Drone Didis and Lakhpati Didis are scripting new chapters of success: PM Modi

Published By : Admin | March 11, 2024 | 10:30 IST
Witnesses demonstration of agriculture drones by Namo Drone Didis
Hands over drones to 1,000 Namo Drone Didis
Disburses about Rs 8,000 crore bank loans and Rs 2,000 crore capitalization support fund to SHGs
Felicitates Lakhpati Didis
“Drone Didis and Lakhpati Didis are scripting new chapters of success”
“Any society can progress only through creating opportunities and ensuring the dignity of the Nari Shakti”
“I am the first Prime Minister who raised issues like toilets, sanitary pads, smoke-filled kitchens, piped water from the ramparts of the Red Fort”
“Modi’s sensitivities and Modi’s schemes have emerged from the experiences rooted in everyday life”
“Transformative influence of drone technology in agriculture is being steered by women of the nation”
“I have full faith that Nari Shakti will lead the technology revolution in the country”
"The expansion of self-help groups in India over the past decade has been remarkable. These groups have rewritten the narrative of women empowerment in the country"

My esteemed cabinet colleagues, Shri Giriraj Singh ji, Shri Arjun Munda ji, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya ji, and sisters from various parts of the country, have gathered here in large numbers. Additionally, lakhs of women across the country are also connected to us via video. I extend a warm welcome and heartfelt congratulations to all of you. As I look around this auditorium, it strikes me that this looks like a mini-Bharat. People from every corner and speaking every language of Bharat are represented here. My heartiest congratulations to each and every one of you!

Today's programme marks a historic moment in the realm of women's empowerment. I have had the privilege of distributing 1000 modern drones to women's Self-Help Groups (SHGs) under the NaMo Drone Didi campaign. It is worth noting that over 1 crore sisters in the country have become 'Lakhpati Didis' through various schemes and diligent efforts. This is no small feat. Just moments ago, I had a conversation with a teenage sister who proudly shared that she earns between 60,000 to 80,000 rupees every month through her business. We can now inspire the youth of our country by showcasing examples like hers—a sister in the village earning a substantial income from her business. Look at her confidence! Yes, the young lady is sitting right there, raising her hand. Hearing such stories fills me with immense confidence and optimism. It reaffirms that we are in the right country where positive outcomes are achievable. We may conceive schemes and plans, but it is your dedication and tangible results that truly make a difference. Your achievements not only inspire but also motivate government officials to expedite progress. Therefore, I have resolved to surpass the target of creating 3 crore 'Lakhpati Didis'. To this end, an amount of Rs 10,000 crore has been transferred to the accounts of these women today. Once again, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of you sisters!

Mothers and sisters,

In any country or society, progress can only be achieved by enhancing the dignity of women and providing them with new opportunities. Regrettably, previous governments in the country never prioritized the lives and issues of women like yourselves, leaving you to fend for yourselves. My observation is that when our mothers and sisters are given even a slight opportunity and support, they no longer require assistance; they become pillars of support themselves. This realization struck me even more profoundly when I began addressing women's empowerment issues from the ramparts of the Red Fort. I am the first Prime Minister to have addressed the challenges faced by our mothers and sisters due to the lack of toilets and the hardships endured by village women in their daily lives in my address from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

I am the first Prime Minister to have brought up the issue of sanitary pads and the health risks posed to women who cook with wood-fired stoves, inhaling the equivalent of 400 cigarettes' worth of smoke every day. I am the first Prime Minister who mentioned the problems faced by all women due to lack of tap water at home and announced the Jal Jeevan Mission for the same. I am the first Prime Minister to have emphasized the importance of every woman having a bank account and to have spoken out against derogatory remarks made about women in my address from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

I am the first Prime Minister to have highlighted the double standard where daughters are questioned about their whereabouts when returning home late, while sons are not held to the same scrutiny. Why don't you ask your sons? This issue was raised by me from the Red Fort as well. Today, I want to convey to every woman, sister, and daughter in the country that whenever I spoke about your empowerment from the Red Fort, it was disheartening that political parties like the Congress chose to ridicule, mock and insult me.

