Vice President's Secretariat
azadi ka amrit mahotsav

Text of the Vice-President’s address at Bharat Startup and MSMEs Summit (excerpts)

Posted On: 16 FEB 2024 1:55PM by PIB Delhi

Bharat, home to 1/6th of humanity, is mother of democracy, oldest democracy, vibrant democracy, functional democracy and we are lucky to have by the democratic process Shrimati Droupadi Murmu as the first citizen of the country.

Our economy is in positive transformation, there is no doubt about it. It is a sea change, a soothing change, a feel-good factor. MSME and startups have made massive contributions and the result is we are already the 5th largest global economy, on the way to becoming the world’s third largest economy in the next 2-3 years.

In recent years, India has emerged as a global hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with a thriving startup ecosystem and numerous success stories. Time for trade and industry bodies to fully leverage the entrepreneurial culture that is taking root in the hinterlands of the country through the vibrant MSMEs Sector.

It is a sector that is underrated when it comes to performance. Its performance exceeds the perception it has in urban locales. It's highly impactful; it is impacting transformational change into tier 2 and 3 cities and in villages. Hand-holding these entrepreneurs will help them optimise performance, apart from being a confidence building measure. I am happy to note that this is already in one of your sessions, and deliberations are bound to be very productive.

MSMEs account for about 30% of India’s GDP, 45% of manufacturing output, and provide employment to over 11 crore individuals. More importantly, it is an area that produces the finest minds that contribute to the growth of the economy. Affirmative governance coupled with ease of business policies and initiatives have helped in the flourishing of entrepreneurship and spirit of innovation. A new norm in the last one decade, a soothing norm that is changing landscape of this great Nation

Schemes like Start-up India and Stand-Up India have been game-changers, providing start-ups with access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities. These are not words; these are ground reality. You can have access to fiscal resources and mentorship in enormous ways. Startup landscape in India has undergone a remarkable transformation.

From just over 350 startups in 2014, we now have more than 1.30 lakh startups, with the number of unicorns surpassing 100. Just imagine. Just imagine, after having undertaken a journey in the most difficult terrain, we have traversed to these phenomenal results. This growth is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation prowess of our nation.

The recognized startups have played a pivotal role in generating about 13 lakh direct jobs, fostering employment opportunities for our youth and contributing significantly to the overall economic growth. This isn't just about creating employment; it's about empowering people and transforming lives.

Today, India is home to some of the most innovative startups in the world, disrupting traditional industries and setting new benchmarks of excellence. From fintech to health tech, agritech to clean energy, our startups are not just creating wealth but also generating employment, driving socio-economic development and most importantly, addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our nation and the world.

A pyramidical rise is not suited to our democratic nation. We have to have a plateau type of rise so that every segment of the society rises. We need verticals for sure but horizontals are important. Startups and MSME play this great role.

Gender equality cannot be delayed any longer. Parliament has taken a great initiative. In September last year, we had the historical legislation providing for one-third reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state legislatures. This is not a political reservation, it is beyond political reservation. This reservation will give inputs in policy making of that gender which is half of humanity. They will frame policies. Imagine for a moment if 50% here are women what will be the ecosystem, it will be different and more positive.

To further empower and encourage women entrepreneurs, the government launched the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) as a part of Start India. This is very significant. We have to empower women and to empower women fundamentally they have to be financially independent from getting money from someone else. You have to earn it. They have the capacity to earn more than men but they engage in building families also, they contribute to the home ecosystem also, when they will get opportunity things will be geometric when it comes to progress.

Economic Nationalism is quintessentially fundamental to our economic growth. Mark my words carefully, nationalism is important, paramount we have to subscribe to it. Time for us to subscribe to economic nationalism as well. We need to be VOCAL FOR LOCAL. It is a facet of ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT. It reflects the essence of स्वदेशी आंदोलन, of our freedom struggle.  We need to import only what is unavoidably essential.

We need to be alive to the ill effects of not subscribing to economic nationalism.  Apart from avoidable drain of foreign exchange, this drain is astronomical, one evil effect is that there is drain of foreign exchange. The other is it cuts into our employment opportunities. Imagine the important items which can be made here. What are we doing? We are depriving hands in our country of work and giving work to hands outside. Third, it impedes the growth of entrepreneurship. I am sure nobody will disagree that we need to be extremely cognizant of the deeper impact of economic nationalism.

Another aspect that needs attention of trade and industry is export of raw materials. We export raw material when there is potential for value addition in our country. If we were to add value in a raw material, some people will get jobs, some will be entrepreneurs. We sacrifice these twin advantages that can constitute the spinal strength of our economy and export raw material because it is easy to make money by export of raw material. That money is easy for the individual, that money is very painful for the nation. There are countries that have devised a mechanism, they will not export their raw material. They will add value and even for adding value they will not add minor value but will add real value to it and then you will be contributing to the national economy.

World over, trade and industry fuels and sustains Research and Development. I appeal for your deeper involvement in Research and Development. I am very serious about it. Go to any part of the world particularly the developed nations, research and development is fuelled, financed, promoted and sustained by industries. We lack it here. Let us take a big step in that direction, let the corporate leadership also engage in that direction. I have indicated from another platform in an academic institution that while it is good to give heavy financial assistance to Universities outside, but also focus your attention on local universities. It may be gratifying for the company or corporate that they have made an allocation of let's say 50 million US dollars to a foreign University. It’s a fact. It was done 10 years back. But focusing on our Universities  and academic Institutions also is important.

Friends, certain things have happened which must be soothing to the young minds. What do you look for yourself? You want respect for merit, you hate corruption, you want equality before law, you don't want patronage and what do we have now, corruption is no longer rewarding in this country now. Corruption neither gets you recruitment, job nor a contract. Corruption is the safest Passage to jail these days.

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