Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that India was one of the first countries to take actions to combat the coronavirus. Modi also said that India is at the forefront of developing a vaccine against the coronavirus. He made the remarks during his keynote address at the United States-India Strategic Partnership Forum.

Modi said that India was among the first countries to make the wearing of masks mandatory during the coronavirus pandemic. He added that the government has set up 1,600 laboratories for testing for the coronavirus, due to which the death rate is very low, and the recovery rate is slowly rising. He added that India is the second highest manufacturer of personal protective equipment in the world.

“India was among the first in creating a responsive system of lockdowns among the first to advocate the use of masks and face covering as public health measure,” Modi said. “India was among the earliest to create public awareness campaigns about social distancing.”

Modi said India has battled floods and two cyclones apart from Covid-19 this year. “This has made our people stronger,” he claimed.

He said that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana is among the largest schemes anywhere in the world. Modi added that the approach to development in the present times must be “human-centric”.

Modi said India’s foreign investment flows this year are at $20 billion, including investment by companies such as Amazon and Google. He said India has a transparent tax system, and the system enables honest tax payers. “FDI into India rose by 19% in 2019,” Modi said. “This, when global FDI flows fell by 1%.”

Modi asserted that India has carried out far-reaching reforms in the recent past, which have made business easier and reduced red tape.

The prime minister said the pandemic has shown the world that decisions on developing global supply chains should be based not only on costs, but also on trust. “Along with affordability of geography, companies are now looking for reliability and policy stability,” Modi said. “India has all of these qualities.”

He said 130 crore Indians have united to bring about ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India). “‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ merges the local with the global,” Modi said. “It ensures India’s strengths act as a global force multiplier.”

The prime minister added that there are opportunities in both the public and private sectors in India. The opportunities are in the core economic sectors as well as the social sectors.

Modi said India is at the forefront of manufacturing a vaccine for the coronavirus. “Time and again, India has shown that our goal is global good,” the prime minister said. “Despite our local needs, we do not shy away from our global responsibilities.” Modi said ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ is about transforming India from being a passive market to an active manufacturing hub.

The prime minister said the government believes in delivering results and added that the government gives as much importance to ‘ease of living’ as to ‘ease of doing business’.

Modi also claimed that India is a country that has imbibed both democracy and diversity.

The summit

The theme of the five-day summit, which began on August 31, is “US-India Navigating New Challenges”.

United States-India Strategic Partnership Forum President Mukesh Aghi had said on Tuesday that the event was a marker of US-India relations in the present times. “It is a win-win partnership mutually dependent geo-politically, trade, culturally, diplomatically and scientifically,” he told PTI. “Aggressive and assertive China provides further opportunity for both nations to collaborate and ensure international rule of law prevails.”

The event has been attended by top corporate leaders, politicians and government officials for discussions on bilateral cooperation, trade, supply chain, healthcare and technology. Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar and US Vice President Mike Pence took part in the event on Monday, and Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal spoke at the forum on Tuesday.