India to help Tajikistan in upgrading the skills of its software and it professionals
10 months ago Web Desk 0
- Thank you very much and may I take this opportunity to wish you and all the leaders of Asia Plus on occasion of the 74th Independence Day of India. Tajikistan also celebrates its 29th Independence Day in a few weeks time and I wish all our Tajik brothers and sisters a very happy 29th Independence Day. Such national day occasions are milestones in the development of nations and they allow us to rededicate and recommit ourselves to the cause of the nation building and improving the lives of our fellow citizens, while at the same time working towards regional and global peace.
India and Tajikistan have close historic, cultural, linguistic and civilizational ties that go back over a millennia. Even during the Soviet era, the Soviet republics that were culturally and linguistically closest to northern India were Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Following Tajikistan’s independence our bilateral relations has broadened and today it encompasses political, economic, defense, cultural and people to people ties. There has been regular exchange of high level visits from two sides and Indian President H.E. Shri Ram Nath Kovind visited Tajikistan in October 2018, followed by the visit of our External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar in June 2019. With over 70 bilateral agreements and many joint consultative mechanisms the two sides have institutionalized their cooperation to meet the expectations of our leaders and our people. Being a developing country which has developed his own technology and capacity, India is conscious of it responsibility to share its technical and managerial expertise with other developing countries, including Tajikistan. There is therefore active cooperation in the area of human resource development and over the years over 1400 Tajik professionals, civil servants and experts have undergone short duration training courses in India to update their skills and knowledge. Similarly, over 400 Tajik citizens have availed of Government of India scholarships to pursue higher education including doctoral degrees in Indian universities. All this fills me with hope that India-Tajik relations are not only well established and strong but will continue to grow in the future for the mutual benefit of our countries and people.
- In one of your interviews with Tajik journalists, you said that the volume of trade between Tajikistan and India last year amounted to $ 60 million. Then you also noted that this figure does not satisfy your side and that India is interested in establishing a balance, so that Tajikistan can also export its products to India. What steps have been taken in this direction so far?
- You are right. Despite the fact that our two countries are so close geographically the volume of bilateral trade and investment does not do justice to its potential. I know that there are transit difficulties to send goods between our two countries which is a major factor of low volume of trade. However, I am pleased to note that this year a number of consignments of essential drugs and medicines have been brought from India to Tajiksitan through the air cargo. This was especially useful as Tajikistan battled the COVID-19 pandemic. It also demonstrated that air cargo route is viable in respect of high value and low weight/volume items such as medicines from India and medicinal herbs and dry fruits from Tajikistan. Given that the Chabahar port in Iran is functional and Iran-Afghanistan-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan route has also been recently operationalized we hope that this will lead to greater movement of goods between our two countries and realization of its true potential.
Lack of familiarity about the market potential and business opportunities between the businessmen of the two countries also contributes to the low volume of trade. We had therefore planned a number of B2B workshops and symposia to familiarize businessmen about business opportunities in the two countries. However, due to Corona Virus there activities could not materialize. However we hope once the pandemic is over we shall be able to organize these important B2B events.
- State Independence, undoubtedly, did only good for India. After all, at the beginning of this year, the country made a new leap in the economy, overtaking the UK and France and becoming the 5th largest economy in the world. Could you tell us something about it?
- With a population of 1.3 billion people who are industrious, enterprising and innovative, it was inevitable that India and its economy will grow to become amongst the largest in the world, While we are happy with this achievement, there is still a lot of work to be done to raise the standard of living and per capita income of our people. It is in this context that my Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi has asked us to work towards making India a US$ 5 trillion economy by 2024 from the current $ 2.94 trillion economy of today. India enjoys a great advantage in having a large domestic market which allows our companies to work with the assurance that there would be adequate demand for products that they produce even when the global demand for their products may become uncertain.
- What, in your opinion, is the secret of such incredible success?
- I think the economic success can be attributed to greater integration of the Indian economy with the global economy leading to increase in import and export of goods. The large Indian domestic market has also led to almost all the major global companies expanding and setting up their operations in India to cater to the Indian domestic market. This has led to market expansion as more and more new products and services have become available in India and also led to a spurt in entrepreneurial efforts in India so as to be suppliers to these Global companies. India has also done a lot of work in the area of financial inclusion and digital literacy/connectivity of its citizens leading to innovative marketing and sales solutions as well as payment mechanisms.
