Ambassador Meera Shankar delivered the keynote address on the topic "Why India Matters" on 24th February 2011 at the "Emerging India Summit" organized by the Emory University in Atlanta.
Talking of the inherent strengths of democratic India, she said that, "India’s growth story is not only a reflection of the new dynamism of a young India, but it is also a reaffirmation that the values of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law can sustain high economic growth. India is at present the second fastest growing economy in the world. Since the 1990s the average growth rate has been more than 6% and it reached close to 9% during 2004-07. There was a dip in the growth rate in 2008 due to the global economic crisis, but we are fast reverting to our high growth path. In 2010, the Indian economy rebounded robustly from the global financial crisis - in large part because of strong domestic demand - with growth expected to be around 8.5% in the present financial year that ends next month and similar levels expected to be sustained in 2011. Today we are already the fourth largest economy in purchasing power parity terms and if we sustain these high levels of growth we are likely to become one of the three largest economies in real terms as well in the decades ahead."
Commenting on the external aspects of growth, she said that, "We have, today, a broad agenda of cooperation with the major countries and regions of the world. In Asia, which is fast becoming the center of gravity of global opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, India is seen as an anchor of moderation and stability. We are also expanding our ties with our extended neighbourhood through greater economic, commercial and political engagement. Our growth has helped contribute to regional economic growth. Countries such as Sri Lanka and Bhutan have been able to leverage this for their own economic prosperity.
With the United States, we now have a strategic partnership. Our shared values of democracy and pluralism and our increasingly convergent interests provide a firm foundation for our relationship. We see our relationship with the US, which is one of our largest trade, investment and technology partners, as a vital element of our endeavour to transform our socio-economic conditions and the highly successful visit of President Obama to India last November has significantly expanded and deepened our cooperation particularly in areas such as health, education, agriculture, infrastructure and trade and commerce which are vital for our own development. These areas also represent tremendous opportunities for American businesses and companies, and would also help further strengthen the bonds between our peoples. Our relationship with the United States is people-centric and nourished by the many personal connections which bring our people together in expanding circles. The nearly 3 million strong Indian American community has come of age and is a vital bridge between our nations.
She concluded by saying that, "Today, India is confident and aware of its capabilities. We are inspired by the success that we have achieved and driven by the aspirations of our young population. But at the same time we have not lost sight of the ideals that give us our strength. As we move forward, our efforts will continue to reflect and reinforce our ideals of pluralism, equality, individual freedom and the right of every individual to a life of dignity and well being."
Ambassador’s announcement at the dinner that India would be opening an Indian Consulate General in Atlanta and was actively processing various procedural formalities, was widely welcomed, particularly by the Indian American Community in Atlanta.
The Emerging India Summit was held on 24-25 February 2011 and addressed both the Academic and business community on the many opportunities that India offers.
Full speech of the Ambassador can be accessed here.