Inaugurates, dedicates to nation and lays foundation stone for multiple development projects worth Rs 55,600 crore in Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh
Lays foundation stone for Dibang Multipurpose Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh
Dedicates Sela Tunnel to the nation to provide all weather connectivity to Tawang
Launches UNNATI scheme worth about Rs 10,000 crores
Inaugurates Sabroom Land Port to facilitate movement of passengers and cargo between India and Bangladesh
Releases coffee table book - Building Viksit Arunachal
“Northeast is the 'Ashtalakshmi' of India”
“Our government is committed to development of the Northeast”
“Development works are reaching Arunachal and the Northeast like the first rays of the sun”
“UNNATI Yojana for encouraging development of industries in the Northeast”

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed Viksit Bharat Viksit North East Program in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh today. Shri Modi inaugurated, dedicated to the nation and laid the foundation stone for multiple development projects worth about Rs 55,600 crores in Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh. He also dedicated Sela Tunnel to the nation and launched the UNNATI scheme worth about Rs 10,000 crores. The development projects of today encompass sectors like rail, road, health, housing, education, border infrastructure, IT, Power, Oil and Gas, among others.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister noted the ongoing national festival of Viksit Bharat from Viksit Rajya. He acknowledged the new enthusiasm among the people of the Northeast for Viksit Northeast. He expressed gratitude for the support of Nari Shakti for the initiative.

Reiterating his vision of ‘Ashtalakshmi’ for the development of the Northeast, the Prime Minister called the region a strong link of tourism, business and cultural relations with South and Southeast Asia. Talking about the Rs 55,000 crore rupees projects of today, the Prime Minister said 35,000 thousand families of Arunachal Pradesh got their pucca houses, piped water connections for thousands of families of Arunachal and Tripura and connectivity-related projects for many states of the region. These education, road, railways, infrastructure, hospitals, and tourism projects have come with a guarantee of a Viksit Northeast, he added. He further said that the allocation of funds in the last 5 years is four-fold more than the earlier times.

The Prime Minister highlighted the Mission Palm Oil, a special campaign carried out by the central government keeping in mind the Northeast and informed that the first oil mill under this mission is being inaugurated today. “Mission Palm Oil will make India aatmanirbhar in the edible oil sector and boost the income of farmers”, the Prime Minister said, expressing gratitude towards the farmers for taking up palm cultivation.

“Entire Northeast can witness the meaning of Modi ki guarantee with the development works being done here”, the Prime Minister emphasized. He noted laying the foundation stone for Sela Tunnel and Doni Polo Airport in 2019 which have been inaugurated. “Whatever the time, month or year may be, Modi only works for the welfare of the nation and its people”, he said, acknowledging the support of those present on the occasion.

Referring to the recent Cabinet approval for the UNNATI scheme for industrial development of Northeast in a new form and expanded scope, the Prime Minister underlined the working style of the government as the scheme got notified in one day and guidelines were issued. He pointed out the push for modern infrastructure in the last 10 years, the implementation of about a dozen peace accords and the resolution of border disputes. The next step, the Prime Minister said, is the expansion of industry in the region. “Rs 10,000 crore UNNATI scheme will bring new possibilities of investment and jobs”, PM Modi said. He spelt out his focus on startups, new technologies, homestays and tourism-related opportunities for the youth of the region.

Throwing light on the government’s priority to making the lives of women in the Northeast easier, the Prime Minister mentioned the Rs 100 reduction in gas cylinder prices on the occasion of International Women’s Day yesterday. He also congratulated the entire team of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh for the remarkable work done to make tap water connections available to the citizens. The Prime Minister expressed delight that Arunachal and Northeast are leading the way in several development parameters and said, “Development works reach Arunachal and the Northeast like the first rays of the sun”. He noted the inauguration of drinking water supply project for 45,000 households in the state. He also mentioned multiple sarovars constructed under the Amrit Sarovar campaign, creating Lakhpati Didis in villages with the help of self-help groups. “We aim to create 3 crore Lakhpati Didis in the country and the women from Northeast will also benefit from this”, he added.

