Our government is committed to development of the Northeast: PM Modi

Published By : Admin | March 9, 2024 | 11:09 IST
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”

Jai Hind!
Jai Hind!
Jai Hind!

Governors and Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura, my colleagues in the Union Cabinet, ministers of states, fellow MPs, all MLAs, all other public representatives and my dear brothers and sisters of all these states!

A national festival of 'Viksit Rajya Se Viksit Bharat' is underway with full fervour across the nation. Today, I have the privilege of joining hands with all the states of the North East in this celebration of a 'Viksit ( developed) North East'. You have all gathered here in great numbers, and I am delighted to see such a turnout. Additionally, thousands of individuals from Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura are also participating in this program through technology. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to each of you for committing to the development of the North East. While I have visited Arunachal Pradesh many times before, today feels distinctly special. Everywhere I look, I see a sea of people, including a remarkable number of mothers and sisters, creating a wonderful atmosphere.

Friends,

Our vision for the development of the North East has been comprehensive – envisioning it as the 'Ashta Lakshmi'. Our Northeast is going to be a robust link in Bharat's trade, tourism, and other engagements with South Asia and East Asia. Today, projects worth over Rs 55,000 Crore have been either inaugurated or had their foundation stones laid here simultaneously. 35,000 poor families in Arunachal Pradesh have been provided with pucca houses, while thousands of families in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura have gained access to tap connections. Additionally, numerous projects related to connectivity are being initiated and inaugurated across different states in the North East. The development of essential infrastructure such as electricity, water, roads, railways, schools, hospitals, and tourism has become a guarantee of development for every state in the North East. The investment made in the development of the North East over the last 5 years is nearly four times higher than what the Congress or previous governments allocated earlier. This signifies that the progress achieved by us in 5 years would have taken the Congress 20 years to accomplish. Would you have been willing to wait for 20 years? Should we have waited that long? Do you believe this progress should continue at an accelerated pace? Are you content with what Modi's government has accomplished?

Friends,

With the North East in focus, our government started Mission Palm Oil. Today, the first oil mill has been inaugurated under this mission. This endeavour aims not only to make Bharat self-reliant in edible oil production but also to bolster the income of farmers in this region. I express my gratitude to the farmers of the North East for their enthusiastic participation in palm cultivation following the launch of the Palm Mission, which holds promise for a brighter future.

Friends,

You often hear about Modi's guarantee, but what does it truly signify? Come to Arunachal, despite its distance, and witness firsthand how Modi's guarantee basically works. Now, consider this: back in 2019, it was here that I laid the foundation stone of the Sela Tunnel. Remember? That was in 2019. And now, has it been constructed or not? Has it been completed or not? Is this not a testament to the guarantee I provided? Is this not a solid assurance? Similarly, in 2019, I also laid the foundation stone of the Donyi Polo Airport. And today, is this airport not delivering exceptional services? So, tell me... if I had undertaken these initiatives in 2019, some may have speculated that it was merely an election stunt. But tell me, was it for the elections or for you? Was it for Arunachal or not? Regardless of the time, the year, or the month, my efforts are solely for the citizens, for the people, for you. And when such guarantees of Modi are fulfilled, the entire North East echoes with appreciation. The hills resound with affirmation, the rivers murmur with gratitude, and one resounding voice is heard across the nation - "Abki Baar - 400 Paar!" (This time - the NDA government shall surpass 400)! "Abki Baar - 400 Paar!" NDA government - 400 Paar! Let the entire North East resound with enthusiasm - "Abki Baar Modi Sarkar" (this time, the Modi government)!

Friends,

Just two days ago, the Central Government approved a revamped and expansive version of the Unnati Scheme to foster industrial development in the North East. You have just witnessed a short film detailing its scope. This exemplifies the swift and efficient working style of our government. The notification was issued in a single day, as the guidelines were laid out. And today I am in front of you and calling upon you to take advantage of Unnati Yojana. Within 40-45 hours, the scheme was rolled out with notifications and guidelines. Over the past decade, we have enhanced modern infrastructure, implemented a dozen peace agreements, and resolved several border disputes. Now, the next phase of development entails bolstering the industrial landscape of the North East. The Rs 10 thousand crore Unnati Scheme will unlock new avenues for investment and job creation. The government will facilitate the establishment of new manufacturing sectors and service-related industries. My unwavering focus remains on extending full support to youth venturing into diverse fields such as startups, technology, homestays, and tourism. I extend my heartfelt wishes and congratulations for this scheme, which promises new employment opportunities for the youth across all North Eastern states.

Friends,

Empowering women in the North East and providing them with new opportunities is a top priority for the BJP government. In support of the women of the North East, our government announced a further reduction of Rs 100 in the price of gas cylinders on International Women's Day. The initiative to ensure tap water reaches every household in the North East has also made significant progress, and I extend my congratulations to the Chief Minister and his entire team for their efforts. Today, the North East, particularly our Arunachal Pradesh, leads the nation in various development initiatives. Previously, there was a common belief that everything would reach this region at the end. However, today, akin to the sun's rays reaching this place first, development initiatives are also touching this region first.

