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My colleague Shri Arun Jaitley ji

Shri Vineet Jain

Friends from India and abroad,

I am happy to be here today, to address the Global Business Summit. This is a good platform, for bringing together economists and industry leaders. I compliment The Economic Times for organising this event.

Over the next two days, you will debate growth and inflation, manufacturing and infrastructure, missed chances and unlimited possibilities. You will see India as a country of opportunities, unmatched across the world. I assure you that your inputs shall receive my government’s highest attention.

Friends,

मकर संक्रांति(
Makar Sankranti) was celebrated on 14 January. It is an important festival. It is the beginning of उत्तरायण
(Uttarayan), which is considered to be a पुण्यकाल
(Punya kaal). The लोहड़ी (
Lohri) festival also coincides with it. On this day, the Sun begins its journey North. This marks the transition from winter to spring.

The New Age India has also begun its transition; from a winter of subdued achievements lasting 3 to 4 years, to a new spring that beckons.

The country had fallen into deep despair, with two back-to-back years of below 4% growth, and governance at rock bottom. A series of scams, from telecom to coal had paralysed the economy. We deviated from the dream of India as a land of opportunity. No longer can we afford the flight of capital and labour, for lack of opportunity.

We have to repair the damage that has happened. Restoring growth momentum will be an uphill task. It will take hard work, sustained commitment and strong administrative action. But we can overcome the mood of despair. And we must. It is in this context that all the steps we have taken must be seen.

Friends,

Destiny has favoured me to serve this great nation. Mahatma Gandhi said that we should not rest until we “
wipe every tear from every eye”. Elimination of poverty is fundamental to me. This is at the core of my understanding of cohesive growth. To translate this vision into the reality of a New Age India, we must be clear about our economic goals and objectives.

The government must nurture an eco-system:

  • where the economy is primed for growth; and

o  growth promotes all-round development;

  • where development is employment-generating; and

o  employment is enabled by skills;

  • where skills are synced with production; and

o  production is benchmarked to quality;

  • where quality meets global standards; and

o  meeting global standards drives prosperity

Most importantly, this prosperity is for the welfare of all.

That is my concept of economic good governance and all round development. It is up to us to create conditions for the people of India to blossom and create this New Age India.

Friends,

Let me outline what we are doing to usher in this new spring. My government is moving fast in designing policies and laws to promote growth. This is where I seek everybody’s cooperation.

First, we are committed to achieving the fiscal deficit target announced in the budget. We have worked systematically in this direction.

Many of you practise Kaizen in your companies. Reducing wastage means cutting excess and preventing misuse. This requires self-discipline.

That is why we have the Expenditure Management Commission to suggest cuts in wasteful expenditure. This way, we will make the Rupee more productive, and deliver maximum bang for the buck.

Second, the petroleum sector has seen major reforms.


Diesel prices
have been deregulated. This has opened up space for private players to enter into petroleum retail.


Gas prices
have been linked to international prices. This will bring a new wave of investment. It will increase supplies. It will resolve problems in the key power sector.

Today, India’s cooking gas subsidy is the world’s largest Cash Transfer Programme. Over 80 million households receive subsidy directly as cash into their bank accounts. This is one-third of all households in this country. This will completely eliminate leakage.

Building on this, we plan to introduce direct cash transfers in other benefit schemes.

Third, inflation has been controlled through firm measures.

While falling oil prices helped, even non-oil inflation is at a very low level. Food inflation has come down from over 15% a year ago to 3.1% last month. The fall has been sharp since May 2014.

This set the stage for RBI to reduce interest rates, and push growth in a stable manner.

Fourth, the consensus we arrived with States for amending the Constitution to implement GST is a major breakthrough.

GST has been pending for over a decade. This alone has the potential to make India competitive and attractive for investment.

Fifth, the poor have been included in the financial system.

In a short span of 4 months, over 100 million new bank accounts have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana. For a country of our size, this was an immense challenge. But with will, determination and the full support of every banker, we are today a nearly 100% banked country. Soon, all accounts will be linked with Aadhaar. Banking habits will become common across the country.

