In his recent interview to The Times of India, Shri Narendra Modi outlines his vision on the economy, the environment, defence and internal security, even as he articulates his views on Pakistan, China and the US, ministry-formation, and his style of running government.

Excerpts from the interview:

You and BJP seem confident about getting a majority on May 16. BJP had exuded similar optimism in 2004 and 2009. In 2004, many BJP leaders even allocated portfolios to themselves. What makes you feel that BJP is going to be lucky this time?

If you have attended some of my rallies you would not have asked this question. Recently I have seen some media reports stating that the BJP campaign this time has probably been the biggest mass mobilization exercise of its kind in the history of elections. Even I was not aware of the details till I saw some of these reports. If you see the statements of all political pundits, there is unanimity that there is a strong wave for the BJP-NDA. Political surveys paint a similar picture. Independent analysis of media groups also point to the same thing. How else will you explain the fact that many leaders of the Congress have decided to stay away from this election? It was due to the fear of losing. On the other hand, the fact that we have more than 25 partners in our pre-poll alliance also shows the increasing support we are getting. The response of the people on the ground has been so overwhelming that it is difficult to fully describe it. I have got unbelievable and unprecedented response not in just one, two or three, but in hundreds of rallies across the country. There is tremendous groundswell of support for the BJP. It is something that has never been seen before.

Your campaign has been on the themes of development, growth and good governance. But some of your colleagues have raked up controversial issues, raising fears that your focus on secular themes is just a ruse and that you will take up Hindutva issues once you assume office.

There is this problem of artificial comparisons. While several senior leaders of Congress and of other parties have indulged in the worst kind of comments against me, they have largely gone unnoticed by the media. However, in case of the BJP even a small anonymous worker chanting a particular slogan or a junior leader making a statement is given a lot of hype. There is over eagerness on the part of certain vested interest groups to somehow find out some controversial statements from the BJP. I think a neutral analysis by any journalist will tell us that the BJP campaign this time has been focused totally on the issues of development and good governance. Many political pundits told us that elections in India cannot be won only on the issues of development and good governance. We decided to prove them wrong. It is our responsibility to shift the focus of campaign from trivial issues and personal attacks to the issues of public interest, development and good governance. I wonder if our political opponents would have refrained from the use of abusive language and personal attacks, probably we would have written a new chapter in Indian electoral politics.

Your campaign of development and governance has failed to convince Muslims and other minorities. They have consolidated against you. Do you consider all this to be a failure of your efforts or success of your opponents? Also, do you think it will be possible for you to get rid of the baggage of the 2002 Gujarat riots?

Your question shows how the media, or at least parts of it, are caught in a time warp. Today it is anachronistic to think that a community won't be interested in development and good governance. In fact, it is an insult to the intellect of the Indian voter by such parties that believe that he can be made to forget about real issues of poverty and development and get him to vote in a particular manner just by making him insecure by fear-mongering. The Indian voter today is more mature than what our political opponents give him credit for. I have heard the statements of several prominent leaders of the minority community asking Congress not to try and make them insecure by fear-mongering. They have started to ask what really has Congress done for the minorities and this is where Congress secures a big zero. It's their mindset that they need not do anything substantive for improving the lives of the people and they can just manipulate them along caste and communal lines to get their votes. It is this politics of vote banks which has done the maximum damage to our country in the last sixty years. Now this type of politics has attained its expiry date. Such political parties should either reform or they face an actual threat of becoming extinct.

Our slogan, on the other hand, has been
Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. We believe in taking everyone together. We believe only the issues of development and good governance impact the lives of all citizens of this country regardless of their caste, creed, region or religion.

You have alleged that the UPA government tried to use the CBI to frame you. Can you please elaborate? Did the alleged plot fail because of CBI's resistance or because the agency failed in its effort? Would you consider an inquiry into the conduct of CBI during UPA's tenure, especially with regard to Gujarat-related cases?

In the last 10 years, the kind of efforts that the UPA government put in somehow fixing me in some or the other false case was huge. If they would have put even ounce of that effort in solving the country's problems, they would not have been in as precarious a situation as that they are in today.

I am a forward looking individual. I have a positive frame of mind. I am also clear that we cannot afford to make the same mistakes that the UPA government made in the last 10 years. I do not believe in the politics of vendetta and witch-hunting. Having said that, it is going to be our duty to reform the institutions and to strengthen them so that they can function effectively and professionally as envisaged under the constitutional arrangement or the statutory provisions. The apex court has on several occasions made adverse observations on the conduct of CBI. It will be our endeavour to ensure that CBI is no longer an institution which can be manipulated to achieve political ends.

How do you view Kapil Sibal's statement that you are a "potential accused" in the Tulsiram Prajapati case, and that the CBI failed to probe your and Amit Shah's complicity in "encounter cases"?

Mr. Sibal is an eminent lawyer and the law minister of the country. Though he is knowledgeable, but more often than not, he uses his legal acumen to the detriment of the country. From what I have observed about him, he places individual interest and the party interest above the interest of the country and the government. Probably he is the only law minister who can coin the term "potential accused". Now that the UPA government is nearing its end, his desperation is increasing by the day. This particular statement is a complete giveaway of his old desire to somehow implicate me in some or the other false case. He must, however, know that in our country there is rule of law and the law is above the law minister.

Mr. Sibal's enthusiasm is not something new. During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections while campaigning in Gujarat, he had publicly declared that if a UPA government is to be formed, he will put Modi in jail.

Sibal has also said that the UPA government has zeroed in on the judge who will conduct an investigation into the allegation that the Gujarat government put a woman architect under illicit surveillance. Your comment?

If Mr. Sibal were to have his way, he would have not only found a judge, he would have also obtained the kind of report that he wants so badly. But he doesn't realize that we have a fiercely independent judiciary. I must say that the conduct of Mr. Sibal in some of the issues has been very unbecoming of a Union Cabinet Minister. He has a lot to answer to the nation. He must understand that institutions and processes are sacrosanct and they cannot be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Mr. Sibal is certainly not a person known for respecting the law or believing in administrative propriety. He is one of those who think that they know the law better than anybody else and so they have a right to abuse the law to meet their ends, however questionable they are. He believes that he is the only intelligent person around and he can mislead the entire nation by his false logic and misinterpretation of laws and facts. After all, he is the one who tried to tell the nation about the zero loss theory in the 2G spectrum scam. It is people like him who have done damage to our institutions. It is also due to leaders like him that the Congress party is in such a poor situation today.

