Gautam Adani outlines his vision for a greater India in his acceptance speech for the prestigious Priyadarshni Academy Ramakrishna Bajaj Memorial Global Award

"The pandemic has been a wake-up call for every nation," said Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani Group, speaking before a distinguished international audience including Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal. While accepting an award from the Priyadarshni Academy for his "outstanding contribution to industry, commerce and infrastructure development," Mr. Adani made a vigorous declaration of faith in India's capacity to learn from the Covid crisis and capitalize on the demographic dividend of the "biggest and youngest middle class" that has "ever existed" to ensure decades of growth.

"There can be no better defence than Atmanirbharta," asserted Mr. Adani, "to mitigate future black swan events." In a new post-pandemic world order, self-reliance will be crucial. "India had nothing to do with the virus," he said, "but sustained some of the most drastic consequences and criticism on the world stage. All this while we, as a nation, had the gravitas not to criticize any country as they fought their own battles to control the virus."

Sh. Gautam Adani accepts the Ramkrishna Bajaj Memorial Global Award.

Acknowledging the continued relevance of global trade and collaboration, Mr. Adani said his call for self-reliance was a response to the "wake-up call" of Covid and "the integration of new" global alliances, the "changing geopolitics [that] means drawing from our own books like Kautilya's Arthashastra" to work towards building a "more Atmanirbhar India, a more muscular India… an India for Indians." By this, he explained, he meant an India in which everyone worked together for the upliftment and betterment of the nation. That Indian companies owed it to the nation to both compete and collaborate when necessary to take advantage of trillions of dollars in opportunities to build a more prosperous, sustainable India. "If there ever were a time", Mr. Adani said, "when democratic India had a need and opportunity to stand strong and celebrate our Indianness, it is now—at the doorstep of decades of future growth."

Patriotism, in Mr. Adani's view, must be instilled as a means of progress. While criticism in a democracy is healthy and necessary, he argued, it could not come "at the cost of destroying the confidence of a nation" or dividing society, "else we play right into the hands of those that do not want to see a resurgent India." In other words, India's post-pandemic success must be led by Indian companies committed to the prosperity of every Indian, committed to finding innovative, technology-driven means to creating sustainable growth.

Commending the Priyadarshni Academy, hosts of the awards ceremony, Mr. Adani described each winner as "a brand ambassador for the India story." He also congratulated the Academy on "its focus to provide scholarships to the deserving and needy students of our country". Such efforts, he said, were the need of the hour to ensure the building of an India in which "no one is left out—a nation in which everyone belongs, a resurgent and resilient India."

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