- For a long time they talk about the achievements of Indian IT specialists, a little less – of Chinese. IT outsourcing, of which India has long been a world leader, is the use of external force for the development, implementation and maintenance of information systems. In 2012, the volume of this market was more than $ 250 billion. Over 80% of software created in India is exported. The leadership of the Indians in this direction several years ago was attested by the head of Microsoft, Bill Gates, when he noted that: “The best Microsoft programmers come from India.” Can we talk about cooperation between our countries in the exchange of experience in this industry?
- We are justifiably proud of our IT and software industry. Unlike manufacturing sector which requires large initial capital and investment, the software and services industry uses the intellect and innovation of the human beings to create and deliver services and solutions. The great stress in the Indian families on education and literacy has seen India producing the largest number of graduates in the world, who are not only digitally literate and intelligent but are also full of new ideas to address emerging challenges through innovative solutions.
Recognizing its strength in IT sector and in the spirit of South-South cooperation, India has been helping other countries in upgrading the skills of their software and IT professionals. Hundreds of Tajik professionals have undergone specialized IT training in India under our ITEC programme. In addition in 2006 India established the Bedil Centre of Information and Technology in Dushanbe where software and IT training was imparted to Tajik professionals. This Centre is believed to have produced the first generation of Tajik IT specialists, which then went on to create the IT solutions that are employed across various sectors in Tajikistan. As a part of its continuing commitment towards Tajikistan, India is in the process of setting up a new Information Technology Centre equipped with a super computer so that Tajik experts can now be trained in advance computing, and the facilities of this Centre could also be used by Tajik academics and researchers in their research and other projects.
- India is among the top 10 countries for digital technology, even Microsoft wanted to relocate to Indian islands. How are government plans for the digital economy set?
- India has been a leading IT exporter for two decades now. Thanks to Prime Minister Modi’s initiatives such as Digital India, Direct Beneficiary Transfer and demonetization, the expertise of Indian IT sector expanded to whole economy and new ventures such as mobile phone manufacturing, digital payment applications, e-businesses flourished. Availability of affordable smartphones and internet data allows 560 million internet users to use digital services and the number keeps growing. Even small businesses adjusted to digital mode of business. Today 26 million small and medium businesses are discoverable on search engines and maps. They are all equipped to accept digital payment. Even during the Corona Virus induced lock downs, all services including grocery delivery are available online. Recently, Google announced investment of USD 10 billion in Indian digital economy, which is a testimony in itself about the readiness and preparedness of Digital India.
- It is known that thousands of Indian students study in Tajikistan, in particular, at the Medical University. We hope this education is used with benefit in India?
- Currently approx. 1300 Indian medical students are enrolled in Avicenna Tajik State Medical University (ATSMU). There is a long history to Indian students coming to Tajikistan to pursue a degree in medicine and this has continued till date. However, I have been informed that many of these students do not pursue medicine as a profession and move to other fields of activities. While I acknowledge that education should not limit an individual’s capacity to pursue career he or she desires, I would very much like to see more and more ATSMU graduates take up and practice medicine as a profession in India. India is a large country with large population and unfortunately there is shortage of specialized doctors in India. Under this scenario it becomes even more important that graduate of ATSMU take up medicine as a profession to help the Indian citizens.
- Pharmaceuticals and medicine are separate and equally valuable advantages of the “homeland of elephants and tea”. It is known that India is popular in terms of medical tourism among residents of post-Soviet countries. And Indian medicines are also the most demanded in the markets of our countries. What makes your medicine of high quality and at the same time very affordable?