The Prime Minister criticized the earlier neglect of the development of the border villages. Referring to the Sela Tunnel, the Prime Minister reiterated his style of working as per the needs of the nation and not for electoral considerations. The Prime Minister promised the defence personnel that he would come to meet them at this engineering marvel in his next term. The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity and will improve the ease of travel for the people of Tawang. Work on many tunnels is going on in the region, the Prime Minister informed.

He also said that unlike the earlier approach, he has always considered the border villages as the ‘first villages’ and the Vibrant Village Programme is an acknowledgement of this thinking. Today, road projects for about 125 villages commenced and foundation stones were laid for tourism-related projects in 150 villages.

Problems of the most vulnerable and the most backward tribes are being addressed under PM-JANMAN scheme. Today, foundation stones were laid for Anganwadi centers in Manipur for such tribes.

Prime Minister Modi underlined that development works related to connectivity and electricity make for Ease of Living and Ease of Doing Business. Drawing comparisons between the work done to boost connectivity since independence till 2014 with that post-2014, the Prime Minister informed building 6,000 kms of highways in the last 10 years compared to 10,000 kms in seven decades and laying 2000 kms of rail lines. In the power sector, the Prime Minister mentioned work commencing in Dibang Multipurpose Hydropower Project in Arunachal Pradesh and Solar Power project in Tripura today. “Dibang dam will be India’s highest dam”, he said, noting the dedication of the highest bridge and the highest dam to Northeast.

The Prime Minister gave insights into his schedule for today including visits to Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. The Prime Minister said that every Indian is his family. The Prime Minister assured the citizens that he would not rest until basic necessities like pucca house, free raton, clean drinking water, electricity, toilets, gas connection, free treatment and internet connection among others are met. Concluding the address, the Prime Minister said, “Your dreams are my resolutions”, and thanked the entire Northeastern region for the development projects of today. Upon the Prime Minister’s request, the crowd turned on the flashlights of their mobile phones to celebrate the festival of development. “This spectacle will give strength to the nation”, he concluded.

Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, (Retd) Lieutenant General Kaiwalya Trivikram Parnaik and Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Shri Pema Khandu were present on the occasion among others.

Background

The Prime Minister’s vision for the progress and development of Northeast was strengthened as the ‘Viksit Bharat Viksit North East’ programme’ in Itanagar witnessed several development initiatives in Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh related to sectors like rail, road, health, housing, education, border infrastructure, IT, Power, Oil and Gas, among others.

During the programme, the Prime Minister launched a new Industrial Development Scheme for North East, UNNATI (Uttar Poorva Transformative Industrialization Scheme). The scheme will strengthen the industrial ecosystem in the North East, attract new investment, help set up new manufacturing and services units and give a boost to employment in the northeastern States. This scheme, worth Rs. 10,000 crore, is fully funded by the Government of India and covers all 8 North Eastern States. The scheme will provide incentives for capital investment, interest subvention and a manufacturing & services linked incentive to the approved units. A portal is also being started for easy and transparent registration of eligible units. UNNATI will help catalyze industrial development and aid economic growth and development of the North East region.

The Sela Tunnel project, constructed at a cost of about Rs 825 crore is an engineering marvel. It will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang across Sela Pass on the Balipara - Chariduar - Tawang Road in Arunachal Pradesh. It has been constructed using the new Austrian Tunnelling Method and incorporates safety features of the highest standards. The project will not only provide a faster and more efficient transport route in the region but is of strategic importance to the country. The foundation stone of Sela Tunnel was laid by the Prime Minister in February 2019.

The Prime Minister dedicated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth more than Rs 41,000 crore in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of Dibang Multipurpose Hydropower Project in Lower Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh. To be built at a cost of more than Rs 31,875 crore, it will be the highest dam structure in the country. It will generate power, help in flood moderation and lead to employment opportunities and socioeconomic development in the region.

Other important projects whose foundation stones were laid include several road, environment and tourism projects under the ‘Vibrant Village Programme’; upgradation of schools into 50 Golden Jubilee schools wherein holistic education will be provided through state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities; Double lane road to provide connectivity from Donyi-Polo airport to Naharlagun railway station, among others.

The Prime Minister dedicated to the nation various important projects in Arunachal Pradesh including several road projects; about 1100 projects of Jal Jeevan Mission, 170 telecom towers under Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) benefiting more than 300 villages, among others. The Prime Minister also handed over more than 35,000 houses constructed at the cost of Rs 450 crores under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (both Urban and rural) to the beneficiaries.

