I am extremely pleased to be amidst you and share my thoughts with all of you this evening. At the outset, I extend my congratulations to all of you at the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce on your Platinum Jubilee Year, an important milestone in the journey of any organization. My best wishes to the President, Shri Sathyanarayan R. Dave, the team of office bearers and council members.
The fact that the Chamber founded in 1945 by Shri C.M. Kothari and Shri Rai Bahadur Himchand K Shah has now grown into a vast organization with about 1000 members is something all of you can be justifiably proud of. Significantly, members are drawn from various segments of trade and commerce, reflecting the diversity of business activities you represent. Affiliation to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), is an added feather in your cap.
As you all are aware, at the time of Independence, India’s economic policy was largely underpinned by socialistic outlook. But with India’s successful march towards economic and industrial development, the country has embraced liberalization and along with the public sector, the private sector has not only come to play an integral part in our economy but has powered it to greater heights of achievement. I am pleased to know that the Chamber, over the years, has metamorphosed into a dynamic institution and is playing a vital role in improving the economic performance of our country.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are meeting in challenging times in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented havoc all over the globe, affecting lives and livelihoods. The pandemic has also brought about one of the sharpest economic downturns globally. With the uncertainty expected to persist on the COVID-19 front for some more period, two aspects must be accorded highest priority—vaccinating more people, including children and the need for everyone to strictly adhere to COVID19 protocols—wearing masks all the time, maintaining a safe distance, observing personal hygiene, including frequent washing of hands and avoiding mass gatherings. These measures are absolutely essential to ensure that economy bounces back and the livelihoods of people, particularly from the unorganized sector, day-to-day wage earners, petty vendors and small businesses are protected.
Even though the second wave has slowed down the revival, the Indian economy has turned around and is firmly set on the path to recovery and long-term renewal. Thanks to a series of timely measures and policy reforms initiated by the government, the economic situation has been improving gradually. As you all are aware, the economy grew at a record pace of 20.1% in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2022 in contrast to the contraction of 24.4% witnessed during the same quarter last fiscal. Various reports have indicated a strong rebound in the manufacturing and construction sectors, while the services sector was slightly sluggish. The agriculture sector has been a consistent performer even during the darkest days of the pandemic, thanks to our hardworking farmers and farm labourers. By clocking a growth of 4.5 % in the first quarter as against 3.5% during the same period last year, the Agri sector has once again shown its resilience. Core sectors like fertilizers, cement, steel, coal and refinery products have also shown positive growth.
We now stand poised on the cusp of economic transition and all indicators point to a long-term phase of growth and recovery in the coming months. Based on different markers, the RBI has retained the growth projection of 9.5 per cent for 2021-22. With the easing of various restrictions by the States and phased reopening of the economy, consumer confidence has returned, and market sentiment too has shown a positive trend.
With the lessons learnt during the past 17 months, we are better equipped to deal with the pandemic now. I am sure, everyone from small businesses to big business houses are keen to see their activities return to the pre-pandemic level. All of us need to work in that direction. Driven by strong macro-economic fundamentals, forward-looking reforms, including GST, opening up of FDI, strengthening infrastructure and improving the ease of doing business, the Indian economy has the potential to reach the US$ 5 trillion mark in the coming years. The Centre and all the States should work in a Team India spirit for the long-term revival of the economy and steer India to greater heights in all spheres. I am happy to know that the Centre and various States are creating a conducive atmosphere for foreign investment. In the fiscal year 2021, the total FDI inflows stood at US $ 81.72 billion, which is a 10% year-on-year increase. India is expected to attract FDI of US$ 120-160 billion per year by 2025, according to CII and Ernst & Young report.
As you all are aware, promoting Public-Private-Partnership in different sectors, including infrastructure, health and education is vital to propel economic growth.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Unlike many other nations, India is blessed with a huge population of educated, talented youth and a vast pool of scientific manpower. Technological and scientific innovations will play a key role in driving the economy. There has to be a greater focus on creating the right ecosystem for innovation to thrive by enhancing investments in R & D. In this context, the public sector and the private entities need to join hands and bodies like the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce (HCC) must play a proactive role in facilitating such tie-ups.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Tamil Nadu is an attractive place for investments with a stable and investor-friendly government; good connectivity and infrastructure, talented, skilled and hardworking people. I compliment IIT Madras for becoming the best ranking Indian Institute for the third time in a row in NIRF rankings 2021.
Tamil Nadu has a rich cultural heritage with a hoary past. The carbon dating of some the excavations have thrown fresh light on the ancientness of Thamirabarani civilization, revealing that it was 3,200 years old. We can also see the influence of Tamil Indian culture at Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, which was built in early 12th century.
I endorse the views of Chief Minister, Thiru M K Stalin that the Indian subcontinent’s history must be rewritten. In fact, it has to be rewritten with an Indian perspective and not through a colonial lens.
I am happy to know that the Chamber has been conducting Entrepreneurship Development Programme for college students. I would also urge the Chamber to facilitate skill development among the youth in a big way. Bodies like yours must take up training and upskilling of youth as one of your leading activities and ensure that youth not only become employable but also are capable of self-employment. They should be imparted the required skills and knowledge to become job creators rather than job seekers.
I am also pleased to note that the Chamber has been working to create and sustain an environment conducive to the growth of the industry in India by partnering with the government through advisory and consultative processes. I am told that it has been working closely with the government on policy issues, enhancing efficiency, and competitiveness and expanding business opportunities for industry through a range of specialized services and global linkages. I am informed that the major emphasis is laid on projecting a positive image of the business, which is essential for investor confidence. I have always been advising industry and commerce bodies like yours to identify and weed out black sheep, who bring a bad name to the entire corporate and business fraternity.
I am pleased to know that Hindustan Chamber also recognizes eminent personalities for their Business Excellence and Contribution to Society with CHAMPION OF HUMANITY AWARDS. It is, therefore, in the fitness of things that it has chosen Prathap C. Reddy Garu, Founder Chairman, Apollo Group, whose career is a saga of service, combined with vision and enterprise.
I am happy to release the Souvenir brought out in connection with the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations containing details of the Chamber’s contribution to trade and industry during the past 75 years.
I wish the Chamber all the very best for its future endeavours!
Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the Hindustan Chamber of Commerce in Chennai on September 11, 2021.