You have aroused very high expectations in the people. Does that worry you? People may be expecting results very soon. As Ram Manohar Lohia said, "Jinda qaumen paanch saal intezaar nahin karti (Democracies don't always wait for five years)."

I am not at all worried. On the contrary, it gives me a sense of satisfaction that even in this climate of extreme pessimism and cynicism, we have been able to revive people's interest in politics. I am happy that people across the country have started feeling a positive energy. There is a sense of hope and expectation rather than a sense of gloom and despair which existed through the past decade. I am certainly conscious that raised expectations bring along with them enhanced responsibility. We are committed to work that much harder to discharge our obligations. All I can promise is that we will work hard with utmost sincerity and commitment to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the crores of people of our great nation.

When asked whether Robert Vadra will be prosecuted, you have said that you will not engage in political vendetta or a witch hunt. At the same time, you have also said that law will take its own course, and that matters concerning probity in public life cannot be treated as personal issues. Will it be right to say that you are promising no immunity to anyone?

Our country is run by the rule of law. It is not run as per the likes and dislikes of individuals occupying high office. Thus, it would be absurd to even debate that anyone can be granted immunity from law even if that person is me.

You have said that Congress is headed for its worst-ever performance in LS elections? What will be the impact of that on the party?

Congress is fighting for its survival. You might have observed that many of its senior leaders have opted out of elections and are nowhere to be seen during the campaign. The fight is now for the relevance of Gandhi family as unquestioned leaders of the Congress party. Their target is to somehow cross the hundred-seat mark so that their leadership of the Congress party is not challenged. However, I see all possibility of the Congress falling below the hundredseat mark and if that happens, there will be a serious churning within Congress over the issue of leadership.

Do you think Rahul Gandhi has proved to be a failure and should make way for Priyanka Gandhi?

It is for the Congress party to take these decisions post the election results. However, it seems odd that a national party like the Congress should not be able to think beyond the Gandhi family for providing leadership.

What do you think of AAP's future? Has it hindered your campaign by poaching a slice of middle class supporters who were disappointed with Congress and could have tilted towards BJP? It is also said that all doubts about BJP's victory in this election would have been put to rest if AAP not stopped BJP from winning the Delhi polls in December.

BJP is a party which draws its strength from its organizational network and a huge base of its workers and volunteers. Besides, the ground level support from voters in this election has been too huge to be impacted by the advent of any new political parties or formations. We are a party which is fighting on the basis of its own strength. We have set our own agenda and the support we are getting is a positive support for it. The support we are getting is on the basis of our track record and the promises that we have made.

Do you think AAP can replace Congress as an all-India "secular" alternative to Congress should the latter fail as miserably as you say it will?

After the elections, there will be hardly anything left of the Congress party to replace it.

Naxals have been identified as the single biggest internal security threat. To tackle it, one school suggests tough measures while another feels it is an offshoot of larger socio-economic factors and that the symptom will not go away unless the root cause is addressed. Which method would you prefer?

The use of the term Naxalism is outdated and incorrect. Maoism would be a more correct description. Maoism and terrorism are the biggest threats to our internal security. I have always advocated a zero tolerance approach to these problems. Further, we need a clearcut legal framework to address these challenges. Regardless of what are the reasons for the people to resort to violence, our ability to deal with it should not be compromised by lack of preparedness. We can choose to deal with issues the way we want, but our response should not be constrained by unavailability of options. Therefore, I feel that modernizing our police forces and our central paramilitary forces is something that cannot be delayed any longer.

We should invest to equip our security forces with modern weapons and equipments, train them and deploy them effectively. I also feel that Maoism is a problem which has to be tackled by the Central and state governments acting in unison with complete coordination.

You have said that you do not want to be confrontational with Pakistan. Do you feel that your "tough-on-national security" platform will give you space to deal with Pakistan?

We do not want to be confrontational with any country. Foreign policy cannot be conducted by having a confrontational approach with neighbours or for that matter with any other country. We have to conduct our foreign policy with all other nations and specially our neighbours with a sense of trust and mutual cooperation. However, supremacy of national interest has to be one of the basic planks of foreign policy.

Relations cannot be improved as long as there is a trust deficit and to bridge the trust deficit, mere talk cannot replace concrete action. Our country continues to face the onslaught of terrorism emanating out of the soil of Pakistan. The first step in building any meaningful relation with Pakistan has to be Pakistan taking effective and demonstrable action against the terror networks that operate from its soil. Once that happens there will be an increased trust between the two neighbours which will enable us to pursue a policy of dialogue to solve all the issues. We will be very frank and forthright in our dealing with Pakistan.

We are very clear that both our countries have a common history and we share not only borders but also common culture and traditions. Besides, the problems that we face are also common; our biggest enemy being poverty and lack of development. India and Pakistan can together write a new chapter in the development of South Asia if the two countries were to concentrate on fighting poverty and unemployment. 

Will you be deterred by the fact that Pakistan responded to Vajpayee's peace initiative by launching the Kargil attack?

I will only say that we should not be constrained by what has happened in the past if the present throws up new possibilities in terms of solutions. However, as I have said, building trust between the two nations is prerequisite to any further meaningful movement on the relations and that can happen only when the terror networks operating out of Pakistan are dismantled.

Pakistan has multiple centres of power and there is universal acknowledgement that the Army calls the shots when it comes to relations with India. Will you be mindful of this reality?

It goes without saying that pragmatic foreign policy has to be guided by an understanding of the ground realities. However, I think the people in Pakistan increasingly want to strengthen the democratic institutions in Pakistan. As a responsible member of global fraternity, we would also like to work with Pakistan, like any other nation to ensure that the democratic institutions in Pakistan are strengthened.

China has been very warm towards investment prospects in Gujarat. Unlike the US, it did not bring the 2002 riots in its dealings with Gujarat under you. Do you think you can build upon that to settle political differences?

It is possible to solve our problems with China and take the relationship with it to another level. If India and China want to work together towards improving our relationship and resolving our differences, it would be helpful to both the nations. The 21st century belongs to Asia. More than 60% of the world's population resides in Asia. It would thus be in the interest of the entire world that Asia develops and concentrates on improving the standard of living of its people.