Today, projects aimed at providing drinking water to 45,000 families in Arunachal Pradesh have been inaugurated. Additionally, numerous lakes have been constructed here under the Amrit Sarovar Abhiyan. Our government has initiated a significant campaign to uplift village women, aiming to make them 'Lakhpati Didis'. Thousands of sisters from the North East involved in self-help groups have already achieved this status of a 'Lakhpati Didi'. Our next objective is to empower three crore sisters across the country to become 'Lakhpati Didis', thereby greatly benefitting the women, sisters, and daughters of the North East.

Friends,

You are well aware of the actions of the Congress and its allies amid these endeavours of the BJP government. Instead of focusing on developing modern infrastructure along our borders, the Congress governments were embroiled in corruption scandals. They neglected the development of our border areas and villages, jeopardizing the security of our nation. Keeping the border regions underdeveloped and weakening our own armed forces while depriving our people of facilities and prosperity—this is the work culture of the Congress. Such policies define their approach and conduct.

Friends,

Sela Tunnel could have been constructed earlier, couldn't it? However, the priorities and mindset of the Congress were different. They questioned why so much effort and investment should be made when they only had a few seats in Parliament. Modi, on the other hand, doesn't base his actions on parliamentary representation but rather on the nation's needs. With a strong central government prioritising national interests, we constructed this tunnel. I urge the youth of our country to visit this tunnel at an altitude of 13,000 feet to witness the remarkable work being done here. Although weather conditions prevent me from reaching Sela today, I promise to visit the tunnel in my third term and to meet you all again. This tunnel provides all-weather connectivity to our people in Tawang, making transportation easier for the locals and boosting tourism in Arunachal. Several such tunnel projects are rapidly progressing in this region.

Congress neglected border villages, labelling them as the country's last villages and leaving them to fend for themselves. We view these villages as the forefront of our nation instead of seeing them as the last villages and initiated the Vibrant Village Programme. Road projects have commenced for approximately 125 border villages, and foundation stones have been laid for employment and tourism-related projects in over 150 villages. We have introduced the PM Janman Yojana to uplift the most backward tribes, with the foundation stones laid for Anganwadi centres in their settlements in Manipur. Additionally, the inauguration of the Sabroom Land Port in Tripura will establish a new transit route, facilitating trade in the North East.

Friends,

Connectivity and electricity are crucial for both improving lives and facilitating business. Since independence until 2014, only 10,000 kilometres of national highways have been built in the North East over seven decades. Remember this figure. However, in the past ten years, over 6,000 kilometres of national highways have been constructed. I have done almost as much work in one decade as was done in 7 decades. Similarly, around 2,000 kilometres of new railway lines have been laid since 2014 in the North East, and significant progress has been made in the power sector. Work on the Dibang Multipurpose Hydropower Project in Arunachal and a solar project in Tripura has been started today. The Dibang Dam will soon be the country's largest dam, marking another achievement for the North East after the longest bridge.

Friends,

While Modi tirelessly works day and night towards a brighter future for the youth, laying each brick to construct a developed Bharat, there are those who constantly tell me, "Modi ji, don't work so hard." Today, I am embarking on programmes across four states—Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh—in a single day. Despite my efforts, the dynastic leaders of the Congress's INDI alliance continue to intensify their attacks on Modi. Nowadays, people are questioning, "Who is Modi's family?" Listen carefully, critics, every family residing in the mountains of Arunachal is declaring, "This is Modi's family." These dynastic leaders only prioritize their own families, neglecting areas that have a lower scope for votes. For decades, dynastic governments in the country hindered the development of the North East. Since the North East sends fewer members to Parliament, the Congress's INDI alliance ignored the region, disregarding the well-being and future of your children. While they focused on their own children's advancement, they remained indifferent to the struggles faced by your children. They have never and will never care about the condition of your children. However, for Modi, every individual and family is akin to his family. Modi will not rest until essential amenities like pucca houses, free rations, clean drinking water, electricity, sanitation, gas connections, healthcare, and internet access reach every person. Today, when they raise questions on Modi's family, the nation responds with, "I am Modi's family! I am Modi's family!", as echoed by my brothers and sisters in Arunachal,

My family members,

Whatever your dream may be, it is Modi's resolution. Your overwhelming presence here to bless us is deeply appreciated. Once again, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of you for the remarkable development initiatives across the entire North East region. As we rejoice in this celebration of development, I urge everyone gathered here to take out their mobile phones and turn on the flashlight. This symbolizes our collective celebration for the Sela Tunnel and the strides we are making in development. Look around... what a magnificent sight! Well done! Let this be a gesture of unity and strength for our nation. Everyone take out your mobile phones and turn on the flashlight. Let us all join together in this celebration of development. And to our brothers and sisters in the North East, wherever you may be, I encourage you to join us by turning on the flashlight of your mobile phones. Together, let's say aloud:

Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Keep the flashlight on and say-
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Thank you very much.

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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.

Q. 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?

A: 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