Time to work not just for global economy but as a global family: Irani

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New Delhi/Davos, Jan 25 (PTI) Asserting that the coronavirus crisis has brought the world together in sharing best practices, Union Minister Smriti Irani on Monday said it is the time to work together as a global family and cited India's example in fighting the pandemic through cooperative federalism.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda Summit, Irani said, 'My country is the proof that when the government and citizens come together, much can be done, despite initial fears about the scale of the pandemic making it difficult to coordinate responses.' Irani, who was participating in a panel discussion on 'Restoring Economic Growth' along with Singapore's Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, among others, stressed on the need to support the global community.

She said her country has supported the needs of poorer sections of society with measures, including cash transfers and clean fuel grants, while the Indian government also gave financial support to millions of SMEs and farmers over the course of the pandemic.

The global economy contracted by more than 5 per cent in 2020 with many countries falling into recession, according to the World Bank.

Discussing how businesses and governments can collaborate more effectively to restore growth sustainably while boosting productivity and sharing prosperity, the panelists said the range of possibilities is narrower this year, but still wide.

'No one can predict what will happen in 2021,' Shanmugaratnam said.

He also warned that this would not be the last global health crisis and there is a need to invest in multilateralism.

'The biggest lesson we need to take from the pandemic was the importance of mutual interest. We have greatly underfunded the global public good and this will be far more expensive in the long term,' the minister added.

Irani also agreed that there was a need for greater international cooperation, but cautioned, 'those who made predictions about the year 2020 will bite their tongue before making pronouncements for 2021'.

She said, 'In India, we learned very richly from our experience of cooperative federalism. We are proud of the fact how everyone rallied together. there was no sense of despair that we will not overcome whatever challenge the pandemic throws up.' Irani said it is time to invest in each other.

While the world has lived as a global community for years, there was no recognition of the fact that the future can be so uncertain that we throw out of the window every technology in science and defence.

'This pandemic has given many economies and an opportunity to introspect that it is as wise to invest in your own nations as well as the global community.' She further hoped that the introspection, which has been deliberate because of the pandemic, is giving us an opportunity to come together to recognise that technology is important as the human interface that has benefitted us as economies and countries.

Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, and Textiles, said it is yet to be seen whether the pandemic and its impact were really behind us and whether the world was looking forward to a new normal or still adjusting to the despair that was thrown up by the pandemic.

'I am hopeful that we will go from despair to a new hope,' she added.

Asserting that the definitions of developing countries, global economy and resurgence will change post-pandemic, she said, 'We need to work not only as a global economy but as a global family.' 'And when you talk about the global family, there will be restrictions and challenges, but our minds will come together in terms of finding solutions and applications that are viable for all.' She also said it needs to be ensured that those without digital skills are not left behind when technology expands in our workplaces.

On how bravely India handled the pandemic, she said India did not produce a single PPE suit in March last year, but within three months it became the world's second-largest exporter for this product by creating an industry worth over USD 1 billion, growing from zero to 1,100 companies. PTI BJ RAM