Will the strain between you and the US over its refusal of visa to you come in the way of US's anxiety to mend fences?

I have said several times in the past that relations between the two countries cannot be determined or be even remotely influenced by incidents related to individuals. The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government started a new era of partnership with the US. We will build upon that and take it forward. It is in the interest of both the nations to develop further on our relationship. The oldest democracy in the world and the largest democracy in the world are natural allies and we must work together towards global peace and prosperity.

You have clarified that your "news trader" barb was not directed at media as a whole but only those with a vested interest to "distort" facts about you and Gujarat. Still, there's a perception that you are suspicious of the "national" media and have bypassed it by communicating through the regional media.

I am always very clear and forthright on my views about the media. I have the highest respect for media as the fourth pillar of our democracy. I feel a strong, vibrant and neutral media is indispensable for a free democracy. However, even if certain sections of media start being prejudiced about a particular issue and become obstinate about not seeing the truth, it can harm the institution of media and, by extension, our democracy. It is worse when such prejudice is a result of manipulation by vested interest groups, achieved by distortion of facts and perpetuation of lies.

I have the highest respect for the media and I wish people in media will ensure that such aberrations will be dealt by them in an institutional manner. Everybody has a right to form opinions and to express them. However, where there is difference of opinion on facts and matters of law, it is in everybody's interest to let there be a finality of opinion with the judicial system. We should all learn to respect that. That is the only way we can save ourselves from continuous acrimony. 

Do you fear that this equation will be a handicap if you become PM?

As I have said, I have a healthy relationship with the media. Just as I do not believe in trying to influence the media, similarly I am not one to be bulldozed by the media. I have always believed that I will do my work and let media do its work. The media should respect my independence as much as it wants its own independence to be respected by those in politics and government.

It is said that you are the archetypal outsider, that if you were to be the PM, it will mark the biggest departure yet from the past, not just in terms of focus and priorities, but also culture.

I would not contest that description and analysis. I actually consider myself as an outsider not only to Delhi politics but to politics per se. For 50 years of my life, I was just moving around interacting with people trying to understand the problems they face. I was always on the move from one part of the country to another, from one state to another. I have made overnight stays in more than 400 districts of the country. I have seen firsthand the problems and challenges that our people face. I have seen firsthand the hopes and expectations they have. I have also seen from close quarters the kind of talent our people have and the kind of hard work they are ready to put in to improve their lives. To that extent I am always one among the people.

Do you feel that your being an outsider will hinder your effectiveness in office?

On the contrary, it always helps me in discharging my responsibilities. In all my meetings with officers, I am always wearing the hat of the citizen and trying to think on his behalf. I think the sheer amount of time I have spent with people helps me to retain a high level of empathy and understanding for the common man.

Do you feel the Delhi elite will respond to you if you succeed in the face of their hostility?

I don't think anybody wants India to remain poor. They will all be contributors to this journey of progress and prosperity rather than being an impediment as you seem to suggest.

BJP's manifesto promises robust defence preparedness. Defence acquisitions are delayed because of red-tape, institutional risk-aversion and procedural delays which are often engineered by rival factions of arms dealers. How do you propose to get around the problem which has defeated so many honest intentions in the past?

Our armed forces and our men and women in uniform have always displayed highest valour and courage. The nation stands indebted to the heroic sacrifices made by our armed forces in protecting our land and borders. Historically we have always been a nation that has never been the aggressor but one which will fight to the last to defend itself against any aggression. We should take all steps to ensure that our defence preparedness is of the highest order to be able to meet any covert or overt aggression. We also need to ensure that the morale of our defence personnel remains high at all times, and for this, the government needs to take the extra steps to address genuine concerns of our officers and soldiers.

The last 10 years have seen our defence preparedness becoming weak on account of several procurement procedures mired by long delays leading to shortage of arms and equipment. The ideal situation is an efficient procurement system leading to timely and cost effective procurement of quality defence equipment, done in a transparent manner. In the past, we had instances of good quality arms being procured but lacking in transparency in their procurement. In the last 10 years have a paradoxical situation where there was hardly any procurement happening in time and still serious questions of transparency have been raised. I think the time has come when domestic production of defence equipment and machinery needs to be seriously incentivized by the government in a carefully calibrated manner so that we move towards indigenous equipment manufacturing in the medium term without compromising our preparedness in the short term. I am convinced that the time for this idea has come up.

​We must start with indigenizing military equipment. The DRDO has several decades of experience but India still imports most of its military hardware. We should involve Indian corporates in PPPs for defence manufacturing. We have the scientific and technical knowhow but the arms lobby has prevented indigenization of military hardware. This must change, making Indian defence more self-reliant and also saving foreign exchange.

Delhi is full of speculation about the team of ministers in your government. Have you applied your mind to the task yet? It is a relevant question but premature.

You have said that the decision to contest from Varanasi was that of the party. What's the reason it cited? Which seat will you keep if you are elected from both Varanasi and Vadodara?

It was a decision by the party taken in the interest of the party. How many seats to contest from, which seats to contest from, which seat to retain etc. are all issues that are to be decided by the party. As a disciplined worker, I am committed to implement party decisions.

You have also said that it is the party which will decide who should take over in Gujarat if you move to Delhi. But you are sure to be consulted. Who will you back? Anandiben Patel? Will Amit Shah join the PMO?

These are speculative questions that have no answer at present. We will cross the bridge when we come to it. What I can assure is that these are all going to be collective decisions of the party and the interest of Gujarat will be kept in mind as being above all considerations.

You seem to indicate that economy will be a big focus area for you. How will you address the problem of jobless growth? Is the decision opposing FDI in multi-brand retail final?

The first priority of the government will be to restore the health of the economy and put it back on track. This is not only important for reviving growth, but also important for generating employment. If there is one single thing that I feel needs maximum attention, it is generating employment for our youth.

To restore the health of the economy, a number of steps need to be taken. The first and the foremost will be to bring back the focus on infrastructure and manufacturing sector. For this we will have to move away quickly from the present state of policy paralysis and create an enabling environment to revive investor sentiment. We will also have to take steps to remove procedural bottlenecks and expedite decisionmaking process for clearing projects.

