Namaskar and greetings to all the attendees of the Amazon SMBhav 2022. It gives me great pleasure and I am thankful to Amazon to be speaking today at an event that celebrates the contribution of Indian SMBs to the Indian economy. It is good to see Amazon India take this initiative, encouraging and supporting SMBs in achieving new heights and expanding their businesses. From digitizing MSMEs and creating employment to supporting women-led entrepreneurs and accelerating the growth of startups, Amazon is playing a role in realizing the Hon’ble Prime Minister's vision of creating an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

As you recall, “Digital India” was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister about seven years ago. One of the key objectives of Digital India that the Hon’ble Prime Minister laid out for the use of technology- was that it be used to create additional opportunities, new or newer opportunities for our youth- by way of investments, by way of expanding the digital economy and increasing the participation of women and the youth in this expanding digital economy.

Fast digitization of our economy.

That vision has been significantly realized over the last few years, especially during COVID. India has used technology and the power of digitally empowered enterprises both small and big, to ensure that the economy rebounds from the deep disruptive impact of the COVID pandemic, a black swan event that has impacted lives and livelihoods all over the world. In India too, for a large part after that first quarter, we had to lock down in preparation for the pandemic and from that day onwards digital technologies and digitally empowered enterprises have helped rebound our economy and indeed transformed the Indian economy to one of the fastest-growing economies, and one of the most digitally enabled economies in the world. On occasions like this, I always point out whether it is on issues of governance, whether it is issues of expanding digital opportunities or indeed creating capabilities and skills that put India at the leadership in shaping the future of technologies- a lot of this has to do with the digitization of the world and fast digitization of our economy.

In 2020, the Hon’ble Prime Minister unveiled the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. And Atmanirbhar Bharat was a vision of creating more and more capacities and capabilities within the nation. Foreign companies, Indian companies, SMBs, large enterprises, startups are needed to create a vibrant environment, an ecosystem of innovation and competition and efficiency that would create products and services for the Indian market for the Indian consumer as well as the global consumer.

Reshaping of global value chains for products and services.

It is clear that in the post-COVID world there has been a start to a reshaping of global value chains for products and services. And there is a greater focus and greater desire to ensure that global trade in global value chains is those that are resilient and those that can be trusted. I think the Indian economy and Indian economic participants, more importantly, SMBs can play a big role in the coming years in terms of providing goods and services to the world.

The small and medium enterprises of India dominate the workforce and constitute a large percentage of employment opportunities and jobs. Their viability, sustenance, and ability to grow and access multiple markets is an important element of policymaking for the Government of India. It is indeed an important part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat vision.

As I like to say, and I quote from the Honorable Prime Minister- paraphrasing from his vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat- the path to Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India is a path that grows through villages, grows through small businesses, and grows through opportunities that we are creating for the youth and women of our country. I am glad that India is now re-imagining its future and resetting its ambitions to be a bigger and larger player in the manufactured products segment of global trade. It is important that the SMBs of India use technologies and are indeed assisted by those who have a large presence on the Internet like companies like Amazon- to enable market access and to ensure their business growth.

Becoming a large exporting nation

It is clear that India is becoming a large exporter of merchandise and manufactured products. Last year's performance, which is a historical level of $417 billion and April 2022 performance- which is one month into the new year shows that we are going to even top that number of last year. This tells us that we are truly on our way to becoming a large exporting nation. And we are on our way to being a large exporting nation on the back of not just large enterprises, but with a mix of large enterprises and a healthy significant contribution by the SMBs of India. And as I have repeatedly sought out and spoken to and requested the larger platforms like Amazon- that they have indeed a responsibility and the power to do good to the SMBs of India. They can connect the SMBs of India to markets that Amazon today services all around the world.

Digitizing MSMEs, an important goal for our nation

As far as the Government of India is concerned, we are very focused on issues like the supply chain to logistics competitiveness. You've heard the Honorable Prime Minister lay out his vision for Gati Shakti. These are all things that we are doing to make India a truly competitive nation. In terms of being a partner for the global consuming nations of the world for manufactured products. It is heartening to see Amazon India has taken several initiatives to strengthen Indian e-commerce and MSMEs. I understand from my notes that Amazon has helped digitize over 2.5 million, or 25 lakh MSMEs and has made investments of over a billion dollars. The goal that Amazon has set out that it would digitize 10 million MSMEs or one crore MSMEs is indeed a goal that we are all partners in, and it's an important strategic goal for our nation. The target that Amazon has set and that the government has indeed expected from a company like Amazon- of enabling exports of over $10 billion on the platform is again something that I welcome and congratulate them for. I would also like to appreciate Amazon SMBhav Venture Fund, which helps build solutions to empower SMBs to launch, manage and grow their business online, automate and digitize their operations and expand their business globally.

It is absolutely critical in the government's own goals of digitizing our economy and accelerating that digitization that all if not most of our SMBs in our country are digitized and have access to digital platforms, and therefore using those platforms to get access to markets and customers in India and abroad.

E-commerce and logistics infrastructure

In closing, I would like to reiterate that India is rapidly emerging as a leader in exports and manufacturing. E-commerce and logistics infrastructure are an absolutely critical part of the equation for India's success in being a large, trusted manufacturing partner to the world. There is clearly a need, therefore, to realise that vision and realise our objective for a strong partnership between government and platforms like Amazon and others who are in this space. I am truly grateful to be present at this event. I wish this initiative by Amazon a huge success.
Thank you, Jai Hind. Namaskar.