Shobhana Bhartiaji, the entire Hindustan Times team and ladies and gentlemen from all over the country and abroad! Conversation or dialogue has a great importance in giving direction to any country, any society or an individual to move forward with a new energy. These Conversations form the foundation of a better tomorrow. This day marks the death anniversary of Baba Saheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the creator of our Constitution.
I pay homage to him on behalf of the countrymen. And I pray that may God give us the strength to fulfil the dream of a better tomorrow that Baba Saheb had dreamed of.
Friends, present plays the greatest role for taking us in the direction of the future, and now Shobhana ji has asked me a question - please tell everyone, how did you win the election? I would say, the people of the country made us win. Why did the people elect us? It is because we worked with the mantra of 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas'. Well, our government is working on the current challenges and problems for a better tomorrow and these challenges have not sprung up today. These have been present for decades.
Friends, the decision to abrogate Article 370 may seem politically challenging, but it has brought a new hope to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. By freeing the Muslim sisters from triple talaq, lakhs of families in the country have received a better future.
Hundreds of families from neighbouring countries, who were tortured and persecuted in those countries, who had faith in mother Bharti that their path to receiving citizenship will be opened, too have been ensured a better future. The decision taken regarding the unauthorized colonies of Delhi has also paved the way for a better future of 40 lakh people here. There are many such issues, which are the legacy of the past, but these cannot be overlooked for a New India and for a better tomorrow.
Friends, similarly, the peaceful resolution of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute is not just a solution to a dispute, but also a major factor in bettering India's future. And friends, we have to remember that several doubts were raised before the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict. The verdict came in the morning and by the evening, the people of the country proved all the apprehensions wrong. What was the spirit behind it? It was a Better Tomorrow. The society no longer wants to be entangled in the past. The country is looking forward to the future. In view of a better future for the country, we cannot underestimate this massive change that has occurred in the people's minds.
Brothers and Sisters, we cannot think of a Better Tomorrow while breeding problems and challenges and what is the Approach of our Government? if I would like to explain it to you simply by giving a relatable example. The question is that I am about to ask is not particularly for Hindustan Times. It's a general question for the media world. Did it ever happen that if you didn't find a column for the editorial page then you just leave it because it was printed the day before? Do you leave it blank?
Did this ever happen? No, it didn't! Or did it ever happen that you just left the last page of the newspaper blank because there was no story left? Or did you ever think of leaving the last page of the newspaper blank because of the thought that the reader might get tired till he reached the end? Obviously, you or for that matter any media house has never done this in the history of journalism. Our reporters and the people in your newsroom work painstakingly on every page of the newspaper to produce the best results.
But friends, you will be surprised to know that the previous governments had left a large part of the country blank which includes the most backward districts of the country that were lagging behind in almost every parameter.
Where is the highest maternal mortality rate? It is in these districts.
Where is the maximum number of deaths of newborns reported? It is in these districts. Where will you find the most severe problem of malnutrition? It is in these districts.
Where will you find the lowest rate of vaccination of children? It's in these districts.
Where will you find the maximum crisis of water, electricity and roads? It's in these districts.
Now look at the contrast; see the contradiction.
Which districts had the least focus by the previous governments? It was these very districts.
Which districts held the least number of Ministerial meetings? It was these very districts.
Where were the weakest government officers posted? It was in these districts.
Which districts remained furthest away from government monitoring? It is these districts only. That is, these districts that were on the last page in the race for development were left blank and left to their fate.
Today, when we are talking about a better tomorrow, I would also like to tell you that there are not 5-10 lakhs but 15 crore extremely poor people in these districts of the country. These people are mainly tribal, dalit and backward.
Don't their dreams matter for a better tomorrow? Did the poor people of these districts not have the right to dream of their bright future?
I want to ask the people sitting in this hall. Have you heard the name of Mamit? Have you heard the name of Namsai? Have you heard the name of Kiphire? None of you would have heard or might have heard just once or twice. What are these? These are the names of the districts of our country.
But you must have heard the name of Kalahandi. You must have heard of Gumla, Begusarai, Gadchiroli and Bastar.
Brothers and Sisters, there are around 700 districts of India. Now our government is developing 112 districts as Aspirational Districts. We are now working in these districts by fully focusing on every parameter of development and on every parameter of governance.
Whether it is malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality, banking facilities, insurance security, electricity connection, education system or healthcare facilities, we are constantly monitoring all these parameters on real time basis.