Even as we take effective steps to revive growth and generate employment, we will also have to take specific measures for controlling inflation. This will require addressing the supply side concerns. This, in turn, would mean reviving the agriculture sector and come out of the present state wherein agriculture is being seen as non-remunerative. Farmers of this country feed the nation. Just enacting legislations without adequately addressing the challenges that the farmer faces is nothing but a mockery of farmers and the poor. The farming sector has to be revived and we must try to usher in a second green revolution. This can be done only by investing heavily on irrigation facilities and beginning work in right earnest on the river linking project. On the issue of FDI in retail our position has been made clear in our party manifesto.

There is speculation that you will govern more through efficient bureaucrats than your ministers. Your comments.

I do not concur with this. In our democracy, the buck stops with the political executive. BJP and its NDA partners have several years of experience in government. We have the most experienced and talented people to run the government. As I have said on several occasions, we have to work as a team.

You have raised unemployment and jobless growth as a major issue against the UPA. In so doing you appear to have raised expectations of the youth who are looking for a quick solution. Can you tackle the challenge of employment generation swiftly?

The record of the UPA government on creating jobs has been very poor. While the NDA government created more than 6 crore jobs in its 6-year rule, the UPA government has created only 1.5 crore jobs in 10 years!

Job creation has to be our primary target. There is no point in talking about hollow development schemes when the people are not getting jobs. I understand the raised expectations of youth. This is because there was absolute pessimism in the last 10 years. They now have a glimmer of hope and that is due to our track record. I think our youth is extremely talented, capable and ready to work hard. They have a right to dream. They have a right to build their own lives and careers. It is our responsibility to give them ample opportunity. It is our responsibility to ensure that they get the right kind of education and skills so that they can be employed.

We are aware of the expectations and we are ready to work hard to meet those expectations.

Growing joblessness in the manufacturing sector is a cause for worry. More are finding work in the services sector. Do you think this needs to be reversed?

The UPA government did not focus on the manufacturing sector. We are very clear that we have to focus on the manufacturing sector because that is where jobs are generated. Even within the manufacturing sector, there has to be adequate focus on the micro, small and medium enterprises. The next war that is going to be fought globally is the "jobs war". We must prepare our country to face that challenge.

Homelessness is another giant challenge. Low interest rates helped many among the middle and lower middle classes to buy their own homes. But the rise in interest rates has put the dream beyond the reach of many. Can you make any commitments on easing the burden on the salaried class?

It is a matter of shame that even after 65 years of independence, we have not been able to provide shelter to our citizens. The Congress government never gave adequate focus on this issue. We are clear that by the time our country completes 75 years of independence, every family should have a house of its own. Not only this, we should aim that this house has access to toilets, water and electricity. To achieve this, there has to be a national policy on affordable housing. Any such policy has to creatively leverage land as a resource. We will aim at arriving at a policy which has a mix of public investment and private investment and the focus will be on easy access to credit including interest subvention, if necessary. 

What about the economically weaker sections? Can existing schemes like Indira Awas Yojana be scaled up or modified, or will you like to launch new projects?

We have to examine all options in a comprehensive manner. Our focus has to be on addressing the issue of urban and rural housing in a comprehensive manner. We will focus on the economically weaker sections.

What do you think of NREGA? Opinion is split about its benefits. Its votaries say that it has set a floor for rural wage and has provided cushion to landless labour. Critics say that it has distorted the wage market, and the billions spent without any durable community assets being created. What is your view?

We are committed to the effective implementation of NREGA. However, there is a need to analyze the costs and benefits in a professional manner. Experts should be asked to find out the loopholes and plug them. One thing is clear: at present, there is hardly any creation of durable community assets. We cannot let so much public money be spent without creating any durable assets. It also needs to be examined whether part of the NREGA funds can be used for rural housing, rural sanitation and providing skills to the unemployed in rural areas. I feel that after the Act was passed by Parliament with the support of parties like BJP, the UPA government did not follow it up with proper implementation. They were more interested in reaping political benefit out of this scheme rather than focusing on effective implementation to provide employment support.

Indian agriculture faces the problem of low productivity and rising pressure on land. How can things be remedied at a time when wages are rising?

I have often said that we have to address the problem of low productivity in agriculture. Agriculture needs to be made remunerative to farmers. The entire methodology of fixing the MSP needs to be relooked at. The farmer has to be adequately compensated for his efforts. The UPA government has neglected the agriculture sector and has done nothing for farmers. We need to bring back the focus on agriculture and take effective steps to improve the lives of farmers.

The first step has to be adequate investment in the irrigation sector. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana promised in our manifesto is a clear pointer to the focus that we are likely to give to the agriculture sector.

Secondly, we have to take research in agriculture from lab to land. For this there has to be massive increase in extension activity. In short, we are committed to bringing the agriculture sector out of the present state of government apathy and neglect. Our focus is going to be on increasing productivity and thereby the income of the Indian farmer.

We also need to invest heavily on agro infrastructure and create value addition for the products. This will not only create additional employment opportunities but also increase the income of farmers.

There has been in recent years an intense environment versus growth debate. Do you think it is possible to resolve the tension between the competing objectives?

I think that we can take care of environment concerns even while giving sanction to projects. The problem arises when the procedure for environment clearance is used in a malafide manner for rent-seeking. This leads to projects being delayed. In such a situation, environment protection is not the objective of the government and projects are also delayed. It is this lose-lose situation which prevailed in the last 10 years. I am convinced that we can move towards a win-win situation where all environment concerns will be adequately addressed, but not at the cost of project delays. All decisions, even rejection of proposals, should be taken in a transparent and time-bound manner.

Many of your colleagues have complained about a determined attempt by your "secular" opponents to rally Muslims against your PM campaign. What is your response?

The Congress party is now staring at certain defeat. In all likelihood, it won't cross the hundred figure mark. As a last ditch effort out of a sheer desperation, it is trying to hide in the bunker of secularism. The Congress party and some of its allies are trying to resort to fear-mongering among the minority community. However, they do not realize that today's India no longer responds to fear-mongering. Most people can see through such gimmicks.

I only feel that it is unfortunate that a national party should resort to such tactics. However, I am confident that this is going to backfire and even lead to a backlash from the minority community which has now started seeing through the vote bank politics of Congress and is getting increasingly disenchanted with its politics.

It is said that if a Modi sarkar assumes office, RSS will work as an extra-constitutional authority. Your comment?

The only holy book of the government is the Indian Constitution. I am very clear that the government is run as per the constitutional provisions.

Why did you not campaign in Rai Bareli but in Amethi?

