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Opposition parties must come together, says Sharad Pawar

Nationalist Congress Party president and veteran leader Sharad Pawar spoke to Vijay Darda, Chairman, Editorial Board, Lokmat Media, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

Vijay Darda



“You were the Agriculture Minister of the country for 10 years, but the country is witnessing farmers’ agitation today, will you lead the opposition by uniting them?”, “has the difference of opinion between you and Sonia Gandhi been settled?”, “did Uddhav Thackeray agree to be the chief minister on your suggestion?”, “will you hand over the reins of NCP to Ajit Pawar?”, what is the future of Congress?” While fielding such straight and direct questions put forth by the chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, the NCP supremo and MP Sharad Pawar gave straightforward replies on a wide range of issues. Pawar said Pratibha Patil had the potential to become the chief minister but the Congress decided otherwise and that Narendra Modi does not talk to the Opposition and what he says is not entirely true. Obama should not have talked about Rahul Gandhi, for it is our country’s internal matter after all, Pawar noted and made it clear that he sees God in people.

Here is the full text of the free and frank interview with him.

Q: You should lead the country and that was your ambition too… There were two ideas behind asking this. One is that the secularism of the country should remain intact and the other is that Maharashtra should get this honour.

A: I have a different view on this. A person who enters politics or social field has some ideas. If there is a big gap between imagination and reality, one should not live in the shadow of that imagination. For example, in my case, it is spoken and written that I should go up to the national level, something should happen, etc. But on the other hand, it is not wise to dream of leading the country when you have just eight or 10 members in the Parliament. We must put forth the fact here. We have to admit that we don’t have the required numbers. If you do politics overlooking the truth and reality, you get frustrated. And I will never go in the direction where there is despair.

Q: Everyone agrees that there should be a strong Opposition in the current situation. Since the Congress or for that matter, its allies are not playing the role they should, the BJP is finding itself in a different position altogether in the country.

A: This is the fact. However, I will not blame the Congress alone. Those who do not approve of the policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party and who feel that there should be an effective alternative in this country, they should take on the role of uniting like-minded parties. And while doing so, the big parties should be ready for a little compromise. Now what is a compromise? Let’s take the example of West Bengal. West Bengal has a government led by Mamata Banerjee. Mamata Banerjee’s entire struggle is against the BJP. Under the circumstances, Congress or the Left parties which want to keep the BJP at bay should not take an extreme stand against Mamata. We need to think whether there is a way out of this by sitting face to face. This is happening in many states. The BJP is benefitting from this situation. As for me, I want to have a dialogue with the leaders of all the parties that are opposed to the BJP. We should try and see if anything positive comes out of this. But in the last four months, the process of convening meetings has stopped due to the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. Now the Parliament session will begin and maybe it will bring some opportunity (to hold meetings). But making an effort in this direction is necessary for the country.

Q: There are three big leaders in the country today. One is Narendra Modi, the other is Sonia Gandhi and the third one is you. In this situation, do you feel that you should bring all the opposition parties together and lead them?

A: No. I agree 100 per cent with you that we should sit together. I totally agree with the general feeling that we should create an alternative political force. But while doing so, focus should not be on any one person as it will never help bring about unity. Therefore, the decision to come together will have to be taken collectively. It is then that we will decide who will lead it. It can be anyone… one who is acceptable to all.

Q: But that person should have the ability to bring everyone together, isn’t it?

A: The ability to bring all together is just one part. The second part is assigning the person we trust with the responsibility to lead. But this is not for that individual to decide. All others should take a decision collectively which only will produce some result.

Q: Don’t you think that you are also responsible for the plight of the Opposition today?

A: We are all responsible, there is no dispute about it. But I think that when the right time comes to deliberate, we will have to think about all these aspects. That time is not very far. The Winter Session of Parliament is round the corner. At that time, everyone will get a chance to come together, to sit together.

Q: Do you think that in view of the current situation in the country, you can undermine and challenge Narendra Modi’s leadership?

A: Hatred for a person or opposition to a person for the sake of opposition will not work. When we talk of providing alternative, we should come out with alternative programme too. What we want to do, how we want to do, and through that we must try to win the trust of the majority of people. When we sit together, coming out with alternative only will not do.

Therefore, when we sit together, we are going to discuss everything like what our programme will be, who is going to lead, which path we are going to take.

Q: You always say I am retiring from politics. I will not contest elections now.

A: It is true.

Q: But Pawar Saheb, your mindset does not allow you to rest. So, you are a unique personality always moving among people, connected to national issues and always aware. When I ask myself who should I compare you with, I cannot see any competitor who can match you. If we want to say it in Hindi ‘Hame aap par naaz hai.’ There are many who may have political differences with you but in private they love you and you love them. My question is, what happened to your national ambition? Are you talking less on national issues? Your party’s stand on the farmers’ issue was also different. In such a difficult time, it seems that you have left these issues to youngsters to handle. What inference should we draw?

A: There are two things. Now that you have spoken of age, considering that, I myself feel that it is my responsibility now to mould the young generation. And when we talk about creating the new generation, we must give freedom to them. We should not interfere in everything. We may not like all that they do but that can be conveyed in private. I have adopted the policy that their image in public life remains intact. That is why I express my opinion in the Parliament or other meetings called for holding discussions. It is not that I do not talk. However, it is rarely that I take initiative and do it myself. Now, you have raised the issue of farmers. This issue has been discussed in the whole country, and it seems outside the country also. It is true that there is restlessness about the farmers in the country.

For that, there is a need for the people in power to establish a proper dialogue with the representatives of restless sections. This dialogue is not taking place and that is why an extreme situation has arisen. Some concerns of the farmers are genuine. Some other issues are needed to be explained properly to them. ‘The politicians should look seriously into the issues of the farmers, is only what I want to say.’

Q: Can we say now that differences between you and Congress president Sonia Gandhi have been resolved?

A: For the last 10-15 years, we have been working together. When the government was formed at the Centre in 2004, I was sitting on the Opposition benches. Sonia Gandhi herself came to me and held detailed discussions with me. After that Dr Manmohan Singh and Pranabda interacted. Finally, we decided to work together. From 2004 to 2014, may it be Congress or NCP, we were all working together. We ran the government together. All the programmes were discussed after consulting each other. We went ahead only after arriving at unanimity on them. Today, our ideology is same on all programmes. Suppose there are 10 subjects and there is unanimity on eight. Two subjects can be kept aside because today there is a need to come together. This is our stand.