The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of several development projects worth more than Rs 3400 crores in Manipur. The important projects whose foundation stones were laid include the construction of Unity Mall at Nilakuthi; Development of infrastructure of the Processing Zone of Manipur IT SEZ at Mantripukhri; Construction of 60-bedded state Hospital in Lampjhelpat to provide specialized psychiatric care; and Development of infrastructure for Manipur Technical University, Imphal West District. The Prime Minister also inaugurated various road projects and several water supply schemes in Manipur, among other projects.

The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of several development projects worth more than Rs 1700 crores in Nagaland. The important projects whose foundation stones were laid include multiple road projects; construction of Unity Mall in District Chumoukedima; and upgradation of capacity transformation at 132kv sub-station Nagarjan, Dimapur. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the project for the upgradation of road from Chendang Saddle to Noklak (Phase-1) and several other road projects including Kohima-Jessami Road.

The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth more than Rs 290 crores in Meghalaya. The important projects whose foundation stone will be laid include construction of IT Park at Tura ; and construction of new four-lane road and conversion of existing two-lane into four-lane at New Shillong Township. The Prime Minister also inaugurated Farmers Hostel-cum-Training Centre at Upper Shillong.

The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth more than Rs 450 crores in Sikkim. The important projects whose foundation stones were laid by the Prime Minister include the re-development of Rangpo Railway Station and several road projects. The Prime Minister also inaugurated the new road connecting Tharpu and Daramdin in Sikkim.

The Prime Minister inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of multiple development projects worth more than Rs 8,500 crore in Tripura. The important projects whose foundation stones were laid include construction of Agartala Western Bypass and multiple road projects across the state; Indian Oil Corporation’s new Depot at Sekerkote to be constructed; and construction of Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for drug Addicted Persons. The Prime Minister also inaugurated various road projects in the state; project for 1.46 lakh rural functional household tap connections; and Land Port at Sabroom in South Tripura district constructed at a cost of about Rs 230 crore.

The newly developed Sabroom Land Port is located along the international border between India and Bangladesh. The land port will provide facilities like the Passenger Terminal Building, Cargo Administrative Building, Warehouse, fire station building, electrical substation, pump house, etc. It will facilitate the movement of passengers and cargo between Indian and Bangladesh as through the new port one can move directly to Chittagong port of Bangladesh which is 75 Kms away as opposed to moving to Kolkata/Haldia Port in West Bengal which is about 1700 Kms away. The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the Sabroom Land Port in March 2021.

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PM Modi's Interview to The Economic Times
May 22, 2024

Q. Prime minister, the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign was strongly anchored in the fight against corruption. In 2019, it was the 'labharthi' model reaching every segment of society, besides the national security imperative that took centre stage. The 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign was expected to be pitched on 'vikas' and 'Viksit Bharat'. But it seems to have turned communal and polarising, your thoughts?

A: Perhaps, you find it polarising because you have not examined the crux of the matter. What is truly communal and polarising is Congress party's manifesto, their issues and their intent. It is my duty to expose them. Just because I am exposing them, you think it is polarising. You noted it correctly that in 2014, corruption was the main issue. In 2019, it was labarthis. In 2024, the main issue is Viksit Bharat. People across the country know that this is an important election which will ensure that we reach Viksit Bharat at the speed of the country's aspirations.

I must point out the difference between the scale of ambition of our government as compared to the UPA government. In 2014, the then finance minister said that India will become the third largest economy in 2043. In our case, we are already the fifth largest economy and will become the third largest economy in our third term. We will be at least 15 years ahead of their promise.

In this election, anti-corruption voter is with us and so is the labarthi voter. Along with it, a large section of the society which wants India to progress rapidly is also firmly backing us, which will ensure us getting a huge mandate on June 4.

Q. Prime minister, you have started a political debate on which section has or should have the 'first right' to national resources. Which segment should have the 'first right' and how would you identify this segment?

A: I have said it before and I am saying it again: the first right to national resources belongs to the poor. Everything we do, every policy we make, has the welfare of the poor at the heart of it. We are committed to ensuring that the fruits of development reach every poor person, regardless of their caste, community or region. Over the last decade, we have focused on a policy of saturation, ensuring that government schemes reach 100% of beneficiaries.

