In Ayushman Bharat, India is home to one of the biggest healthcare programmes in the world: PM
Having seen the hardships we face due to water shortage, it becomes our responsibility to conserve every drop of water: PM Modi
The entire nation agrees that the menace of terror has to be eliminated: PM Modi

How is everyone? Hope you all are in best of spirits!

My best wishes to you all on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri. May Bholenath bless everyone!

Before I begin, I want you all to say along with me thrice -

Bharat Mata ki Jai for Mighty India!

Bharat Mata ki Jai for Victorious India!

Bharat Mata ki Jai for the brave soldiers!

My dear brothers and sisters of Jamnagar who have gathered here in such great numbers to bless me!

Today is the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri and Gujarat is a place that possesses two Jyotirlingas. The land of Somnath and Nageshwar are really auspicious and I am grateful that I have got the opportunity to visit these two places on this auspicious occasion of Shivaratri.

When I was the Chief Minister, I used to attend meetings of Chief Ministers all over the country. I used to tell them - "you think that there is no problem in Gujarat. Everything is hunky-dory." I used to explain them and they did feel surprised. I used to tell them that Gujarat was a state that didn't have enough resources. There was a greater problem of water scarcity. Our several villages used to be in dire need of water. The region used to suffer from drought for about 7 out of 10 years. The government used to be confused as to how to deliver drinking water to those areas. If God had given us the facility of water, we would have taken India to great heights. That was the power we possessed.

Our budget, the entire strength of the state government had to be diverted towards fulfilling the water needs. The Chief Ministers from all over India never believed that Gujarat had so many problems. They just could not guess. But there was our resolution too. It is true that we don't have perennial rivers and we receive scanty rainfall. But we cannot just keep on cribbing over the fate if we want to take Gujarat on the path of development. Kutch used to be scantily populated as there was lack of water. So we decided to solve the water problem first. We would bring water to the region and turn Gujarat into water-sufficient region. It is true that there were a lot of hurdles before the Sardar Sarovar Dam. And all the governments of those periods are responsible for those hurdles. They cannot escape! They have to give answers. If 40 years back, the work on the Narmada had been completed, Gujarat wouldn't have to spend so much money on water that it did over the last 40 years. Now that the Sardar Sarovar dam is completed, the region is getting water. Prior to that, when the dam was under construction, we had to face a lot of trouble while supplying water to Kutch and Kathiawad. We formulated a scheme called 'Sauni' Yojana. When I announced about the scheme for the first time in Rajkot, a few people started saying that Modi is presenting this scheme with an eye on the elections. Elections keep going on somewhere or the other. Whatever I do, the people start linking that with elections. At that time, everything seemed impossible; spending thousands of crores of rupees, carrying water to a height equivalent to a 20-storeyed building. This seemed impossible because we were used to seeing only tankers and hand-pumps. We had never thought of a greater solution that those things.

On one hand was that mentality; those people had ruled who couldn't see beyond the tankers. While we are those people who take the initiative to get huge 500-700 kilometers long pipelines constructed for water. These pipelines are so big that one can drive a Maruti car inside it. As a result, today water is reaching those areas through the SAUNI Yojana. The BSF soldiers are able to drink the fresh water of river Narmada at the border of Kutch because of the power of technology, engineering techniques and willpower. I am glad that even after leaving Gujarat, our team is engaged in the work of fulfilling the dreams in a time-bound manner with the same dedication. And all the phases of the SAUNI Yojana are getting completed one after the other. I always used to say that the water of Narmada is not water but Paras (philosopher's stone). Just like the touch of Paras can turn iron into gold, similarly the touch of Narmada can turn the land of Gujarat into greenery so that it produces gold. Our farmers will sweat it out but when that sweats confluence with Narmada, the sweat will start glowing. And Gujarat has shown that today.