Hundreds of officers have been specially recruited for the development of these Aspirational districts. Generally, there is a negative temperament and hatred towards the government employees which has been seen for a long time in these districts. But you will be glad to know that hundreds of officers sitting in air condition rooms in Delhi these days are visiting at least twice a month to those remote districts. They are there for two or three days. They sit with the team there, strategizing and implementing plans and they try to change things. Hundreds of employees of Central Government have to spend two days in remote areas of the country. Going there is a guarantee for a better tomorrow. And today I am saying from the platform of Hindustan Times that the biggest push to improve India's overall development parameters will be from these 112 Aspirational Districts. When the future of the people here will improve, the future of India will automatically improve.
We are not the ones leaving the page blank, but we are the ones who write a new chapter. We are those who believe in the country's strength, the country's resources and the country's dreams. We are making every effort to use every resource available in the country for the better future of the countrymen with complete sincerity. We are taking the country towards Politics of Performance instead of Politics of Promises. This country has seen a lot from announcement of new rail lines before elections, announcement of new highways before elections, to promising debt waivers before elections and raising the slogan of poverty eradication.
Friends, during the regime of the previous governments, hundreds of such new trains were announced and we must not forget that everything spoken in Parliament holds sanctity. In Parliament, there were applauses, tables were patted and all the MPs visited their areas to announce new trains in those areas and you will be surprised that a lot of trains were announced, but not a single train was started. And I am giving the account of 30-40 years. I have come and seen that some of the announcements which were made 30 years and 40 years ago, the details of where the rail line will be laid were not even on the papers. Forget about the land, you will be surprised to know that today I am struggling to complete the railway and highway projects worth lakhs of crores which are 30-40 years old. Whatever was done at that time; was it done by thinking of a better tomorrow? No.
There should be a pressure on every government, be it the central or the stats government, to perform.
I know that we have welcomed this pressure. We have taken care of all the topics raised by the media today. If we have made a commitment to do something, then someone might ask us why that thing was not completed. This pressure is necessary and it is a good thing. We have promoted this new culture. And I believe this is the way to produce results. The pressure will increase, the expectations of the people will increase and their participation will also increase in ensuring a better tomorrow for the people.
Friends, we were concerned about the better future of the country, that's why we started the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in the country and now we are starting the Jal Jeevan Mission with the same intensity. Now, it had not happened in the last 50 years, but no one ever asked that why it was not done; but now I have started, and I will be asked every day about its progress. But was it necessary or not? I could have avoided it. I could have escaped but that path is not acceptable to me.
In the coming years, we are working towards connecting about 15 crore homes with water supply. Similarly, today India is confidently working to make its economy a $ 5 trillion economy. This goal is linked to the economy as well as the average income of 130 crore Indians, their Ease of Living and their better tomorrow.
Our government is playing the role of Enabler, Facilitator and Promoter with full force to achieve this goal. We are moving forward with the intention of Reform and Perform.
We are working together in every direction from improving the physical and financial infrastructure of the country to promoting Indian Industry on the Global Platform, from the abolition of over 1500 old laws, to the simplification of rules and procedures.
Friends, four things are often discussed to speed up development- Tax rate reduction, improvement in Ease of Doing Business, labour reforms and disinvestment. The steps taken by the government on all these aspects are going to bring a ray of hope for a better future. This year, we have taken a major decision regarding personal tax and have made income up to 5 lakh rupees tax free. This has directly benefitted a very large section of population with income above Rs 40 thousand per month, while those with a monthly income of up to Rs 70 thousand has also received a great relief in terms of savings. The savings will definitely help these families in building a better tomorrow.
Similarly, India has become the world's economy with the lowest tax rates due to the historic cut in corporate tax. Moreover, our position has also been strengthened as a promoter of investment and manufacturing. To improve the tax system, the E-Assessment Scheme has recently been implemented with businessmen and citizens to eliminate every possibility of harassment. Now, neither will you know which officer will get your file, nor will the officer know whose file it is.
Moreover, because the officer will not know who he is assessing, so the calculations used for transfer and posting will also cease. In a nutshell, the games which used to be played during tax assessment and the problems faced by the common man due to these games, will now end.
We are one of the top-10 Best Performers this year at Ease of Doing Business. We have improved 79 ranks in the last 5 years. I remember the last time, when the rank of Ease of Doing Business had improved, the Chairman of the World Bank had called me especially to congratulate us saying that it was a pleasure for him that such a vast country, that too a developing country could make such a major improvement. There is no such history available with the World Bank which showed a similar achievement. India is the first to have done this. The Chief called and told me this.