Q: So, is there something in the arrangement to ensure that Sharad Pawar does not become the Prime Minister?

A: No. We cannot ignore the fact that how many people are going to sit in the Parliament with Sharad Pawar.

Q: You and Congress are ‘united’. Looking at the kind of personality you have, don’t you think that your group could have been stronger?

A: I think it is not possible to work taking such an approach. In democracy, number is important.

Q: So, do you want to say that if the numbers are in your side, the individual becomes insignificant?

A: No. Both individual and numbers are important. The individual with numbers cannot be insignificant.

Q: Numbers can be achieved due to different reasons. Today, the Bharatiya Janata Party has the numbers. Don’t you feel that you should accept these numbers and work further?

A: How can we work with BJP? Our ideology is completely different.

Q: But people have accepted the BJP, haven’t they?

A: People had even defeated the Congress in 1977. The Janata Party government had been voted to power. People had accepted the Janata Party too. We had said that the experiment would not last long. You were also witness that government lasted only two years. We do not oppose people casting their votes in favour of Modi. We accept this fact. But the Opposition has the right to think how useful their promises and policies are for the long-term interests of the country.

Q: We always claim that this is Phule, Shahu, Ambedkar’s Maharashtra. But in the last 60 years, we did not give even a single woman chief minister to the state. What do you say about this?

A: You need requisite strength for that. And the party having numbers should choose such a person with majority. I don’t see a picture like that today. Pratibhatai Patil had the ability to lead the state as I perceive in my last 50 years of political career. But at that time, the Congress took a different stand. The same Congress party acknowledged her capability by having her elected as the President of the country later. She may not have got the opportunity here but she got it for sure at some other place and position. There are many states where women have become the chief ministers.

Q: But Maharashtra’s psyche is different…!

A: After all, it’s a numbers game; how to put the numbers together..?

Q: Yes, but when you had the numbers, even then…?

A: The situations during those times were different. Only the Congress was in such a position during those days. The Congress government gave Pratibhatai a chance, first in the government and then in the party. And finally gave her the opportunity to occupy the highest post of President of the country at the right time. Therefore, I will not say that she did not get a change in the state. After all, it was Maharashtra which gave the country its first woman President.

Q: It is said that the reins of the organisation should be handed over to the new leadership. What do you say?

A: The NCP has a strong band of young leaders. Among them are many who I can say are acceptable to people… Ajit Pawar, Jayantrao Patil, Dhananjay Munde and many more, I can give you a list… of leaders who are eligible to lead. They have good administrative ability and are ready to work hard.

Q: So, can they be the candidates in contention in future? To lead the NCP?

A: No, we don’t even think about any such candidature. For, the party is not faced with any such situation. And the NCP does not even have a majority anywhere. So why talk about it now. Today we are running a coalition government of three parties. We have taken a conscious decision and we all stand by it.

Q: Yogi Adityanath is in Mumbai. He says he will take Bollywood to Uttar Pradesh. On one hand, migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are coming to Maharashtra in hordes and on the other, the leaders from these states are speaking of taking Bollywood to Uttar Pradesh. What kind of politics is this?

A: Maharashtra and Mumbai have always thought of the country. Our people have investments in many parts of the country. We think of the country. Earlier too, the chief ministers of other states had come here seeking investments in their states. But if anyone thinks that this will weaken Mumbai and Maharashtra, I do not believe it.

Q: At present, the steering wheel of state politics is in your hands. In this scenario, what is your opinion about Raj Thackeray?

A: The steering wheel is not in my hands. It is in the hands of Uddhav Thackeray. Raj Thackeray has his own independent party. He expresses his opinion independently. There is a large section of the youths who support him. He may not have got the success he expected in the elections but that does not mean that the craze about him among the youths is on the wane.

Q: You joined politics at the age of 18 with the Congress flag in hand. You even campaigned against your own brother. The Congress ideology was instilled in your mind then and is still intact. Then how did you disassociate yourself from the Congress?

A: Our ideology was very close to the Congress and that of Gandhi and Nehru. Perhaps, it was not different from their ideology. Differences arose over the style of running the party. However, it is not an issue today. We are together and many times sit together. See in Maharashtra, we took initiative for working together and the government is working well here. I insist on copying this formula in other states. The Congress showed great maturity in this matter. If it shows the same maturity in other states like in West Bengal, this experiment can be executed there also. Congress is a greater party, its contribution and sacrifice are greater. Greater parties have to show the greatness of heart. However, in this process the importance of Congress cannot be ignored.

How is Narendra Modi working as the Prime Minister?

Don’t know. Communication is important in politics. I think this government is failing to communicate with the Opposition. On the 4th, Prime Minister Modi held a discussion with the Opposition regarding Covid-19. Leaving aside the issue of Covid-19, the PM has not interacted with the Opposition in the last four or five years.

Q: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says that he followed in your footsteps in politics. He takes your guidance. But there is always a conflict between your party and the BJP. Why is it so?

A: What the Prime Minister Narendra Modi says is not entirely true. During the ten years when I was the agriculture minister of India, my view was that the person who would have the responsibility of the agriculture ministry would not be able to solve the problem of increasing the production of agricultural commodities by sitting in Delhi. He should go out into different states. State governments must be trusted. And we should cooperate in implementing the policy for agriculture and farmer. When I was holding the post, there were ten or twelve governments in different states with different ideologies including Modi’s Gujarat government. So, when it came to the farmers in Gujarat, I had a role to play in helping them wholeheartedly. This is because it is the responsibility of the agriculture minister to look after the interests of agriculture and farmers in that state. For the same purpose, I visited many districts in Gujarat with Narendra Modi. Tried to resolve their problems. So, people began discussing my connection with him. However, he did not change his political ideology. He helped us in the work related to agriculture. But when the election came, he made a very aggressive speech asking voters to defeat us. There was nothing wrong with that. It was their party’s role or their policy.

Q: What is the future of the Congress party in the country? Which direction is the party heading into? Is Rahul Gandhi an obstacle in this?

