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Participating in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in South Africa,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday reaffirmed India’s commitment to multilateralism, international trade and a rules-based world order and said that India will work with other member states of the economic bloc to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

PM Modi also met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines and discussed bilateral relations.

Modi, who arrived in Johannesburg on the last leg of his Africa tour, presented the country statement of India at the BRICS leaders’ closed session.

“At the session with fellow BRICS leaders, I shared my thoughts on various global issues, the importance of technology, skill development and how effective multilateral cooperation creates a better world,” Modi tweeted.

In his address, PM Modi said India wants to work with the nations on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and called for sharing among them the best practices and policies in the area. The 4IR is the fourth major industrial era since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century. Modi said technological innovations can help enhance service delivery and productivity levels. “High-skilled but temporary work will be the new face of employment. There will be radical changes in industrial production, design, and manufacturing,” he said.

Fourth Industrial Revolution is considered the fourth major industrial era since the initial Industrial Revolution of the 18th century and is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres, elaborated an India Today report.

It is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields like-robotics, artificial intelligence, block chain, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles, said the report.

Stating that Industry 4.0 will make the world flatter, PM Modi said that many deprived classes will be able to make big leaps with the help of technology and development. At the same time, he said it is difficult to say what effect this will have amid growing inequalities, a fast changing society and human values.

“In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, talent will become more important than money,” Modi said. “The new face of employment will be high skilled but temporary jobs,” he said.

He was of the view that digital platforms, automation and data flows will reduce the importance of geographical distances. “When digital platforms, e-commerce and marketplaces will get linked with such technologies, a new kind of industry and business leaders will surface,” he said.

Stating that the type and opportunities for employment will be an important issue, Modi said that though traditional manufacturing will continue to be an important means of job creation, it will become extremely important for workers to enhance their skills.

He emphasised that school and university curriculam must be prepared in such a way that the youth can prepare for the future and said that it must be ensured that the changes in technology find place in such curricula. “In India, because of this, the National Skill Development Mission has been started,” he said.

“The intention is to impart to our youth relevant technical and vocational skills,” he said, adding that his government is trying to ensure that quality technical, vocational and higher education is available to all sections of the society.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a concerted effort by global institutions such as the United Nations, the G7 and the World Trade Organisation to fight unilateralism and protectionism.

Xi also called for dialogue to settle disputes on global trade, underlining remarks he made at the opening day, urging a rejection of unilateralism in the wake of tariff threats by US President Donald Trump. Trump’s warnings have given the BRICS nations fresh impetus to enhance trade cooperation, and their leaders found a collective voice championing global trade at the summit.

Modi, along with Xi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Michel Temer and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa posed for a group photograph on the second day of their meeting. The leaders reiterated their resolve to fight terrorism, but the names of terrorist organisations including the Pakistan-based ones were missing from the joint declaration.

The Xiamen Declaration of the last BRICS summit, which was celebrated last year as a victory for Indian diplomacy, had named Pakistan-based terror groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

“We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever. We urge concerted efforts to counter terrorism under the UN auspices on a firm international legal basis and express our conviction that a comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure an effective fight against terrorism,” the joint statement said. “We recall the responsibility of all States to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories.”

Modi, in his talk with Xi Jinping, said that the informal bilateral summit in Wuhan was a “milestone”, and both sides will keep up the level of engagement. The two leaders, who met for the third time in three months on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, acknowledged the frequent meetings.

“Wuhan is a milestone, it has given strength to our relations. After that the meeting in Qingdao, and now, we have been able to discuss our closer developmental partnership. In last few months, because our contacts and engagement, our concerns have been addressed, and new energy has been instilled,” Modi told Xi during the bilateral meeting.

They decided to unveil the calendar of diplomatic engagement: the Chinese Defence Minister will visit in August, and the Public Security Minister will visit in October. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval will travel to Beijing for the Special Representative-level talks in Beijing. In October, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will host Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in India.

The two sides also discussed bilateral trade. An Indian trade delegation will travel to China on August 1 and 2, where they will discuss issues pertaining to export of rice and soya from India, and import of urea from China.

An Indian pharmaceutical companies delegation will also visit Shanghai on August 21 and 22.

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