Serving the citizens of the country is the highest duty of a civil servant: PM

Published By : Admin | October 31, 2020 | 12:01 IST
The role of civil servants should be of minimum government and maximum governance: PM Modi
Take decisions in the national context, which strengthen the unity and integrity of the country: PM to civil servants
Maintain the spirit of the Constitution as you work as the steel frame of the country: PM to civil servants

Our younger generation is playing a major role in governance, ready to think out of the box and intends to do something new. This has given me a new hope; So, I congratulate you all! Last year on this day, I had a very detailed conversation with the previous batch of trainee officers in Kevadia. And it was decided that every year for this special event - AARAMBH, we will meet at the statue of Sardar Patel here, on the banks of Mother Narmada and together contemplate and try to give a shape to our ideas. But this time it has not been possible because of Corona. This time you are all in Mussoorie, connected with me virtually. I urge all the people and officers associated with this system that as soon as the impact of the corona starts reducing, you must organize a small camp here close to this magnificent statue of Sardar Patel, spend some time here and feel for yourself how this unique destination of India is developing as a tourist destination.

Friends,

There is a huge difference in the conditions that existed a year back and the conditions that persist here today. I believe that in this time of crisis, you must have learnt a lot by looking at the way the country has worked, the way the systems of the country have worked. If you have observed closely, you might also have felt a lot assured. There were a lot of things for which the country depended upon the other countries before. But in its fight against Corona, today, India is in a position to export many of those things. This is a great example of 'Sankalp se Siddhi'.

Friends,

This is an important period in the development journey of India. The time at which you have been inducted into the civil service, is very special. When your batch starts working, when you will actually get to work on field, India will be celebrating its 75 years of independence, which is a great milestone. That is, you will enter into this system and India will be celebrating the festival of 75 years of Indian Independence! And Friends, write this down in your diary, don't forget that you are going to be the officers who will be serving India and will be at an important phase of your career and life when India will celebrate 100 years of its independence. These 25 years between 75 years and 100 years of independence, are very important for India. You are the lucky generation; you are the people who will be a part of the most important administrative systems in these 25 years. In the next 25 years, you will have the huge responsibility of the country's security, security of the poor, welfare of farmers, interest of women and youth, and looking at India's place at the global platform. Many of us will not be with you then, but you will be there, your resolutions will be there, you will be fulfilling the resolutions; and so on this auspicious day, you have to make several promises to yourself, not to me, but to yourself. Only you will be a witness to your promises. I request you to give yourself half an hour before going to sleep tonight. Write down everything that is going on in your mind, about your duties, responsibilities and resolutions.

Friends,

The paper on which you will write your resolutions, the paper on which you will give words to your dreams, that piece of paper, will not just be a piece of paper anymore, but will be a piece of your heart. These pieces of paper will remain with you throughout your life as your heartbeat to fulfill your resolutions. Just as your heart brings a steady flow to the body, every word written on this paper will keep your life's resolutions flowing ceaselessly. We will carry forward every dream with determination and in the flow of 'Sankalp se Siddhi'. Then you will not need any inspiration or lessons from anyone. This paper, your words from your heart on this paper will keep reminding you of this day and your resolutions.

Friends,

In a way, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is the father of the country's civil services. On April 21, 1947, while addressing the first batch of Administrative Services Officers, Sardar Patel called civil servants the steel frame of the country. Sardar saheb had advised that serving the citizens of the country was their highest duty. I also urge that every decision of the civil servant should be in the context of the nation and should strengthen the unity and integrity of the country. It should retain the spirit of the Constitution. Even if your area is small, even if the scope of the department you handle is small, your decisions should always be in the interest of the country and the people. There should be a National Perspective.

Friends,

The work of steel frame is not just to give a shape or to handle the ongoing system but also to make the country realize that despite a major crisis or major change, you will fulfil your responsibility of taking the country forward as a single force. You will successfully fulfill your responsibilities as your facilitator. Once in the field, you will be with different people, but you always have to remember this role; never make the mistake of forgetting it. You also have to remember that whatever the frame might be, whether of a car, the spectacles or a picture, it becomes meaningful only when it sticks together. The steel frame you are representing will have a greater impact only when you stay with the team and work like a team. In the future, you have to handle districts and lead different departments. In the future, you will also take decisions that will have an impact on the entire state and across the country. At that time, your team spirit will be more useful to you. When you combine the larger goals of the national interest with your personal resolutions, irrespective of the service, and put all your strength as a team, then not only will you succeed but I say with confidence that the country too will never fail.

