Our nation is taking forward the message and teachings given at Visva-Bharati: PM Modi
Bhakti Andolan brought us all together, Gyan Andolan gave us knowledge and Karm Andolan helped us execute our plans during the struggle for independence: PM
Tagore wanted the entire humanity to benefit from India’s spiritual awakening. The vision for a self-reliant India is also a derivative of this sentiment: PM

“Hey Bidhata, Dao dao moder gourab dao” (Oh god! Let glory be bestowed upon us) – Gurudev had once prayed for the students’ bright future. Today, on the occasion of glorious 100th anniversary of Visva-Bharati University, the whole nation is praying the same for this institution just like me. Governor of West Bengal Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar Ji, Union Education Minister Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank ji, Vice Chancellor Professor Bidyut Chakrabarty ji, Professors, Registrars, all teachers of Visva-Bharati, students, alumni, ladies and gentlemen! The 100th anniversary of Visva-Bharati is a matter of great pride for every Indian. I am extremely delighted that on this day I am getting an opportunity to recall and commemorate the virtue of this ‘tapobhoomi’.

Friends,

Visva-Bharati's hundred-year-old journey is very special. Visva-Bharati is a true embodiment of Gurudev's ideals, vision and hard work for Mother India. For India, it is a kind of place of worship to give continuous energy to the country so as to make Gurudev's dreams come true. Visva-Bharati, that has been producing world-renowned lyricists-musicians, artists-litterateur, economists, sociologists, scientists and financial experts, is making new efforts for building a New India. My sincere regards to every person who has raised this institution to this height; I congratulate them. I am glad that Visva-Bharati, Sriniketan and Santiniketan are constantly striving to achieve the goals that Gurudev had set. Visva-Bharati has always been lauded for its development work in the villages. The yoga department that you had started in 2015 is also growing in popularity rapidly. Your university campus is an example of both living and studying with nature. You will also be delighted to see that our country is spreading the message emanating from Visva-Bharati to the whole world. India is now playing a very important role in the world regarding environmental protection through International Solar Alliance. Today India is the only major country in the world which is moving at a fast pace on the right path to achieve the environmental goals of Paris Accord.

Friends,

Today, as we are celebrating 100 years of Visva-Bharati University, it is necessary to remember the circumstances that formed the basis of its establishment. These circumstances did not arise only from British colonialism. It had hundreds of years of experience behind it and includes the backdrop of movements lasting hundreds of years. Today, I am discussing this specifically with the scholars like you because it has not been talked about enough and has received very little attention. Its discussion is also necessary because it is directly related to the goals of India's freedom movement and Visva-Bharati.

Friends,

When we talk of freedom struggle, directly the picture of ​​19th and 20th century comes in our minds. But it is also a fact that the foundation of these movements was laid long ago. The freedom movement of India got energy from the various movements that had been going on since centuries. The Bhakti Movement strengthened the spiritual and cultural unity of India. In the Bhakti era, our Saints, Mahants, Acharyas in every region of India and in every direction, east-west-north-south had made a continuous, uninterrupted effort to keep the consciousness of the country awake. So, Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya, Vallabhacharya, Ramanujacharya from the south, or Mirabai, Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas, Narsi Mehta from the west, or Sant Ramanand, Kabirdas, Goswami Tulsidas, Surdas, Guru Nanakdev, Saint Raidas from the north and the ideas of countless great men like Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Srimanta Shankar Dev from the east had kept the society energized. In the same Bhakti period, great personalities like Raskhan, Surdas, Malik Mohammed Jayasi, Keshavdas and Vidyapati had shown the way to reform and develop the society through their compositions. In the Bhakti era, these virtuous souls had instilled the spirit of unity within the people. As a result, this movement had reached every corner of India crossing every boundary. People of every creed, every class & every caste had stood for self-respect and cultural heritage at the place of devotion. The Bhakti Movement had filled the struggling India with collective consciousness and confidence for centuries.

Friends,

This topic of devotion cannot proceed until the great devotee of Goddess Kali, Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, is discussed. He is the great saint because of whom India got Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was the embodiment of devotion, knowledge and karma. He had begun to see divinity in every person while expanding the scope of devotion. He also had given an expression to Karma, emphasizing on the development of an individual and institution.

Friends,

Besides the period of hundreds of years of Bhakti movement, Karma movement also took place in the country. For centuries, the people of India were fighting against colonialism and imperialism. Be it Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Maharana Pratap, Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Rani Chennamma of Kittur, or the armed struggle of Lord Birsa Munda, the rigorous efforts, tenacity and sacrifice of ordinary citizens against injustice and exploitation was at its peak. This turned into a major inspiration for our freedom struggle at a later period.

