Jaishankar Tanzania
Jaishankar is also likely to hold separate bilateral talks with his counterparts from some other SCO countries on Friday. File photo.

India will be fastest growing economy: Jaishankar during Saudi visit

External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who is currently on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, spoke about how India is trying to grow its economy and become a high-income country and will achieve 7 per cent growth. He also spoke about how India has brought back seven million people under the Vande Bharat Mission from all over the world and called it the biggest evacuation drive done during COVID-19 times.

The external affairs minister (EAM), who arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday (September 10), to discuss ways to further strengthen relations between the two countries, had tweeted, “Began my visit to Saudi Arabia with interaction with our community. Appreciated the contribution of our Diaspora in facing national challenges. Spoke to them about our country’s resilience, especially during the time of the COVID.”

The EAM’s visit comes after Saudi Arabia along with 16 nations had condemned the BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments in May against the Prophet. The nations had called it “insulting” and had called for “respect for beliefs and religions”. Sharma was later suspended by the BJP, which also expelled its then Delhi media head Naveen Kumar Jindal for making similar remarks.

India posts highest exports ever

Addressing the Indian community in Saudi Arabia, Jaishankar said, India has made powerful efforts to grow its economy and move towards becoming a higher-income country. It has been working on how to change its credit, banking, education and labour policy and that these efforts require a vision, and prudent management of the country’s fiscal resources.

Also read: Saudi to outpace China, India to become fastest-growing economy: Report

“Many big reforms have taken place and we can see the result of that in two very interesting developments,” he said, pointing out in the year ending March 31, 2021, India  posted the highest exports ever – US$ 670 billion. While trade in goods stood at US$ 400 billion, he added.

Despite the world facing many challenges like rising food, oil and shipping prices due to the Ukraine crisis, India will be the fastest growing major economy in the world this year. “We will get at least 7 per cent growth,” he added.

India’s recovery from COVID-19 pandemic

Further, Jaishankar told the Indian diaspora in the Gulf country that India’s economic recovery after COVID is worth a study. Many nations spent a lot of money during the COVID period because they were in a hurry to respond to a crisis situation. It was like a knee-jerk reaction, he pointed out, adding that many countries did not necessarily use their funds and resources wisely.

India however concentrated on providing a safety net for its people. There was a programme to give free ration to 80 crore people, which did not happen anywhere in the world, he pointed out.

Moreover, Jaishankar said that India was able to produce COVID vaccines in large numbers. “There were made in India vaccines available for 1.3 billion people,” he said, adding that he had gone on tours and witnessed that people of several countries have not been vaccinated as yet because they did not have the vaccines. “Countries which had everything but still people are not vaccinated,” the minister said. But, India was able to bridge this gap with continued efforts, he added.

Also read: The Line: Saudi Arabia’s futuristic 170-km-long vertical city in desert

Vande Bharat Mission brings back 7 million people home

India has brought back seven million people under Vande Bharat Mission from all over the world and called it the biggest evacuation drive done during COVID-19 times. “We brought back 7 million people under Vande Bharat Mission from all over the world. No one has done that, it’s the biggest evacuation and was done during COVID. That is India that the world sees today,” said the EAM.

India started the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7, 2020 to bring back its citizens stranded abroad. Initially, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express carried out these operations before private airlines were allowed to take part. Besides, aerial evacuation, naval ships were also used to bring back Indian citizens.

Review of bilateral relationship between India and Saudi Arabia

Jaishankar tweeted this morning (September 11) that he had addressed diplomats at the Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies in Riyadh. He had underlined the importance of India-Saudi strategic relationship at a time when the world is at crossroads.

During the visit, Jaishankar and the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, will undertake a comprehensive review of the entire bilateral relationship and will discuss the progress under the four joint working groups of the PSSC Committee, namely i) Political & Consular; ii) Legal & Security; iii) Social & Cultural and iv) Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation. The meetings of these groups and senior officials (at secretary level) have been held over the past few months, said a ministry of external affairs statement. Both sides will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest including their cooperation at the UN, G20 and GCC.

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