As far as labour reforms are concerned, dozens of decades-old laws are being codified into 4 laws, which will benefit both the employers and the employees. Talking about disinvestment, it is clear from the recent decisions that we are moving fast in that direction too.
Brothers and Sisters, three to four decades ago, when banks were nationalized in the country, trumpet was blown to show that there has been a great improvement. Then over time, it was found that the system of so many banks also had its flaws. Editorials were written here, experts and economists used to demand that there should be fewer banks in the country, only then our banking will be effective. Besides merging banks, we have given an amount of Rs 2.5 lakh crore for their recapitalisation. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code i.e. IBC has ensured a return of around Rs 3 lakh crore. After many such reforms, today the banking sector of the country is already in a very strong position after many major decisions.
Today once again, through you, I want to send my assurances to every bank employee of the country that we have come out of the old situation. Now your genuine business decisions will not be questioned. Guidelines related to getting scrutiny done from a Serving Finance and Banking Expert before any kind of action, are also being issued soon. It is the government's job to get rid of the stress and pressure on the banking sector today, and we will do it. If the person sitting in the bank is afraid to take decisions and is worried then he will not be able to take decisions. The government cannot leave that person helpless. The government takes full responsibility to protect the person. And that's when the country moves forward. And I am like that; I am not a person who runs away from responsibilities. I take responsibilities myself.
Today there are many people in this hall who live in Delhi-NCR. You all are well aware of the condition of the real estate sector due to the flow of black money. Even today, there are hundreds of thousands of people who have been paying EMIs for years, living in rented house and waiting for their dream home. To rescue the real estate sector from this situation, the government has also recently created a special window to complete the unfinished and stuck projects. Under this, 25 thousand crore rupees are being raised. I hope that a large section of the middle class will fulfil their dream of a home. Besides, the government is going to build 2 crore houses under its schemes, and decisions like GST exemption, interest rate rebate are also going to help the sector a lot.
Brothers and Sisters, one thing is very important in our dreams of a Better Tomorrow and that is the World Class Infrastructure in India. To fulfil this dream, the government is going to start projects worth 100 lakh crore rupees in the coming few years. In addition, we are also striving to increase private investment in the field of infrastructure. The government is also trying to ensure that the Infrastructure and Industry do not face any problem in the credit flow.
Friends, today the government is investing in rail connectivity, road connectivity, and air connectivity at an unprecedented rate, like never before. You are familiar with the effects of Ease of Living on its environment. But improving connectivity has a huge impact on yet another sector and that is tourism. As a result of the efforts of the government, today India is ranked 34th in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum. Whereas between the years 2009 and 2013 we were in the 62nd to 65th position.
And let me also remind you that the poor benefit the most due to the enhanced tourism; the poorest of the poor get employment and maximum employment is generated with the least capital investment. When tourism increases, foreign tourists come, they also spend here. In 2014, the people of India earned Rs 1 lakh 20 thousand crore in foreign exchange from the tourism sector. At the same time, this foreign exchange has increased to nearly Rs 2 lakh crore last year. After all, who earned this income? It is the people associated with India's hotel industry, tourist guides, taxi drivers, Dhabas and Handicraft sellers.
Brothers and Sisters, For the better future of the country, today, the government should work on Core Areas of Governance. This is the need of the hour. The less the government intervenes in people's lives, and the greater the good governance is, the faster the country will move forward. I say with conviction that there should be no lack of government for the poor and there should be no pressure of the government on the lives of the citizens. The more the government gets out of people's lives, the better it will be. Hence, it is very important that the government itself pays attention to its human resources as well.
Friends, we entered the 21st century with a Governance Model that followed the mindset and approach of the 19th and 20th centuries. The important tools of this system i.e. our officers and employees had become accustomed to the old perceptions, old ways and used to pass the same legacy forward. It was very difficult to fulfil the aspirations of 21st century India with a Governance Model having a mentality of 19th-20th century. Therefore, in the last 5 years, we made a serious effort to transform this system as well as the human resource of the government. I have never talked about this in a public forum. But this is a very important aspect for a better tomorrow. So, today, I want to share a few things about it too.