For example, if a village has 20 homes, is it fair that only 15 homes receive all the benefits? No. We are ensuring that all 20 homes are empowered, leaving no one behind. We are moving forward with this motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.

Q. 428 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies have already voted. How is BJP score currently looking against the '400 paar' target? Has BJP crossed the 272-mark?

A: Doing such analysis is the job of experts. However, I have clear signal from the people on the ground that we have crossed the majority mark and the momentum is only getting stronger with each phase.

Everywhere I have gone in the past few weeks, I have received a lot of love, support and enthusiasm for BJP.

On the voting day, our polling booths are brimming with activity. In contrast, the atmosphere on the Opposition side is very grim and hopeless. It shows that we are well on our track to achieve a historic victory in the elections. People also realise this and hence they won't waste their vote on Congress and its allies which have already lost the elections. Hence in the remaining two phases, we will see even greater support for NDA.

Q. Which are the states you expect to score better than 2019?

A: In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, I am confident that BJP will win with a historic mandate. With the support we are getting from people in all states to make India a developed nation, I can confidently say that our vote share will increase everywhere. This time, we have set a more ambitious target: it's not just about winning seats, but about winning each polling booth. Every one of our karyakartas is focused on the strategy of winning the polling station.

I believe we will repeat our strong performance in the states where we won big in 2014 and 2019. South India and east India will bring record new gains. This time, we will vastly improve our performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha. The so-called 'red corridor' will turn entirely saffron this election. Even Uttar Pradesh will see a rise in our seats.

The overwhelming will of the people across India is to bring us back with a historic mandate because they have seen how a strong, decisive and sensitive government has secured the nation and strengthened its position in the world. They are fed up with corruption, dynastic politics, minority appeasement and the mismanagement of states under Opposition governments. That's why they want the NDA again.

The stock markets have been volatile of late amid FII selling while some market participants attribute this to uncertainty around election results. Do you think markets will respond positively post-election results?
Our government has undertaken maximum reforms and managed the economy with fiscal prudence.

The trust the stock market places in us is evident in its remarkable performance over the past decade. When we took office, the Sensex was around 25,000 points. Today, it stands at around 75,000 points, reflecting a historic rise. Recently, we reached a whopping $5 trillion market cap for the first time ever!

Over the past 10 years, if you just take a look at the number of Demat accounts, you will understand how citizens have started to show confidence in Indian economy. The number of Demat accounts has increased from just 2.3 crore to over 15 crore now. The number of mutual fund investors has increased from 1 crore in 2014 to 4.5 crore today. As a result, we have a broader base of domestic investment. Domestic investors have become more active and vibrant and are playing a more substantial role in our markets than ever before. This is a clear indication of the financialisation of savings that has occurred in the last 10 years.

Our investors are well aware of the pro-market reforms we have implemented. These reforms have created a robust and transparent financial ecosystem, making it easier for every Indian to participate in the stock markets. I can say with confidence that on June 4, as BJP hits record numbers, the stock market will also hit new record highs.

Q. What your government calls a fight against corruption is criticised by the Opposition as targeted investigation by enforcement agencies. How do you respond to this?

A: The thing to note here is that even these people are not denying their own corruption. They are not saying that we are not corrupt or we have been falsely implicated. The only thing they are saying is that they are being targeted. So yes, we are targeting all corrupt. I have no hesitation in saying that. Think about it. Last year, hundreds of crores of cash was discovered from a Congress MP in Jharkhand. Dozens of people had to use multiple note counting machines for days to count the mountains of cash. Recently, Rs 25 crore was found from the house of the assistant of a Congress leader. We all saw the piles of cash and the gold bars that ED discovered in a TMC leader's flat. What does this tell us? It tells us that our agencies are on the right track.

Besides, in all the corruption cases investigated by ED, only 3% involve politicians. The remaining 97% involve officials and criminals. This proves that ED and CBI are not acting with political bias. Additionally, before 2014, ED only seized assets worth Rs 5,000 crore, but in the last 10 years, that amount has exceeded ₹1 trillion. These findings show that our investigative agencies are doing their job well. Therefore, it is important to let these agencies work without interference.

