In his Independence Day address to the nation in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “The way we are using chemical fertilisers and pesticides, it is damaging the health of our soil. As a farmer, as a child of this soil, I have no right to damage its health. I have no right to make my mother India sad nor do have I right to make her sick.”

As agriculture supports nearly 47% of Indian population and contributes a significant 18% to the Indian GDP, it is pivotal to transform the sector in ways that invoke sustainability and security. PM Modi’s government has been conscious of the problems long faced by the farming community in India, and hence its measured yet robust push towards natural and organic farming is well intentioned.

Historically, while Rig Veda and Atharva Veda make mentions of green manure, Varahamihira’s Brihat Samhita elaborates upon different methods of manuring. Kautilya’s Arthashastra lists out several kinds of manures like excreta of animals and oil cake. And the great Indian epic Mahabharata talks about the celestial cow, Kamdhenu, and the role that it plays in human life and retaining soil fertility.

The Indian traditions thus serve as a reservoir of vital information for revitalising and mainstreaming indigenous practices—capable of restoring the health of the ecosystem and sustaining livelihoods.

With this approach in the main, the Modi government’s emphasis on these farming approaches is rooted in their potential to increase farm productivity, reduce input costs thereby raise farm incomes, improve soil health, and enhance access to niche markets. Hence, this shift not only aligns with global environmental concerns but also holds the promise of ushering in a new era of prosperity for Indian farmers.

The manifestation of this shift assumed form via Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) launched back in 2015-16. An all-inclusive scheme, PKVY is designed to provide end-to-end assistance to farmers in their shift towards organic farming—right from production, processing, certification to marketing and post-harvest management. The ultimate aim of the scheme is to promote creation of organic villages via cluster approach and Participatory Guarantee System certification (PGS) that helps farmers certify their produce plus label and market them domestically. This has led to dissemination of latest technologies in organic farming, quality control of organic inputs, improvement in soil health, and promotion of sustainable farming practices among rural farmers, youth, consumers, and traders alike.

Since its inception, PKVY has brought an area of 11.85 lakh hectare under organic farming. The Modi government aims to add another 6 lakh hectare between 2022-23 and 2025-26.

In addition to enhanced productivity, organic and natural farming hold promise of increasing farm incomes through reduction in input costs. These practices encourage the use of natural inputs such as compost, green manure, and biopesticides, reducing the dependence on expensive chemical fertilisers and pesticides. This not only lowers the financial burden on farmers but also contributes to the overall sustainability of agriculture by minimising the environmental impact associated with synthetic inputs.

The Bharatiya Prakritik Krishi Padhati (BKPK), introduced in 2020-21, as a sub-scheme of PKVY, mainly caters to exclusion of all chemical inputs while promoting on-farm biomass recycling with emphasis on biomass mulching, utilising plant-based and cow dung-urine preparations, among other things. The scheme provides financial assistance throughout the process, right from cluster formation, capacity building to certification. Promoting agro-ecological farming system, 4.09 lakh hectare has been sanctioned under BKPK.

Building on this initiative, the government launched the National Mission on Natural Farming in 2023-24 to give a boost to chemical-free agriculture and expand the reach of natural farming. It has been rightfully backed by a funding of Rs. 459 crore.

Such consistent efforts are leading to massive improvements in soil health even as these practices improve water retention and microbial activity through use of organic matter, cover cropping and crop rotation. The long-term benefits of healthier soil include better resilience to climate variability and improved crop yields, ensuring long-term food security and sustainability of agriculture.

Farm incomes are further improved as these initiatives enhance farmers’ access to higher-value markets, not just domestically but also globally. Organic produce often commands premium prices in the market due to its perceived health benefits and environment-friendly production methods. By tapping into the rising demand of organic products, Indian farmers have the opportunity to access larger markets, thereby improving their economic well-being.

