The award winners have shown us that if you work with dedication, it is possible to do well despite external uncertainties. Some of you have given us hope and have shown us how leaders play a great role in turning around companies and take them to greater heights. Obviously, you have discovered the success formula through sheer hard work, single-mindedness and focus. While there are threats, I see opportunities before us. As our young population gets better trained and better qualified, I think we can be world beaters.
We are at a very crucial moment in the history of our country. We are at a crossroads; our institutions are being tested; there is uncertainty all around; we don’t know how global economy will shape up; and how it will affect the Indian economy. The political situation is uncertain as the price of fractured polity is being discovered over and over again. The political system, which in a way has been a strength and which has held this country together, is under stress because of too much populism and the fractured verdict that people have delivered.
But I think the recent elections have shown us that perhaps now people are voting for clear majorities. I think the dangers of fractured polity, divided verdict, and its impact on decision making are now beginning to be appreciated by voters. That gives us hope in being able to meet the challenges and grab the opportunities that present themselves to us. It’s all about leadership, about discovering, nurturing and supporting people.
But the road is not easy. Politicians will have to lead, will have to set examples, will have to take the right decisions -- sometimes we may fail, sometimes there may be horror stories about certain black sheep etc -- but by and large, we have come to a situation where politicians have held the country together. I hear sometimes that a freewheeling democracy has its own pitfalls and we could have grown much faster had we adopted a different model. Perhaps it’s true. But at the end of the day, free media, free judiciary and democracy are our real strengths. I am not saying our institutions don’t have blemishes but they will reform themselves.
There is an opportunity for business here, as most of the manufacturing industries are moving out of the western world; there is an opportunity to invest in stressed assets abroad. So we can get access to technology, intellectual property portfolio, vendor network markets, and I think the government needs to support mergers and acquisitions abroad, particularly in high technology areas.
Our challenge now is to build a knowledge economy, because we cannot become a rich country only based on natural resources. Already, there is a huge stress when we talk of natural resources, and Mr Vinod Rai (CAG) has told us about natural resources: how do you price them; how do you distribute them; whether it is an asset like spectrum, coal or sand, etc. How we equitably divide, share the natural resources, how we price them, is a great challenge. But one thing is clear, it is not the natural resources which will make India a rich country.
It will be based on our intellectual progress, because we can build an economy based on innovation. Our companies need to shift gears and really move into research and development. I am very happy to see some examples of companies which have innovated and created new business models, and have become household names in a very short time. I was frankly not aware of the remarkable work they have done in the last few years. So it is possible. In any case, unless we shift to an innovation economy, I think we will run out of natural resources.
The job of the chief minister of Maharashtra is more than a 24 hour job. I am confident we will maintain our leadership position, although there are challenges in terms of focusing on more talent development. We have the challenge of agriculture, with about 83 per cent of our land being rain fed.
And so when we face the challenges of urbanisation in Mumbai, we face the challenge of uniform development of all parts of the state. Inclusive growth is also another huge challenge. But we can do all of these together. I can assure you the government of Maharashtra will work very closely with you to ensure that doing business in Maharashtra will be extremely easy and an extremely profitable exercise.
While I invite you to the state of Maharashtra, I assure you that you will get the friendliest government that any state can offer. I know there are some difficulties in some areas, some gaps that need to filled, but that is my job and I would do it.
I congratulate all the winners once again. For, all of you have given us renewed hope.