These are issues decided by the party as per its best interest.

What do you think of the censoring of your interview to Doordarshan?

It is highly unfortunate that the national broadcaster has to come under political pressure and political interference. It is yet another example of how the Congress party has tinkered with the institutions.

The list of institutions it has tried to damage is now growing longer by the day. They have interfered in the functioning of CBI, IB, CVC, CAG, etc. They have even tried to disobey the orders of the apex court. Even today they continue to abuse the position of the institution of governor.

I wish there is greater debate among the champions of press freedom on this issue.

Courtesy: The Times of India

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October 29, 2020

1.It’s been seven months since India launched its fight against coronavirus through the first lockdown in March. What’s your assessment on how we have fared?

I am sure we all agree that this virus is something unknown, nothing like what has happened earlier in the past. So, while tackling this new unknown enemy, our response also evolves

I am no health expert but my assessment is based on numbers. I think we should assess our coronavirus fight against the metric of how many lives we are able to save.

The virus is proving to be very fickle. At one time, some places like Gujarat were seen as hot spots while the situation seemed to be under control in Kerala, Karnataka etc. After a few months, things have improved in Gujarat but turning for the worse in Kerala.

This is why I feel there is no room for complacency. I stressed the same in my recent message to the nation on October 20 that the only way forward is to take precautions such as wearing mask, hand washing and social distancing because ‘Jab tak dawai nahin, tab tak dhilai nahin.’

2. But has it broadly panned out the way you expected or have you had to improvise and innovate constantly?

We decided to be proactive and introduce a timely nationwide lockdown. When we introduced a lockdown, the total number of cases was in a few hundreds, unlike many countries that adopted a lockdown when the cases were in the thousands. We imposed lockdown at a very critical point in the pandemic trajectory.

We not only got the broad timing of various phases of lockdown right, we also got the unlock process right and much of our economy is also coming back on track. The data for August and September indicates that.

India has taken a science-driven approach in response to Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Such an approach proved beneficial.

Studies now show that this response helped avoiding a situation which could have led to rapid spread of the virus with many more deaths. In addition to the timely lockdown, India was among the first countries to mandate wearing of masks, use a contact-tracing app and deploy rapid antigen tests.

For a pandemic of this dimension, it would not have been possible to manage if the country was not united. The entire country stood together to fight this virus. The Covid warriors, who are our frontline healthcare workers, knowing well the threat to their life, fought for this country.

3. What’s your biggest learning?

One positive learning in the past few months has been the significance of delivery mechanisms that reach the last mile. Much of this delivery mechanism was built in the first term of our government and it has helped us immensely in facing this once-in-a-century pandemic.

I will give just two examples. First, through the Direct Benefit Transfer regime, we were able to transfer cash straight to the bank accounts of millions of people almost instantly. This entire infrastructure to enable this was built in the last six years. Earlier, even in relatively smaller natural calamities, relief did not reach the poor and there was massive corruption.

But we were able to reach relief on a massive scale to people in a very short time, without any complaints of corruption. That is the power of technology in governance. To give a contrast, perhaps you could enlighten your readers on how India fared during the smallpox epidemic in the 1970s.

And second, the behavioural change that a billion-plus people had adapted to in such a short span of time — wearing masks and maintaining social distance — is a world model of public participation without any coercive enforcement.

Union and state governments have been working in a seamless manner as one team, public and private sectors have come together, all ministries converged to shoulder diverse responsibilities, and peoples’ participation ensured a united and effective fight.

4. What’s your assessment of the state of spread of Covid-19 in India?

The pro-active measures taken in the early stages of the virus has helped us prepare our defences against the pandemic. Though, even one untimely death is extremely painful, for a country of our size, openness, and connectivity, we have among the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates in the world. Our recovery rate continues to be high and our active cases are significantly falling.

From a peak of almost 97,894 daily cases in mid-September, we are reporting only around 50,000 new cases in late October. This has been made possible because entire India came together and worked as Team India.

5. Recent trends suggest a bending of the curve both in active cases and fatalities, raising hopes that the worst may be behind us. Do you also share this view, based on data available with the government?

This is a new virus. Countries which had initially controlled the outbreak are now reporting a resurgence.

The geographical spread of India, population density, the regular social gatherings must be kept in mind when we look at these numbers and seek to compare with others. Many of our states are larger than countries.

Within the country, the impact is very diverse — there are some areas where it’s minimal, while there are some states where it’s very focused and persistent. Yet it must be kept in mind that in a country with more than 700 districts, the impact is seen only in some districts of a few states.

Our latest numbers of new cases, mortality rate and total active cases do indicate a lower phase than some time ago, yet we cannot be complacent. The virus is still out there. It thrives on our complacency.

I feel that our response should be focused on increasing capabilities to handle the situation, make people more aware, create more facilities etc in keeping with the dictum ‘Hope for the best but prepare for the worst’.

6. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a debilitating impact on the economy, which you have sought to address by aiming to strike the right balance between lives and livelihood. How successful do you think the government has been in this endeavour?

It has been more than seven decades since we got Independence, but still some people have the colonial hangover that people and governments are two different entities. The perception that this calamity has fallen on the government emanates from this mindset. The pandemic has affected 130 crore people and both the government and the citizenry are working together to combat it.

Since the time Covid-19 started, it was frightening to witness scores of people dying in various countries all over the world. Their health systems were crumbling under the sudden load of patients. Both old and young were dying indiscriminately. At that point, our aim was to avoid a similar situation in India and to save lives. This virus was like an unknown enemy. It was unprecedented.

When one is fighting an invisible enemy, it takes time to understand it and evolve an effective strategy to counter it. We had to reach out to 130 crore Indians and make them aware of the dangers we are facing from the virus and the manner in which we could save ourselves and our family members.

It was a very challenging task. It was important to awaken Jan Chetna. Awakening of Jan Chetna becomes possible only through Jan Bhagidari. Through Janata curfew, signifying the collective national resolve by banging of thaalis or by coming together by lighting lamps, we used Jan Bhagidari to bring all Indians on one platform. This is an incredible example of mass awareness in a short span of time.

7. And what was the economic strategy?

Saving lives was not limited to saving lives from Covid-19. It was also about providing enough food and essentials to the poor. Even when most of the experts and newspapers were asking the government to release an economic package for the corporate sector, our focus was to save lives among the vulnerable populations. We first announced PM Garib Kalyan package to alleviate the suffering of the poor people, the migrants, farmers.

