The Anna Datas of the nation should be free from worries: PM Modi

Published By : Admin | August 24, 2017 | 17:08 IST
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Today, the 24th August, you people celebrate your institution’s founding day as a day of pride.

I congratulate you people for the role played by BAIF in nation building.

Today, if I had been able to join you in your happiness in person then it would have been a great personal pleasure. I’d have heard your personal experiences, and I’d have learnt something new from you people.

I still remember that when the Wadi program was initiated then I had closely observed your work in Navsari and Valsad. So at an emotional level I feel very closely associated with BAIF. And, it’s a matter of great satisfaction for any institution with the kind of mission your institution is working in several states.

Today, several awards have been given in this program. Some self help groups are among those who have been awarded and some of the winners have been awarded due to their personal endeavors. Somebody is from Karnataka, somebody is from Gujarat, somebody is from Maharashtra and from Jharkhand. I congratulate them as well and I hope that they will continue to work in the interest of the society in the same manner.

Friends, this year is also centenary year for the establishment of Sabarmati Ashram and also for the Champaran Satyagrah. This is also the 125th year of public celebration of Ganeshotsav. In the history of our country, all these three milestones have been known for giving a new direction to the freedom movement. These are the symbols of the realisation of a solemn pledge through people’s participation.

This vision of people’s welfare through people’s participation has been the basis of Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation. It may be completing fifty years today but its foundation was laid the same day when Mani Bhai had reached Uruli Kanchan village with Gandhi Ji in 1946. Mani Bhai had taken a pledge to transform the entire region due to an inspiration from Gandhi Ji and started this thing by bringing some cows here from Gir in Gujarat.

Your institution has successfully demonstrated this thing that how farmer’s income can be supplemented by combining the modern science with the traditional knowledge available in our villages.

Friends, empowerment of our country’s farmers living in villages is extremely important for the balanced development of the country. The dream of a New India cannot be realized without an empowered farmer and that is why the government has been working to achieve the target of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. That is why the approach of agriculture schemes have been changed from being production centric to income centric. Today, the government is with farmers from the seed to the market. Emphasis has been placed on the proper use of every single drop of water. Organic agriculture and crop diversification have been encouraged. More than 9 crore soil health cards have been issued to the farmers for giving them information about their land’s health.

More than 500 agriculture bazaars of the country are in the process of being linked under the e-NAM scheme. Recently Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada scheme has been launched. The aim of this scheme is to solve the problem of lack of storage in the country and to encourage the food processing.

It is being ensured with the help of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) that farmers’ lives are not devastated if their crops are destroyed due to some reason. The loans to the farmers are being provided at the lowest interest rate in order to set them free from the clutches of usurious money lenders. You would notice that these efforts of the government are directed to reduce the farmers’ expenditure, boost their income and to bring them out of the worries related to agriculture. The country will attain new heights of development when those who feed the country are free from tension.

BAIF has been working in this direction for several years with a sense of service but today I would like sow the seeds of some new ideas in you. It’s not like giving advice or knowledge to an expert but it’s like asking the expert for something.

I’m aware that how BAIF has been empowering millions of women through women self-help groups. However, can it be made more focused?

As per a report, nearly 70% women of the country have been collectively taking care of the animal husbandry sector of the country. Be it arranging fodder or water for cattle or be it the work related with milk production or treatment of cattle, these things have been primarily done by women.

So in way the country’s animal husbandry sector is totally dependent on the skills of women. So today it is extremely essential to impart the special training to women self-help groups about the veterinary education, research and service delivery system. The more women are trained in this field the more it will strengthen the animal husbandry sector of the country and it will also benefit the women themselves.

An institution like BAIF can inspire the maximum number of women for this purpose.Itcan start programmes to impart training to them.

Friends, every year we incur the loss of nearly Rs. 40 thousand crores in our country due to the diseases of cattle. In some states, cattle health care fairs have been organised to deal with this problem. Things like, from the cataract operation of animals to the cleaning of their teeth are being performed in these fairs. However, there is a need to increase the number of such cattle health care fairs. Organizations like BAIF can play an extremely important role in organising cattle health fairs in cooperation with state governments.

I’m especially urging you as your organization has already been working in the 15 states and you have the capacity to expand in the entire country. The north-eastern states of the country have been waiting for the establishment of BAIF’s footprint in them. The north-eastern states of the country, I call them Ashta-Lakshmi, there is plenty of scope for organic farming. Your experience can immensely benefit them.

Similarly, it is necessary to increase the awareness about the farming of medicinal and aromatic plants among the farmers. Our country has thousands of species of medicinal and aromatic plants, and they are in demand across the globe. However, there is a huge gap between the demand and supply. The government, the progressive farmers and the organizations like BAIF can very well provide the knowledge about the farming and about entire supply chain of these plants.

Friends, the country is very well familiar with the green revolution and white revolution. Time has come to bring about the changes in the lives of our fishermen brothers through blue revolution and to supplement the income of our farmers through honey-bee keeping and honey production.