Today I have also got the opportunity to dedicate the new schemes for the expansion of the Guru Gobind Singh ji Medical College here. We all should know and remember that Gujarat has a special connection to the Guru-tradition. One of the 'Panj-Pyare' of Guru Gobind Singh ji, belonged to Gujarat's Dwarika and was from the community of tailors. He had gone to Guru Gobind Singh ji as his disciple and had offered his life. The son of a tailor from Dwarika had gone to Guru Gobind Singh ji and had joined and worked for the Sikh tradition. He was one of the five soldiers. At that time, Dwarika was part of Jamnagar. Consequently, this hospital was named after Guru Gobind Singh ji.

This name was an attempt to make that incident in history immortal. And today we have taken a major revolutionary step towards healthcare with this hospital. Such a revolution is taking place in Gujarat and the entire India. I will be heading towards Ahmedabad from here. There are four projects related to hospitals. What is the reason? In today's time where we are leading a hectic lifestyle, modern treatment will not be possible without hospitals and modern technology.

There was a time when all the people used to be healthy. There used to be just one Vaidya Raj or doctor for the entire village and the village used to be healthy. Now times have changed. There are separate doctors for left eye and right eye. This is an era of specialty. We too have to get ready for that. Today modern hospitals are being built in Gujarat. It will directly benefit the people. Moreover, there are schemes like Ayushman Bharat and MA scheme - Mukhyamantri Amrutam Yojana. When I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I had started one Chiranjivi Yojana so as to ensure that the mother's delivery takes place in hospital, and mothers' lives are saved and children's lives are saved. This scheme was highly successful. Thereafter, we kept on formulating schemes one after the other in relation to healthcare in Gujarat. After I started working in the Central government, I started the Ayushman Bharat scheme and it is the biggest scheme in the world.

You all know that I am not fond of small things. Whatever I do, I do it in a large scale. Didn't that happen now? The pipelines usually measure 500 km, 900km or 700km in length. We don't work in bits and pieces. Similarly, the Ayushman Bharat Yojana will benefit the population more than the combined population of America, Canada and Mexico.

The government will provide up to Rs.5 lakhs of treatment to any poor family in a year and to any member of that family. He will never have to be poor. Moreover, the poor can get treatment in the biggest hospitals. He wouldn't have to go to a government hospital and return home in the evening waiting for the doctor. He has the right. More than 15000 major private hospitals in the country have agreed to cooperate with us in the work.

Moreover, if a brother living in Jamnagar goes to Bhopal and falls ill, he would not have to come back to Jamnagar. He could get himself treated in Bhopal's hospital free of cost just by showing the card. Similarly, if he goes to Kolkata or Cochin, he would get free treatment in those cities too.

So, the common man should receive healthcare services. Due to these initiatives, the possibility of big hospitals in small towns has increased. It has created a possibility of setting up about 2000-3000 big new hospitals throughout the country. A large area will be developed. When one hospital is set up, it provides employment to thousands of people. They require people for every big and small task like technicians etc. The nation will be swept up with revolution in the field of healthcare. And I have got the opportunity to come here for one such hospital.

There is one issue with water. The problem begins when a person crosses the limit. Even after starting the massive 'SAUNI' scheme, the need for water is still not fulfilled looking at the Gujarat's water scenario that lacks perennial rivers and sufficient rainfall. Therefore, there is a need to frame a scheme to convert sea water into sweet water on a large scale by spending crores. And the foundation stone of one such project has been laid today. Turning the sea water into sweet water and distributing it to the people.

This means that we should use water by considering it as God's Prasad. Gujarat has no right to waste water. The poor gets water after so much of hard work. If the poor were to receive one rupee, 80 paise was given to him and 20 paise was kept aside for water. What is the reason? Without water life will not be possible. If we had to construct 1 lakh rooms in schools, 20,000 rooms less were constructed and that money was saved for water. Similarly, some amount of money was kept aside from the construction of hospitals and used for water.

A small amount of money has to be kept aside for water in every region of Gujarat. This means that water is the most valuable thing. In such a scenario, it is the responsibility of every person in Gujarat to save water. The farmers should use drip irrigation. Saving water is mandatory for us. There is a need to create an environment where every drop of water is properly used. The sanitation campaign achieved a great success, and has turned into a mass movement. This time the people of Gujarat visited the Kumbh Congregation and praised the clean environment there. The cleanliness at the Kumbh Congregation has touched the people. It created a sanitation movement in the country.