This now opens immense possibilities for the future. People’s savings will rise. They will invest in new financial instruments. 1.2 billion people can hope for pensions and insurance. As the nation progresses, these bank accounts will drive demand and growth.

We have always debated about social unity, national unity and so on. But we have never debated about financial unity. About bringing everyone into the financial system. This is one cause which both capitalists and socialists agree on. What, my friends, can be a bigger reform?

Sixth, the energy sector has been reformed.


Coal blocks
are now allocated transparently through auctions.


Mining laws
have been changed to facilitate efficient mining.

Similar reforms are on the way in the
Power sector
. We have revived long pending projects in Nepal and Bhutan, with the cooperation of their governments. Steps are being taken to deliver 24 x 7 Power for All, using every possible source, including renewable energy.

Seventh, India is being made an attractive destination for investment.

FDI caps have been raised in Insurance and Real estate.

FDI and private investment are being promoted in Defense and Railways.

The Land Acquisition Act has been amended to smoothen the process and speed up matters. This will give a thrust to infrastructure and manufacturing, while protecting the compensation to farmers.

Eighth, infrastructure is being given a boost.

Greater investment is planned in railways and roads. New approaches and instruments are being put in place to unlock their potential.

Ninth, transparency and efficiency in governance, and institutional reforms are essential elements for rapid growth. These, along with a positive regulatory framework, tax stability, and ease of doing business, are being pushed ahead at top speed.

For instance, I recently assured
Public Sector Banks
they will have total autonomy in taking business decisions, without any interference from Government on loans and their operations.

We need to use
technology
to deliver good governance. Whether it is a simple one like biometric-based attendance, which has improved office attendance and work culture. Or a cutting edge one, like space technology in mapping and planning.

I intend to launch a massive National Program for PDS Computerisation. The entire PDS supply chain, from the FCI godown to the ration shop and consumer will be computerised. Technology will drive welfare and efficient food delivery.

A major institutional reform is the move away from merely planning, to transforming India. The setting up of the National Institution for Transforming India,
NITI Aayog
, is a step in this direction. This will take the country forward on the path of cooperative federalism, with a competitive zeal. The NITI Aayog is our Mantra for creating trust and partnership between the Centre and States.

This list can be endless. I can go on for days, but I do not think we have the time.

However, I have given you a sense of the immense activity we are engaged in. We have done a lot so far and more will be done in future.

Friends,

Reforms are not an end in itself. Reforms must have a concrete objective. The objective must be to improve the welfare of the people. Approaches may be many. But the goal is one.

Reforms may not be apparent to one and all at first sight. But small acts can drive reforms. What appears minor can actually be vital and fundamental.

Further, there is no contradiction between doing big tickets items and doing small things.

One approach is to have new policies, programmes, large projects and path breaking changes. Another approach is to focus on the small things that matter, create a people’s movement and generate mass momentum, which then drives development. We need to follow both paths.

Let me explain this a bit. Generating 20,000 MW of power attracts a lot of attention. That is important.

At the same time, 20,000 MW of power can be saved through a people’s movement for energy efficiency.

The end result is similar. The second is more difficult but is as important as the first. In the same way, improving a thousand primary schools is as important as opening a new university.

The new AIIMS we are setting up will improve public health in the same way as our promise of Health Assurance. To me, Health Assurance is not a scheme. It is about ensuring that every Rupee spent on health is well spent; that every citizen has access to proper healthcare.

Similarly, when we do Swachh Bharat, it has multiple impacts. It is not just a fad or a slogan. It changes people’s mindsets. It changes our lifestyle. Swachhata becomes a habit. Waste management generates economic activity. It can create lakhs of Swachhata entrepreneurs. The nation gets identified with cleanliness. And of course, it has a huge impact on health. After all, diarrhoea and other diseases cannot be defeated without Swachhata!

