India is new bright spot of hope: Modi tells British parliament

London, Nov 12 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India was the new bright spot of hope and opportunity as he referred to opportunities in sectors such as defence, trade, housing, services, energy and environment to make the bilateral relationship with Britain count as one of the leading global partnerships.

In his address to the British parliament — the first by an Indian prime minister — Modi dwelled on history, shared expressions of joy and the desire on two sides to transform the strategic partnership.

Dressed in a bandhgala, Modi received a standing ovation and thunderous applause at the end of his speech which was heard with rapt attention.

Modi talked of “winds of change”, “boldness and speed in decisions”, accountability in governance and his government’s commitment to individual liberties.

“India is the new bright spot of hope and opportunity for the world. It is not just the universal judgment of international institutions. It is not just the logic of numbers: a nation of 1.25 billion people with 800 million under the age of 35 years,” Modi said.

Without taking any names, Modi said there should be attempt to isolate those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand by those who fight them honestly.

Modi said India’s momentum does not come only from its growth rate, which had increased to 7.5 percent per year, but transformation it seeks in quality of life of every Indian.

“Much of India that we dream of still lies ahead of us: housing, power, water and sanitation for all; bank accounts and insurance for every citizen; connected and prosperous villages; and, smart and sustainable cities. These are goals with a definite date, not just a mirage of hope.

“And, inspired by Gandhiji, the change has begun with us — the way the government works. There is transparency and accountability in governance. There is boldness and speed in decisions,” he added.

He said so much of India’s history had been written in the British parliament building.

“Many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr. Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors,” he said.

“I stand here today, not as a visiting head of Government, given the honour to speak in this temple of democracy. I am here as a representative of a fellow institution and a shared tradition,” Modi said.

Some of his remarks led to a smile on the face of British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Referring to his upcoming speech at the Wembley stadium on Friday, Modi said it will be celebration of one-and-half-million threads of life that bind the two countries.

“It will be an expression of joy for all that we share: values, institutions, political system, sports, culture and art. And, it will be a recognition of our vibrant partnerships and a shared future.”

Referring to Tata as the largest private sector employer in Britain, he said India and Britain were two strong economies and two innovative societies.

On his government’s initiatives, Modi said manufacturing and farm sectors were getting a boost, services were getting efficient, youth were being imparted global skills, a revolution was sought to be created in startup enterprises, next generation infrastructure was being built and there was thrust towards digital India.

He said India will open new doors in the services sector.

Modi referred to federalism as the definition of new partnership of Team India and said businesses find an environment which was easy to work in.

He said “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas” was his government’s vision of a nation, in which every citizen belongs, participates and prospers.

He said it was a call for financial inclusion as also celebration of diversity; the need for social harmony; and a commitment to individual liberties and rights.

“This is the timeless ethos of our culture; this is the basis of our constitution; and, this will be the foundation of our future, said Modi whose government has battled allegations of intolerance from some political parties.

Modi invited Britain to join as an valuable partner in the International Solar Alliance he would launch in Paris later this month.

Recalling the work of B.R. Ambedkar, Modi said he was not only the architect of India’s Constitution but also “lifted us all to higher cause in services of humanity.”

He also mentioned Mahatma Gandhi’s statue outside the British parliament, saying India and Britain were “both fortunate enough” to have been touched by Gandhi’s life and mission.

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