On World Food Day, PM Modi dedicates to the nation 17 newly developed biofortified varieties of eight crops
Increasing coordination between India and FAO will provide speed to our fight against malnutrition: PM
Once farmers of India become strong and their incomes increase, the mission against malnutrition will also garner strength: PM Modi

My cabinet colleagues Shri Narendra Singh Tomar ji, Smt Smriti Irani ji, Shri Purushottam Rupala ji, Shri Kailash Chaudhary ji, Smt Debashree Choudhary ji, representatives of Food and Agriculture Organization, other eminent personalities and my dear brothers and sisters! My greetings and best wishes on the occasion of World Food Day! I also congratulate all those who are working relentlessly to eradicate malnutrition all over the world.

Our farmer brothers of India, our Annadata, our agricultural scientists, and our Anganwadi & ASHA workers form a strong pillar or a strong foundation for the movement against malnutrition. They have not only helped to fill the granary of India with their hard work but are also helping the government in reaching out to the poorest of the poor far and wide. Due to their efforts, India is strongly fighting against malnutrition even amidst Corona crisis.

Friends,

This day is of great importance for Food and Agriculture Organization. Today, this important organization has completed 75 years. Over the years, FAO has played a major role in increasing agricultural production, eliminating starvation and improving nutrition around the world including India. The special commemorative coin of Rs 75 that has been issued today is to honour your spirit of service on behalf of more than 130 crore people of India. FAO's World Food Programme receiving this year's Nobel Peace Prize is also a major achievement. And India is delighted that India's participation and engagement in the same has been extremely historic. We all know that when the World Food Programme was initiated, Dr. Binay Ranjan Sen was the Director General of FAO. Dr. Sen had experienced the pain of famine and starvation very closely. After becoming a policy maker, the pervasiveness with which he had worked is still relevant for the whole world. The seed that was sown has reached the point of receiving the Nobel Prize today.

Friends,

The FAO has also closely watched India's fight against malnutrition in the past decades. At different levels in the country, efforts were made by some departments but their scope was either limited or scattered. We know that due to several reasons like pregnancy at a young age, lack of education, lack of information, lack of adequate water supply, lack of sanitation, we could not get the desired results of our fight against malnutrition. When I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, work on several new schemes was initiated there keeping these facts in mind. I had a long experience in Gujarat about aspects like the root cause of a problem; why we were not getting results; and how could I get the results! With those experiences, when I got a chance to serve the country in the year 2014, I started afresh some efforts.

We moved ahead with an integrated approach and a holistic approach. By putting an end to the fragmented approach, we started work on a multi-dimensional strategy. On the one hand, the National Nutrition Mission was started while on the other hand we worked on every factor that was the root cause for malnutrition. We also worked on changing the behaviour of family and society on a large scale as well. More than 11 crore toilets were built in India under the Swachh Bharat Mission. While cleanliness could be seen due to the construction of toilets in the far-flung areas, there was a decline in many diseases like diarrhoea. Similarly, the rate of vaccination of pregnant mothers and children under Mission Indradhanush was also increased rapidly. New vaccines against viruses like rotavirus, developed in India, were also added under this. Keeping in mind pregnancy and the first 1000 days of the newborn, a major campaign was launched for Nutrition and Care for both the mother and the child. Work is underway at a rapid pace to deliver piped drinking water to every household in the villages under the Jal Jeevan Mission.

Today, sanitation pads are being made available to poor sisters and daughters of the country at a cost of one rupee each. One of the results of all these efforts is that the daughters' Gross Enrolment Ratio has become more than that of the sons for the first time in the country. Necessary discussions are also going on to decide the right age of marriage for the daughters. I also get letters from the daughters across the country demanding a quick decision and asking why the committee has not yet come up with the report. I assure all those daughters that the government will take quick action on receiving the report.

Friends,

Another important work is being done to tackle malnutrition. Now such crops that are rich in nutritious substances like protein, iron, zinc etc. are being promoted in the country. Efforts are being made to ensure that the production of coarse cereals - Millets such as ragi, jowar, Bajra, kodo, jhangora, barri, kotki, etc. is increased and the people incorporate it in their diet. My special thanks to the FAO today for fully supporting India's proposal to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets.