Friends,

Modi's sensitivities and policies have been shaped by his experiences at the grassroots level. The observations made during my childhood, within my community, and through my interactions with families in villages across the country are evident in my current approach and plans. Consequently, these schemes aim to alleviate the challenges faced by mothers, sisters, and daughters, making their lives easier. Leaders who are solely focused on their own families cannot comprehend this perspective. The core principle underlying many of our government's schemes is to alleviate the hardships faced by lakhs of mothers and sisters throughout the nation.

My mothers and sisters,

Previous governments may have introduced one or two schemes under the banner of women empowerment, but Modi revolutionized this approach. Since assuming office in 2014, we have devised and successfully implemented plans catering to every stage of a woman's life cycle. From the moment of birth until the final breath of a woman, Modi remains committed to serving the women of Bharat through various initiatives. To combat female foeticide, we launched the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign. Financial assistance of Rs 6,000 is provided to every pregnant woman to ensure proper nutrition during pregnancy. The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana was introduced to secure a bright future for daughters, offering attractive interest rates. For those aspiring to start a business, the Mudra Yojana provides substantial support. We extended maternity leave to 26 weeks to safeguard women's careers. Initiatives like the Ayushman Yojana, offering free treatment up to Rs 5 lakh, and Jan Aushadhi Kendra, providing medicines at an 80% discount, are benefiting mothers, sisters, and daughters the most across the country.

Mothers and sisters,

Modi doesn't shy away from challenges; he confronts them head-on and strives for lasting solutions. I understand that to empower women in Bharat, we must enhance their economic participation. Hence, we have kept this aspect in mind in every decision and plan of our government. Allow me to illustrate this with an example, dear mothers and sisters. You are aware that traditionally, property ownership was primarily in the man's name. Whether it was land, a shop, or a house, it typically belonged to a man. What about the women of the household? That's why we ensured that women's names were registered for houses available under the PM Awas scheme. You have also witnessed how in the past, it was mostly men who operated new cars, tractors, and other machinery. People wondered if daughters could handle such tasks. Similarly, when new appliances like TVs or phones were introduced in households, men assumed they were naturally adept with them. However, our society is evolving beyond these outdated notions and mindset. Today's program serves as another testament to this progress. These daughters and sisters of ours are pioneering drone technology, which will revolutionize Bharat's agriculture.

Our sisters will demonstrate modern farming techniques using drones. I recently visited the fields and witnessed the skills of these drone pilots, the Namo drone didis. Recently, I had the opportunity to converse with a drone didi on 'Mann Ki Baat'. She shared, "I engage in various tasks throughout the day and earn significantly. Moreover, my confidence has soared, and my stature within the village has escalated. My identity in the village has undergone a remarkable transformation. Previously, I couldn't even ride a bicycle, but now villagers acknowledge me as a pilot." I firmly believe that the women of our country can spearhead the technological revolution of 21st century Bharat. We have already seen their remarkable achievements in the space sector, IT industry, and scientific fields. Bharat boasts the highest number of women commercial pilots globally. We have the highest number of daughters flying airplanes. Whether it's flying commercial airplanes or operating drones for farming, Indian daughters are leading the way. You must have witnessed on TV during the Republic Day celebrations being held at the 'Kartavya Path' on 26th January how women showcased their strength and prowess as the whole nation was watching the event.

Friends,

Drone technology is poised for significant expansion within the country in the upcoming years. Drones are set to become a potent means for transporting small quantities of milk, vegetables, and other products to the nearest markets. They will play a pivotal role in delivering medicines and transporting medical test samples, thereby offering myriad possibilities for the future. The women partaking in the Namo Drone Didi Scheme and training to become drone pilots are anticipated to unlock numerous opportunities ahead.