One special insight and understanding that came early to us was that the agriculture sector is one where the rule of social distancing can be more naturally maintained without compromising on productivity. So, we allowed agriculture activities almost from the very start. And we all see the results today with this sector doing exceptionally well despite so many months of disruption.

Record distribution of foodgrain, Shramik Special trains and proactive procurement were undertaken for both the immediate and medium-term needs of the people.

To ameliorate the hardships being faced by people we came up with an Atmanirbhar Bharat package. This package addressed issues being faced by all sections of the society and all sectors of the economy.

This also provided us an opportunity to carry out reforms that were waiting to happen for decades but no one earlier took the initiative. Reforms across sectors such as coal, agriculture, labour, defence, civil aviation and so on have been undertaken which will help us get back on the high growth path that we were on before the crisis.

Our efforts are bearing result as the Indian economy is already getting back on track faster than expected.

8. Your government has initiated two key second-generation reforms — the farm and labour reforms. How optimistic are you of these initiatives delivering the desired economic dividend, especially in the light of overall economic slowdown and political opposition?

Experts have been advocating these reforms for a long time. Even political parties have been asking for votes in the name of these reforms. Everyone desired that these reforms should happen. The issue is that the opposition parties do not wish that we get the credit.

We also don’t want credit. We brought reforms keeping in mind the welfare of farmers and workers. And they understand and trust our intentions because of our track record.

We have gone about reforming the agriculture sector step by step in the past six years. So what we have done today is one piece in the chain of actions that we started in 2014. We also hiked MSPs multiple times and in fact, we procured many times more from farmers at MSP than earlier governments did. Both irrigation and insurance saw huge improvement. Direct income support was ensured for farmers.

What has been lacking in Indian farming is commensurate return for all the blood and toil put in by our farmers. The new structure brought by these reforms will significantly increase the profitability of our farmers. As in other industries, once the profits are earned, it is reinvested back in the sector for generating more produce. A virtuous cycle of profit and reinvestment emerges. In the farming sector as well, this cycle will open doors for more investment, innovation and new technology. Thus, these reforms hold immense potential to transform not just the agriculture sector but the entire rural economy.

On MSP, in the just completed Rabi marketing season, the Central government has procured 389.9 lakh MT of wheat, an all-time record, with 75,055 crore going to farmers as MSP.

In the ongoing Kharif marketing season, up to 159.5 lakh MT of paddy has been procured, compared to 134.5 lakh MT at the same point last year, an increase of 18.62%. All this happened after we brought the three ordinances, which have now been passed by Parliament.

MSP payment to farmers for paddy has gone up by 1.5 times, wheat by 1.3 times, pulses by 75 times and oilseeds by 10 times during the last five years compared to five years of UPA-2 (2009-10 to 2013-14). This proves the lie and dishonesty of those who are spreading the canard about MSP.

9. And what about labour reforms?

These reforms are very pro-worker. They are now entitled to all benefits and social security even if hired for fixed term. The labour reforms will help create significant employment while also protecting the worker by ensuring minimum wage reforms, provision for social security for workers in the informal sector, and minimising government interference. It will ensure timely payment of wages and give priority to occupational safety of the workers, thus contributing to a better working environment.

In the last few weeks, we have finished what we had set out to do. The 44 central labour laws with over 1,200 sections have been assimilated into just four codes. There will now be just one registration, one assessment and one return filing. Along with easier compliance, this will lead to a stable regime for businesses to invest and create a win-win situation for the employee and the employer.

For manufacturing sector, in the last six years, we have taken a number of reform measures from cutting down corporate tax rate to 15% for new manufacturing units to raising FDI limits and allowing private investment in strategic sectors like space, defence and so on. Essentially, reforms for the manufacturing sector were in place with one piece of the jigsaw remaining — the labour reforms. We have done that as well. It was often jokingly said India had more labour laws than labour in the formal sector. Labour laws often helped everyone except the labour. Holistic growth cannot happen until India’s workforce gets the benefits of formalisation.

I am confident that these reforms undertaken in the last few months will help increase the growth rate and returns in both the manufacturing and agriculture sectors. Moreover, it will also signal to the world that this is a new India which believes in markets and market forces.

10. One criticism is that the flexibility to lay off employees has been extended to factories employing up to 300 people. But giant factories in electronics, garments and other sectors employ many more. Why not extend this flexibility to all factories while sharply increasing compensation for those laid off? Also, what are your views on the criticisms around curtailment of the right to strike?

India was suffering from a twin problem: Our labour laws were such that most workers did not have any social security. And companies did not want to hire more workers for the fear of labour laws, which disincentivised labour-intensive production. The inspector-raj system and complicated labour laws had a strong deterrent effect on employers.

We need to come out of the mindset that industry and labour are always in conflict with each other. Why not have a mechanism where both benefit equally? Since labour is a concurrent subject, the law gives flexibility to state governments to modify the codes further as per their unique situation and requirements.

The right to strike has not been curtailed at all. In fact, trade unions have been conferred with a new right, enabling them to get statutory recognition.

We have made the employer-employee relation more systematic and symmetrical. The provision of notice period gives an opportunity for amicable settlement of any grievance between employees and employers.

11. The GST system has come under considerable stress from Covid-19. The Centre has for now agreed to borrow money and pass on to states. But looking ahead, how do you foresee the situation for state governments?

The last six years have seen the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism in all our actions. A country as large as ours cannot develop only on the one pillar of the Centre, it needs the second pillar of states. The fight against Covid-19 also got strengthened because of this approach. Decisions were taken collectively. I had video-conferences with CMs multiple times to hear their suggestions and inputs, which has no parallel in history.

On the GST, this is by all accounts an extraordinary year. Most assumptions and calculations did not take into account a once-in-a-century pandemic. Yet, we have proposed options to move forward and most states are fine with them. A consensus is evolving.

12. You have been a chief minister for many years. What kind of collaboration do you propose with states on the economic side in the current context?

It’s important to remember that the Centre-state relationship is not limited to GST. Despite the pandemic and the fall in gross tax revenue, we have provided enhanced resource transfers to states. Between April and July, the sum total of devolution of taxes plus grants-in-aid to states, including centrally sponsored schemes, increased by 19% to 4.06 lakh crore from 3.42 lakh crore in the same period last year. In short, while our revenues fell, we sustained the flow of funds to states.