Friends,

When India proposed the International Day of Yoga, there was a spirit of 'सर्वजन हिताय- सर्वजन सुखाय' behind it. India wanted to spread holistic wellness to all the countries of the world with Zero Budget. We have the same sentiment in our hearts behind the proposal to declare the year 2023 as the International Year of Millets. This will have two major benefits not only to India but to the entire world. One, nutritious food will be encouraged and its availability will increase further. And second - the small farmers, who have small or marginal land and who do not have the means of irrigation and are dependent on rains will benefit immensely. These small and medium farmers mostly grow coarse grains on their land. The coarse grains help these farmers in the areas where there is water scarcity and the land is not so fertile. That is, the proposal of the International Year of Millets is linked to both nutrition and income of small farmers.

Friends,

Another important step has been taken today that has boosted the POSHAN abhiyan in India. Today 17 varieties of new seeds of different crops including wheat and paddy are being made available to the farmers of the country. We often see that the common variety of some crops lack some nutritious substance or micro-nutrients. The good variety of these crops, the bio-fortified variety removes these deficiencies and improves the nutritional value of the grains. Over the years, there has been a lot of great work in the country in the research and development of such seeds; and I congratulate all the agricultural universities and agricultural scientists for the same. While only one variety of this type reached farmers before 2014, today 70 Bio-fortified Varieties of different crops are available to farmers. I am glad that some of these bio-fortified varieties have been developed with the help of local and traditional crops.

Friends,

During the last few months, during the Corona crisis, there have been a lot of discussions about starvation and malnutrition. The experts are expressing their concerns about what will happen? Amid these concerns, India has been providing free ration to about 80 crore poor for the last 7-8 months. During this period, India has distributed free food grains worth about Rs. 1.5 lakh crores to the poor. And I remember that when this campaign was being started, special care was taken to ensure that along with rice or wheat, pulses should also be provided free of cost.

This is the commitment of today's India towards food security, for the poor. It is less talked about in the international platform. But today India is giving free food grains to such a huge number of citizens, which is more than the total population of the entire European Union and America. But sometimes we miss a big trend in daily life. Something similar has happened in relation to India's work in ensuring food security. I have some questions, so that the international experts will realize what India has achieved in this direction. Did you know that till the year 2014, the Food Security Act was in force in only 11 states and it was implemented effectively in the entire country only after 2014?

Did you know that while the whole world was struggling due to Corona, the farmers of India broke the record of last year's production this time too? Did you know that the government broke its old records of procurement of all types of food grains like wheat, paddy and pulses? Did you know that the export of essential agricultural commodities increased by more than 40 per cent as compared to the same period of 6 months of last year? Do you know that the 'One Nation One Ration Card' system to ensure food security has already been implemented in 28 states and Union Territories of the country?

Friends,

Today several such reforms are being brought continuously in India which shows India's Commitment towards Global Food Security. Improvements are being made one after the other from farming and empowering farmers to India's Public Distribution System. The 3 major agricultural reforms that have taken place in the recent past are a very important step in expanding the agricultural sector of the country and increasing the income of the farmers. Friends, we have a system of APMC for years, which has its own identity, its own strength. In the last 6 years, more than 2500 crore rupees have been invested to build better infrastructure in these agricultural markets of the country. Hundreds of crores of rupees have also been spent to develop IT infrastructure in these mandis. These mandis are also being connected to e-NAM i.e. National Agriculture Market. The amendment made in the APMC Act aims to make these APMC more competitive. Several steps have also been taken to ensure that farmers get 1.5 times of the cost in the form of MSP.

Friends,

MSP and government procurement are an important part of the country's food security. Therefore, it should be well managed scientifically, with good management system and should be continued and we are committed to the same. Earlier the small farmers of the country were compelled to sell their produce to middlemen due to lack of access to the mandis. With the new options it is certain now that the market itself will reach the doorstep of small farmers. This will not only provide higher prices to the farmer, but will also provide relief to the farmers due to the removal of middlemen; and the buyers or consumers will also benefit. Moreover, it will open up new avenues for the youth who want to develop modern facilities for the farmers through agro-start-ups.

