Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said India has a chance to rise again as a global economic power and for that India has to remain India in every sense and, he said, he has a ''clear roadmap'' to channelise entrepreneurial capabilities of the country's 1.25 billion people.
India and China, he said, have grown at similar paces over the last five or ten centuries - their contributions to global GDP rising in parallel, and falling in parallel. ''That is why India needs to remain India,'' he said.
''This is a country that once upon a time was called 'the golden bird'. We have fallen from where we were before. But now we have the chance to rise again... Today's era once again belongs to Asia. India and China are both growing rapidly, together. That is why India needs to remain India,'' he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview..
Asked whether India will be the next China and be able to grow at 8-9 per cent a year consistently and transform itself and thus transform the world, the prime minister said, ''India does not need to become anything else. India must become only India.''
On India's inconsistent economic growth Modi said, it has been more due to underutilisation of its entrepreneurial strengths.
''It is my absolute belief that Indians have unlimited talent. I have no doubt about our capabilities. I have a lot of faith in the entrepreneurial nature of our 1.25 billion people. There is a lot of capability. And I have a clear road-map to channel it,'' he said.
On China's assertive stance in the east China seas and the south China seas that has worried many of its neighbors and its posture against India in the northern frontier, the prime minister said, ''We can't run our country if we get worried about every small thing. At the same time, we can't close our eyes to problems. That's why India maintains that we are now in a different era. We are not living in the eighteenth century. China is also a country with an ancient cultural heritage. Look at how it has focused on economic development. It's hardly the sign of a country that wants to be isolated. It wants to stay connected. That is why we should have trust in China's understanding and have faith that it would accept global laws and will play its role in cooperating and moving forward.''
Modi also defended democracy as not being a drag on economic development. He said if authoritarianism has helped China grow faster, then democratic countries provide another example. They have also grown fast. You can't say that growth is not possible because of democracy. Democracy is our commitment. It is our great legacy, a legacy we simply cannot compromise. Democracy is in our DNA.
''I have seen the strength of democracy. If there were no democracy then someone like me, Modi, a child born in a poor family, how would he sit here? This is the strength of democracy.''
On the prospects of India's closer ties with America developing into a genuinely strategic alliance, Modi said, it is possible. I have a one word answer: YES. And with great confidence I say "yes''.
He said despite the ups and downs in their relations, the two countries are bound by the ideas of coexistence in natural temperament and their allegiance to the principles of democracy. India and the United States of America are bound together, by history and by culture. These ties will deepen further, he said.
''Relations between India and America should not be seen within the limits of just Delhi and Washington. It's a much larger sphere. The good thing is that the mood of both Delhi and Washington is in harmony with this understanding. Both sides have played a role in this,'' he pointed out.
On Russia's action in Ukraine, Modi evaded a direct answer. He rued the plane accident that caoused the death of innocent people. ''These are not good things for humanity in this age. We have always expressed those views,'' he said.
But, at the same time, he said, ''There is a saying in India that the person who should throw a stone first is the person who has not committed any sins. In the world right now, a lot of people want to give advice. But look within them, and they too have sinned in some way. Ultimately, India's view point is that efforts need to be made to sit together and talk, and to resolve problems in an ongoing process.''
On the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalists, Modi said, neither Al Qaeda nor the ISIS can influence the India Muslim.
''My understanding is that they are doing injustice towards the Muslims of our country. If anyone thinks Indian Muslims will dance to their tune, they are delusional. Indian Muslims will live for India. They will die for India. They will not want anything bad for India.''
On the dignity of women in India, he said, it is a collective responsibility and there should be no compromise in this matter. ''There should be no erosion in the law and order situation. We have to revive the family culture in which a woman is respected and considered equal, her dignity encouraged.''
Ultimately, he said, it all boils down to educating the girl child.