India must ‘re-engage’ with Indian Ocean region, says Jay Panda

Singapore, Sept. 2 : Asserting that the philosophy of India's engagement in the Indian Ocean region is going to be one of cooperation with other nations focusing on respecting the rules and mutual benefit, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Jay Panda on Friday said that re-engagement with the region is necessary for New Delhi to become a middle income country from low-middle income country.

Addressing delegates in the 2016 Indian Ocean Conference held at Shangri-La hotel in Singapore, Panda said that a turnaround is happening in India with the nation emerging to be one of the fastest growing economy in the world and has been performing well in global indices such as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and ease of doing business.

"Today there is a turnaround happening in India. The nation is already acclaimed for being the fastest growing large economy in the world. The World Bank is already calling us a low middle income country and in our aspiration to be a full-fledged middle income country in the near future lies in the re-engagement.

Even Foreign Secretary Jaishankar mentioned today about our increased co-operation and trade not just without with our immediate neighbours, but with the greater neighbourhood all around the Indian Ocean.

An example is that this growth of the Indian economy has led to much larger budgets for aid as well, that is only going to grow in coming years," he said.

"We are also changing in other ways if we look at global indices of the ease of doing business, of competitiveness, of innovation.

In all of these, India has been steadily notching up the ranks in last couple of years. In FDI, as a destination, India has reached the highest levels and is a favored destination for around the world.

Singapore and the South East Asian nations that represent in this conference play a very important part," he added.

He said that this turnaround is symbolised by the passage of Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill, which is bigger than the 1991 reforms.

"This turnaround in India is symbolised by very important development that took place just week ago, which was a passage of the constitutional amendment making possible a Goods and Services Tax (GST), which has long been debated in India.

The nature of the most largest and diverse democracy means big ideas, important ideas have to be debated that can't be passed in a hurry.

It may take time in the beginning, but it leads to a tipping point where the growth is not linear but exponential," he said.

Summarizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assertion, Panda said India will work to ensure a safe, secure and stable Indian Ocean region that delivers us all to the shores of prosperity and India will help strengthen regional mechanisms in combating terrorism, piracy and respond to natural disasters.

"I think we will look forward towards India's renewed enjoyment with the Indian Ocean region nations in a way that is going to transform the rest of this century," he said.

The conference has been organized by the Indian Foundation while the Sri Lankan Institute of Policy Studies, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies as well as the S.

Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore are the co-hosts. A large number of persons, including politicians, intellectuals, experts and officials are taking part in this conference, which will focus on defence, economic, cultural and environmental matters of the region.

Source: ANI