A: The kind of recognition the leadership has in any political party is very important. One thing must be admitted that I had differences with Sonia Gandhi or that family. There is still faith among the workers and leaders about the Gandhi-Nehru family. Whether it is Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi, both of them represent their family, so the majority of people are of their opinion. And we have to accept this fact. It is the number two party in the country.

Q: Is the country ready to accept Rahul Gandhi’s leadership today?

A: There are some questions related to him. There seems to be less amount of consistency.

Q: I was asking about giving a strong alternative to the kind of leadership that Narendra Modi ji is currently giving.

A: Your question is correct. But which is the party that can give such an option? It is Congress. Now, which is the leader acceptable to the maximum number of people in Congress?

Q: They have not yet elected president?

A: It will happen. They will do so.

Q: When does your party have an election?

A: Elections are held every three to five years. It was supposed to happen this year but had to be postponed due to corona. There will also be election in the Congress. And when it takes place, there will be no different outcome.

Q: But Rahul Gandhi is saying he doesn’t want to be president?

A: Now after the election, you will know what happens.

Q: You are imposing the president’s post on him?

A: We don’t impose anything, their party may be imposing.

Q: You are the advisor of that party…!

A: I will not speak on their internal matter. That is their question.

Q: Many people are saying that now Pawar should lead the Congress?

A: It makes no sense. They have the right to make their own internal decisions in the Congress party. Tomorrow, someone will say that the decision in the NCP should be taken by the leadership of another party, our party may be small, but it will not accept it. It is the same for them.

Q: NCP is not a small party now?

A: It is smaller as compared at the national level.

Q: God was with you in all your journeys..!

A: People were with me.

Q: Don’t believe in God?

A: I consider people as God.

Q: You have successfully implemented the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) experiment in Maharashtra. People say it will work as long as you wish it to. What does this mean?

A: The stand of Shiv Sena in the state is accommodative. At the same time, the state leaders of the Congress are also acting sensibly. These factors are making our journey easier. Sharad Pawar’s wish does not affect the stability of the government and neither will we let it happen.

Q: You spoke about stability, my next question is related to it. Recently, there were reports that some officers tried to topple the MVA government. What was that matter and was such an attempt made in the past?

A: I also read such reports, but I did not go up to the root of the matter. I have full faith in the administration. It works according to the policies of the present government and works according to the policies of the other government whenever there is a change of guard in the democracy. The bureaucracy in Maharashtra works in accordance with the policies of its government. Therefore, there has been no such example in the past. One or the other individual might have worked in that direction, but it does not change the picture of Maharashtra.

Q: Did you suggest Uddhav Thackeray to be the chief minister so that this government can run?

A: It is not so. The number game was important for forming and running the government. Shiv Sena has the maximum number of MLAs, it is a fact and one must accept it. The second largest party was NCP and the third was Congress. We all accepted these facts and accordingly posts were distributed. We had decided to work together and are doing so. Our stand was that Uddhav Thackeray should lead his party.

Q: Is it true that Uddhav Thackeray was reluctant to become CM?

A: I guess he must be in a dilemma over accepting this post. We told him that Shiv Sena was the largest party, it was his moral responsibility and requested him to lead. We all insisted on it.

Q: Is it true that Congress was eying the CM’s post?

A: Congress gave consent to Uddhav Thackeray’s name. It meant the consent was from both Congress and NCP.

Q: Do you see Supriya Sule as the first woman chief minister of Maharashtra?

A: As far as I know, she is not interested in the state. She is interested in national politics. She is in the Parliament. She has received many awards for being the best parliamentarian. She has also won the Lokmat’s Best Member of Parliament award. After all, it is about one’s interest.

Q: The grapevine has it that some Congress and NCP MLAs are upset. They are about to leave their parties. Is it true?

A: I think this is table news, nothing more than that. Let me explain; it is true that some people’s representative gets angry sometimes when some issue from his or her constituency is not addressed. This happens in big parties as well as those which enjoy a majority. But no one thinks of leaving the party or doing something different. Absolutely not!

Q: The Union Government has brought three laws related to farmers. However, Maharashtra has already passed a Bill lessening the importance of Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC). The then Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) government has also passed a resolution regarding contract farming. In such a situation, why are you opposing the farm laws?

A: We are not blindly opposing the laws. There is a difference between APMC in Maharashtra and farming in other states. The APMC in our state is an institution accepted by the farmers. Here, we people ourselves held consultations and a suggestion was mooted that farmers should be given freedom in some aspects. The decision was taken in Maharashtra. This means that the APMC remains in place. The farmer has a right to visit it and sell his produce. There are still certain restrictions on the purchaser to ensure that the farmer gets dues against the produce sold. There has been no compromise regarding all these things. Only one thing has been changed, Maharashtra has given permission to the farmer to sell his produce outside the APMC also. This is not happening only today. If you see, oranges from Nagpur are sold in the nook and corners of the country. This has been happening in the past too. Onion from Nashik is also supplied in the entire country. So do bananas from Khandesh. We have always given this freedom to farmers. If somebody is taking a stand to preserve this freedom, I do not oppose it.

Q: Why do such agitations take place then?

A: There is some difference in our system and that of Hindustan. Here, the purchaser is bound to pay the price agreed at.

Q: In our state?

A: Yes. Suppose, wheat is being sold. If a trader says he will pay Rs 2100/quintal during the auction, he has to pay that rate. Also it is not acceptable if he pays after a month. The payment has to be made within 24 hours, 48 hours or according to the rule set by the APMC. The complaints of farmers from north India are related to these issues only. Auction was done. A, B, C said he would purchase. He did it and paid 25 per cent now and did not pay the rest of the amount for two months, they say. This does not happen in Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, they have to pay within 48 hours or at the maximum within four days. When I go to Delhi, many farmers from Maharashtra come and meet me saying they sold their onion or orange in north India and have not received payment.

Q: So, do we say that the ongoing agitation is appropriate?

A: Farmers are demanding that they must receive 100 per cent payment of their produce sold. This stipulation should be made. We have made this provision in Maharashtra but there is a lack of such compulsion in the laws of the Central government. Feelings of farmers from north India, particularly those from Punjab and Haryana, are very hard in this regard.