Friends,

To give strength to small farmers, a large network of Farmer Producer Organizations i.e. FPOs is being developed across the country. The work of forming 10 thousand such Agricultural Producer Organizations is going on at a fast pace in the country. Organizations will also be able to negotiate in the market on behalf of small farmers. These FPOs are going to change the lives of small farmers in the same way as the Co-operative Movement has done in the field of milk or sugar, or like the Self Help Movement of women in villages has brought about meaningful changes.

Friends,

Food grain wastage has always been a major problem in India. Now that the Essential Commodities Act has been amended, this will change the situation. Now the government as well as others will get better opportunities to build a better infrastructure in villages. The role of our FPOs too is going to be an important one in the same. The government has recently launched an infrastructure fund of Rs 1 lakh crore. FPOs are also creating supply chains and value addition capacities in villages.

Friends,

The third law that has been enacted will also provide relief to the farmers from fluctuations in the prices of crops and will also encourage new technology in farming. Under this, apart from giving more options to the farmers, legal protection has also been given to them. When the farmer negotiates with any private agency or industry, the price of the produce will be decided even before sowing. And the company will provide Seeds, fertilizer, machinery and everything for this.

One more important thing; if the farmer wants to come out of the agreement for any reason, then he will not have to pay any penalty. But if the negotiating company breaks the agreement, it will have to pay a fine to the farmers. And we also have to keep in mind that the agreement will be only on the yield. The land of the farmer will not be at stake. That is, every type of protection to the farmer has been ensured through these reforms. If the farmer of India is empowered and his income increases, the campaign against malnutrition will also get equally boosted. I am sure that the growing synergy between India and FAO will give further impetus to this campaign.

I once again wish all of you the very best on 75 years of FAO. I hope you make a progress and the poorest of the poor across the country and the world gets rid of these problems in everyday life. Repeating our resolve to work with the world community, I once again wish you all the best!

Thanks a lot.

Thank you!

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PM Modi's interview to News X
May 21, 2024

In an interview to News X, Prime Minister Modi addressed the issue of toxic language in elections, explained why the Opposition frequently discussed him, and shared his views on job creation. He criticized the Congress' tax plans and appeasement politics.

Rishabh Gulati: A very warm welcome to the viewers of NewsX and India News. I’m Rishabh Gulati and with me is Aishwarya Sharma of The Sunday Guardian and Rana Yashwant. In today’s special episode, we proudly welcome a renowned ‘rashtra sevak’, and the Prime Minister of India in this Amrit Kaal, Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi. Mr Prime Minister, you took the time to speak to us, we are very grateful.

Prime Minister: Namaskar, my warm greetings to all your viewers.

 

Rishabh Gulati: Mr Prime Minister, the first question that comes to mind is about the Opposition, and it seems that the biggest item on their poll agenda is Narendra Modi. Why, in your opinion, do they talk so much about Narendra Modi?

Prime Minister: To understand why they discuss Narendra Modi, we must first understand the Opposition. To understand them, one can examine the administration between 2004 and 2014.

The Opposition has not been able to play a strong role. Even as the Opposition, the way they are falling apart, they did not play a constructive role of any kind. Despite deep discussions, they haven’t been able to bring serious issues to the public attention. They thought that by their antics, taking up space in the media, they would be able to keep their boat afloat. Even in this election, I have seen that they make fresh attempts every day to acquire media space, be it by making videos, nonsensical statements, or behaving in a way that people don’t normally behave. So they do this to acquire space in the media. Now abusing Modi is one such antic, where, if nothing else, they are guaranteed publicity. Even a small-time politician, if he bad-mouths me, will get about an hour of media attention. Perhaps they see Modi as a ladder to climb up in their political career.

 

Aishwarya Sharma: Mr Prime Minister, the I.N.D.I. alliance is talking about wealth redistribution. Do you think this is possible, and will the voters of the country be influenced by such a scheme?

Prime Minister: You can’t examine this in isolation. You must look at their overall thought process. When their (Congress) manifesto was released, I had said the manifesto had the imprint of the Muslim League. There was a statement made by Dr Manmohan Singh… I had attended the meeting in which he said that ‘Muslims have the first right to India’s resources.’ Now when I raised this in public, their media ecosystem raised a storm saying that ‘Modi is lying,’. So two days later, I brought Manmohan Singh’s press conference forward and put it in front of them. Then they stopped talking. So this was one example. Now in their Manifesto, they have said that they will give reservation (to Muslims) even when allotting government contracts.

