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2nd Vice Minister's Luncheon Remarks at the 13th Korea-India Dialogue
Luncheon Remarks by H.E. Cho Tae-yul
Allow me first to congratulate you for holding the 13th Korea-India Dialogue. I wish to thank the Seoul Forum for International Affairs for inviting me to this wonderful occasion, and for giving me this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts on the present and the future of the Korea-India relations.
The Korea-India Dialogue, launched in 1996, has offered intellectual input to our common efforts to deepen and broaden our bilateral relations through extensive discussions not only on the issues on our bilateral agenda, but also on the global issues such as the post-Cold War international order, impact of globalization, and emergence of BRICS and G20.
Today’s meeting is taking place at a time when a dramatic transition is transpiring in the political landscape in Asia, while new leaders took office in both Korea and India not long time ago. Against this backdrop, the theme of today’s meeting ‘Toward a Renewed Relationship: New Opportunities and Challenges’ is timely and relevant. I hope and expect that we will greatly benefit from your wisdom and insight and draw many policy implications from your rich discussions today.
On September 28th of this year, Prime Minister Modi delivered a speech at the Madison Square Garden in New York that began with “Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, which means the discovery of India.
In his book titled ‘The Discovery of India’ which was published in 1947, prior to India’s independence, Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to introduce India to the entire world, a country that takes pride in its 5,000-year-old history and glorious civilization. And 67 years later, what did Prime Minister Modi discover about India? What message was he trying to convey?
It was about India’s immense potential. A young and vibrant India with an ancient history; a major power enjoying the 3Ds -- democracy, demography and demand; an IT powerhouse that influences the world with the click of a mouse, not a country with snake charmers; and a leading country in science that launched the spacecraft Mangalyaan to Mars. This is the new India that Prime Minister Modi discovered and, based on this discovery, he wanted to talk about India’s potential, untapped and infinite.
It is not a new discovery that India is a country with extraordinary capacity and potential. In the 11th century, Spanish philosopher Al-Andalusi described India as “the first nation to have cultivated science”, and the Indians to be of “sublime pensiveness, universal apologue and useful and rare inventions”.
We have a hunch that the age-old talent of the Indian people will be in full bloom under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership because, since his days as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi was already known to be a leader with a proven track record in reform. Even before being elected, he offered in his campaign pledges solutions to the constraints in modernizing India. Having diagnosed that the wave of liberalization in India of the 1990s failed to transform the country due to the lack of openness in the government and the unpreparedness of the people to ride the wave, he embarked on dramatic reforms after assuming office.
He met directly with the working level officials, rather than members of the Cabinet, to explain his administration’s governing philosophy and succeeded in moving their hearts. He put an end to the unnecessary auditing of companies. He encouraged 75 million Indian households to open up bank accounts, and 700 million US dollars have been deposited to date. And thanks to the introduction of the digital national registration system dubbed Aadhaar, around 700 million Indian people are now enjoying e-government services.
Prime Minister Modi’s practical and innovative reform measures are already making inroads and welcomed by many people at home and abroad. Thanks to his another proven record in reform, many have faith in his pledge to raise India’s business environment currently ranking the 132nd to the top 50 tier. During his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he revived the local economy by first reforming bureaucracy, and then attracting global companies for investment in India. Upright and capable technocrats were the key players in this process.
Just as India’s potential has become more clearly in sight thanks to its new leadership, so has become the potential of bilateral cooperation between Korea and India. Chief Minister Modi of Gujarat had already shown great interest in Korea’s experience of modernization and industrialization. He mentioned Korea’s success stories time and again during his election campaign. He also expressed his strong commitment to work with Korea in his telephone conversations with President Park Geun-hye right after his inauguration last July.
Goldman Sachs suggested last April that Korea’s industrialization experiences can be a good model for India, and forecasted that if India followed Korea’s path for industrialization, it would record an additional economic growth rate of 1.6 percent point annually for the next ten years. Korea can be a far better partner than any other country in realizing the “Make in India” policy of Prime Minister Modi, whose priority is placed on stronger manufacturing industry.
As I am sure you already know, in 2010, Korea and India agreed to upgrade the bilateral relations to a Strategic Partnership and concluded a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA, laying the institutional basis for cooperation in both political and economic fields. President Park Geun-hye’s state visit to India last January was a groundbreaking occasion for the two countries to share a future vision of co-prosperity and promote bilateral cooperation substantially.
Now the task ahead of us is to build upon the progress made to date, translate the potential of our bilateral cooperation into reality, and thereby reinforce the foundation on which Korea-India relations can continue to grow to new heights. That is exactly what the theme of today’s meeting ‘Toward a Renewed Relationship’ is all about.
On the economic side, we should first upgrade CEPA as soon as possible so that our two countries can enjoy the genuinely ‘comprehensive’ benefits across all areas, and beyond trade and investment. Infrastructure and energy are promising areas that require greater cooperation between our two countries. And we should also finalize our work to amend the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement at an early date.
No doubt, economic and political cooperation should develop in a mutually reinforcing way. From this standpoint, the achievements made during President Park’s visit to India earlier this year including, among others, the agreement to hold regular summit meetings, launch a dialogue between the national security structures of the two sides, and strengthen cooperation in the areas of defense and defense industry carries great importance. The agreement on the national security structures dialogue, in particular, is an eloquent testimony to our maturing partnership which has evolved into a partnership of trust in the political and security areas. India is among a few countries with which Korea has set up this dialogue process on security and they include only the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
The cooperation between Korea and India is not confined to the bilateral arena alone. It is expanding into cooperation at the regional level, including in regional cooperation mechanisms such as the ARF and EAS. In particular, since Korea joined South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC, as an observer in 2006, we have been making efforts to strengthen our cooperation with India through the sub-regional cooperation forum. As part of such efforts, we are also working on the idea of holding the Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with SAARC members, the first for an observer country, if realized. It has a special significance in that it will expand the scope of mini-lateral diplomacy that the Park Geun-hye government has been actively pursuing during the last couple of years.
I am happy to let you know that the Bodhi Tree presented by India in the aftermath of President Park’s state visit to India as a token of its friendship has grown from a 30 cm sapling into a 138 cm tree in just 8 months, as if it exemplified the rapid development of our ties of friendship and cooperation. While looking at the fast growing Bodhi Tree, many people in Korea are awaiting Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Korea. They hope to design together with Indian friends the future of the next four decades, building on the achievements made during the past 40 years of diplomatic ties. I am confident that the meeting of our two leaders, who both place priority on actions over words and hold clear visions of the future, will mark a milestone in the annals of the Korea-India relations.
Mahatma Ghandi once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Just as the happiness of a nation can be achieved when the leader and the people join hearts to implement the national agenda and social accord in harmony, greater progress in the relations between two countries can be made when they pursue the shared vision of the future and implement agreed action plans in harmony.
I do hope that the distinguished academics and experts participating in this meeting today will present the common vision of our future and work out a blueprint for building a stronger partnership between Korea and India. We in the government will review them with sincerity and work on our joint action plans which will duly reflect your recommendations. I look forward to the outcome of this meeting and wish you all the best for your intellectual exercise today.
Thank you. /End/