JAPAN Forward also received an invitation through the Embassy of India in Japan. As Editor-in-Chief, I had the privilege of participating in this 12-day tour, which took us through three cities including India's capital.
Throughout the tour, we were accompanied by three young diplomats from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, who served as our coordinators. Our accommodations were in luxurious hotels, and we traveled in charter buses. In rural areas, police vehicles led the way and an ambulance was on standby. I was surprised to see that every detail, from our meals to bottled water and an array of souvenirs, including a golden statuette of Mahatma Gandhi, was prepared for us.
PM Modi Rouses the Crowd
One of the highlights of the trip was India's Independence Day celebration on August 15. Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a passionate 90-minute speech under the scorching sun. He spoke about how India had become a leader among the emerging and developing countries, collectively known as the Global South.
Furthermore, he expressed his ambition that India would become a developed country by 2047, the centenary of its independence. Watching the audience cheer for the Prime Minister's speech reminded me of leaders of postwar Japan, such as former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (1918-1993), who implemented the ambitious plan to "remodel the Japanese archipelago."
During the trip, I had an opportunity to engage with various officials, including G20 sherpas and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Every one of them expressed an unwavering confidence in India's future.
Another remarkable aspect of our journey was witnessing India's rapid strides in digital and information technology. While Japan has just begun to implement its My Number system, India has already established an identification system that is rapidly evolving. Registered citizens could use their mobile phones for shopping, making payments, money transfers, and accessing subsidies, scholarships, and vaccine certificates, all without incurring any service fees.
The organization that implemented this system is the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). Its representative explained, "By transitioning from costly cash transactions to an efficient, low-cost system, we've enabled fund transfers to underdeveloped rural areas that lack proper infrastructure. This has resolved many issues."
NPCI also revealed that the system has garnered some interest in Japan. However, there are no plans to introduce the system to advanced countries where others are already in operation. Nevertheless, I was greatly impressed by their ingenuity and creativity.
Land of Possibilities
India's infrastructure is far from perfect, despite having the space technology capable of landing an unmanned lunar probe on the moon.
During our trip, one of our stops was at a major construction company that builds large-scale infrastructure such as bridges in Africa. There, we were approached with a "business proposal."
A spokesperson said, "If Japan uses official development assistance (ODA) to build hospitals in Africa and delivers Japanese-made medical equipment, which is more cost-effective and high-performing compared to Western products, we will definitely succeed. Please talk to the Japanese government [about our proposal]."
In India, it seems like anything is possible.
A Reliable Partner?
The following article was written by Duncan Bartlett, JAPAN Forward's foreign affairs correspondent. He raises questions about India's reluctance to criticize Russia at the G20 Summit and its potential behind-the-scenes cooperation with China and Russia.
India has a massive population of 1.4 billion, surpassing China's, and an average age of 24. It is on the verge of becoming the world's second-largest economy.
But the question remains: Will India truly become a reliable partner for Japan? JAPAN Forward will continue to closely follow the path of India's awakening.
Watch for the next issue on October 9.
JAPAN Forward has entered its seventh year. Join us as we continue to share the true voice of Japan with the world. For inquiries, please call 0570-033-433 (Sankei iD) or email us at email@example.com.
- EDITORIAL | G20 Summit’s Failure to Condemn Russian Aggression a Shame
- Japan Sets World Agenda with Expanding Vision of Prosperity in a Free and Open Indo-Pacific
- Relevance of G20 in Question as Energy Talks Hit Roadblock
- EDITORIAL | India's Mixed Signals: Deterring China but Not Condemning Russia
(Read the article in Japanese.)
Author: Yasuo Naito, Editor in Chief, JAPAN Forward