The mantra of independence was सत्याग्रह
(Satyagraha)
. And the warriors were सत्या-ग्रही
(Satyagrahis)
. The mantra of New Age India must be स्वच्छता-ग्रह
(Swachhagraha)
. And the warriors will be स्वच्छता-ग्रही
(Swachhagrahis)
.

Take the case of Tourism. It is an untapped economic activity. But tapping it requires a Swachh Bharat. It needs improvement in infrastructure and telecom connectivity. It requires better education and skill development. Therefore, a simple goal can generate reforms in multiple sectors.

People must understand the Clean Ganga program, as an economic activity also. The Gangetic plains account for 40% of our population. They have over one hundred towns, and thousands of villages. Improving Ganga will develop new infrastructure. It will promote tourism. It will create a modern economy helping millions of people. In addition, it preserves the environment!

Railways is another example. There are thousands of railway stations in the country where not more than 1 or 2 trains stop in a day. These facilities, created at a cost, remain unused for most of the day. These stations can become growth points for the nearby villages. They can be used for skill development.

Small indeed, is beautiful.

In agriculture too, our main goal is to raise productivity. This will require using technology, increasing soil fertility, producing more crop per drop, and bringing the latest from lab to land. Cost of cultivation will go down as efficiency rises. This will make agriculture viable.

On the output side, the entire value chain in agriculture will be addressed through better storage, transport and food processing linkages. We will link farmers to global markets. We will give the world the
Taste of India
.

Friends,

I have often called for Minimum Government Maximum Governance. This is not a slogan. This is an important principle to transform India.

सरकारी तंत्र की दो समस्याएं हैं - वे जटिल भी हैं और शिथिल भी। 

Government systems suffer from two weaknesses. They are complex. And they are slow.

In life, people go on a चारधामयात्रा(
chaar dham yatra) to get मोक्ष (
moksha). In government, a file has to go to छत्तीसधाम
(chattees dham), and yet not get मोक्ष
(moksha)!

We need to change this. Our systems need to bemade sharp, effective, fast and flexible. This requires simplification of processes and having trust in citizens. This needs a Policy Driven State.

What is Maximum Governance, Minimum Government? It means government has no business to be in business. There are many parts of the economy where the private sector will do better and deliver better. In 20 years of liberalisation, we have not changed a command and control mindset. We think it is okay for government to meddle in the working of firms. This must change. But this is not a call for anarchy.

First, we need to focus government upon the things that are required of the State. Second, we need to achieve competence in government so that the State delivers on the things it sets out to do.

Why do we need the State? There are 5 main components:

  • The first is public goods such as defence, police, and judiciary.
  • The second is externalities which hurt others, such as pollution. For this, we need a regulatory system.
  • The third is market power; where monopolies need controls
  • The fourth is information gaps; where you need someone to ensure that medicines are genuine and so on.
  • Last, we need a well designed welfare and subsidy mechanism to ensure that the bottom of society is protected from deprivation. This specially includes education and healthcare.

These are five places where we require government.

In the five areas where we need government, we require competent, efficient and non-corrupt arms of government. We in government, must constantly ask the question: How much money am I spending, and what outcomes am I getting in return? For this, government agencies have to be improved to become competent. This requires rewriting some laws. Laws are the DNA of government. They must evolve with time.

India is a 2 trillion dollar economy today. Can we not dream of an India with a 20 trillion dollar economy?

Should we not create the environment for this to happen? We are preparing the ground for it. This is hard work. Quick and easy reforms will not be enough for creating a fast growing economy. That is our challenge and that is what we aim to do.

Digital India and Skill India are attempts in this direction.


Digital India
will reform government systems, eliminate waste, increase access and empower citizens. It will drive the next wave of growth, which will be knowledge-driven. Broadband in every village, with a wide range of online services, will transform India in a manner we cannot foresee.


Skill India
will harness the demographic dividend which everyone talks of.

Friends,

Improvement in governance is a continuous process. We are making changes wherever acts, rules and procedures are not in tune with needs. We are cutting down on multiple clearances that choke investment. Our complex tax system is crying for reform, which we have initiated. I believe in speed. I will push through change at a fast pace. You will appreciate this in times to come.