These accusations from the Opposition seem to come from a fear of being caught and having their corruption exposed. The fact is that INDI Alliance is a bloc that has been formed to protect each other's corruption, and the money that they looted from the citizens is there for everyone to see each time a corruption scandal is exposed.

Back in 2019, I told the people that your vote has brought corrupt to the doorstep of jail. Your next vote will ensure that they are put behind bars, and I delivered on that promise. This government has taken steps to systematically root out corruption since day 1. Earlier, it was such that out of every rupee meant for the people, only 15 paise reached them. Today, I can proudly say that when a rupee is sent out, the full 100 paise reaches the intended recipients through DBTs. How? Because this government leveraged technology to tackle corruption. We introduced the concept of e-governance, simplified procedures and made India go digital and cashless. We have come a long way in our fight against corruption, and in my third term, it will continue with even greater vigour.

Q. How do you rate your party's chances in Odisha after alliance talks did not fructify? You have often held Naveen Patnaik in high regard among all CMs. But what are your views as you challenge him in the state in a bid to prevent him from securing another term?

A: Over the last few days, I had the privilege of interacting with the wonderful people of Odisha across many rallies. Among the Odia people, especially the youth, women, tribals and farmers, I see a great upsurge of hope and aspiration towards the development-oriented politics of BJP. I am convinced that a big transformation is happening in the electoral landscape of the state, not only at the Lok Sabha level but also at the assembly level.

Odisha is a state that has a lot of untapped potential. It has talented young people and can be a much bigger player in the world of technology and startups. It has hardworking farmers and good natural resources. With an encouraging government, farmers of Odisha will make it an agricultural hub in the country. Odisha is a treasure trove of literature, history, heritage, art and architecture. It has all the elements to make it a much sought-after tourist destination, which can create a number of opportunities for the youth.

Similarly, the state also has a vibrant coastline which helps trade and fisheries. But sadly, many of these sectors have been neglected over the years because of BJD's lethargy and lack of vision. The people of Odisha understand that only BJP can make a difference because they have seen the ten-year track record of our government at the Centre. They have seen how our schemes are designed and implemented with the people's empowerment as their focus. Whether it is foodgrain, gas connections, bank accounts, toilets or tap water connections, these are reaching the people and bringing a transformation in their lives. So, they trust those who actually deliver a better life to them.

Further, BJP is not new to Odisha. We have always got great support in the state, including putting up a strong performance in past Lok Sabha polls.

Q. When we talk states, alliances in Punjab, Haryana and Tamil Nadu have come under strain ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Your thoughts?

A: See, you are focusing on a few parties who are no more part of NDA. In those cases, we have gone with our principles, the wishes of the people and our cadre. We are also sure that we will do well in the elections nevertheless. But what you mentioned is not the complete picture. Across India, there have been many states where we have added so many new partners into the NDA fold. You mentioned Tamil Nadu. In the state, NDA has about 10 or more parties.

There are states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and many others where we have added new allies over the last few weeks or months. If you look at the larger picture, we have added more parties and our alliance also has momentum on its side. So, I see this as a positive trend that more and more parties want to be with our vision for progress and the people are also supporting us.

Q. India has good relations and strong strategic, economic ties with Israel as well as Iran besides most other gulf nations. How do you see the West Asia crisis impacting us? Do you foresee a bigger role for India in this conflict?

A:The crisis in West Asia is deeply concerning, especially in terms of the human cost of it. India has strong relations with many countries in West Asia. Even if some of these nations find themselves on the opposite side of each other, we have equally healthy relations with each of them. I also have a deep bond with the leaders of many of these nations and am moved by their gestures of friendship. I had sent a special envoy to urge for ensuring a cease-fire during the month of Ramzan. So, along with others, we too are doing our bit for global peace. We have always conveyed to these nations that we are totally on the side of peace and progress. We have always stressed upon the perspective that dialogue is the way forward. And we will continue to do so.

Q. You have been saying India is at a turning point, ready for a quantum leap. What are factors in India's favour and strengths that you intend to leverage to leapfrog?

A: I have said earlier that demography, democracy, demand are with India. These factors were there earlier too but the way we have empowered these crucial factors with our mantra of reform, perform, transform has made an important difference.