We have been working to bring blue revolution, sweet revolution and water revolution along with green revolution and white revolution.

Farming is not all about only producing wheat, rice and mustards. The more attention is given to all the sub sectors of agriculture along with traditional farming, the more it will help to supplement the farmer’s income. For example, take the case of honey bee keeping. According to a research, a farmer engaged in the traditional farming can earn extra Rs. 2 lakh per annum by having a small unit of 50 bee colonies. Honey bees play an important role in pollination along with honey production.

Be it honey-bee keeping, fisheries or be it production of ethanol through the residue of sugarcanes and crops, the demands of the modern society is being met through these things, and that is why BAIF can very well do the job of making the traditional farmers aware about these sub-sectors and help them.

Friends, be it Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, or be it some areas of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana-Andhra Pradesh or be it Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh, these are some of the areas where the farmers continue to face the problem of water shortage.

The government is continuously trying to tackle the shortage of water. Under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) 99 such projects are being completed that were stuck from a long time. Out of these, twenty one projects have been completed this year. Emphasis has been placed on the better use of every single drop of water along with this thing. Drip irrigation, micro irrigation and crop diversification is also a means for this thing. Government is spending more than 60% budget of MNREGA on water conservation and water management.

However, brothers and sisters, we cannot make this thing a success unless all the farmers join in this initiative. I have been told that Shri Popatrao Pawar from Hivare Bazaar is also present in this function. Hivare Bazaar is good example of how we can properly utilize water by working collectively while taking care of each other’s interest so that the efficiency of our water usage goes up and our ground water resources are being used in a sustainable manner. I have hopes from BAIF that they will set examples of ‘people’s movement’ and ‘water movement’ in those village where they are active.

In addition to this you can also help in making the farmers’ lives easier by encouraging them to borrow money only from banks and about Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

Brothers and sisters, national saint Tukodji Maharaj has written this thing in Gram Gita:

‘Gram Sudharnecha Mool Mantra, Sajjnani Whave Ekatra!

Sanghthan Hechi Shaktiche, Gram Rajya Nirman Kari”!!

It means that the basic formula for reform of the villages is that everyone collectively works through an organisation only then the village-state will be created. This was the same formula given by Mahatma Gandhi and the same thing was followed by Mani Bhai Desai. Today, the collective power of your organisation can open a new door of development for the villages. Today, it is necessary that we take pride in our villages, the villagers should celebrate the founding day, they should have a vision and they should move forward as per that vision. The leadership of those 80 thousand villages where you are active should move forward with a vision. This will be a medium in making a New India.

Friends, the government has continuously been working to bring down the input cost of farming. Today, farmer’s expenditure on farming has come down due to soil health management, due to Neem coating of Urea and due to thrust given to the drip irrigation.

Farmers have been saving the money spent of diesel by increasing the use of solar pumps. Crop production has increased due to use of these modern technologies. The BAIF has long experience in this field that is why your suggestions about what should be done to bring down the cost of farming are always welcome. The more farmers you associate with this movement, the more it will help them save and increase their profits.

Friends, waste to wealth is such a topic which is relevant to the contemporary needs and the challenges of future.

Be it the recycling of agricultural waste or be it use of compost, these things can supplement farmers’ income and benefit the entire village.

Today, nothing is a waste in agricultural farms, everything can be used and it can be converted into wealth.

Similarly, entire village can be made self-dependent in terms of electricity by encouraging the solar power.

There is enough space on the sides of farms and farmers can be encouraged to produce electricity by installing solar panels there. As there are milk-cooperatives across the country, similarly electricity can be produced and sold by having solar-cooperatives.

Friends, now days, you would have seen a small dish installed on almost every house in the villages. This is digital technology that has made things so easy. Earlier there used to be one or two channels, now days, there are hundred or two-hundred channels. Remote is no longer a difficult instrument for them. Even a two-three year old kid changes the channels by using remote.

This kind of likings for the technology will realize the dream of a digital village. It should be a village where most of the transactions take place digitally, all the forms from the loan to scholarship should be filled online, education in schools should be imparted through digital technology and the health services should be connected to digital technology.

In order to realize this dream of a digital village the government is connecting every village body in the country through optical fibre. However, just providing resources and tools will not be enough. Only organizations like yours can make the people capable of using those tools. So can your organization develop at least 500 villages every year into the villages of ‘less cash’? You will see that if you convert 500 villages into ‘less-cash villages’ then a thousand or two thousand nearby villages will automatically start to adopt this system. It will spread from one village to another like a chain reaction.

Friends,

Gandhi Ji’s formula of empowering the country was based on achieving this thing through the empowerment of villages. The BAIF’s desire to serve has brought about the changes in the lives of millions of farmers by following the same formula, it has taught them self-employment. Your organization is a living example of how to get things done by making a solemn pledge.

I’d like to urge you to make some new pledges from the ideas that I’ve placed before you. When India will complete 75 years of its independence in 2022 then the realization of your solemn pledges will lead to the success of millions and millions of farmers.

Thank you.

 

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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