Friends,

Sardar Patel had dreamed of 'Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat'. His dream was related to that of a 'self-reliant India'. The biggest lesson that we have learnt even during the pandemic is that of self-reliance. The spirit of 'Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat' and 'Self-reliant India' today is witnessing the formation of 'New India'. Being new can have various meanings and emotions. But to me, new does not mean that you just remove the old and bring something new. 'New' for me means rejuvenation, being creative, being fresh and energetic! For me, being new means making the 'old' into something more relevant, leaving behind what is outdated. It takes courage even to give up and hence you have to constantly think, discuss and find out the requirements to create the new, superior and self-reliant India today. Friends, it is true that in order to fulfil the goal of a self-reliant India, we need science and technology, resources and finances, but it is also important to know what your role would be as a civil servant to fulfil this vision. You have to take care of this goal of the country round the clock when it comes to fulfilling the aspirations, the quality of your work as well as the speed.

Friends,

For the new changes in the country, for achieving new goals, for adopting new approach and new methods, training is very crucial for the development of skill-set. Earlier there wasn't a lot of emphasis on it. Enough thought was not given to how modern approaches to training can be brought in. But now there is a lot of emphasis on the approach and modern training of human resources in the country. You have seen for yourselves how the process of training of the civil servants has been revolutionalized in the last two-three years. The training pattern has changed a lot. This 'AARAMBH' is not just the beginning; it is a symbol and a new tradition as well. The government has started another campaign a few days ago- Mission Karmayogi. Mission Karmayogi is a new experiment of its kind in the direction of capacity building. Through this mission, the government employees have to modernize their thinking, approach and improve their skill-set. It is to give them an opportunity to become a karmayogi.

Friends, Lord Krishna has said in the Gita- यज्ञ अर्थात् कर्मणः अन्यत्र लोकः अयम् कर्म बंधनः’। That is, apart from Yajna i.e. service, the work done for self gains is not duty. It is rather something that binds us. Duty is something, which is done with a major vision for a major goal. We all have to become karmayogis of this task; you, me and everyone has to be a Karmayogi. Friends, rules have contributed a lot to this long journey that you all are moving upon. But at the same time, you have to focus more on the role. A constant struggle will go on between the rule and the role. There will be a constant tension between the two. The rules have their own importance, the role has its own significant responsibility. There has to be a balance between these two; this is the game for you: walking on a tight rope. The government has also been emphasizing upon a role-based approach for quite some time. Its results are also visible. Firstly - capacity and competency in civil services: A new architecture has been built for it. Secondly - the methods of learning have become democratized. And thirdly - every officer's responsibility and expectations are also being ascertained according to his/her capacity. The idea behind working with this approach is that when you play your part well in every role, you will be positive in your overall life. This positivity will pave the way to your success and you will be satisfied with your life as a Karmayogi.

Friends,

Life is said to be dynamic. Governance is also a dynamic phenomenon. Therefore, we talk about responsive government. First of all it is necessary for a civil servant to constantly be connected with the ordinary citizens of the country. When you connect with the people, it will become easier to work in democracy. You will go for field training after the completion of foundation training and professional training. I would advise you to join the people in the field; do not be cut-off. Never let the post of 'bureaucrat' get into your head. Never forget the land you have come from, the family and the society you have come from. Keep connecting with the society; keep connecting! Just merge with the public life and the society, the people will become the support of your power. Your two hands will turn into a thousand arms. These thousand arms are the power of the people; you must try to understand them and learn from them. I often say, the government does not run from the top. It is important to involve the people for whom the policies are being framed. People are not just the receivers of government policies or programmes; Janata Janardan or the people are the real driving force, so we need to move from government to governance.

Friends,

After graduating from this academy, when you move forward, there will be two paths in front of you. One path will be the path of ease, facilities, name & fame. The other will be the path of challenges, difficulties, struggles and problems. I want to tell you one thing today from my experience. You will face the real challenge only when you take the easier path. You must have noticed that the road which is straight without any turns are the most dangerous. But on a road with a lot of turns, the driver is extremely cautious. Hence, there are less accidents. Hence, the straightforward path sometimes becomes very difficult. It is NOT necessary that the path that you are walking towards the ambitious goal of nation-building and a self-reliant India would be easy. In fact, it is better to not even expect it to be easy. If you work continuously to increase the ease of living of the people, then not only you, but the entire country will get the benefit of the same and you will witness India growing in front of you within that period from 75 years of Indian independence to 100 years of independence. Today, the role of all the bureaucrats in the mode in which the country is working, is that of 'minimum government, maximum governance'. You have to ensure that your intervention in the lives of the citizens is reduced and the common man is empowered.

