It has been two weeks since the Unlock-One. It is necessary to review the issues and the experiences that have come in the forefront during this period. In today's discussion, I will get the opportunity to learn and understand a lot from you. The salient points that will come out of today's discussion and your suggestions will help the country to plan ahead.
Timing plays a very crucial role in dealing with any crisis. Decisions taken at the right time have immensely helped in controlling the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Whenever India's fight against Coronavirus will be studied in the future, this period will be remembered for the way in which we all have worked together during this time and how the best example of Cooperative Federalism was set.
When Coronavirus was not even a topic for discussion in several countries of the world, India had already started taking decisions and was preparing to deal with it. We have worked day in and day out to save the life of every Indian.
Thousands of Indians have returned home from abroad and lakhs of migrant workers have returned to their villages in the past weeks. All routes such as rail, road, air, sea have been opened.
Despite being a populous nation, the Coronavirus has not been as devastating in India as it has been in the other countries. Several experts and health experts around the world are discussing about the lockdown imposed in India and the discipline shown by the people of India today.
Today, the recovery rate in India is above 50 per cent. Today, India is one of the leading countries in the world with the highest survival rate among the COVID-19 patients. The death of even a single person, even a single Indian due to Coronavirus is tragic and unfortunate. But it is also true that today India is among those countries in the world with the lowest COVID-19 deaths.
Today the experiences of several states arouse a confidence that India can move forward amid the Coronavirus crisis by limiting its losses and can put its economy back on track at a much faster pace.
The last two weeks of Unlock-One has taught us that if we keep obeying the rules and all the guidelines, then we can save the country from the harm inflicted by the Corona crisis.
Therefore, it is necessary to place a lot of emphasis on the importance of masks or face cover. We must not go out of the house without a mask or a face-cover. This is as dangerous for the person himself, as much for the people around him.
Therefore, we must religiously follow our mantra of 'do gaj ki doori' or social distancing; washing of hands with soap for 20 seconds several times a day as well as frequent use of sanitizers. These measures must be taken very seriously. This is very important for the safety of oneself, for the safety of the family, especially for the children and the elderly at home.
By now almost all the offices have been opened. Even the offices in the private sector have become operational. People have started going to offices, to the markets and the streets are getting crowded. In such a scenario, all these measures will help us to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading fast. The slightest carelessness, laxity or lack of discipline will weaken our fight against Coronavirus.
We must always keep in mind that the better we are able to stop the virus from spreading, the more our economy will open up, our offices will open, the markets will open, the transport will open, and eventually new employment opportunities will grow.
In the days to come, the experiences gained from the way the economic activities will expand in several states, will also benefit the other states. In the last few weeks, green shoots have started appearing in our economy. The power consumption which was decreasing earlier has started increasing now. In May this year, the fertilizer sales have doubled compared to May last year.
This time, kharif sowing has been higher by about 12-13% compared to the previous year. Two-wheeler production has reached nearly 70 per cent of pre-lockdown levels. Digital payment in retail has also reached the pre-lockdown levels.
Moreover, the increase in Toll Collection in the month of May depicts a growth in economic activity. After a decrease in exports for 3 consecutive months, exports have bounced back in June and have reached the levels of last year's Pre-Covid Period. All these signs are encouraging us to move forward.
The share of Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries and MSMEs is very large in most of the states. Under the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat' campaign, several provisions have been made for these sectors in the last few days.
A number of decisions have been taken recently to support the MSMEs. Efforts are being made to ensure that these MSMEs get credit from the banks in a time bound manner. Industries with a turnover of up to Rs 100 crore have been given the benefit of automatic increase of 20% additional credit.
If through Bank Committees we can ensure that the industries get loans fast, then they will be able to start work as soon as possible and provide employment to the people.
The smaller factories that we have here need guidance and hand-holding; I know that under your leadership a lot of work is being done towards it. We have to work together on value chains so that the trade and industries regain their old momentum. Economic activity will get a fillip if specific economic activity points of the States work round the clock, loading-unloading of goods is done expeditiously, and there is no hurdle at the local level in the movement of goods from one city to another.
The reforms that have taken place recently in marketing farmers’ produce will benefit the farmers immensely. Because of this the farmers will get a new alternative to sell their produce and their income will increase. We shall be able to minimise the loss that the farmers incur because of the vagaries of nature and lack of storage facility. When the farmers’ income will increase, the demand certainly will go up and the economy of the States will get a boost. Especially, in the Northeast and tribal areas, many opportunities are going to open in farming and horticulture sectors. Be it organic products, bamboo products or other tribal products, the doors for a new market is going to open for these sectors. Every state will benefit from the cluster-based policy that has been announced for local products. Hence, it is necessary that we identify such products in every block and every district by processing or marketing them so that we can place them in our country as well as in the global market.
We have to work together to implement within a certain time-frame the announcements that have been made under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ Yojana recently. In this backdrop, I am also keen to know your suggestions and preparations regarding economic activity as also fight against Corona pandemic. I would now request the Home Minister to conduct further discussions.