Q: You were the defence minister too. What India should have done in the face of Chinese aggression in Doklam, Galwan Valley? What do you think?

A: In our country, the perception of the majority of people is more against Pakistan as compared to other neighbouring countries. My stand right from the beginning has been that the leadership in Pakistan and the military there often adopt a strange policy towards India. There is no denying it. But when it comes to the threat perception to the country, my clear view is that it comes from China which we need to be more cautious about. China’s strong position, its economy, its air force, army and navy cannot be ignored. China has a peculiar leadership. They have a lot of patience. They will not speak and do nothing. But they will announce their decision only when it suits them the most. Therefore, the real threat is from China. The threat from Pakistan is there, no doubt, but the one from China is greater.

Q: Former US President Barack Obama has strongly criticised Rahul Gandhi.

A: He expressed his views. Not all opinions are acceptable. I can say anything about the leadership in my country. But I will not discuss the issues that concern other countries. That much decorum has to be maintained. I think Obama’s that particular comment is like crossing the limit.

Q: That means he is leaning towards Modi, can we say that?

A: No, I will not say that Obama is leaning towards Modi. But I will not talk about the leaders of other countries. There is news in today’s newspaper. Referring to the farmers’ agitation in Delhi, the prime minister of Canada spoke in support of the farmers and attempted to knock some sense into the Government of India. The Indian government responded immediately. That is right too. This concerns our country and there is no reason for anybody to interfere in it. Similarly, it would have been far better had Obama not commented on the internal issue of our leadership.

Can you narrate two-three instances during your long journey which remained forever in your mind?

I am very satisfied about some things. I worked as the union minister for agriculture for a decade. The day I took the oath as the agriculture minister, a file was brought before me in the evening. I was the minister of agriculture as well as civil supplies ministry. The country was facing an acute wheat shortage and the file was a proposal to import it. It touched my heart that the country having agriculture as its backbone was forced to import wheat. I did not sign the file. The next morning, I received a phone call from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Sharad Ji, have you checked the stock? There is a need for making import at the earliest, he said and asked me to clear the file. Reluctantly, I cleared the file. However, this instance got imprinted deeply on my mind and made me restless. I worked in such a way during the next 10 years that the entire picture of food-grains production in the country was changed drastically. India had become the second largest wheat exporter of the world when I quit my office. Moreover, India had emerged as the second largest sugar producing country and the number one in rice export as well as in milk and fruits production. The outcome of my 10 years of work gives me great satisfaction. Ups and downs are part of your career. I was the chief minister of Maharashtra but lost the state after the 1980 Assembly elections. Of course, it is voters’ right. Governments come and go. Once there were 54 MLAs with me and 48 of them deserted me just three months after they were elected. I became a leader of 6 MLAs in a Legislative House from the leader of 54 MLAs. One thing I learnt is that ups and downs are inevitable for all and one should not bother about them much.

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Policy & Politics

Clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace

Renowned spiritual gurus make strong pitch at Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference in Nagpur.

Vijay Darda



Nature and god cherish diversity. That is why they gave mankind flowers of different fragrances and fruits of different tastes. Human beings should accept this diversity while following religion too. There is only religion and that is humanity. And the only difference is that of creed, sect and the way of worship. Therefore, only by respecting each other’s beliefs, holding hands and moving forward, will the future generations become free from the evil of religious violence. In these words, the world renowned spiritual gurus gave the clarion call for universal brotherhood and peace to the world from Nagpur on Sunday.

Speaking at the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised by the Lokmat Media on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ to mark the golden jubilee year of Lokmat’s Nagpur edition at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday, the spiritual gurus expressed concern over the growing incidences of violence globally. They said India, which is the origin of four main religions and which has maintained harmony through diversity for thousands of years, is already a spiritual world leader on the path of tolerance and harmony.

While the Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari was the chief guest at this conference, the mayor Dayashankar Tiwari was the guest of honour. The founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, New Delhi, Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena and Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty expressed their views during the conference. The chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda, director (operations) of Lokmat Media Ashok Jain and group editor Vijay Baviskar were also present on the occasion.

The rule of nature never changes and it cannot change. It does not have any religion and therefore, action guides the reaction. Keeping this in mind, social harmony can be established. There is a need to create mutual acceptance for other religions as well. Moreover, universal brotherhood can be achieved by establishing communal harmony and unity through mutual coexistence as well as non-violence and peace, the Dharmacharyas said in one voice.

Vijay Darda in his introductory remarks explained the objective behind organising this conference. The editor of Lokmat Samachar Vikas Mishra conducted the proceedings while Rajendra Darda proposed a vote of thanks. On this occasion, the dignitaries released the Lokmat Media’s Diwali special issues ‘Deepotsav’ and ‘Deepbhav’.


The Dharmacharyas of all religions spared time from their busy schedule to attend this conference. Brahmaviharidas Swami specially came from the United States of America for this conference. Swami Ramdev came from Haridwar despite his tight schedule. Sri Sri Ravishankar arrived from Bengaluru on Sunday morning. Dr Lokeshmuni came from New Delhi, Bhikkhu Sanghasena from Ladakh while Haji Syed Salman Chishty came from Ajmer. Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias and Pralhad Wamanrao Pai came from Mumbai. It may be noted here that for the first time after the coronavirus pandemic, so many Dharmacharyas came together and shared a platform at the conference organised by the Lokmat Media and the Nagpurians got an opportunity to witness the Congregation of Dharmacharyas.


The concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is our ancient culture and communal harmony can be established through the feeling of Sarvadharma Samabhav. The world will get a message of love, peace and brotherhood due to this, said the Dharmacharyas at this conference. Organised at the heart of the country, this conference is actually the ideological Kumbh Mela, and the message and appeal of communal harmony conveyed through it should reach every part of the world, opined all Dharmacharyas.


The sarsanghchalak of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh Dr Mohan Bhagwat expressed his feelings through a video message. Dr Bhagwat said, “Religion is the connector. But if the human feeling is negative, people work to divide the society by abusing religion. This is because there is no interaction with each other. Therefore, we need to remind the community that we are one.”


The religion keeps people together. But some people plot to create hatred in the name of religion. But we should keep in mind that diversity has essence and god too is essence. Intellectuals become happy due to diversity and fools fight with each other. Diversity has to be accepted in human life. Sarvadharma Samabhav and diversity are unique qualities of India. It is the duty of the religion to solve various disputes and enmity.

– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


The world is facing biggest threat from religious, economic and political terrorism. The name should be Sarva Panth and not Sarva Dharma. Instead of saying that all will be Hindus, Muslims or Christians, we should say that all should be made human beings. The country works as per the Constitution while the society is based on spirituality. There is a need to take a stand that we all are united.

– Swami Ramdev


Once upon a time, landing on the Moon or space travel were like dreams. But now they are reality now. Many feel that prevailing social harmony in the world is a dream. But it is my belief that this dream will be fulfilled. If the entire society makes collective efforts for spreading love, following rules and developing good life, the global social harmony can be established. Instead of expecting social harmony from the world, people have to start with themselves.

– Brahmaviharidas Swami


Existence of others should be acknowledged as much as our own. Religion is humanity and we all are extensions of opinions. This country is not secular but non-sectarian. Today a positive feeling is required. This world is beautiful except for negativity. The chariot of messengers of peace here should go forward. The discussion on thoughts in this congregation of religious leaders should reach every part of the world. The lifestyle based on Ayurved, yoga-pranayam and restraint should be accepted once again.

– Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni


As the hatred is being spread in the name of religion, the world needs to create an attitude of acceptance of the existence of other religions along with mutual dialogue. The concept of god and some thoughts are different in every religion. But there are many similarities too. If we think with an open mind and brain, it will appear that we all have more of the same links than contradictions. Therefore, instead of paying attention towards contradictions, we should focus on the similarities.

– Cardinal Oswald Gracias


Efforts to make each other happy and respect for each other’s feelings are worship to god. These are the values of human culture and these should be inculcated from childhood. Equality, civility, harmony, tolerance, gratitude and moral values are all values of life. These values will have to be inculcated and social harmony will be established. Humanity is very important in life and it is the soul of all religions.

– Pralhad Wamanrao Pai


Whatever is going on in the world is very disturbing and worrisome. Religious violence, war, aggression, hatred and prejudice have ravaged the world. In such a situation, the role of India is very important to make the world understand the importance of non-violence, peace and compassion. The time has come for us to be unified and find solutions to the problems of the world.

– Bhikkhu Sanghasena


What feeling you are worshipping your god with is important. If any person offers namaz and commits any act which is a blot on humanity, his namaz is of no use. ‘Destiny’ is the basic foundation of all religions. Damage to the faith of any religion is the greatest crime.

– Haji Syed Salman Chishty


Our clothes are different in colour. Similarly, the worship methods are different. The sects can be different. But, everyone has the same meaning. The ‘rashtradharma’ of all of us is one. This is the real strength of Indian culture. Our culture is not connected to any particular religion. Sarvadharma Samabhav is our philosophy. Respect for all is the way of life. Unity in diversity is the unique feature of our country.

– Nitin Gadkari


The Lokmat upheld the importance of secularism right from day one. It’s stand has been Sarvadharma Samabhav. No religion is bigger than humanity and we upheld these values. The Lokmat respected all religions and creeds. People have been living together since ages and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ is the culture of the country. The guidance of Dharmacharyas on social harmony is important in the backdrop of the fundamentals in the current situation that were created in the name of religion.

– Vijay Darda


At a time when people are being murdered in the name of religion globally, the world is looking to India for a solution to this problem. India’s responsibility at the global level has increased as it has been following the ideas of non-violence preached by Lord Mahavir, Tathagat Buddha, Guru Gobind Singh and Mahatma Gandhi. Only the path of peace and harmony can save the world.

– Rajendra Darda


Photo Caption

Union surface transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari, mayor of Nagpur Dayashankar Tiwari, founder of the Art of Living Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of Patanjali Yogpeeth Swami Ramdev, founder of Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti Acharya Dr Lokeshmuni, Gaddi Nashin of Dargah Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Haji Syed Salman Chishty, founder of Jeevanvidya Mission, Mumbai, Pralhad Wamanrao Pai, Archbishop of Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, founder of Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, Leh, Ladakh, Bhikkhu Sanghasena, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s Brahmaviharidas Swami, chairman of editorial board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha Vijay Darda, editor-in-chief of Lokmat Media Rajendra Darda, managing director of Lokmat Media Devendra Darda, joint managing director and editorial director of Lokmat Media Rishi Darda and group editor Vijay Baviskar holding their hands up together during the Lokmat National Inter-Religious Conference organised on the topic ‘Global Challenges to Communal Harmony and Role of India’ by the Lokmat Media at Kavivarya Suresh Bhat Auditorium in Nagpur on Sunday.

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Policy & Politics

Making it happen: Digital transformation in TNPFC

Anil Swarup



Technology can transform governance and make life easy for the common man. The question is not about the availability of technology, it is about attitude of those that have to first appreciate its relevance and then to have the “courage” to use it. Chandra Kant Kamble, a young IAS officer did that in an organization that was archaic and conservative.

The Tamil Nadu Power Finance and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd., (TNPFC) was incorporated in 1991 as a wholly owned State Public Sector undertaking and registered as a Non-Banking Finance Company (Deposit). TNPFC started with capital of Rs 99 lakhs. The deposits grew to Rs 33,000 crores by 2019. The company mobilizes funds primarily through public deposits and has been funding Infrastructure projects undertaken by Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO). As on 31.03.2021, the company’s paid-up capital is Rs. 3767 Cr. TNPFC has been a profit-making company since its inception.

The total financial assistance provided to TANGEDCO for power generation and related projects by way of long-term and short-term loans is Rs. 1.56 lakh Crores. The net loan outstanding from TANGEDCO stood at Rs. 39,984.79 Cr on 31.3.21.

Fixed Deposit service offerings

Fixed deposits are mobilized from the public, Institutions, Government Departments and the State Government Schemes such as cash incentive scheme, Bread-winning scheme, Chief Minister’s Girl Child Protection Scheme, Oru Kala Pooja Scheme and Covid 19 Scheme. The average interest rate offered by the company is 150 basis points more than the rates provided by public sector banks. Steady growth of deposits was possible even during the pandemic, due to focused policies and an attractive interest rate on term deposits.

