Prime Minister Narendra Modi waxed eloquent today on the great strides taken by India's women and their importance to the economic and social development of the nation. Pointing out that in Indian Mythology, women are an incarnation of Shakthi, the Goddess of Power, Modi declared that India's history has been replete with women of enormous talent.
“Women have done India proud,” said Modi, speaking at the plenary session of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 in Hyderabad. The inaugural event is being attended by a star cast of global business and political leaders including US Adviser to the President Ivanka Trump, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushil Swaraj, Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Telangana State Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao.
This year's edition of the Summit is themed “Women First, Prosperity to all”.
Sticking to the theme, Modi stressed the importance of women in history, and the need for women empowerment in his keynote speech. “Our history has references to women of enormous talent… warrior queens like Rani Ahilyabai Holkar and Rani Lakshmibai fought bravely to defend the kingdoms. Our freedom struggle is too replete with such instances,” Modi pointed out, adding more recent references to women achievers -- like the women scientists involved in the Mars Orbiter Mission, Indian origin astronauts Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, sportswomen like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Sania Mirza. He also pointed out that three out of oldest high courts in India are now helmed by Indian women judges.
Highlighting the need to promote women entrepreneurship, Modi pointed out that over 50 per cent of delegates to this year’s were women. “Over the next two days, you will meet more women who have walked alone on their paths and have inspired a new generation of women entrepreneurs. I hope the summit will focus on how to support women entrepreneurship,” he said.
Modi also remembered India's history as an incubator for innovation, right from Aryabhata’s innovation of the zero, yoga and the great Indian ayurvedic treatise Charaksamhita. The Indian prime Minister also invoked Swami Vivekananda’s sayings -- “An entrepreneur uses knowledge and skills to fulfill a motive. They see an opportunity in adversity. They make processes more comfortable and easier for end-users. They are patient. Swami Vivekananda says: Each work has to pass through three stage -- ridicule, opposition and acceptance,” Modi said.
Shifting to his government, Modi stated that increasing Ease of Doing Business was an important achievement. However, while he acknowledged that India had gone up from 180 to 100 in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings, he was not “happy” with the 100th rank. “We want to have the 50th rank. We have launched Mudra scheme… Atal Innovation Mission. 19 incubation centres have been created and we have created Aadhaar, the world's largest digital biometric base,” Modi pointed out.
Earlier, Modi had stressed upon the global connections that are being formed between India and leading nations. Following Ivanka Trump’s praise of his achievements and India's position in the global fraternity, Modi said that the event, held in South Asia for the first time with the partnership of the United States, was bringing together leading entrepreneurs, academicians, investors, think tank and others.
“The event not only connects Silicon Valley with Hyderabad but also showcases the close ties between the USA and India. It underlines our shared commitment, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation,” Modi stated.
The shared commitment to goals and the development of closer US-India ties were also at the centre of Ivanka Trump’s speech. Trump praised Modi’s life journey -- from tea seller to Prime Minister -- saying, “Thank You PM Modi for joining us today, for making India a symbol of democracy and beacon of hope for the world. Transformational change has been proved by you (PM Modi), from selling tea in your childhood to becoming Prime Minister of India…”
Echoing her father, and US President, Donald Trump’s earlier declaration, Ivanka said that India has a true friend in the White House. “This summit is a symbol of growing economic and security cooperation between India and US,” Ivanka said.
The US Adviser also stressed the importance of enabling women to compete on a level playing field. “In many countries women cannot even walk the streets without men. The women entrepreneurs finance initiative will provide access to capital, network to women in developing countries. It also seeks to address the legal barriers that limit opportunity for women entrepreneurs. Women still face steep obstacles in starting, growing and establishing their businesses,” she said.