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Gandhihagar, Saturday: Gujarat Chief Minister Shri Narendra Modi while speaking at the 58th meeting of the National Development Council held at Vigyan Bhawan under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, assailed the Central Government for not paying any attention to people's problems, especially inflation, power crisis and poor governance while finalizing the Approach 12th Five Year Plan. Quoting Prime Minister's speech about every organ of the government working in tandem, he said that in some States, Governors are deviating from set constitutional norms and Central Government is interfering in the administration of the States. He demanded that a meeting should be convened to discuss the adoption of Justice Sarkaria Commission and Punchchi Committee report on Centre – State relations to preserve federal structure of the country.

He said during the 11th plan, there have been enough instances of major schemes yielding sub-optimal outcomes because the schemes gave little or no flexibility to the States.

He pointed out that a number of recent actions by Central Government like Draft Ports Regulatory Bill, 2011, Draft Communal Violence Bill, Draft National Sports Development Bill, 2011 etc.  are encroaching the powers of the States. He also mentioned that everyone has accepted that there is rampant corruption in MGNREGA and demanded a Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) should be set up to go into various aspects of MGNREGA and suggest measures.

While quoting Prime Minister's speech he said that recession is affecting the economic growth, however, Gujarat in spite of being an industrial State, has achieved 11% growth during the 11th Plan Period. On the contrary, country's growth has suffered which shows that it is not only recession but poor governance which is adversely affecting the economic growth of the country. He said that populous measures adopted by the Central Government which cost thousands of crores, adversely affect the economic growth and development.

In his address to National Development Council, Shri Narendra Modi also wondered how Planning Commission can be denigrated by another office i.e. National Advisory Council (NAC) set up by the Government. He also questioned whether NDC which represents the people of the country in the form of elected representatives from the Centre and States is going to take decision on developmental issues or will it be National Advisory Council. He called upon the Central Government to adopt best practices from States. He appealed to the Prime Minister that Centre should also cooperate with States rather only States expected to cooperate with the Centre.

While touching upon agriculture sector, he pointed out that allocation of funds for agri-infrastructure, agri-technology and value addition had been meager. In fact, Central Government is neglecting the sector and there is no increase in the outlays on agriculture.

He gave example of poor planning and management of supply of fertilizers, resulting in non-fulfillment of the need of the farmers. Last year at the time of sowing, very negligible quantity of urea and other fertilizers were available in the country. Unfortunately, Central Government did not do anything. Since UPA Government came into power, no addition has been made in the production of fertilizers in the country. He also mentioned that Government of India has to work in tandem with others to source raw material for fertilizers especially rock phosphate.

He lambasted the short-sightedness of the Central Government for imposing ban on cotton export which resulted into loss of more than five thousand crore to the farmers of Gujarat. Of course, after repeated requests by the State Government, the Centre lifted the ban but damage was done.

He also said that Central Government as well as Congress Party have been emphasizing upon eliminating discretionary powers with various Central Ministers and Government. However, it is a well known secret that year after year huge assistance is provided to select States as a ‘political favour' without any well set norms, criteria and transparency. This whole assistance to states in thousands of crores, is provided in a highly opaque manner. He demanded that Central Government should come out clean and publish a ‘white paper' on various packages and financial assistance provided to states during the last seven years of UPA rule. It is a well known fact that un-allocated power available with the Central agencies is given as political favour to some States without any transparency in allocation.

He also mentioned that this is the first time in recent years when people are not sure about getting electricity during Diwali because of mismanagement of production and transportation of coal, an important raw material for producing electricity. He also mentioned how Union Coal Minister is admitting corruption, inefficiency, indifference and non performance but is unable to do anything.

He expressed his deep concern about contradictions and conflicts within the Central Government. He expressed his concern over splurging of public fund for same job by duplicating to capture individual's data and biometric for UID and National Population Register.

He wondered how Hon'ble PM on one hand appeals to states for best practices, good schemes and on the other hand, if any state does good work, it is always penalized while allocating the funds. He specifically mentioned about Gujarat where under different schemes like PMGSY, hardly any funds are given because Gujarat started improving its roads prior to start of the Government of India's rural road scheme.

He appealed to the Prime Minister and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission to have a relook at last 11 plans, approaches and outcomes, which will guide us in framing our next plan. He cautioned that the draft approach paper should not become another well drafted document.

Gujarat Ministers Shri Saurabhbhai Patel (MoS- Finance), Shri Ranjitbhai Gilitwala (MoS-Planning), Shri Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, Deputy Chairman, State Planning Commission, Shri A. K. Joti, Chief Secretary and senior officers from Gujarat attended the NDC meeting.

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INDIA-EU LEADERS' MEETING
May 08, 2021
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At the invitation of the President of the European Council Mr. Charles Michel, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the India-EU Leaders’ Meeting today.

The meeting was held in a hybrid format with the participation of leaders of all the 27 EU Member States as well as the President of the European Council and the European Commission. This is the first time that the EU hosted a meeting with India in the EU+27 format. The meeting was the initiative of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

During the meeting, the leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on a shared commitment to democracy, fundamental freedoms, rule of law and multilateralism. They exchanged views on three key thematic areas: i) foreign policy and security; ii) COVID-19, climate and environment; and iii) trade, connectivity and technology. They discussed forging closer cooperation on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery, tackling climate change, and reforming multilateral institutions. India appreciated the prompt assistance provided by the EU and its member states to combat its second COVID wave.

The leaders welcomed the decision to resume negotiations for balanced and comprehensive free trade and investment agreements. Negotiations on both the Trade and Investment Agreements will be pursued on parallel tracks with an intention to achieve early conclusion of both agreements together. This is a major outcome which will enable the two sides to realise the full potential of the economic partnership. India and the EU also announced dedicated dialogues on WTO issues, regulatory cooperation, market access issues and supply chain resilience, demonstrating the desire to deepen and further diversify economic engagement.

India and the EU launched an ambitious and comprehensive ‘Connectivity Partnership’ which is focused on enhancing digital, energy, transport and people-to-people connectivity. The Partnership is based on the shared principles of social, economic, fiscal, climate and environmental sustainability, and respect for international law and commitments. The Partnership will catalyse private and public financing for connectivity projects. It will also foster new synergies for supporting connectivity initiatives in third countries, including in the Indo-Pacific.

India and the EU leaders reiterated their commitment to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and agreed to strengthen joint efforts for mitigation, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change, as well as providing means of implementation including finance in the context of COP26. India welcomed the EU’s decision to join CDRI.

India and the EU also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation on digital and emerging technologies such as 5G, AI, Quantum and High-Performance Computing including through the early operationalization of the Joint Task Force on AI and the Digital Investment Forum.

The leaders noted with satisfaction the growing convergences on regional and global issues, including counterterrorism, cybersecurity and maritime cooperation. The leaders acknowledged the importance of a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific and agreed to closely engage in the region, including in the context of India’s Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative and the EU’s new strategy on the Indo-Pacific.

Coinciding with the Leaders’ Meeting, an India-EU Business Roundtable was organised to highlight the avenues for cooperation in climate, digital and healthcare. A finance contract of Euro 150 million for the Pune Metro Rail Project was signed by the Ministry of Finance, Government of India, and European Investment Bank.

India-EU Leaders Meeting has set a significant milestone by providing a new direction to the Strategic Partnership and giving a fresh impetus for implementing the ambitious India-EU Roadmap 2025 adopted at the 15th India-EU Summit held in July 2020.