Legacy Challenges in TNPFC

When Chandra Kant took over as Managing Director of TNPFC in 2018 it had archaic database issues like data integrity, redundancy, partial data and data multiplicity. The company operated with less than 50 staff members and none of the branch operations had a digital channel such as a web portal or mobile application. TNPFC did not have the ability to collect payments online for the creation of new fixed deposits. Further, the company was unable to renew or close existing fixed deposits online. public depositors needed to visit the Chennai branch to receive the proceeds from closure of fixed deposits through a cheque instrument.

The regulatory directions on IT compliance and covid pandemic accelerated the pace of digital transformation at TNPFC, covering entire customer requirements fresh deposits, renewal, closure, nomination and other change request services



Online Web portal and mobile application based full fidelity deposit account creation for existing and new depositors, thereby offering deposit creation services 24 x 7 x 365 – a first for Government controlled NBFC.

Integration with Core Banking System to automate Cheque and Bank Statement reconciliation for both online and offline fixed deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Disbursement of Deposit Maturity proceeds directly via digital payment service integration across NEFT, RTGS, IMPS and UPI – providing real time business-hour payment services without cheque issuance and clearing delays.


Established Customer Support Team for managing average daily queries of 300 emails, 200 IVR calls and 100 postal requests.

Journey from 7154 backlog emails, to responding on same day basis. Between April and July, TNPFC responded to 12,411 emails compared to pre-covid period of less than 20 emails per day.

Automated online BoT based verification process for PAN Card and Aadhaar verification process for KYC norms. Video Conferencing for Video KYC towards Customer Identity Confirmation process as per RBI Regulatory Compliance.


Digital Transformation of web portal and mobile application led to the mobilization of retail deposits of over Rs. 1080 Crores through online channels alone, during the period from April 2020 till May, 2021

Cloud Computing operations automation enabled TNPFC mobile deposits online 24×7 with integrated payment gateway services and instant deposit confirmation receipt generation.

Provided digital banking experience through Digital Channels (Web & Mobile) for depositor interactions and service requests processing, thereby eliminating the need for physical presence.

Timely disbursement of deposit funds for beneficiaries approved by Social Welfare and School Education departments / State Government. Fund disbursement of Rs. 1626 Cr in real-time to 8 lakh beneficiaries across 32 districts, through the launch of online payment services integration by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

Improved Treasury and Fund Flow management through the adoption of purpose- built Executive Workflow Management Application, thereby drastically transforming Fund Management towards transparent Cashflow pipeline visibility and approval process workflows for Government Securities Investments. Cloud deployment of GoI MEITY empaneled Cloud Service Data archival and retention towards regulatory compliance adherence. Adoption of Business Continuity Plan towards robust operational management of TNPFC ICT preparedness and operational support during the pandemic led workplace and workforce restrictions.


In the middle of Covid-19 pandemic, the TNPFC management focused on improving depositor user experience through digital adoption across NBFC operations using automation and integration to re-organize diverse systems. The emphasis was on advanced analytics driven customer support for digital channels (email, IVR, WhatsApp) and a 24×7 Online web portal & mobile App for common citizens to carry out deposit service requests from the comfort of their homes.

With digitalization of every function, TNPFC has shifted from generic demography of retired service personnel to a more “smart experience”, that provides a digital banking experience for all types of depositors, which is a refreshing change for a government run NFBC.

Financial performance

The CRAR (Capital adequacy) improved from 3.4% to 13.48%. For the first time, TNPFC started treasury operations, invested @1800 Cr in Gsec and T bills (earned @ 40 Cr) and used call options for Rs1000 cr bond repayment saving interest payment @ Rs 45 Cr. Profits that stood at Rs 83.20 Cr during 2018-19 rose to Rs 505.03 Cr during 2019-20 and further to Rs 723 Cr (unaudited) in 2020-21

Chandra Kant Kamble made it happen in an organization that had not looked at technology as a tool for improving its performance. He could make-it-happen on account of his foresight and his ability to convince the stakeholders about the whole idea and his team to deliver that idea.

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

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Policy & Politics


Tarun Nangia



TOP 10 DEALS IN H1 FY 2022

Displaying continued confidence on the Indian real estate sector, private equity funds pumped about USD 1,790 Mn into the sector in the first half of the FY2022, finds ANAROCK Capital’s latest Flux Market Monitor for Capital Flows in Indian Real Estate. This is a 27% growth over the corresponding period in FY 2021 when inflows were approx. USD 1,410 Mn.

“The average ticket size for the PE deals in the current period declined by 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22,” says Shobhit Agarwal, MD & CEO – ANAROCK Capital. “Notably, investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals. As seen, the share of multi-city deals reduced from 77% to 42% in H1 FY 2022. Further, the top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed a approx. 81% of the total PE investments in the country.”

In comparison with H1 FY21, structured debt and equity witnessed considerable growth in H1 FY22, at 25% and 28% respectively. Structured debt went primarily towards project-level assets.


Of the total private equity inflows of USD 1,790 Mn in the period:

• The commercial office sector once again attracted the bulk of investments – nearly 33% or approx. USD 591 Mn.

• The Industrial & Logistics sector saw significant investments of approx. USD 537 Mn in H1 FY22, comprising a 30% overall share.

• Residential sector saw investments to the tune of USD 394 Mn i.e., approx. 22% of the total PE funds.

• Data Centres, Land and Mixed-use developments attracted the remaining 15% of the overall PE inflows comprising 5% each

Data further revealed that while overall PE inflows in Indian real estate increased in H1 FY2022, the share of foreign funds reduced by 19% as compared to H1 FY21. Investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, a reflection of the improving situation in the country resulting in higher confidence by domestic funds.


With total PE investments seeing a close to 27% yearly jump in H1 FY2022, investor confidence in Indian real estate is seen to be increasing.

• Foreign investors continued to remain major contributors with a approx. 63% share of the total inflows of USD 1790 Mn. However, in the same period of FY2021, they contributed a 99% share. This indicates the growing confidence of domestic funds amid the growing economy despite the second COVID-19 wave.

• Investors have maintained their confidence in listed REITs. Post the dip in market capitalisation earlier this year, REITs have bounced back well.

• Demand for flexi offices is gaining momentum; they are expected to attract more PE investments over the next 1-2 years.