Friends,

When the streams of devotion and efforts were flowing at a rapid speed, the new Triveni Sangam of the river of knowledge became the consciousness of freedom movement. In the desire for freedom, there was a complete motivation and spirit of devotion. The need of the hour was to create an ideological movement to win the war of independence on the basis of knowledge, as well as to prepare a new generation for a bright future of India. Many institutions at that time, several reputed educational institutions and universities had played a major role in the same - be it Vishwa Bharati University, Banaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, National College which is now in Lahore, Mysore University, Trichy National College, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth, Gujarat Vidyapeeth, Willingdon College, Jamia Millia Islamia, Lucknow University, Patna University, Delhi University, Andhra University or the Annamalai University. A completely new group of scholars developed in these universities of India. These educational institutions gave a new energy, a new direction, and a new height to the ideological movement going on for India's independence. We were united by the Bhakti Movement; while the knowledge movement gave intellectual strength and the Karma movement gave us the courage to fight for our rights. These movements, which lasted for a period of hundreds of years, had become a unique example of sacrifice, penance and determination. Influenced by these movements, thousands of people had come forward one after another to sacrifice their lives in the freedom struggle.

Friends,

This movement of knowledge was given a boost by Visva-Bharati University established by Gurudev. The way Gurudev had given Visva-Bharati the form he had associated with India's culture while connecting with his traditions, he had put a strong identity of nationalism in front of the country. At the same time, he had laid equal emphasis on world brotherhood.

Friends,

The stream of ideology of India from Veda to Vivekananda was also manifested in Gurudev's idea of nationalism. And this stream was not an inward one; it was not going to keep India separate from other countries of the world. As per his vision, the world should benefit from what is best in India and India should also learn from all the good in the world. If we look at the name of your University i.e. Visva-Bharati, it is a connection of Mother Bharati and the Vishwa i.e. world. Gurudev had walked towards the greater goal of human welfare through omniscience, co-existence and cooperation. This vision of Gurudev for Vishwa Bharati is also the essence of a self-reliant India. Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is also the path of India's welfare for the entire world's welfare. This campaign is a campaign to empower India; it is a campaign to bring prosperity around the world with the prosperity of India. History is a witness to the fact that a strong and self-reliant India has always benefitted the entire world community. Our development is not an individual one but global. Moreover, the spirit of सर्वे भवंतु सुखिनः is in our blood. Who knows the connection that exists between Bharati and the world better than you? Gurudev had given us the resolution of 'Swadeshi Samaj'. He wanted to see our villages, our agriculture as self-reliant; he wanted to see commerce and trade self-reliant; he wanted to see art and literature as self-reliant. He spoke of 'self-power' to achieve the goal of self-reliance. What he spoke about nation building with the energy of self-power is equally important today. He had said- 'The building of the nation is in some way an extension of the attainment of salvation. When you build a country by your thoughts, by your actions, by discharging your duties, then you start seeing your soul in the soul of the country itself '.

Friends,

The soul of India, India's self-reliance and India's self-respect are interlinked. To protect India's self-esteem, several generations of Bengal had sacrificed their lives. Remember, that Khudiram Bose was hanged at just 18 years of age. Prafulla Chaki had died at the age of 19. Bina Das, better known as Agnikanya of Bengal, was sent to jail at the age of just 21. Pritilata Waddedar gave up her life at the age of just 21. There are probably countless people even the names of whom could not be recorded in history. All of them had embraced death with a smile for preserving the country's self-respect. Today, by seeking inspiration from them, we have to live for a self-reliant India, to fulfil this resolve.

Friends,

Your every contribution in making India strong and self-reliant will make the whole world a better place. In the year 2022, India will complete 75 years of independence. India became independent 27 years after the establishment of Visva-Bharati. 27 years from now, India will be celebrating 100 years of its independence. We have to set new goals, raise new energy, start our journey in a new way. And in this journey, our guidance will be none other than Gurudev and his ideas. And when there is inspiration and determination, the targets are also met automatically. Talking about Visva-Bharati, the historic Poush Mela has not been organized here this year. This is the third time in a journey of 100 years. This pandemic has explained to us the same mantra of 'vocal for local'; this mantra has always been associated with Poush Mela. Due to the pandemic, the artists who used to come to this fair, those who used to bring their handicrafts, could not come. When we are talking about self-respect and self-reliance, first of all, I have a request to you all. Please help me with this work. I urge the students of Visva Bharati to contact the artists coming to the Poush Mela, gather information about their products and try to find out how the handicrafts of these poor artists can be sold online; what help can be taken from social media? Work on it. Moreover, even in the future, local artists, craftsmen should be taught in such a way that they can take their products to the world market. Show them the path. Only through such efforts will the country become self-sufficient. And we will be able to fulfil Gurudev's dreams. You also know the most inspiring lines of Gurudev – ‘Jodi tor dak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re’. If no one comes forward, you have to walk alone to achieve your goal.