At the same time, we need to take care of the poor, deprived and left behind sections of society.

I believe that subsidies are needed for them. What we need is a well targeted system of subsidy delivery. We need to cut subsidy leakages, not subsidies themselves.

Wastage, as I said earlier, must be removed in subsidies. The target group should be clearly identified and the subsidies should be well delivered. The ultimate objective of subsidies should be to empower the poor, to break the cycle of poverty, and become foot-soldiers in our war on poverty.

At this point, I would also say that development has to result in jobs. Reforms, economic growth, progress – all are empty words if they do not translate into jobs.

What we need is not just more production, but mass production and production by masses.

Friends,

Economic development cannot take a nation forward on its own.

Development has many dimensions. While on one hand we need higher incomes, we also need a society which is cohesive. Which balances the stress and strain of a modern economy.

History is witness to the rise and fall of nations. Even now, many countries have become rich in an economic sense, but are poor in a social sense. Their family systems, value systems, social networks and other elements which hold a society together have broken.

We should not go down that path. We need a society and economy which complement each other. That is the only way for a nation to go forward.

Further, development seems to have become the agenda only of government. It is seen as a scheme. That should not be the case.

Development should be everyone's agenda. It should be a people's movement.

Friends, like the rest of the World, we are concerned about two dangers - Terrorism and Climate change. Together, we will find a way to face these.

Today, everyone is looking towards Asia for inspiration and growth. And within Asia, India is important. Not just for its size, but for its democracy, and its values. India’s core philosophy is सर्व मंगल मांगल्यम्
(Sarva Mangala Maangalyam) and सर्व भवन्तु सुखिनः
(Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah). This is a call for global welfare, global cooperation and balanced living.

India can be a role model of growth and cohesiveness for the rest of the world.

For this, we need a workforce and economy which meet global needs and expectations.

We need to quickly improve social indicators. India should no longer be bracketed with the least developed. We can do this.

Swami Vivekananda had said “
Arise, awake, do not stop until the goal has been attained”.

This should inspire us all to achieve the vision of a New Age India.

Together, we can!

Thank you.

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October 25, 2021
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Comments
“In post-independence India, health infrastructure did not get the required attention for a very long time and citizens had to run from pillar to post for proper treatment, leading to worsening of the condition and financial strain”
“Government at the Center and in the state understands the pain of the poor, downtrodden, oppressed, backward and middle class”
“Through PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission an entire ecosystem for services from treatment to critical research will be created in every corner of the country”
“PM Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission, along with health, is also a medium of aatmnirbharta.”
“Heart of Kashi is the same, the mind is the same, but sincere efforts are being made to improve the body”
“Today, from technology to health, unprecedented facilities are being created in BHU. Young friends from all over the country are coming here for studies”

Har Har Mahadev!

May I start with your permission! Greetings to all the brothers and sisters of Kashi, the holy land of Har Har Mahadev, Baba Vishwanath and Mother Annapurna! Happy Diwali, Dev Deepawali, Annakoot, Bhai Duj, Prakashotsav and Chhath to all of you!

Governor of Uttar Pradesh Smt. Anandiben Patel ji, energetic Chief Minister of UP Yogi Adityanath ji, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya ji, other ministers of the UP government, our colleague at the Centre Mahendra Nath Pandey ji, state ministers Anil Rajbhar ji, Neelkanth Tiwari ji, Ravindra Jaiswal ji, other ministers, our colleagues in Parliament Smt Seema Dwivedi ji and B.P. Saroj ji, Mayor of Varanasi Smt Mridula Jaiswal ji, other public representatives, health professionals associated with district hospitals and medical institutes across the country and my brothers and sisters of Banaras.

The country achieved a major milestone of 100 crore vaccine doses in its fight against the corona pandemic. With the blessings of Baba Vishwanath, the unwavering glory of Maa Ganga and the unshakable faith of the people of Kashi, the campaign of free vaccine for all is progressing with success. I respectfully greet all of you. Sometime back today, I got the privilege of dedicating nine new medical colleges to Uttar Pradesh. This will greatly benefit crores of poor, Dalit-backward-exploited-deprived people of Purvanchal and the entire UP, all sections of society, and they will be spared from the troubles of visiting big hospitals in other cities.