• Operators are aggressively looking at expansion of data centres across major locations in the country.

• Like seen in FY2021 trends, last-mile funding continues to gain momentum. SWAMIH Fund & various foreign funds are actively evaluating and executing various options.

• The residential sector is witnessing accelerated consumer demand amid growing preference for homeownership coupled with historically low home loan rates. Investors will seek various investment themes within this asset-class.

• Private equity investments were approx. USD 1.41 bn in corresponding period of FY21

• Commercial sector attracted highest investments (of 33%), followed by Industrial & Logistics (30%) & Residential (22%)

• Investors this time preferred single city deals in contrast to multi-city deals earlier; top 10 deals in H1 FY22 contributed nearly 81% of the total PE investments in the country

• Avg. ticket size for PE deals declined 32% – from USD 114 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 78 Mn in H1 FY22

• While overall PE inflows in Indian RE increased, share of foreign funds reduced 19% in H1 FY22 compared to H1 FY21; investments by domestic funds jumped from less than USD 10 Mn in H1 FY21 to USD 650 Mn in H1 FY22, reflecting their confidence

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Policy & Politics




In a welcome, wonderful and wise judgment titled Akhila Bharata Kshatriya Mahasabha v. State of Karnataka in WP No. 49960/2017 delivered on September 7, 2021, the Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to ensure compliance with the landmark, learned and laudable directions of the Supreme Court barring installation of statues or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. This was the crying need of the hour also. Now the State Government in Karnataka is duty bound to comply with it.

To start with, this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment authored by the then Acting Chief Justice Of Karnataka High Court – Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma for himself and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum sets the ball rolling first and foremost in para 2 wherein it is put forth that, “The facts of the case reveal that the 1st petitioner is an All India Trust and 2nd petitioner is the State level Trust, as stated in the petition, involved in the work of social economical upliftment of the people belonging to backward and downtrodden community. Their grievance is that inspite of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 18.01.2013 in SLP.No.8519/2006 the bust of Sri.Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji at the southern entrance of Mysore palce near Gun house is being installed and the State Government has granted permission for the same. The order of the State Government dated 3.3.2017 is on record and a prayer has been made for quashment of the order of the State Government (Annexure-E) as well as the order dated 28.8.2017 (Annexure-F) meaning thereby that the prayer has been made for quashment of the resolution passed by the Mysuru Mahanagara Palike as well as the State Government for installing the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun house circle, which is on the main road. It has also been stated by the petitioners that a request was also made initially for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar to the District Urban Development Cell and the same was rejected citing the judgment of the Apex Court and inspite of the judgment of the Apex Court, permission has been granted to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Swamiji.”

 To put things in perspective, the Bench then points out in para 3 that, “The State Government has filed the statement of objections and the stand of the State Government is that the present petition has been filed with the vested interest, as the request of the petitioners was turned down for installing the statue of Sri. Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar and it is only after their request was turned down, they are raising hue and cry as the State Government has granted permission to install the statue of Sri. Shivarathri Rajendra Mahaswamy at Gun House circle. It has been stated that the Supreme Court in the case of Union of India .vs. State of Gujarath and others has directed not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places. However, the Gun House Circle is in existence since from the Maharaja’s period and there are several such circles in Mysuru City and several such statues are already in existence and therefore, Mysuru Mahanagara Palike has taken a decision to instal the statue of Sri. Shivaratri Rajendra Mahaswamy in the Gun House Circle as the circle is in existence since long time and it is not part of the public road nor does it fall within the definition of pavement, sideways and other public places.”

Quite rightly, the Bench then enunciates in para 8 that, “The undisputed facts of the case makes it very clear that the place where the statue in question is likely to be installed is certainly one of the most busy square near Mysuru palace near Gus House. The map has been filed by the State Government and the same reveals, as many as six roads are joining at the square and the circle is certainly the part of the road. It is really strange that the respondent-State Government has stated before this Court that it is not part of the road. Colour photographs have also been filed in the matter. The maps and all other documents clearly establish that the spot is in the center of the road and therefore, the issue is whether the statue can be installed at the center of the road on the circle which is in existence?”

Quite significantly, the Bench then hastens to recall in para 9 that, “The order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Special Leave to Appeal(Civil) No.8519/2006 dated 18.01.2013 on I.A.No.10/2012 reads as under:

1. We have heard Mr. Basavaprabhu S. Patil, learned senior counsel for the applicant and Mr. M.T. George, learned counsel for the State of Kerala.

2. Mr. M.T. George, leaned counsel for the State of Kerala placed before us a copy of the order dated September 7, 2011 passed by the Government of Kerala granting permission for installation of statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar, Ex-Deputy Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly near to Neyyattinkara-Poovar Road in the curve turning to the KSRTC Bus Stand Neyyattinkara in the Kanyakumari National Highway near bus stand.

3. We have our doubt whether such permission could have been granted by the State Government for installation of statue on the national highway.

4. Until further orders, we direct that the status-quo, as obtaining today, shall be maintained in all respects by all concerned with regard to the Triangle Island where statue of late Shri. N. Sundaran Nadar has been permitted to be sanctioned. We further direct that henceforth, State Government shall not grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public street lights or construction relating to electrification, traffic, toll or for development and beautification of the streets, highways, roads etc. and relating to public utility and facilities.

5. The above order shall also apply to all other states and union territories. The concerned Chief Secretary/Administrator shall ensure compliance of the above order.””

Most significantly, the Bench then makes it clear in para 10 that, “The Hon’ble Supreme Court has categorically directed the State Governments not to grant any permission for installation of any statue or construction of any structure in public roads, pavements, sideways and other public utility places and therefore, on account of the order passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the question of permitting the State Government and the Mysure Mahanagara Palike to install the statue does not arise.”

Furthermore, what is equally significant is that the Bench then also makes it pretty clear in para 11 that, “In the considered opinion of this Court, neither the petitioners nor any one can install the statue on the island which is on the road (circle which is on the road) keeping in view the judgment delivered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court.”   

Finally and as a corollary, the Bench then holds in para 12 that, “Resultantly, the writ petition is allowed. The impugned orders passed by the State Government dated 3.3.2017 and the order dated 28.8.2017 of the 2nd respondent-Mysuru Mahanagara Palike are hereby quashed. The State Government is also directed to ensure compliance of the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the entire State of Karnataka.”