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the central government also allowed additional borrowing limit of up to 2% of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) to states for the year 2020-21. This amounted to 4.27 lakh crore being made available to states. The Centre has already granted permission to states to raise the first 0.5% in June 2020. This made an additional amount of 1,06,830 crore available to states. On the request of states, the limit of using the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) has been increased from 35% to 50%. This was done to ensure more finances with states to fight Corona.

13. Many argue that the Centre passes its troubles to states. Your thoughts?

Let me give you an example of what used to happen earlier. When VAT replaced the CST under the UPA government, they had promised to compensate states for any revenue shortfall. But you know what UPA did? They refused to compensate states despite their commitment. Not just for one year but continuously for five years. This was one of the reasons why states did not agree to GST regime under UPA. Despite the fact that it was a different government which made that commitment, we took it upon ourselves to clear those dues when we assumed power in 2014. This shows our approach to federalism.

14. The government’s critics have said India ended up high on both columns — number of infections and economic contraction. How do you respond to such criticism?

There are some people who are so intelligent that they use absolute number of cases to compare our country with other countries which have population similar to our states.

However, I expect The Economic Times to do better research and not regurgitate such arguments. While looking at our current numbers, we should also look at what kind of huge numbers were forecast by experts in March.

15. What are the five economic parameters you would point to as clear indicators of a bounce back? Specifically, what kind of a rebound do you expect next year?

We are on our way to economic recovery. Indicators suggest the same. First, in agriculture, as I said earlier, our farmers have broken all records and we have also done record procurement at the highest ever levels of MSP. These two factors — record production and record purchase — are going to inject significant income in the rural economy which will have its own virtuous cycle of demand generation. Second, record high FDI inflows indicate India’s growing image as an investor friendly country. This year, despite the pandemic, we received the highest ever FDI of $35.73 billion for April-August. This is 13% higher than the same period last year, which was also a record year. Third, auto sales along with tractor sales are either reaching or surpassing previous year levels. This indicates a strong resurgence in demand. Fourth, a steady recovery in the manufacturing sector helped India climb two notches to the third position among key emerging markets after China and Brazil in September. The manufacturing growth is reflected in the first year-on-year rise in exports in seven months. E-way bills and GST collections growth has also been healthy.

Finally, in terms of new net subscribers of EPFO, the month of August 2020 registered a 34% jump compared to July 2020 with addition of more than a million new subscribers. This shows that the job market is picking up.

Other than that, foreign exchange reserves have touched a record high. Key indicators of economic recovery like railway freight traffic increased by more than 15% and power demand by 4% in September over the same month last year. This shows that recovery is broad based. Plus, Aatmanirbhar Bharat announcements are a big stimulus to the economy, particularly to small businesses and the informal sector.

16. What’s your plan for further stimulus?

We will take all measures needed to constantly stimulate the economy in a timely manner while ensuring overall macro-economic stability. Remember, we are still not over with the pandemic. Yet, our economy has shown a remarkable capability to bounce back, largely because of the resilience of our people. This is something which is not captured in these numbers, but is the reason behind those numbers. The shop-owner, the trader, the person running a MSME, the person working on factory floor, the entrepreneur, all these are the heroes responsible for the strong market sentiment and revival of the economy.

17. You seem to believe that India can still emerge as a major world hub for manufacturing, especially by becoming part of global supply chains at a time when companies are looking to de-risk their exposure to China. What is the progress in this regard? Can India emerge as a credible alternative to China in global supply chains?

India has not started speaking about manufacturing only after the pandemic. We have been working on increasing manufacturing for sometime now. India is, after all, a young country with a skilled workforce. But India doesn’t believe in gaining from the loss of others. India will become a global manufacturing hub on its own strengths. Our effort is not to become some country’s alternative, but to become a country which offers unique opportunities. We want to see the progress of all. If India progresses, 1/6th of humanity will progress.

We saw how a new world order was formed after World War II. Something similar will happen post Covid-19. This time, India will ride the bus of manufacturing and integrating in global supply chains. We have specific advantages in the form of democracy, demography and demand.

18. So, what are the policy measures you propose to enable India take this giant leap?

India’s pharma sector, during the past few months, has already demonstrated the way ahead. India has emerged as a key player in global pharma supply chains. We have become the second largest manufacturer of PPE kits in a very short duration. India is also making a mark in manufacturing technologically advanced items like ventilators and from almost negligible capacity earlier, we are now manufacturing thousands of ventilators in quick time.

From independence till the pandemic started, around 15-16 thousand ventilators in working condition existed in government hospitals across India. Now, we are moving rapidly towards adding another 50000 ventilators these hospitals.

Now, that we have successfully established this model. We can emulate it in other fields. Our recently launched production-linked incentive (PLI) schemes for mobile manufacturing, pharmaceutical and medical devices are good examples of this focused and targeted approach to attract internationally reputed investors to create capacities with global scales and competitiveness, as well as make India their export hub. In the mobile phone segment alone, it’s expected that production worth over 10 lakh crore will take place over the next five years, of which 60% will be exports.

According to Moody’s, 154 greenfield projects from the US have come to India in 2020, compared to 86 in China, 12 in Vietnam and 15 in Malaysia. This is a clear indication of global confidence in India’s growth story going forward. We have laid strong foundations to make India the foremost manufacturing destination.

The corporate tax cut, introduction of commercial mining in coal sector, opening up of space sector for private investment, lifting defence restrictions on air routes for civil aviation use, are some steps that will go a long way in boosting growth.

But what we should also understand is that India can grow only as fast as our states do. There needs to be healthy competition among the states in attracting investment. States are also competing on the Ease of Doing Business rankings. Incentives alone may not be enough to bag investments, states will need to build infrastructure and follow good development-related policies.

19. There is fear in some quarters that the Atmanirbhar initiative marks a return to the days of autarky. Some say there is a contradiction between India seeking to become part of global supply chains while restricting imports. Your views?

It’s not in the nature of India or Indians to be inward looking or self-centered. We are a forward-looking civilization and a vibrant democracy that looks to interact with other countries to build a better world. Aatmanirbhar Bharat is not just about competition but also about competence, it’s not about dominance but about dependability, it’s not about looking within but about looking out for the world.