So today, when a bridge is to be built somewhere, what is the criteria for awarding the contract? The company bidding is evaluated based on how resourceful they are, their experience, their capability, their ability to deliver on time, all these things. Now they say that they want to give reservations to the minorities, to the Muslims, in this process as well. It all adds up. Now when they say that they will impose inheritance tax, it means that taxes that go to the government, who will stand to benefit from it? It’s the same people that Manmohan Singh ji talked about. If you join the dots, this is the logic that comes from it. How will the country accept this? Secondly, has any developing country in the world indulged in such madness? Today, India needs to work hard to rise above its problems. We have made this attempt and pulled 25 crore people out of poverty. Where there used to be a few hundred start-ups, there are now over 1.25 lakh start-ups, and there are Unicorns. You must go among the people and work with energy, and that will bring the right result.

 

Rana Yashwant: Mr Prime Minister, the Ram Mandir has been built in Ayodhya, the consecration of Ram Lalla took place and there was joy among the people. In all this, there is Iqbal Ansari, who has fought the legal battle, and is an important person. He comes, holding a placard that says ‘Modi ka Parivaar’. Today, the minority community identifies with your policies and welfare schemes. Your opinion?

Prime Minister: Since you’ve brought up Ram Mandir and Iqbal Ansari, I will narrate an incident. Ram Mandir should have been built right after Independence. In all these years, it wasn’t built because they (Congress) felt it would affect their vote bank. Attempts were made in the Courts till the very end to stop it. It is a fact that Congress hindered the building of the Ram Mandir. Despite this, when the Supreme Court judgment came through, the Court constituted a trust, and the trust members, let go of all past differences and went to invite the Congress Party members to the consecration ceremony. They rejected the invitation. The same people went to invite Iqbal Ansari. The ironic thing is, that Iqbal Ansari, who fought the Babri Masjid case his entire life, respected the Supreme Court’s verdict and attended the ‘Shilanyas’ and the ‘Pran Prathistha’ ceremony as well. This is what I think, as far as Iqbal Ansari is concerned.

Now if you want to talk about secularism, it is my very serious allegation, that for over 75 years, through a very well-crafted conspiracy, a false narrative has been fed to the nation. It has been embedded in the nation from before our birth. Sardar Patel was targeted by this narrative, and maybe, today it may be my turn, tomorrow someone else… Why do they cry out ‘secularism’ over and over again? It’s because they want to divert the world’s attention from their communal activities.

They cry ‘thief’ over and over when they have defrauded the people, and they do this because they think crying ‘thief’ will divert the public’s attention. This is their ploy. I have called them out in front of everyone, that they are the ones who are communal. India’s constitution does not allow you to indulge in such sectarian acts, and I have brought out several such examples, like I mentioned earlier that they called the Muslims the rightful inheritors of India’s wealth. I am exposing them. They (Congress) hide behind their politics of appeasement and instead accuse me of being communal. I am talking about those communal parties that wear the ‘nikab’ of secularism and indulge in hardcore communalism. I find three things common among these people. They are hardcore sectarians, they are extremely casteist, and they are hardcore dynasts. They are so full of these three things that they can’t come out of it.

 

Rishabh Gulati: Mr Prime Minister, you have spoken about lifting 25 crore people out of poverty. 80 crore poor people are receiving ration – it is necessary now and will be so in the future as well. What do you have to say about how crucial it will be in the future?

Prime Minister: When Manmohan Singh ji was the Prime Minister, news was rife with reports of food grains getting spoilt. So, the Supreme Court asked the government as to why the grains were not being distributed among the poor. Manmohan Singh ji, who was the Prime Minister then, stated on record that they could not distribute the grains and that it was impossible to do it. That is the consequence of his thinking. I faced the same issue, especially during COVID-19. My first goal was to ensure that a stove should be lit in every poor household. So, I started working on it. I have stated this for the next five years as well because in the lives of those who come out of poverty…

For example, one returns home from the hospital. The treatment has been done but precaution is necessary. A doctor advises you to take rest for a particular duration after returning home, tells you what to eat and what to refrain from consuming, and what to take care of. Why? The illness has already been addressed, but if anything is jeopardized then the condition of the person would return to what it was. That is why poor people who escape poverty need handholding. They should not return to that state in any condition. Once they escape poverty, they should be empowered to stand strong. In my understanding, in the next five years, those who have escaped poverty should be able to firmly stand on their feet. Any unfortunate incident in their family, should not push them to poverty again. And only then will the country eradicate poverty.