 In conclusion, it may well be said that the Karnataka High Court Bench comprising of the then Acting Chief Justice Hon’ble Mr Satish Chandra Sharma and Hon’ble Mr Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum have by this cogent, commendable, composed and convincing judgment left not even an iota of doubt of any kind that the State Government of Karnataka has just no option but to comply with the Supreme Court directions baring installations of statues on public roads and pavements. This is specifically elaborated upon most elegantly in para 9 and 10 which the State Government of Karnataka has to adhere to in totality. This will certainly well serve the public interest also which should always be paramount under all circumstances also!

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate

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Policy & Politics

Textiles sector poised for a $100 bn export: Vikram Jardosh, MoS for Textiles

Industry should take full advantage full advantage of the global market shifts: Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.

Tarun Nangia



The Government has set a strong aspirational goal of achieving $100 billion from textiles exports in thenext 5 years and we will remain committed to ensure implementation of all development schemes and bring in many more schemes in pursuit of this aspiration, said Darshana Vikram Jardosh, Minister of State for Textiles, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.

Government has already announced MITRA scheme to attract new investments and build mega textile parks in the country. Other significant programs including the launch of PLI scheme for achieving manufacturing excellence and RoDTEP for enhancing export competitiveness will help India to position it as a global leader in the sector.

The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of TEXCON: The 13th edition of the International Conference on Textiles & Apparel organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry today. A specialCII-Kearney report was also released on “Creating a competitive advantage for India in the global textiles and apparel industry”. The report covers the entire textile value chain and highlights the imperatives for both government and industry to bring global positioning for the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Upendra Prasad Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles said that the Government is making all efforts to proactively address the challenges and facilitate the creation of an enabling environment for the growth and development of the Textiles and Apparel sector. “We are capable to meet the domestic as well as the global market demands. I would like to urge the industry to take full advantage of the present global market shifts in establishing the excellence and prominence of India globally.”

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics and further augmenting India’s position as global home textiles leader. “Government of India has already shown strong commitment to this sector by launching multiple mega schemes in recent times which set a very positive tone for the future and to energize all industry stakeholders to take necessary steps forward in achieving the goals”, he added.

Kulin Lalbhai, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Executive Director, Arvind Ltd said, “The growing sentiment around “China plus one” sourcing is a golden opportunity for Indian textiles to stage a turnaround and gain back its leadership position as a lead exporting economy.” India is much better placed to maximize this opportunity as compared to competitors like Vietnam and Bangladesh because of India’s strategic depth.

Dilip Gaur, Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles and Apparel & Managing Director, Grasim Industries Limited, Aditya Birla Group said, achieving breakthrough growth in Indian textiles will imply doubling down on multiple areas. The key ones include increasing share in MMF fiber and yarn, become regional leaders in apparel and fabrics.

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Policy & Politics

Piyush Goyal calls for free trade within rules-based multilateral trading system

We must work to resolve issues posed by Non-Tariff Barriers in international trade: Piyush Goyal.

Tarun Nangia



The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday called for free trade within a rules-based multilateral trading system with honesty and transparency as core values. He added that wherever India faces an unfair or unjust treatment, it will take reciprocal action. Shri Goyal also emphasized upon the need for resolution of issues posed by Non- Tariff Barriers in international trade. He was addressing the 54th Convocation of Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in New Delhi today.

Referring to India’s recent achievement of 100 crore vaccines, he said that the milestone was the result a collective effort of 130 crore Indians and a proof of India’s ‘Atmanirbhartha’ and its resolve to leverage its capacities to the best possible extent and to serve the needs of the entire world.

Piyush Goyal said that a convocation is an important ceremony that marks the next step in the journey of the graduates when they grow from ‘acquisition of knowledge’ to ‘application of knowledge’.

He commended IIFT for contributing immensely to India’s external trade since its establishment in 1963. He said that IIFT has been widely recognized for its strong knowledge &resource base and has been consistently ranked amongst theleading business schools in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Underscoring the need for a committed and vibrant leadership in the field of academics in India, Shri Piyush Goyal called for enhancing exposure of our students to the best of technology, foreign law, economics, and international trade. Calling for tie-ups of Indian Universities with institutions of eminence across the world, he asked Indian universities to enter into sustained collaborations with such institutions.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

Piyush Goyal told the students that they were graduating amidst one of the most disruptive events in the collective memory of our times. He emphasized that in the post-COVID ‘New Normal’, we can no longer play by the old rules. He called for using the disruptive interventions brought about by COVID to reorient our conventional, traditional thinking processes. Offering two cents from his versatile experience in foreign trade, Shri Goyal urged the students to ‘Learn, Unlearn, Relearn and Repeat’.

Piyush Goyal said that despite challenges, India under PM Modi has aimed to convert a crisis into an opportunity for transformation. He said that India is being looked upon as a trusted partner & we are engaging with like-minded nations e.g. EU, UK, Canada, Australia & UAE for early conclusion of FTAs.

Referring to India’s ambitious programmes like the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan for infrastructure and multimodal connectivity, Shri Goyal said that there was a need for planned, focussed efforts to create infrastructure in the country by breaking silos and bringing in synergy. “There is a need to bring in quality and productivity in all we do. A ‘Made in India’ product must be a guarantee to the world”, he added.

Applauding the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s visionary leadership, Goyal said that India’s decisive leadership, strong industry, vibrant media and its resolve to uphold the rule of law, had made India a trusted partner to world nations.

Lamenting that India had suffered from several missed opportunities in the past, Shri Goyal expressed the hope that we would now be able to seize every opportunity available to us to grow. “The past is a stepping stone, not a milestone”, he added.

Observing that contemporary India was confident & yet dissatisfied, he said that dissatisfied, confident people are the ones who would change the world. He urged fellow Indians to never settle for less and to work together to make India a global leader.

On the occasion, Shri Goyal presented several awards for excellence to graduating students.

Encouraging academic institutions to engage on a much larger scale with the industry, Shri Goyal asked students to take up internships with both the public sector and private players. Speaking of the opportunities offered by online education, Shri Goyal called for more exploration into online and hybrid modes of education.

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