Mothers and sisters,

The proliferation of women's self-help groups across Bharat over the past decade stands as a remarkable subject for research. These groups have scripted a new narrative of women's empowerment in the country. Today, I extend my admiration to every sister involved in these Self-Help Groups and wish them success. Their diligent efforts have elevated women's Self-Help Groups to pivotal players in nation-building. The count of women engaged in such groups has surpassed 10 crores. Over the last 10 years, our government not only fostered the growth of these Self-Help Groups but also opened bank accounts for 98 percent of them—nearly 100 percent. Additionally, the government has augmented the assistance provided to these groups by Rs 20 lakh from the previous Rs 8 lakh crore—an exponential increase. More than Rs 8 lakh crore worth of aid has flowed into the hands of these sisters directly from the banks, significantly benefiting rural areas, especially women. And sisters possess a notable characteristic—their greatest quality is 'frugality'; they do not squander, but rather save. The ability to save is also an indicator of a promising future. Whenever I converse with these sisters, they share innovative insights, demonstrating their confidence, surpassing ordinary expectations. The extensive development of roads and highways in rural areas has further facilitated these groups. Now lakhpati didis are able to sell their products easily in the city. Improved connectivity has encouraged urban dwellers to visit villages and purchase directly from these groups. As a result, the income of Self-Help Group members has tripled over the past five years, owing to similar factors.

Friends,

Those sisters whose dreams and aspirations were once limited are now expanding their roles in nation-building. Today, new opportunities are emerging in villages, with new positions being established. Thousands of Bank Sakhi, Krishi Sakhi, Pashu Sakhi, Matsya Sakhi, and didis affiliated with the service sector are providing essential services in rural areas. These didis are driving forward various national initiatives, from healthcare to Digital India. Over 50% of those spearheading the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan are women, and over 50% of the beneficiaries are also women. This string of successes only bolsters my confidence in the power of women. I assure every mother, sister, and daughter in the country that our third term will mark a new chapter in the advancement of women's empowerment.

Furthermore, I have observed that many sisters, Self-Help Groups have also initiated various activities as well as businesses within their villages. They organize sports competitions and encourage other self-help group sisters. They reach out to girls who are pursuing education and facilitate interactions with influential figures. The self-help group sisters warmly welcome and honour girls who excel in sports within the village. I have noticed that in some schools, these women from the Self-Help Group are invited to give speeches, sharing the secrets of their success, and the students and teachers eagerly listen. This signifies a significant revolution. To the didis of the Self-Help Groups, I present schemes like the Drone Didi scheme, placing them at your disposal. I firmly believe that the mothers and sisters to whom I present these opportunities will not only soar drones into the sky but will also elevate the nation's resolve to new heights.

However, there exists a scheme and I urge the women from the Self-Help Groups to step forward. I have introduced the 'PM Surya Ghar' scheme. The unique feature of 'PM Surya Ghar' is that it offers free electricity, essentially a zero electricity bill. Now, can you accomplish this task or not? Can you achieve it? If you assure me then I will provide all the details. Can you do it? Sure? We have resolved that every household should install solar panels on their roofs, harness electricity from the sun's rays, and utilize it within the household. Only a few households consume more than 300 units of electricity. If a household has fans, air conditioning, a refrigerator, and a washing machine, it operates within 300 units. This means you will receive zero electricity bill, absolutely zero. Furthermore, if you produce surplus electricity, you might question that electricity generation is the task of the large factories and wealthy individuals, what can we, the poor, do? This is what Modi has initiated; now even the poor will generate electricity, establishing a power plant at their homes. The excess electricity generated will be purchased by the government, providing additional income to our sisters and their families.

Therefore, if you visit the PM Surya Ghar or any common centre in your vicinity, you can apply there. I urge all the sisters of Self-Help Groups to take the initiative and extend this scheme to every household. Assume responsibility for this business. Witness how much significant electricity-related work can now be accomplished by my sisters, and I have complete confidence that when every household receives a zero unit electricity bill... a complete zero bill, they are bound to shower their blessings! Isn’t it? And will the money they save not benefit their families? Therefore, the sisters of our Self-Help Groups can maximise the benefits of this scheme by leading it in their villages. I have also informed the government that wherever the sisters of Self-Help Groups step forward for this endeavour, we will give them priority, and I am determined to successfully advance this campaign of zero electricity bill.