Friends,

There is a verse:

मुक्ति जन्म महि जानि,ज्ञान खानिअघ हानि कर।

जहं बस सम्भु भवानि,सो कासी सेइअ कस न।।

That is, Shiva and Shakti reside in Kashi. Kashi, the powerhouse of knowledge, relieves us from both pain and suffering. Then what better place than Kashi to start such a mega plan related to health and such a huge resolution to get rid of diseases and sufferings? My brothers and sisters of Kashi, two big events are taking place from this platform. First, an Indian government scheme worth more than Rs. 64,000 crores for the entire country is being launched today from the holy land of Kashi. And secondly, projects worth thousands of crores of rupees for the development of Kashi and Purvanchal are being inaugurated. And if we add both these schemes, I can say that projects worth about 75,000 crore rupees are either being launched or dedicated. Mahadev's blessings are also there in these schemes being launched from Kashi. And where there is the blessing of Mahadev, then well-being and success is assured. And when Mahadev's blessings are there, then freedom from suffering is also inevitable.

Friends,

I have had the privilege of dedicating Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission worth Rs. 64,000 crores to the nation from Kashi to strengthen the health infrastructure of the entire country including UP, to prepare ourselves better for the prevention of pandemics in future and to instill confidence and self-reliance in our health system up to the village and block level. Today infrastructure projects worth Rs 5,000 crore for Kashi have also been inaugurated. This includes projects for beautification of the Ghats, the cleanliness of Ganga and Varuna rivers, bridges, parking places and many other facilities in BHU. This festival of development in this festive season from Kashi to make life easy, healthy and prosperous will give new energy, strength and confidence to the entire country. Many congratulations to all the 130 crore countrymen living across the villages and cities, including Kashi!

Brothers and sisters,

Health is considered to be the basic basis of every action in our country. Investing for a healthy body has always been considered a good investment. But for long after independence, not much attention was paid to health facilities. The governments, which ruled for long in the country, neglected instead of developing the country's healthcare system. There was either no hospital in the villages and if there was one then there was no one to treat. There were no facilities for tests in the block-level hospitals. Even if the test was done, there were doubts about its accuracy. Upon reaching a district hospital, one used to be detected with a serious disease that required surgery. Since there were no such facilities for surgery, one had to rush to a bigger hospital which was crowded and there used to be a long waiting period. We are all witness to the fact that the patient and his entire family used to face a host of problems and as a result a serious illness would worsen and entail a financial burden on the poor.

Friends,

The huge gap in our healthcare system created an ever-lasting anxiety among the poor and middle class regarding treatment. The Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is a solution to these flaws of the country's healthcare system. Our health system is being prepared today so that we are ready and able to deal with any epidemic in future. Efforts are also made that the disease is detected early and there are no delays in the investigation. The goal is to strengthen the critical healthcare network from village to block, district, regional and national levels in the country in the next four-five years. Special focus is on the states which lack health facilities critically, particularly our North East and hilly states like Uttarakhand and Himachal.

Friends,

There are three major aspects of the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission to address the different gaps in the health sector of the country. The first relates to the creation of elaborate facilities for diagnostics and treatment. Under this, Health and Wellness Centers are being opened in villages and cities, where there will be facilities for early detection of diseases. Facilities like free medical consultations, free tests and free medicines will be available in these centers. If the disease is detected in time, then there are less chances of it getting malignant. More than 35,000 new beds will be prepared for the treatment of critical illnesses in more than 600 districts. Referral facilities will be provided in the remaining 125 districts. At the national level, a plan is afoot to develop necessary facilities in 12 central hospitals for training and other capacity building. Under this scheme, 15 emergency operation centers running 24x7 will also be created in the states to strengthen the surgery network.