In our Upanishads it is said- ‘न तत् द्वतीयम् अस्ति’। That is, no one is different from me. Whatever work you do, for whom you do it, do it with your understanding. And I will say from my own experience that when you consider your department, and the people as your family and work, you will never be tired and will always be filled with a new energy. Friends, during field posting, officers are identified by what they are doing differently, what changes they have made in the pre-existing situation. If in the field, you move out of the files, away from the routine and then work for the development of your area, the impact of what you do for the people will be different and the result too will be different. For example, in the districts and the blocks where you will be working, there will be many such things, there will be various products that would have a global potential. But those products, those art work, their artists need local support to be global. You will have to support them. This vision has to be created by you. Likewise, you can find and reach out to one local innovator and help him as a partner in his work. Probably with your cooperation, that innovation comes out as a huge contribution to society. I know that you might be thinking that you can do all this, but what will happen if you get transferred? I had talked about the team spirit in the beginning. This is the reason I had mentioned in the beginning. Even if you are in one place today and in another place tomorrow, never give up your efforts in that area! Never forget your goals. Take your successors into confidence. Boost their faith and encourage them. Keep helping them from wherever you are. Your dreams will also be fulfilled by your next generation. You can also make new officers partners in your goals.

Friends,

Wherever you go, there is one more thing to keep in mind. You should not be identified only by your tenure marked in that office. You should be identified with your work. Yes, with growing popularity, the media and social media will also attract you a lot. It is one thing to be discussed in the media because of the work and it is just another thing to work to be a topic of discussion in the media. You have to understand the difference between them and move ahead. You have to remember that the civil servants have been identified as people working anonymously. If you look at the period of time after independence, sometimes we hear of some powerful people who had remained anonymous throughout their tenure. Nobody knew their names but after retiring someone wrote something about them and only then everyone came to know that this Babu had contributed so much to the country, the same is ideal for you. Your seniors before you in the past 4-5 decades have followed it with a great discipline. You too have to keep this in mind.

Friends,

When I meet my young political colleagues like MLAs, our MPs, I definitely ask them to stay away from the 2 malaise viz. 'Dikhas' and 'Chhapas'. I want to tell you the same thing; Dikhas means appearing on TV and Chhapas is to be printed in newspapers. If you catch these 2 diseases, then you will not be able to achieve the goal with which you have entered the civil services.

Friends,

I am sure, all of you, with your spirit of service and dedication, will make a huge contribution in the development journey of the country and making the country self-reliant. Before I finish my speech, I want to assign you all a task; If you raise your hands, I will assume that you will do. Will everyone raise his/her hands? Will you do it? Well listen then. You might be fond of the concept of 'vocal for local'. Isn't it? In the next two-four days, make a list of all the things that you use in your daily life which are manufactured within India with the blood and sweat of the Indian labourers and depicts the talent of Indians, and also of all the things that are manufactured outside India ranging from shoes to the things you use for hair. Take a look at these things and decide for yourself that apart from the things that are not available in India or it is not possible to manufacture those things in India presently what are the things that you can buy locally? Probably 30 out of 50 such things are available locally. Maybe you don't yet know about the products but try to see how you can reduce the usage.

See, self-reliance must start with the self. Can you start with 'vocal for local'? Second- your institution's name is associated with Lal Bahadur Shastri. Make a list of all the things in your campus, in your auditorium, your classroom, that have been manufactured outside India. Now try to see whether the place from where an entire generation gets ready to lead the country, where the seed is sown, which is part of your lives now has this 'vocal for local' or not. You will enjoy it. I am not saying that open this path for your colleagues, it is for yourself. Try to see in your lives, you must be having such things that are manufactured abroad inspite of an Indian equivalent. You might not even know that it is made abroad. See, to make India self-reliant, we all have to start with ourselves and make the country self-reliant.

My dear friends! My young friends!

The nation is handing over the dreams and resolutions for 100 years of independence as well as the future generations to you. The country is handing over to you the 25-35 years to come. You are receiving such a magnanimous gift. Hold it in your hands as a great luck of life; arouse the spirit of Karmayogi. I Hope that you will continue to walk on the path of Karmayog and make progress. Once again, I congratulate all of you. I thank you very much. And I assure you that I am with you every moment. I am with you every second. You can knock at my door whenever required. As long as I am there, wherever I might be, I am your friend, I am your partner. Let us all start working together to fulfil the dreams of 100-years of independence right now. Let us all move forward.

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