 

Aishwarya Sharma: Mr Prime Minister, our country is the youngest country. Under your tenure, 10 lakh government jobs have been filled. Now, the Opposition has vowed to fill 30 lakh government jobs. In your third term, how do you plan to boost employment opportunities for the youth?

Prime Minister: You must have read the SKOCH report that was released. I hope your TV channel studies the SKOCH report in detail and conducts a TV debate on this. They have analysed some 20 to 22 schemes of the government. They have published statistics about how many person-year-hours have been obtained. They have revealed how many hours it takes to build 4 crore houses and how many people it employs. They have published data for about 22 different parameters.

They have stated that 50 crore people have accrued benefits. Secondly, we brought the Mudra Yojana. We give bank loans without any guarantee. We have disbursed loans worth Rs 23 Lakh Crore. 80% of those who have received these loans are first-timers. Some have started their businesses and have employed a few people in this process. Start-ups used to be in the thousands and now they are in lakhs. People have been employed in this process, right? Consider that a 1000-kilometre road is being built and think about how many jobs are created. So, if a 2000-kilometre road is being built more people will be employed, right? Today, road and rail construction has doubled, electrification has doubled, and mobile towers are reaching every corner of India. All this is being created by people who have received jobs. That is why a lie is being peddled.

 What’s important is that we must move towards creating jobs for ourselves. The youth in this country are in the mood to do something and be productive and we must help them. We must encourage them. Our Mudra Yojana does exactly that. We also run the SVANidhi scheme. There are countless street hawkers, who are poor people. But today, they are taking money from the bank to run their businesses. Due to this, they can save money and expand their business. Earlier, a street hawker would sit on the footpath and now his goal is to buy a lorry. One who would owned a lorry earlier now wishes to provide home delivery services. Their aspirations are rising. This is why I believe that while people receive the benefits of government schemes, which will eventually result in development, we must also focus on several other areas.

 

Rana Yashwant: Prime Minister, your government works on the principle of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. Beneficiaries avail welfare schemes without any discrimination – caste, religion, or community. Yet, the Opposition maintains that Muslims do not accrue the same benefits from these welfare schemes.

Prime Minister: You are the first person from whom I’ve heard this. The unique aspect of my government, in terms of delivering welfare schemes, has not raised any questions regarding discrimination.

 

Rana Yashwant: The Opposition has to say this.

Prime Minister: Even the Opposition does not say this. You are the first person from whom I’ve heard this. I have never heard this from anybody because everyone knows… and Muslims themselves say that they receive all benefits.

The primary reason is that I have two principles. First, 100% saturation. For example, if poor people must be given houses, complete delivery must take place. If 100% delivery is the goal, then where does the scope of discrimination even arise? Whether it is providing gas connections, building toilets, ensuring tap water connections, I believe in 100% delivery. Yes, some people will receive the benefits in January, some in April and some in November, but the scheme will apply to all and 100%. I believe that true secularism is when 100% delivery is done. Social justice is when 100% is done. So, if my mission is 100% saturation… and nobody has made this charge yet. They don’t have the courage to say it. I have lived in Gujarat as well, and on this topic, nobody can prop up any charges against me.

 

Rishabh Gulati: Mr Prime Minister, you have taken out time to sit with us and relay your ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Thank you so much. Best of luck for the polls ahead.

Prime Minister: I thank you all. I have been campaigning day and night…

 

Rana Yashwant: You are constantly on the move. We see you morning until night on the run…

Rishabh Gulati: Today, you had a big rally at 8 in the morning.

Prime Minister: I started my day at 6 am and went to Jagannath Puri temple to offer my prayers. Since then I have been traveling and have at last got time to meet you.

 

Rana Yashwant: Where ever you go, Jagannath or Kashi, there is a sea of people that comes to greet you. You have experienced it yourself.

Prime Minister: I realise that my responsibilities are now increasing. I also see that the public has taken ownership of elections. Political parties are not fighting the elections. The public has taken ownership of this election. And the results will be as desired by the public.

Thank you!