based on availability of optical-fibre networks and next-generation infrastructure," he said.
He said there was need to exploit the demographic dividend, as 65 per cent of our population was below 35 years of age. For this skill development needs to be a priority area. Referring to skills such as teaching, nursing and paramedics, he said good teachers were one of the biggest needs of society, but there are very few good teachers available.
He reiterated his plans to build 100 smart cities and stressed that urbanisation should not be treated as a problem, but an opportunity. So far, the policy makers in India have always stressed to prevent rapid urbanisation and migration by targeting major flagship schemes to rural household.
Citing the three colours of the national flag, to suggest revolutionary agendas of futuristic growth, he said the green needs to bring about a second green revolution – focusing on increased agro-productivity, value addition, agro technology, and decentralisation of warehousing.
The white, signifies a white revolution, focusing on increasing milk productivity, and developing a support system for ensuring cattle health. Admitting in a lighter vein that while saffron colour raises hackles for many, but for him, it represents energy – and we need a saffron revolution that focuses on renewable energy sources such as solar energy, to meet India's growing energy demand. Inspired by the blue colour of the Ashok Chakra in the National Flag, he said the blue revolution should focus on the fisheries sector, including ornamental fish. He also emphasised the importance of micro-irrigation, which would lead to "per drop, more crop."
He said that micro-irrigation had been successful in improving productivity and quality in crops like sugarcane in Gujarat.
Referring to skills such as teaching, nursing and paramedics, he said good teachers were one of the biggest needs of society, but there are very few good teachers available. Can India become an exporter of good teachers who would capture the imagination of an entire generation globally, the prime minister asked.
He said if India has to compete with China, the focus should be on skill, scale and speed. Talking about the need to combat the challenge of global warming and climate change, the Prime Minister said that a civilisation that treated rivers as mothers, did not need to learn about environment protection from a western mindset.