Mahatma Gandhi had visited Kumbh 100 years back and had expressed his desire for a clean Kumbh. It was not done for 100 years but we did it. Therefore, just like the sanitation campaign has been successful, the 'save water' movement can also be successful within Gujarat. Yes or no? Can we move in that direction? And today as we are Consecrating Lord Shiva with Narmada water, on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri, let Gujarat take a vow to save water. You will see how a massive revolution will sweep Gujarat.

Today several projects related to the railways have also been framed. The work of electrification, gauge conversion, double lining etc. is going on at double the speed compared to earlier. This is not something new for you. You have already seen me working before. But the people of the country are surprised that such a thing can happen too. I ask them to go and see Gujarat. It is possible. Everything is possible when one does the work. Today this is happening in the country. Modern railways, coaches and everything is being done at double the pace compared to before.

We have started the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. Those farmers with less than 5 Acres of land will get Rs.6000 in their bank accounts every year. Rs. 2000 will reach their bank accounts before every season. It will help them to purchase fertilizers, seeds, pesticides. But they have started spreading lies and rumours. Every 10 years, they have this habit of announcing loan waivers just before elections. But they do nothing. The farmers keep suffering for 10 years. And you will be surprised to know that they had promised of loan waivers keeping in mind the general elections of 2008-09. The loans were of Rs.6 lakh crores but they waived how much? Rs.52000 crores! They bluffed and took away all the votes. After the elections the poor farmer used to think that he was not included in the criteria so he was left out. This is how they befooled the people.

We have brought a scheme according to which Rs.75 thousand crores will go into the bank accounts of the farmers every year and Rs.7.5 lakh crores in 10 years. If Rs.7.5 lakh crores are accumulated in the villages, it can transform the economy of the villages. That is, if a person couldn't purchase a bicycle before should purchase one now. He should purchase shoes or socks for his children that he couldn't get them before. He should get good quality utensils at home and cook good food. Likewise, the economy of the village could be transformed completely; whereas when those people used to waive the loans, only 20-25 farmers out of 100 used to benefit in a village. But with our scheme, about 90 out of 100 farmers will be benefitted every year in that village.

Brothers and sisters,

In order to get permanent solutions to the problems, when we are working with the mantra of 'Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas', it is benefitting all the people to such a great extent. We have decided to extend the facilities given to the farmers also to the animal rearers. Now even the animal herders will receive the Kisan Credit Card. The animal herders and the fishermen too will receive loans at cheaper interest rates. So, arrangements have been made even for the fishermen. When Atal Ji had formed the government for the first time in the county, during that time for the first time a separate department was formed for the tribal people. Prior to that, there was no department for the tribal people. After the Modi government came to power, a separate ministry has been formed for the fishermen. And work has been done to solve the issues of the fishermen, for their development, and efforts are on to provide modern equipment to the fishermen. We have tried to ensure that even the fishermen just like the farmers are able to get loans on lower interest rates through Kisan Credit cards. We have tried to bring about permanent changes.

Today our fishermen are fishing only at the edges where the catch is less. But if they get deeper into the water, their income will increase. The central government is providing subsidy so that their efforts are less and they can get the kind of vessels for deep sea fishing. The Rs.15 lakh subsidy is being provided to the fishermen so that they can earn great incomes through deep sea fishing.

We are trying to ensure that everyone in this country has a house by 2022. Just as I told you that I don't like anything small. I do everything till it is completed, it is big and is done in short span of time. There should not be a single family in the country by 2022 that doesn't own a house. The previous government had constructed only 25 lakh houses while we have constructed 1 crore 30 lakh houses just within 55 months. Therefore, I say that by 2022, every person in the country will get a house. And by house I don't mean just the four walls but also other amenities like gas connection, electricity connection, water connection and schools nearby. Nothing should be incomplete. The work on this scheme is going on and today I have got the opportunity to hand over the house keys to the people in Jamnagar and those who have not received I would like to tell them that Modi government will once again come to power and it is my dream to hand over houses to every person by 2020. Everyone will receive a house. Jamnagar is known for the small enterprises. Therefore, it is a request to Jamnagar which is synonymous with small enterprises to go online to apply for loans. Our government has made several schemes for the small enterprises. For the first time, under this scheme, you don't have to physically go to banks. You can apply online and within 59 minutes loans of up to Rs.1 crore will be approved. Just within 59 minutes!