- The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is one of the largest in the world in terms of volume and value. India is also one of the largest producers of generic medicines in the world, and is known as “the pharmacy of the South.” A number of factors have contributed to the same. The prevailing thinking in the country is that drugs prices must be affordable and measures such as listing drugs as essential, compulsory licensing and price caps are used to ensure the same. The process of compulsory licensing allows Indian companies to use intellectual property of patent holders by paying a fee and produce affordable generics that can then be exported to countries, which do not have the capacity to produce these medicines. Indian domestic drug market itself is very large and this enables drug manufacturer to sell their medicines at competitive prices and still make a profit. India has a large pool of skilled chemists and cost of production is 35-40% of that in the US. For instance generic version of the drug Gleevec (used for treating leukemia) costs approx. $ 2,500/- a year in India, while its cost overseas could be as high as $ 70,000/- a year. Since long, India has been waging a war on drug prices. The list of drugs under price control has steadily expanded from 74 in 1995 to nearly 860 by 2019. A plethora of steps taken by Government of India over the years has ensured the quality of Indian drugs while keeping the cost low.
- India justifiably takes the fourth place in the ranking of the world’s military power, according to Global Firepower. This indicates the country’s great influence on the international arena, capable of a peacekeeping policy. Please tell us if you are monitoring the situation in Afghanistan under close scrutiny?
- India has civilizational and brotherly ties with Afghanistan. As you are aware till 1947 India shared a land border with Afghanistan, and there ties continue to remain strong even today. India has huge stake in the safety and stability of Afghanistan and its people. Conscious of its responsibility towards its Afghan brothers and sisters, India has been working towards the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan. Since 2001 India has provided developmental assistance of approx. US$ 3 billion to Afghanistan, including building the Afghan Parliament Complex to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan, and the India Afghanistan Friendship Dam in Herat province, which is the first new dam project to be built in Afghanistan in the last 50 years. Every year thousands of Afghan students and professionals go to India under Indian Government’s scholarship program to pursue university education as well as for updating their professional knowledge through short duration courses.
As a good friend of Afghanistan, India believes that Afghan peace process should be Afghan owned and Afghan driven without interference from outside. While India and other friends of Afghanistan should aid the peace process efforts, there should not be any external pressure on Afghanistan and its government to accept an unjust peace deal. Following the US Taliban Agreement and the joint declaration issued by US along with Afghan Government on 29th Feb 2019, India sincerely hopes for return of peace and stability in Afghanistan. However, despite this agreement the current political and security situation in Afghanistan does not lend much confidence that Afghanistan is on the path to become a stable and safe place, free from external influence of a particular neighbouring country of Afghanistan. Since March 2020, there has been an increase in Taliban led violence and there have also been targeted attacks on ethnic religious minorities, including Afghan Sikhs. India therefore continues to remain concerned about the situation in Afghanistan and will continue to provide support and assistance to facilitate peace and stability in Afghanistan
- What are the most striking achievements during the years of independence would you like to highlight?
- As you are aware India is very diverse country and our moto is ‘Unity in Diversity’. India is home to all the world religions and many sub cultures. Its diversity is exemplified by the fact that we have 22 number of official languages and over 1600 dialects. The culture and customs across the four corners of India vary substantially but we still are one nation. At the time of our Independence many countries, owing to our diversity, thought that India may not survive as a nation state. It is to the credit to our founding fathers which gave us a Constitution and has set up a value system that we think of ourselves as Indian first over our other ethnic, religious or linguistic identities.
I therefore of the opinion that the greatest success that India has had in the last 73 years of its independence has been of it emerging as a strong, unified, democratic, pluralistic country where we all believe in the idea of India. Once this has been achieved other success such as those in field of economy, human resource development, military strength etc. were inevitable.
- How do you see the future cooperation between our countries?
- I am confident that India-Tajikistan’s relationship will continue to expand in the future. As Tajik economy revives and integrates more with the world, there will be greater opportunities for the two counties to expand their relations. Our two countries closely cooperate in the international arena and are members of many regional forums and International grouping. Given our common interest in peace and security of our region, our two countries will continue to work together to fight the challenges posed by terrorism and extremism. These challenges can be countered more effectively through the combined efforts our two countries. I am also of the view that as Indian economy expands and grows, Tajik businessmen and companies will look more closely at the Indian market and how Tajik economy can be better integrated with the Indian economy to take advantage of our large market and technical and manufacturing prowess. Greater trade and commercial ties will take the India-Tajik cooperation and partnership to the next level.
Source: Asia Plus