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November 17, 2020

Annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum: India's Modi Seeks Funding to Build Smart Cities.

Bloomberg New Economy Forum

Photo: Opening Plenary with Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, speaking during the Opening Plenary at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 23, 2018. Image provided by & copyright © World Economic Forum / Manuel Lopez. [File Photo]

NEW YORK, BEIJING, LONDON, JOHANNESBURG. November 17, 2020 - The China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), and Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) are co-hosts for the 2020 Bloomberg New Economy Forum, November 16-19. More than 500 current and former heads of state, influential business executives, government officials, academics, and experts from around the world join them in a collaborative effort to help redesign critical parts of the global economy after the ravages of Covid-19, emphasizing sustainable and inclusive growth.

Prime Minister Modi of India virtually addressed the 3rd Annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum on November 17, 2020. Here is the text of his address:

” Mr. Michael Bloomberg, Thought Leaders, Captains of Industry, Distinguished participants of the Bloomberg New Economic Forum.

I begin by expressing my appreciation for the great work being done by Michael and his team at Bloomberg Philanthropies. The support provided by this team in designing India’s Smart Cities Mission has been excellent.


We are at a crucial point in our history. More than half of the world’s citizens already live in urban areas. Over the next two decades, India and some African nations will witness the most significant urbanization wave. But the COVID -19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges before the world. It has shown us that cities, which were our growth engines, are also our vulnerable zones. Many cities worldwide declared themselves on the brink of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The very things which represented living in a town are facing a question mark. Things like community gatherings, sports activities, education, and recreation are not the same as before. The biggest question before the entire world is how to restart? The restart will not be possible without a reset. A reset of mindset. A reset of processes. And a reset of practices.


I think the historic reconstruction efforts after the two world wars can give us several lessons. Post world wars, the entire world worked on new world order. New protocols were developed, and the world changed itself. COVID-19 has also given us a similar opportunity to develop new protocols in every field. The world should grab this opportunity if we want to create resilient systems for the future. We should think about the post-COVID requirements of the world. A good starting point would be the rejuvenation of our urban centers.


Here, I want to share a positive side of Indian cities. Indian cities have presented an extra-ordinary example during these challenging times. There were worldwide incidents of resistance against the lockdown measures. However, Indian cities meticulously followed these preventive measures. For us, the most prominent building block of our towns was not concrete, but the community. The pandemic has re-emphasized that our most significant resource, as societies and businesses, is our people. The post-Covid world has to be built by nurturing this key and fundamental resource. Cities are vibrant engines of growth. They hold power to drive this much-needed change.

People often migrate to cities because cities give them work. But, isn’t it time that we also make cities work for the people? Covid-19 has given us a chance to accelerate our process of making cities more liveable for people. It includes better housing facilities, a better work environment, shorter and efficient travel. During the lockdown, many towns saw cleaner lakes & rivers as well as cleaner air. So many of us saw the chirping of birds we never noticed before. Can we not build sustainable cities where these features are the norm and not the exception? Our endeavor in India has been to build urban centers, which have a town’s amenities but the village’s spirit.


During the pandemic, technology has also helped us maintain continuity in our work. Thanks to a simple tool like video-conferencing, I can wrap up many more meetings. It has also helped me bridge the distance and talk to all of you. But this also poses an interesting question for a post-Covid world. Will we continue with the learnings of the Covid-times like Video-Conferencing? Or will we travel across continents to participate in a conference? Reducing stress on urban systems will depend on our choices.

These choices will also help us maintain a better work-life balance. In today’s age, empowering people to work from anywhere, live anywhere, and plug into global supply chains from anywhere is an absolute necessity. That is why we have announced simplified guidelines for the technology and knowledge-enabled services sector. It will facilitate ‘Work from Home’ and ‘Work from Anywhere.’


Our cities cannot prosper without the availability of Affordable Housing. Realizing this, we launched the Housing for All program in 2015. I am happy to note that we are well on our way. We will deliver more than one crore or 10 million houses to aspiring families in urban areas before the targeted deadline of 2022. Looking at the conditions created by the pandemic, we also introduced an affordable rental housing initiative. We started the Real Estate Regulation Act. It has transformed the dynamics of the real estate sector. Again this has made it more customer-oriented and transparent.


Sustainable mobility is key to creating resilient cities. The work on Metro Rail is going on in 27 cities. We are on track to deliver close to 1000 km of the Metro Rail system by 2022. Our Make in India push has led to the development of the tremendous indigenous capacity to produce transportation systems. It is going to help us push our sustainable transport goals in a big way.


Technology is an essential enabler in the journey of a smart, prosperous, and resilient city. Technology helps manage a city efficiently and build connected communities. We are looking at a future where a significant chunk of education, healthcare, shopping, food experiences may happen online. Our cities need to be ready for the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Our programs - Digital India and Start-Up India Missions are helping create capacities towards this. We have selected 100 Smart Cities through a two-stage process. It was a nationwide competition upholding the philosophy of cooperative and competitive federalism.

These cities have prepared projects worth almost two lakh crore rupees or 30 billion dollars. And projects worth nearly one lakh forty thousand crore rupees or 20 billion dollars have been completed or nearing completion. Integrated Command and Control centers have been set-up in many cities to unleash the full potential of technology. These centers are currently also serving as war-rooms to manage the Covid situation in various cities.

Lastly, I would like to remind one thing to all of you. If you are looking to invest in urbanization, India has exciting opportunities for you. If you are looking to invest in mobility, India has exciting opportunities for you. If you are looking to invest in innovation, India has exciting opportunities for you. If you are looking to invest in sustainable solutions, India has exciting opportunities for you. These opportunities come along-with A vibrant democracy. A business-friendly climate. A huge market. And a government that shall leave no stone unturned to make India a preferred global investment destination.


India is well on its way towards urban transformation. I do not doubt that with the help of all stakeholders, the civil society, academic institutions, industry, and most importantly, the citizens and communities, we will achieve the dream of resilient and prosperous global cities.

Thank you.”


Sources: Bloomberg New Economy Forum. Prime Minister’s Office, New Delhi.

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 11:02 AM | Link to this Post

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