Friends,

Gurudev used to say- 'Without music and art, the nation loses its real power of expression and the excellence of its citizens does not come out'. Gurudev considered the preservation, nurture and expansion of our rich cultural heritage as very important. If we look at the Bengal of that time, another amazing thing is seen. When there was turmoil everywhere during the freedom struggle, Bengal had stood as a nurturer of the culture besides giving a direction to that movement. The culture, literature and music in Bengal were also boosting the freedom movement in a way.

Friends,

Gurudev had foretold decades earlier and he had said these lines, "Ore Notun Juger Bhore, Deesh Ne Shomoy Katiye Brittha, Shomoy Bichar Kore, Ore Notun Juger Bhore…” and

“…Esho Gyani Esho Kormi Naasho Bharoto-Laajo Hey, Biro Dhorme Punnokorme Bishwo Hridoye Raajo Hey… ". We all have the responsibility to make these exhortations, these statements of Gurudev true.

Friends,

Gurudev did not establish Visva-Bharati as just a centre of learning. He saw it as a 'seat of learning', a sacred place of learning. The distinction between studying and learning can be understood by just one sentence of Gurudev. He had said- 'I don't remember what I was taught. I only remember what I have learnt'. Extending this further, Gurudev Tagore had said- 'The greatest education is the one that not only informs us, but teaches us to live with everyone'. His message to the whole world was that we should not try to tie or limit knowledge to areas. He had made the mantra of Yajurveda as the mantra of Visva Bharati i.e. 'यत्र विश्वम भवत्येक नीड़म' ‘where the whole world becomes a nest’. The place where new research should be done, the place where everyone should move forward together and as our education minister was now elaborating, Gurudev used to say- 'Chitto jetha bhoy shunno, uchho jetha shir, Gyan jetha mukto' i.e. We must create a space where there is no fear in our minds, our head is held high, and knowledge is free from the shackles. Today the country

is also trying to fulfil this objective through the new National Education Policy. Visva-Bharati is playing a major role in implementing this education policy. You have 100 years of experience, erudition, direction, philosophy, as well as Gurudev's blessings. The more Visva Bharati will have a discussion about this with other educational institutions, the greater will be the understanding of those institutions.

Friends,

When I talk about Gurudev, I am unable to stop myself from talking about one thing. The last time when I was here, I had mentioned about it a little bit. I am once again thinking about the connection of Gurudev and Gujarat. It is also important to talk about it again and again because it fills us with the spirit of 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat'. It shows how much our country with different languages, dialects, food and clothing, is related to each other. It shows how our country, full of diversity, is united and has been learning a lot from each other.

Friends,

When Gurudev's elder brother Satyendranath Tagore was in the ICS, he was also appointed in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Rabindranath Tagore used to visit Gujarat often, and he also had spent a long time there. While living in Ahmedabad, he had composed two of his popular Bengali poems 'Bandi O Amar' and 'Nirob Rajni Dekho'. He also wrote a part of his famous work ‘Kshudit Pashan' during his stay in Gujarat. Moreover, a daughter of Gujarat also became the daughter-in-law of Tagore family. Apart from this, organizations associated with Women Empowerment should be studied. When Gyanadanandini Devi Ji, wife of Satyendranath Tagore lived in Ahmedabad, she noticed that the local women put the pallu of their saree on the right shoulder. Now the pallu was on the right shoulder, so women had some difficulty in working as well. Seeing this, Gyanadanandini Devi figured out why not take the sari's pallu on the left shoulder. Now I do not know exactly but they say that the idea of placing sari's pallu on the left shoulder is her. By learning from each other, living happily with each other, living like a family, we can realize the dreams that the great personalities of the country had seen. Gurudev has given the same values to Visva-Bharati. Together we have to strengthen these values.

Friends,

Wherever you go, in whatever field you might be your hard work will build a new India. I will conclude with Gurudev's lines, Gurudev said, Ore griho-bashi khol dwar khol, laglo je dol, sthole, jole, bonotole lagalo je dol, dwar khol, dwar khol! The doors of new possibilities are waiting for you in the country. May you all succeed, go ahead, and fulfil the dreams of the country! With these best wishes, once again thank you very much and may this centenary year become a strong milestone for the journey ahead and take us to new heights. I hope the university will move ahead by strengthening the path of India's welfare to fulfil the dreams of world welfare and the dreams with which Visva-Bharati was born. I wish you all the best. Thanks a lot!

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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