Once again, I extend my best wishes to you all.

Thank you very much.

 

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PM Modi's Interview to The Economic Times
May 22, 2024

Q. Prime minister, the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign was strongly anchored in the fight against corruption. In 2019, it was the 'labharthi' model reaching every segment of society, besides the national security imperative that took centre stage. The 2024 Lok Sabha election campaign was expected to be pitched on 'vikas' and 'Viksit Bharat'. But it seems to have turned communal and polarising, your thoughts?

A: Perhaps, you find it polarising because you have not examined the crux of the matter. What is truly communal and polarising is Congress party's manifesto, their issues and their intent. It is my duty to expose them. Just because I am exposing them, you think it is polarising. You noted it correctly that in 2014, corruption was the main issue. In 2019, it was labarthis. In 2024, the main issue is Viksit Bharat. People across the country know that this is an important election which will ensure that we reach Viksit Bharat at the speed of the country's aspirations.

I must point out the difference between the scale of ambition of our government as compared to the UPA government. In 2014, the then finance minister said that India will become the third largest economy in 2043. In our case, we are already the fifth largest economy and will become the third largest economy in our third term. We will be at least 15 years ahead of their promise.

In this election, anti-corruption voter is with us and so is the labarthi voter. Along with it, a large section of the society which wants India to progress rapidly is also firmly backing us, which will ensure us getting a huge mandate on June 4.

Q. Prime minister, you have started a political debate on which section has or should have the 'first right' to national resources. Which segment should have the 'first right' and how would you identify this segment?

A: I have said it before and I am saying it again: the first right to national resources belongs to the poor. Everything we do, every policy we make, has the welfare of the poor at the heart of it. We are committed to ensuring that the fruits of development reach every poor person, regardless of their caste, community or region. Over the last decade, we have focused on a policy of saturation, ensuring that government schemes reach 100% of beneficiaries.

For example, if a village has 20 homes, is it fair that only 15 homes receive all the benefits? No. We are ensuring that all 20 homes are empowered, leaving no one behind. We are moving forward with this motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'.

Q. 428 of the 543 parliamentary constituencies have already voted. How is BJP score currently looking against the '400 paar' target? Has BJP crossed the 272-mark?

A: Doing such analysis is the job of experts. However, I have clear signal from the people on the ground that we have crossed the majority mark and the momentum is only getting stronger with each phase.

Everywhere I have gone in the past few weeks, I have received a lot of love, support and enthusiasm for BJP.

On the voting day, our polling booths are brimming with activity. In contrast, the atmosphere on the Opposition side is very grim and hopeless. It shows that we are well on our track to achieve a historic victory in the elections. People also realise this and hence they won't waste their vote on Congress and its allies which have already lost the elections. Hence in the remaining two phases, we will see even greater support for NDA.

Q. Which are the states you expect to score better than 2019?

A: In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, I am confident that BJP will win with a historic mandate. With the support we are getting from people in all states to make India a developed nation, I can confidently say that our vote share will increase everywhere. This time, we have set a more ambitious target: it's not just about winning seats, but about winning each polling booth. Every one of our karyakartas is focused on the strategy of winning the polling station.

I believe we will repeat our strong performance in the states where we won big in 2014 and 2019. South India and east India will bring record new gains. This time, we will vastly improve our performance in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha. The so-called 'red corridor' will turn entirely saffron this election. Even Uttar Pradesh will see a rise in our seats.

The overwhelming will of the people across India is to bring us back with a historic mandate because they have seen how a strong, decisive and sensitive government has secured the nation and strengthened its position in the world. They are fed up with corruption, dynastic politics, minority appeasement and the mismanagement of states under Opposition governments. That's why they want the NDA again.

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