Keeping a tab on these benefits, Modi Government’s Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER) has expanded organic farming across 1.73 lakh hectares, benefitting 1.89 lakh farmers. The scheme is credited with the formation of 379 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), establishment of 205 collection, aggregation and grading units, 190 custom hiring centres, 123 processing units and pack houses, and development of 7 brands.

The Jaivik Kheti Portal, a dedicated web portal to promote marketing of organic products, also boasts of over 6.15 lakh farmers registrations.

In addition, the government has strengthened its commitment towards the cause of sustainability in agriculture via intiatives like National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm, Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme, and National Food Security Mission.

This proactive approach backed by ample financial assistance and strategic handholding at each step sets the Modi government apart in its commitment towards Indian agriculture. As the nation embraces a greener revolution, the benefits of natural and organic farming are poised to create a win-win situation for both farmers and the environment.

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"Building Atmanirbhar Bharat Through Comprehensive Job Creation"
February 24, 2024

One of the most effective pathways of aspirational and practical self-actualization for citizens of a nation is employment generation at scale and expanse. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been cognizant of this need and has moved the needle comprehensively so that job creation today is happening across the spectrum: in the formal and informal sectors, through direct and indirect opportunities, in conventional and unconventional fields, and via self-employment and the opening up of multiple avenues for gigs, start-ups and novel entrepreneurship.

Government Initiatives
If on the one hand, Bharat is seeing the exponential growth in the number of start-ups and a conducive environment has made it one that has the largest number of unicorns, on the other hand a record number of Mudra loans sanctioned have fuelled unprecedented women-led growth, and the Agniveer scheme that aims to recruit youth into the Armed services has seen adoption in record numbers. According to a Harvard University research, India is among the top quartile of fastest-growing countries till 2029 and is undergoing a historic transition towards becoming a more formalized and technologically advanced, digitally evolved nation.

In the three years between 2017-18 and 2020-21, total employment increased by 8.4 crore which is a manifestation of several key factors such as demonetisation, rationalisation of taxes, the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), digital inclusivity and digitisation of financial transactions, inclusion of skill development and vocational training in the National Education Policy, increasing the number of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), a fillip to the hitherto marginalized segments such as rural and tribal populace, and effective incentivization for a highly labour dominant unorganized sector. An example is how PM Street Vendor’s Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), has benefitted more than 56 lakh rehri or street vendors from June 2020 to November 2023.

Immense positive impact can be seen in the nation’s formal employment sector. India is the 5th largest economy in the world with 1.12 crore net additional employment created between 2015 to 2018. This is a result of the confluence of progressive, pro-industry policy decisions, leveraging of advancements in technology, reforms to ease business investment, and a focus on skilling. An example of how this translates on the ground is that with the PM MUDRA Yojana More than 15 crore people have been employed in the MSME sector out of which 3.4 crore are women.

In the IT Industry alone, around 20 lakh people have been employed between 2013-14 and 2021-22. Indirectly, about 6.24 crore jobs were created between 2014 and 2019 in India’s digital economy. When it comes to a boost in employment generation across sectors, let’s take the example of tourism – a revamped and increasingly attractive tourism and hospitality industry led to 1.9 crore indirect jobs being created in the tourism sector between 2017 and 2020. The overhaul in the hospitality sector has led to the creation of many such jobs directly, and indirectly; India is among the most visited countries in the world and has been experiencing a growing influx of tourists. This has led to business incentivization and a boost to local artisans, transport providers, and hotels and restaurants within the larger hospitality service industry. In Air transport alone, for every Rs. 100/- invested in the sector, 610 indirect jobs are generated.

Infromal Sectors
The winds of change can also be seen in the disruptive as well as informal sectors. Providing security and stability to the unconventional health and wellness, since 2014, about 5.65 lakh practitioners have been provided employment under Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH). The introduction of several new reforms, an increase in FDI, which have further helped in improving the ‘ease of doing business’ along with low data costs, improvised processes and ready adoption have created a thriving new ecosystem for employment – the gig and platform economy. Gig-economy jobs grew year-on-year by 13% and over 29.20 crore people have registered so far on the E-Shram portal. From 2016 to May 2022, ‘Hunar Haat’ has created employment avenues for over 10.5 lakh artisans and talented Vishwakarmas.

