India Model of growth, responsibility gaining recognition, appreciation: US official

New York, Jan.28 (ANI): A senior official of the Obama Administration has said the India Model of widening its economic and strategic interests in a changing global scenario in the 21st century, is gaining growing recognition and appreciation.

Addressing a gathering at Syracruse University here, Robert O. Blake, Jr., Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, said: "Indeed there is growing recognition and appreciation of what some might call the India Model. Widening economic interests have reinforced India's readiness to share responsibility for securing Asia, for safeguarding the sea and air routes on which much of the global economy depends. And it is very much in the American interest for India to build on this role in the years ahead."

He further said that the changing nature of Washington's engagement with India is a tribute to the hard work in both governments and their private sectors, but it also reflects a fundamental transformation taking place around the world.

"We've moved from a transatlantic century to a transpacific century in which the rise of Asia has already started to define the 21st century. India of course plays a critical role in Asia's ascent," Blake said.

He said that it was no coincidence that other large Asia-Pacific democracies -- Japan, Australia, and South Korea -- are also engaging more closely with New Delhi and cooperating more systematically on security issues.

Blake said that it is natural for India to "Look East," where its soft power-long visible everywhere from the temples of Angkor Wat and Bali to the global reach of Bollywood-is increasingly complemented by its economic power.

"This India - an India that has begun its extraordinary rise while embracing the humanity of Mahatma Gandhi and the many attributes of a diverse, pluralistic democracy-today grows 8-9 percent annually, boasts unique and world-class industries, and is home to two of the top five richest people in the world. Forbes included 49 Indians in its 2010 list of the world's billionaires, five of whom are in the top 50," he added.

He said that it has only been twenty years since the Indian economy transformed itself from a largely protectionist import-substituting economy to one that embraced private ownership, innovation, and trade as key components to its future prosperity and geopolitical heft.

In 1991, he said India faced a serious balance of payments crisis, but then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh skillfully carried out the necessary major reforms, dismantled the License Raj, and opened up the economy to foreign direct investment, setting India on a sustainable course that has done more than anything else to make India a global leader.

"The results of then-Finance Minister Singh's reforms speak for themselves. India's GDP is ten times what it was twenty years ago. What was then a closed economy - errantly trying to rely on only its own finite resources - --is now our 14th largest trading partner with the potential to become one of our largest and most diverse commercial allies in the world," Blake said.

"It's not only the pace of India's growth, but how India is growing. India is the world's second fastest-growing major economy today and is projected to become the world's third largest economy in the year 2025. It will also soon be the world's most populous country. And it is a young country. At a time when much of the industrialized world faces rapidly declining birthrates, half of India's population is under the age of 25," Blake said.

According to a recent McKinsey's report, over the next 20 years, India will:

Have 590 million people living in urban areas.

91 million urban households will be middle class (up from 22 million today).

It will construct 700-900 million square feet of office space (approximately the size of Chicago).

It will pave 2.5 billion square meters of roads and tunnel 4,600 miles of subways and metros - the distance from New York to Kiev (20 times the capacity added in the past decade)

It will pump and sanitize water; electrify with nuclear, clean, and alternative energy; provide telecommunication services to the 68 cities in India with one million plus people.

India is committed to spending 500 billion dollars by 2012 and investing one trillion dollars in India by 2030. Private industry estimates India's need may even exceed these figures.

"As you can clearly see, India presents fantastic opportunities for U.S. companies to provide the goods and services needed to build its railroads, airports, power plants, and fiber optic cables to facilitate India's rise. The U.S. is making it a priority to work with our private sector to give them the opportunities to help meet India's growing needs," Blake said. (ANI)

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