Barbara Foundation, IIDS distinguished lecture: Dr. Rajiv Kumar of India’s NITI Aayog stresses connectivity and innovation for economic transformation


On September 20, 2018, Barbara Foundation in collaboration with the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), Kathmandu University organized a public lecture titled ‘Nepal, India and the Neighborhood: The Promise of Economic Reforms, Innovation and Connectivity’ by Honorable Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chair of NITI Aayog, Government of India.

The program was chaired by Dr. Swarnim Wagle, former Vice-Chair of the National Planning Commission and a Board member of the Barbara Foundation.

At the start of the program, Dr. Swarnim Wagle introduced Dr. Kumar, followed by a welcome speech by Dr. Bishnu Dev Panta, Executive Director of the IIDS. Hon. Dr. Kumar then delivered his lecture. The floor was open to questions after his lecture.

In his lecture, Dr. Kumar stressed on the need to increase connectivity in the SAARC region, while also highlighting India’s efforts to enhance connectivity with Nepal.

He cited examples of initiatives to increase connectivity of the two countries, like the feasibility study commissioned for the Raxaul to Kathmandu railway. Enhancing connectivity of and relationship between Nepal with five bordering Indian states could be highly beneficial for people on both sides of the border, he said.

Dr. Kumar pointed out that the biggest connectivity that Nepal and India need right now is the ‘connectivity of trust’. ‘Connectivity of trust’, he said is vital in the wake of recent initiatives between the two countries to enhance physical connectivity like railway and roadway.

He also highlighted on a series of innovations India’s Atal Innovation Mission has taken up to encourage and promote innovative spirit in the youth were covered with high regards in the media. India could help encourage and instill entrepreneurship and innovation among Nepali youths, he said.

Dr. Kumar’s lecture also focused on charting how India’s economic transformation will benefit the all of the SAARC region. “The whole South Asia region will benefit from this economic transformation that India is undergoing through,” he said.

According to him, the Indian government has spearheaded development as a mass movement, focusing on 5T– talent, tradition, tourism, trade, and technology. He said that these same five areas could become the areas of cooperation with Nepal.

Around 250 professionals and personalities of Nepal’s government and non-government sector, intellectuals, academics, business personalities and entrepreneurs, media personalities, high-level security personnel, and politicians (except the very top level of politicians) attended the public lecture.