All the leakages have been plugged. There is no need to bribe the bankers or to go after pleasing them. Apply online; submit your documents and you will receive your right in 59 minutes. This government has brought about such a revolution. As a result, Ease of Doing Business has improved from rank 142 to 77. Such a leap forward! This is because all the hassles of license etc. have been removed. And its benefits are being availed by Jamnagar, Morbi and Rajkot. A wonderful environment has been created for the small factories. Therefore, it is a huge advantage for small enterprises, and people working in the engineering field and production field!

Wherever was necessary, we kept on modifying the rules of GST and today the GST has been made extremely useful for the common man. The common man is benefitting from it. Earlier the common man could not sell his own product to the central government and the state government. It could be a small product like plastic buckets, tables or chairs. We created a GeM portal. Register with GeM, the producers and the suppliers can write their requirements. The common man sells products worth crores of rupees to the government. There is no need for tenders or middlemen. There is no discrimination or any scope for corruption. The common man directly sells his products to the government. Earlier there used to be big players for tenders. There used to be a chain wherein the smallest producer used to sell to someone on top of him; that person used to further sell it to a person above him and finally there used to be a person on top of everyone who used to sell it to the government. All the money used to go to that big player. But now, the money straightaway goes to the smallest of the producers. The government has taken this bold step. We are giving out its benefits.

Brothers and sisters,

No nation can move ahead without power and resources. There used to be communal clashes in Gujarat. Yes or no? These used to be there even in Jamnagar. Yes or no? Everything has stopped or not? Now everyone is living peacefully or not? Everyone is progressing or not? All those people who were engaged in instigating violence have been curbed therefore, everything is moving smoothly now. Now tell me brothers, should terrorism be eradicated from the nation or not? Not like this. Say it loudly the people of Jamnagar! This disease of terrorism should be eradicated or not?

The infected area needs the medicine or not? When you visit a doctor and he tells you that the problem is in your blood and it needs to be corrected, he would ask you to take the medicine for blood. Isn't it? We have to cure the main disease or not? Now the main disease lies in the neighborhood. Now Jamnagar is its neighbor. You must be getting information from there. Jamnagar and Kutch are the first to receive any kind of information.

I want to ask the people of Jamnagar. Do you trust what the Indian army says or not? Should I consider it as true or not? But a few people have a problem with that.

Brothers and sisters,

The country should be proud of our army's capabilities and power. During a speech in Delhi, I had said that the entire nation was feeling proud of the valour shown by the Indian army. Why a few people should cry like losers amidst that? I told them that if our Indian Air Force had Rafael, the story would have been different. If those people are unable to understand what can I say, what is my fault? That is their limitation. When I said that, they started saying that Modi was questioning the act of Indian Air Force. I say please use your 'Sabu'. Sabu means Samanya Buddhi or Common sense.

During airstrike, if we had Rafael with our Air Force, no plane from our side would have been downed, while none from their side could have escaped. This is my calculation. But I salute the nation's brave-hearts. It is our resolution that we will not leave the enemies of our nation alone. Our opposition has trouble even with that - what did Modi do? What did Modi do? Come and see for yourself what he did. Their Mantra is - 'come, unite and uproot Modi'. The nation's Mantra is -' come, unite and uproot terrorism'. They want to uproot Modi while we want to uproot terrorism. You tell me brothers and sisters. Should we go with those who want to end terrorism or not? Should we connect with the desire of those who want to end terrorism or not?

Salute to you all brothers and sisters! Say along with me -

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

Bharat Mata ki Jai!

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