Friends,

The second aspect of the scheme is related to the testing network for diagnosis of diseases. Under this mission, necessary infrastructure will be developed for the diagnosis and monitoring of diseases. Integrated Public Health Labs will be set up in 730 districts and Block Public Health Units in 3,500 identified blocks in the country. Five Regional National Centers for Disease Control, 20 Metropolitan Units and 15 BSL Labs will further strengthen this network.

Brothers and sisters,

The third aspect of this mission is the expansion and empowerment of epidemic related research institutions. At present, there are 80 viral diagnostics and research labs in the country. These will be improved further. Bio-safety level-3 labs are needed in epidemics. Therefore, 15 such new labs will be made operational. Apart from this, four new National Institutes of Virology and one National Institute for One Health are also being established in the country. The WHO's Regional Research Platform for South Asia will also strengthen this network of research. In short, a complete ecosystem from treatment to critical research will be developed in each and every part of the country through the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission.

Friends,

Well, this should have been done decades ago. But I do not need to describe the situation. We are continuously improving for the last seven years but now it needs to be done on a very large scale and with a very aggressive approach. A few days ago, I launched GatiShakti, a mega nationwide infrastructure program for the entire country, from Delhi. Today this second big mission worth 64,000 crore rupees for health is being launched from the land of Kashi to keep every citizen of the country healthy.

Friends,

When such a health infrastructure is developed, it not only improves the health service, it also creates a complete employment environment. Doctors, paramedics, labs, pharmacies, cleanliness, offices, travel and transport, food outlets and other such jobs are going to be created through this scheme. We have seen that if a big hospital is built, then a whole city settles around it which becomes the center of livelihood for the activities related to the hospital. It becomes the center of great economic activity. Hence, the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission is a medium of health as well as economic self-reliance. This is a part of the efforts being made for holistic healthcare. Holistic healthcare means it should be accessible and affordable to all. Holistic healthcare means where the focus is on health as well as wellness. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Jal Jeevan Mission, Ujjwala Yojana, Poshan Abhiyan, Mission Indradhanush, many such campaigns have saved crores of poor of the country from diseases. The Ayushman Bharat scheme has also provided free treatment to more than two crore poor people in the hospitals. Many problems related to treatment are being solved through the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission.

Brothers and sisters,

For those who were in the government for long before us, healthcare had been a means of earning money and scams. They kept running away from the troubles of the poor. Today there is a government at the Center and in the state which understands the pain of the poor, downtrodden, oppressed, backward, middle class, everybody. We are working round the clock to improve health facilities in the country. Earlier, public money used to go into scams, and to the chests of such people, today money is being spent in mega projects. Therefore, today the country is also dealing with the biggest pandemic in history and is also building infrastructure worth lakhs of crores of rupees for a self-reliant India.

Friends,

While increasing the medical facilities, it is necessary that the number of doctors and paramedical staff is also increased in the same proportion. The speed with which new medical colleges are being opened in UP will have a great impact on the number of medical seats and doctors. Due to the increase in the number of seats, now the child of poor parents will also be able to dream of becoming a doctor and fulfill it.

Brothers and sisters,

The country is going to get many more doctors in the next 10-12 years than the number of doctors in the country in 70 years after independence. You can imagine the kind of work happening in the medical field in the country. When there are more doctors, they will be available easily in every nook and corner of the country. This is the new India which has moved beyond scarcities and is in the process to fulfill every aspiration.

Brothers and sisters,

What would be the situation in Kashi today had the pace of work continued in the same way as in the past in the country or in Uttar Pradesh? They had left the world's oldest city Kashi, a symbol of India's cultural heritage, on its own. Hanging electric wires, patchy roads, the plight of Ghats and the Ganges, jams, pollution, chaos was normal. Today the heart and soul of Kashi is the same, but sincere efforts are being made to improve its body. The amount of work done in Varanasi in the last seven years has not been done in the last several decades.