Friends, we have changed the rules of employment and appointment in the government system. Recommendations for appointments to higher posts are now a thing of the past. We have also introduced Banking Board for transparent appointments in banks. We are constantly holding brain storming sessions about governance with the top decision makers and policy makers of the country and are making it a part of the system. I personally attend the brain storming sessions of different sectors, be it railways or the banking sector or the various lectures of NITI Aayog.
We are making the outdated and formal arrangements as outcome based. We have the foreign and industry experts to train the bureaucracy wherever needed.
Now I am going to Pune tomorrow to attend the DGP conference there. The tradition of this DGP conference has been going on for about 120 years but during 115 years out of these 120 years, this meeting has been held in Delhi. It used to begin in the morning and end after lunch, that is, and I have changed this legacy of about 115 years completely. Now, it is held outside Delhi. For three days, the people from all police departments come together to discuss new problems, share their best practices, discuss new initiatives and set an agenda together like how to proceed in policing etc. Nothing is imposed. They will do this in Pune continuously for three days. Every year we do this task at some place.
That is, they followed a Result-Oriented Approach and took responsibility for time-bound work. Today it is also true that even after the subject of law and order being a state subject, it is very interconnected. If one state does not know about this type of thing in another state then it might face a problem. So even after law & order being a state subject, interconnected arrangements of states have become very necessary from the point of view of information and communication. We are reforming it.
Friends, we have taken another initiative regarding civil services. In the early days of appointment, the civil servants are being trained on how to work at policy level and how to follow flagship schemes. Earlier they did not receive such training. Many IAS-IPS officers are such that after getting a job, they straightaway joined their state cadre, and never got the privilege of coming to Delhi and retire. So after coming out of Mussoorie in the initial period, for 3 months, we have started associating them with the different systems of the Government of India. So that they go there with a vision that there are challenges in front of the country, and say - if I work at the grassroots level, I will make the decisions keeping these things in mind. So that contradiction does not arise between the national conditions and the local conditions and it has been a successful experiment.
There is another benefit. There are mostly those people who keep thinking of their retirement. The main team is the same. They keep thinking that only 11 months are left, or 9 months are left, or 6 months are left. In such a scenario, if a new enthusiastic youth who has 35 years left for service joins them, then automatically a new energy gets infused in that team. And the transformation begins. Moreover, we have made another beginning this year. This time, we have started a common foundation programme for trainees of more than 20 civil services in the country.
Till now it used to be one of the major complaints and once from the Red Fort, I had already discussed about Silos. Now although I had identified the disease (the problem) in my Red Fort speech, but it has to be solved and I will only have to do it, and to solve the problem of the Services working in isolation, we started a joint foundation course to bring changes in it. These days, we have given an important responsibility and Joint Secretary level posts to the officers of different services like Revenue, Forest, Railways, Account and Audit so that all services can be integrated in policy making.
Moreover, we have also given Pre-Mature Retirement to more than 220 government officials on charges of corruption, or not being able to do the work properly.
Friends, instead of Privilege, we are emphasizing on promoting professionalism.
Lateral Entry, there are many of you who believe that if someone becomes an IAS, then that person only knows everything, but this thinking is not right. There are very talented people in the society. They also want to contribute to run such a big country. They should get opportunities and to give them an opportunity, we have developed a special mechanism, that too in an organized way and not on the whims of the government. It is through UPSC. And I have seen that the youth working with for a package of one or two crore rupees in private companies are ready to come into the government system to contribute to the country for two years and three years at a nominal salary. This is something that we have started and with their experience of corporate world they are able to evaluate better due to their association with governance and government. I believe that whatever we are trying to do for a better out-come will bring pleasant results in the coming days. And the best talent of the country, even though it is not a part of the fixed procedures of civil services, is able to introduce the values of other best institutions of the country. And we are trying to make it happen.
Now Deadline is also being considered Sacrosanct in the government system. I am not saying that this system has been created in the whole country. But you can feel this change in several departments of the government.
This improvement being made in the Infrastructure of Governance is not just for 5 or 10 years. It is not just limited to our government. Rather, the country is going to get its benefits for decades to come. We have always followed this thinking and approach. We are not just working for a tenure of 5 or 10 years but are also trying to make Permanent and Performance-Oriented arrangements for New India and a Better Tomorrow.
Right Intention, Better Technology and Effective Implementation for a better future of 130 crore Indians, is our roadmap. I hope that the dialogue that will be held in this summit related to the interests of India will bring out the guarantee of a better tomorrow.
With my best wishes for a meaningful discussion to all of you, thank you very much!