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India engaged in exercise of comprehensive change and reform: S Jaishankar

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said India is engaged in an exercise of comprehensive change and reform which ranges from healthcare, housing, infrastructure and water to education, skills and social benefits.

Addressing the Ambrosetti forum, Jaishankar highlighted the growth of Indian medical and pharmaceutical capacities, and said these have created an effective response to COVID-19 domestically while contributing to global requirements.

“A country where personal protection equipment was not being made, today has 109 manufacturers. N-95 masks were being made earlier by two companies; now by 10. Twenty-five enterprises are currently producing ventilators, there were none before,” the minister said.

“We are not only taking care of our own; medical supplies were sent to 150 nations, many of them as grants to the developing world. This is the report card for one-sixth of humanity,” he added.

Analysing the impact of COVID-19 on global politics, Jaishankar made a case for reformed multilateralism and brought out the importance of India-EU partnership to the economic recovery process.

“The expectations from an India-EU partnership have always been high; the post-COVID world only makes its case even more compelling,” he said. Jaishankar said India is engaged in an exercise of comprehensive change and reform.

“India is today engaged in what can only be described as an exercise of comprehensive change and reform. This ranges from healthcare, housing, infrastructure and water to education, skills and social benefits,” he said

“This is supported by a series of initiatives that promote ease of living, digital capabilities and making it easier to do business. In this quest for progress and modernity, we naturally look for global cooperation that is based on similar values and principles,” the external affairs minister said.

Speaking on how the post-COVID world will be different, Jaishankar said some of it will obviously be in the lifestyle and mindset.

“Almost universally, we all will be very much more digitalized than before. Whether the more affluent who are working and shopping more digitally or the more vulnerable for whom this has been literally a lifeline, none of us are unaffected,” he said.

Jaishankar said a second big change will be the different expectations that people will have of their governance systems.

“This pandemic has highlighted the need for health security in the most dramatic way. It has also brought out the importance of resilient and reliable supply chains that can be depended on, even in times of crisis,” he said.

Noting that strategic autonomy has come to have a new meaning, Jaishankar said where collective economic prospects are concerned, each society will obviously respond in line with its national strategy.

“As for India, that means a focus on an employment-centric economic recovery. Indeed, the combination of these factors has contributed to the call for an Atmanirbhar Bharat, a more self-reliant India,” the external affairs minister said.

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