Brothers and sisters,

You have experienced jams in Kashi over the years in the absence of a Ring Road. Waiting for the opening of 'No Entry' had become a habit of the people of Banaras. Now with the opening of the Ring Road, one need not disturb the people of the city while traveling to Prayagraj, Lucknow, Sultanpur, Azamgarh, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Delhi, Kolkata, or anywhere in the country. Moreover, the Ring Road is now connected to the four-lane national highway till Birnon in Ghazipur. There are service road facilities at various places also. This has facilitated the movement in many villages as well as Prayagraj, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Bihar and Nepal. This will not only make travel easier, business will get a boost and the transport cost will also come down.

Brothers and sisters,

Unless there is a dedicated infrastructure in the country, the pace of development remains incomplete. With the two new bridges on the Varuna River, it has become easier for dozens of villages to travel to the city. This will greatly facilitate the people of Prayagraj, Bhadohi and Mirzapur commuting to the airport. Those associated with the carpet industry will also be benefited. It will also facilitate devotees desiring to visit Maa Vindhyavasini by going to Mirzapur directly from the airport. Several projects related to roads, bridges and parking lots have been dedicated to the residents of Kashi today, which will make life easier in and around the city. The modern executive lounge at the railway station will further enhance the convenience of the passengers.

Friends,

Extensive work has been carried out in the last few years for the cleanliness and purity of Ganga ji, the result of which is in front of us today. Efforts are also being made to ensure that the dirty water from the houses does not enter the Ganges. Now a modern treatment plant has started functioning in Ramnagar to treat sewage flowing from five drains. As a result, more than 50,000 people are getting direct benefit. Along with Ganga ji, Varuna's cleanliness is also being prioritised. Varuna, a victim of neglect for a long time, was on the verge of losing her existence. The channelization plan was worked out to save Varuna. Today clean water is also reaching Varuna and 13 small and big drains are also being treated. Pathways, railings, lighting, pucca ghats, stairs, many such facilities are also being completed on both the banks of the Varuna.

Friends,

Kashi is an important center of spiritual as well as rural economy. Many facilities have been developed in the last few years to ensure the produce of the farmers of entire Purvanchal including Kashi to the markets of the country and abroad. Modern infrastructure from perishable cargo handling centers to packaging and processing has been developed here. As part of this, the Lal Bahadur Shastri Fruit and Vegetable Market has been modernized and renovated, which will be of great help to the farmers. With the construction of the Bio-CNG plant in Shahanshahpur, biogas along with thousands of metric tonnes of organic manure will also be available to the farmers.

Brothers and sisters,

A major achievement of Kashi in the past few years is the progress of BHU again towards excellence in the world. Unprecedented facilities from technology to health are being developed in BHU. Young people from all over the country are coming here for studies. The residential facilities that have been built here for hundreds of students will also prove to be helpful to them. The hostel facilities especially for hundreds of girl students will give further impetus in realizing the vision of Malviya ji. It will help us to realize his vision of providing higher and modern education to the daughters.

Brothers and sisters,

All these development projects are going to realize our resolve of self-reliance. Kashi and the entire region is known for its amazing clay artists, craftsmen and weavers who create magic on cloth. The production of Khadi and other cottage industries in Varanasi has increased by about 60 percent and sales by about 90 percent in the last five years due to the efforts of the government. Therefore, I would urge all the countrymen to take care of the Diwali of these companions as well. We have to be vocal for the local right from the decoration of our houses, to our clothes and Diwali lamps. If you make a lot of local purchases from Dhanteras to Diwali, everyone's Diwali will be filled with happiness. And when I talk about vocal for local, I have seen that our TV media only shows earthen lamps. Vocal for local is not limited only to lamps. It includes all products in which the sweat of my countrymen is there and has the fragrance of the soil of my country. And once it becomes our habit to buy the country-made products, then production will also increase and so will employment and the poorest of the poor will also get work. We can do this together and we can bring a big change with everyone's efforts.

Friends,

Once again, many congratulations to the entire country for the Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission and to Kashi for many development projects. Once again many advance wishes to all of you for all the upcoming festivals. Thank you very much!