The demographic sweet spot that India is in has not been seen in the past and will not be seen in future. To complement it, we have put the nation in an economic sweet spot. We have given an era of historic reforms across various sectors.

Be it banking, foreign direct investment, compliances, corporate taxation, income taxes or even fiscal policy, our reforms have spanned across various sectors.

As a result, from Fragile Five we have reached Top Five Economies. We have been the fastest growing economy for many years now. We have also received record foreign direct investment (FDI) over the years.

All this has resulted in an environment where investment, industry and innovation can thrive, benefiting our talented youngsters in terms of the number of opportunities being created across sectors.

Further, look at the impact of our welfare initiatives. Whether it is bank accounts, toilets, tap water, electricity or health insurance, these facilities are reaching those who were deprived of them for decades.

This helped 25 crore people rise above poverty, creating a neo-middle class that is hopeful and aspirational. These people are driving new patterns of income generation and demand, powering the wheels of the economy even further.

At the same time, India is undergoing rapid digital transformation, with increasing internet penetration and a booming tech and startup industry. Whether it is Digital India or DBT (direct benefit transfer) or digital payments, they are creating a new wave of innovation and empowerment.

And when it comes to physical and social infrastructure, the speed and scale at which we have worked is unprecedented. If the number of our airports has doubled, so has the number of medical colleges.

While we have added thousands of kilometres of national highways, we have also added hundreds of schools, colleges and universities.

These efforts have created momentum for capital and human capital.

Further, India's strategic positioning in the world enhances our trade and diplomatic engagements. As a trusted member of various international forums and trade agreements, India is well-placed to leverage global markets and attract international partnerships.

Many experts across the world are saying this is India's time, India's decade and India's century. Whether it is space or solar energy, sports or startups, the world is seeing India arrive on the global stage across sectors.

More importantly, every Indian, believes this is India's time. This self-belief is like the icing on top of all the strides that our country has taken in the last few years.

Q. What in your vision constitutes 'Viksit Bharat', its contours and parameters?

A: Viksit Bharat is a nation where no one is too small to dream and no dream is too big to achieve. Viksit Bharat is a nation where social circumstances or birth do not limit anyone's growth. Everyone, no matter who they are, can aspire to reach the heights of success.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with sustained high growth, strong manufacturing, services, agriculture and technology. It is a nation where economic growth is inclusive, where poverty is a thing of the past.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where there are high-quality jobs driven by innovation, entrepreneurship and skill development. Viksit Bharat is a nation with a fully digitised economy, widespread high-speed internet access and transparent e-governance services.

Viksit Bharat is a nation which is a hub of research and development, fostering a thriving ecosystem for science and technology.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with world-class transportation networks, renewable energy systems, and smart urban development.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where there is seamless rural-urban connectivity for balanced regional growth.

Viksit Bharat is a nation where high-quality healthcare is affordable, accessible and available to everyone.

Viksit Bharat is a nation with an education system emphasising quality, accessibility, native languages, fostering critical thinking, creativity and lifelong learning.

Viksit Bharat means having comprehensive social welfare systems ensuring the well-being of the elderly, Divyang, and marginalised communities.

Viksit Bharat means commitment to green growth through renewable energy, conservation of natural resources and a reduced carbon footprint.

In the last 10 years, we have been working proactively across all these sectors. The foundation we have laid will help us achieve great heights by 2047.

Q. Creating enough jobs for India's youth is the biggest challenge facing the economy. Do you think high growth will address the issue, or something more is needed? What's the road ahead? What contribution is expected from the private sector?

A: Today, India is blessed with a demographic dividend. Along with this blessing, it is very important to ensure that the youth get opportunities. Today, India's growth momentum, vibrancy and optimism comes from the fact that our youth have these new opportunities and are making the most of them.

Look at the startup sector, for example. We went from just a few startups in 2014 to nearly 1.37 lakh in 2024. We have 100+ unicorns today, and we're the third largest startup economy in the world.

Similarly, in R&D, we're leading the way. Startups themselves have registered over 12,000 patents. And last year, a record 90,300 patent applications were received. India's youth, empowered with opportunities and innovation under this government, have become the driving force behind the nation's remarkable growth trajectory.