So, when we say Aatmanirbhar Bharat, we mean an India that is, first of all, self-reliant. A self-reliant India is also a reliable friend for the world. A self-reliant India does not mean an India that is self-centred. When a child reaches the age of 18, even the parents tell him or her to become Aatmanirbhar. This is natural.

Today we are using our aatmanirbharta to help the world in the medical field. For instance, we are producing vaccines and drugs without increasing costs or putting restrictions. A relatively poor country like ours incurs a huge cost to educate doctors, who are today spread across the globe, helping humanity. We never stopped them from migrating.

When India becomes Aatmanirbhar in a certain field, it always helps the world. If someone doesn’t understand the ethos and spirit of India, they won’t understand this concept.

20. So, there’s no contradiction?

Confusion among experts is not necessarily a contradiction in our approach. We have just eased restrictions for FDI through reforms like you see in agriculture, labour and coal. Only a country that believes in the power of international trade and commerce would go on opening up more and more avenues to work with the world. At the same time, it’s also true that India has been unable to realise its potential in sectors where it has inherent comparative advantages. Take coal for instance. India imported nearly 1.5 lakh crore worth of coal in 2019-20, despite having one of the biggest reserves in the world. Defence is another area of import dependence for us. While we have increased the FDI limit from 49 to 74%, domestic production for 101 items worth 3.5 lakh crore over the next five years has also been announced.

In the past, while opening our markets, we also signed 10 free trade agreements (FTAs) and 6 preferential trade agreements (PTAs). The assessment of existing FTAs should happen on the metric of how they have benefited for India and not on the basis of ideological standing.

India is keen to be part of global value chains and wants to do trade deals but they have to be fair and non-discriminatory. Moreover, since India would be providing access to a large market, the agreements must be reciprocal and balanced.

We gave preferential access to our large market under our FTAs. However, our trading partners have not always reciprocated with the same treatment. Our exporters have often faced ill-intended non-tariff barriers. For example, while our trading partners can export steel to India, few trading partners don’t allow the import of Indian steel. Similarly, Indian tyre manufacturers are unable to export due to technical barriers. While India remains committed to openness and transparency in trade, it will use the measures and instruments at its disposal in ensuring free and fair access for its exporters.

In the case of RCEP, India made its best efforts for a final conclusion. We wanted a level playing field based on fair trade practices and transparency. We expressed serious concerns over non-tariff barriers and opaqueness of subsidy regimes in some RCEP countries. India took a considered position not to join RCEP, highlighting the fact that the current structure did not reflect RCEP guiding principles nor address outstanding issues.

21. It appears from government assessments that FTAs have not worked in India’s favour. We also walked out of RCEP. How has your thinking evolved on subject? Do you think we should pursue FTAs at all?

The guiding principle behind International trade is to create win-win solutions for all countries involved. And I am told by experts, that ideally trade deals should be global and multilateral through the WTO. India has always adhered to global trade rules and stood for a free, fair, equitable, transparent and rules-based international trading system, which should fulfil the intended developmental objectives and aspirations of developing countries, as envisaged under the WTO.

22. India has emerged as a major producer of PPE and masks. Pharma has emerged as a strategic sector. Going forward, how do you strengthen our advantage in this area?

We realised at the start of the pandemic that we were dependent on imports for PPEs. The problem aggravated after countries imposed lockdowns, which affected manufacturing, resulting in disruption of global supply chains. This essentially meant that the country was to quickly think of ways to become self-reliant in the time of crisis.

We followed a very focused hands-on approach, identifying and sourcing each and every raw material for this purpose. We worked 24x7 with the industry and state governments to meet the objective of making and procuring PPE Kits, N-95 masks, ventilators, diagnostic kits etc. Once these issues were sorted, indigenous production started and orders were placed on domestic manufacturers for procurement. India is now in a position where we are not only meeting our domestic demand but are also capable of meeting the demand of other countries.

India lived up to its name of being the Pharmacy of the World in the last few months, supplying drugs and medical equipment to around 150 countries. The Indian pharma sector has a size of about $38 billion. To strengthen this advantage, government has approved an outlay of 1,40,00 crore for production of medical devices and active pharmaceutical ingredients. Bulk drug parks and medical devices parks are being created for attaining global leadership position.

23. A vaccine is likely to become available next year. Is there some thinking on distribution and priorities in terms of who will be vaccinated?

First and foremost, I would like to assure the nation that, as and when a vaccine becomes available, everyone will be vaccinated. None will be left behind. Of course, initially we may focus on protecting the most vulnerable and the frontline workers. A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 Vaccine has been constituted to chart the way forward.

We should also realise that vaccine development is still work in progress. Trials are on. Experts can’t say what the vaccine will be, its dosage per person, periodicity or how it’s to be administered etc. All this, when finalised by experts, will also guide our approach on taking the vaccine to citizens.

On logistics, more than 28,000 cold chain points will store and distribute Covid-19 vaccines to ensure they reach the last point. Dedicated teams at state, district and local levels will see to it that the vaccine distribution and administration is done in a systematic and accountable manner. A digital platform to enroll, track and reach the beneficiaries is also being prepared.

24. Given the setback on account of Covid-19, where do we stand on the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024?

Most people who are pessimistic remain in doubt. If you sit among them, you will hear only things of despair and despondency.

However, if you discuss with optimistic people, you will hear ideas and suggestions on how to improve. Today, our country is optimistic of the future, it is optimistic of reaching the $5 trillion target. And this optimism gives us confidence. Today, if our Corona Warriors are working 18-20 hours to serve patients, it also inspires us to put in more hard-work.

So what if we could not move at the desired pace this year due to the pandemic! We will try and run faster in the next year to make up for the loss. Nothing great ever gets done if we get deterred by obstacles in our path. By not aspiring, we guarantee failure. India is the third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. We want India to become the third largest in terms of current US dollar prices as well. The $5 trillion target will help us achieve that.

Also, our government has a track record of meeting our targets. We met the rural sanitation target before the deadline, we met the village electrification target before the deadline, we met the 8 crore Ujjwala connections target too well before the deadline. So, going by our track record and continuing reforms, people also have confidence in our abilities to reach the target.

We have given a fair chance to those who have invested in India, shown their trust to expand their capacities and become globally competitive. The Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative is about unlocking India’s latent potential, so that our firms can serve not just domestic markets, but also global ones.

Source : The Economic Times