The continuing chain of beneficiaries in the government’s Gati shakti model include processes that act as catalysts for indirect job creation in sectors such as transport, logistics, mobility, food, consumer goods and manufacturing products. Up to 2021-22, 53,696 km of roadways were created which generated 21.8 crore man-days of employment. As mentioned before, round 6 crore people employed in unorganized sector between 2017-18 and 2019-20 have benefited from the SVANidhi Yojana – making PM Modi’s vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Prayas a quintessential facet of employment for all.

People-first policies such as the flagship program for equitable housing, the PM Awas has created 2.39 crore indirect jobs up to 2022. Another great example of the ripple effect of employment generation can be seen in the form of Production Linked Incentive (PLI) schemes which enable the expansion of existing industries into larger ones, while promoting the creation of new ones. As an example, 5 lakh incremental jobs have been created in the mobile manufacturing sector due to PLI. As per the Economic Survey 2023, PLI schemes are slated to create 60 lakh jobs. In addition, India’s fintech adoption rate of 87% as against the world average of 64% has enabled the creation of an ecosystem that is touching the lives and livelihoods of all – including the self-employed and small business owners.

To this end, Rozgar Melas that aim to provide 10 lakh jobs in less than two years, and that meld employment opportunities and unique talent have been a boon for the economy. Rozgar Mela is a key step towards the fulfilment of the commitment to accord the highest priority to employment generation in the country. On 12th February, 2024, PM Modi distributed more than 1 lakh appointment letters to newly inducted recruits and also lay the foundation stone of Phase I of the Integrated Complex “Karmayogi Bhavan” to promote collaboration and synergy amongst various pillars of Mission Karmayogi. “Rozgar Melas are playing a crucial role in enhancing the contribution of our Yuva Shakti in nation building”, said PM Modi. Rozgar Mela will be held at 47 locations across the country this year with recruitments taking place across central government departments and state governments/UTs supporting this initiative. These melas ascribe gainful opportunities to the youth, the Amrit Generation, and create pathways for their direct participation in national development. Similarly, under the Prime Ministers Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), over 43.77 lakh people have got employment and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) has led to the placement of over 24.51 lakh candidates.

As policy making becomes efficient, so do its representative tools; more than 19.9 lakh people have been placed in jobs through employment exchanges between 2017-2022. The government has incessantly been taking many measures to tackle unemployment issues and stem the unemployment rate. The Amrit generation is benefitting from a multi-pronged approach; if on the one hand, Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), has benefitted around 2.94 lakh from 2014-15 to December 2022, on the other hand, over 1.80 lakh new job-creators and entrepreneurs are now operating under the Stand-Up India scheme.

New India – Naya Bharat – is one that thrives on a developed mindset with the aim of making the country Atmanirbhar, and a Vishwa Mitra – one the world leans on. As an example of this commitment, in the current financial year, Khadi has achieved a historic milestone by generating over 9.54 lakh new jobs. Be it our push towards renewable energy, creating a decarbonized energy sector which ranks India is 4th globally or the reduction of unemployment rate in rural areas, (decreased from 5.3% in 2017-18 to 2.4% in 2022-23) the commitment of PM Modi’s government to decisively mitigate unemployment stays foremost.

A spurt in the employment index is predicated on employment mobility to higher productivity jobs, rising job rates in secondary and tertiary sectors, promotion of women as economic catalysts and the increased formalisation of the unorganized, informal sector. PM Modi’s government has consistently come good on all the parameters which is the reason why milestone, upon milestone, Bharat’s journey towards becoming Atmanirbhar and the world’s third largest economy, is only a matter of time.