While we understand that high growth is important for creating enough opportunities, we are not satisfied with just that. We are actively bringing in reforms. We are looking towards the future and creating future jobs.

We are opening up new sectors, encouraging entrepreneurship, improving access to credit and improving government jobs.

India's digital economy has grown 2.4 times faster than the economy between 2014 and 2019, creating around 6 crore jobs.

Our gig economy is also thriving and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years, with over 20% engaged in highly skilled jobs.

With just MUDRA loans, over crores of new businesses have been started and India's entrepreneurial energy unleashed.

I have been regularly attending rozgar melas to interact with our youth. The central government alone has ensured that lakhs of youth receive their recruitment letters through the melas.

Look at the indicators which prove the job generation. The returns filed by individual taxpayers more than doubled from 3.36 crore in 2013-14 to 8.18 crore in 2023-24. EPFO payroll data shows that over 6 crore new EPFO subscribers have been added in the last seven years, indicating a surge in youth employment. PLFS data shows that between 2017 and 2023, the participation rate of the worker population ratio has increased to over 56%, and unemployment is at a historic low of 3.2%.

In the last 10 years, we have not just stressed and worked on the creation of jobs, but also invested our efforts in nurturing and creating job creators.

Q. Jammu & Kashmir has stabilised after the revocation of Article 370. You talked about holding elections in the Union Territory, the Supreme Court too has spoken similarly. What is your assessment on carrying out the next steps?

A: You are right that the region has stabilised after August 2019. The elections in Jammu and Kashmir are an important milestone in its history. The record voter turnout in is one of the most gratifying things I have seen in my tenure.

The people of the region have seen our constant and honest efforts to strengthen democracy. Be it Srinagar or Baramulla, people have expressed great confidence in the electoral process and optimism for the future.

The progress that Jammu and Kashmir has made in the last five years is proof that we are on the right path. We will ensure that these gains become deep-rooted and irreversible.

We are very clear in our intent. We are committed to restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Supreme Court has set a date for assembly elections in the region. The Election Commission will take a call on the right time for the assembly elections.

Q. Are you satisfied with the way the defence sector has responded to your call for 'atmanirbharta', to reduce dependency on imports? What more can be done by the government and other stakeholders?

A: During the Covid era, the world realised the importance of self-reliance. Although we were already making progress in this direction, we used the time of pandemic to push this cause with significant momentum.

For years, we used to rely on the world for even small items. Not only did it create dependencies but it also caused loss of precious foreign exchange.

We used the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan to create a mindset change to promote self-reliance as well as to create conducive conditions for manufacturing in India. The results and the trajectory of growth have been quite satisfying.

Let us start with vaccine manufacturing. There was a time when India took 20 years to procure polio vaccines and vaccination took another 40 years. We took 32 years for TB vaccination! Today India has produced not one or two but four vaccines. And not only that, we exported it to more than 100 countries. And we also ran the world's largest vaccination programme.

Similarly, previously there was zero production of PPE kits. But during Covid, we witnessed large-scale manufacturing.

In defence sector, we struggled to even produce bulletproof jackets for our soldiers. Today Indian defence exports include helicopters, patrol vessels, coastal surveillance systems and high-end defence equipments to more than 20 countries. And we are exporting bullet proof jackets to more than 100 countries. We are also emerging as a global hub for the production of helicopters. Our defence exports have touched a record high of more than 21,000 crore.

There was a time when India had only two mobile manufacturing units and over 90% of the mobiles were imported. Today 200+ units are manufacturing mobile phones and almost all the mobile phones used are made in India. We are the now second largest exporters of mobile phones in the world.

There were times when the potential of toy manufacturing and local artisans was overlooked. Today local artisans are making for the world. Their talent is getting recognised world over. There has been a decline in toy imports by 52% and rise in exports by 239% since 2014.

We are also focusing on semiconductor manufacturing and are taking rapid strides in this direction.

My vision for Aatmanirbhar Bharat aims to position India as a global manufacturing and innovation hub. I believe India, with its demographic dividend, democracy and demand, has the potential not only to meet its own needs but also those of the world. I firmly believe that Aatmanirbhar Bharat will not just fuel India's growth but will also propel global growth.

Following is the clipping of the interview:

 

 

 Source: The Economic Times