Ravi Shankar Prasad: Union Minister for Law & Justice, Electronics & IT and Communications
30th May, 2020 marks the completion of one year of Narendra Modi Govt. 2.0 which took office on 30th May, 2019. The emergence of Narendra Modi as a popular leader of global stature marks an extraordinary milestone in the democratic polity of India. In 2014, under his leadership the BJP and the NDA registered a thumping majority with the BJP crossing the majority mark by itself. This kind of verdict was witnessed after 30 years.
The first term of our Government saw some visionary initiatives designed to reform, perform and transform. The most important component was inclusion and empowerment of ordinary citizens. Be it the use of technology through Digital India, be it efforts for financial inclusion using the JAM Trinity, be it the mass movement for improving the cleanliness and hygiene in the form of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and the efforts for improving health service delivery through programmes like Ayushman Bharat. Our Prime Minister emerged as a leader with courage and conviction in safeguarding India’s strategic and security interests and India was globally recognised as a country of substance.
The people of India reposed their confidence once again in Prime Minister Narendra Modi by giving BJP under his leadership a bigger majority in 2019 elections, in spite of some of the worst calumny and abuse being showered on him by his opponents. In the last nearly sixty years such phenomenon has not happened- massive re-election based upon performance at the national level.
With this renewed and massive mandate, the BJP led NDA Government under the charismatic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced further bold reforms and pro-poor initiatives. PM Kisan Yojana providing Rs. 6,000 per year as income supplement was extended to all categories of farmers. Dedicated pension schemes for farmers, labourers, traders and self-employed persons was also launched to provide them social security cover.
Taking electricity to all the villages of India, providing subsidised LPG connections to 8 Crore families and Digital India programme for inclusion are some of the key achievements of our Government. The JAM Trinity- Jan Dhan Aadhaar Mobile and Direct Benefit Transfer through this platform has really transformed the way benefits are transferred to poor. In 435 schemes Rs. 11 Lakh Crore have been directly sent to the bank accounts of beneficiaries leading to a saving of Rs. 1.70 Lakh Crore which used to be pocketed by middlemen and fictitious users.
Historic initiatives like abrogation of Article 370, passing of law prohibiting triple Talaq and making it penal and the legislation designed to give citizenship to persecuted and victimised minorities in neighbouring countries were indeed pathbreaking. On economic front India became a favourite destination for Foreign Direct Investments, significantly improved its ranking from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019 in the Ease of Doing Business Index and emerged a major electronics manufacturer by becoming the second largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world.
However, the most challenging moment emerged in the form of COVID19 where the Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed exemplary courage, compassion and commitment. This pandemic has no vaccine till date therefore, lockdown was the only way out to prevent its spread. One striking comparison shows that the population of fifteen major countries (excluding China), affected by COVID19 is 142 Crore and the number of deaths in these countries are over 3.07 Lakh while population of India is 137 Crore and number of deaths are 4,534. Number of recoveries are also very high in India. The Prime Minister in the initial phases himself announced a huge compensation of Rs. 1.70 Lakh Crore for the poor and other vulnerable people including free ration to 80 Crore people for three months, financial benefits to 20 Crore women Jan Dhan account holders. Total amount send by DBT is close to Rs. 52,606 Crore.
The Prime Minister subsequently announced a gigantic stimulus package of Rs. 20 Lakh Crore for creating an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India. Out of this nearly Rs. 5.94 Lakh Crore have been dedicated to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, real estate sector and power distribution sector which offers massive employment to people. Also, definition of MSMEs have been revised to extend the benefits to more enterprises.
Rs. 3.16 Lakh Crore has been earmarked for farmers, rural economy, migrant workers, urban poor and middle-class home buyers. Next instalment of free food grains to poor families for the next two months and easy credit upto Rs. 10,000 to street vendors have also been included. Moreover, allocation of additional Rs. 40,000 Crore to rural employment guarantee scheme have been made which will help in addressing the issues of urban and rural poor especially migrant workers.
For agriculture sector government has not only announced 1.63 Lakh Crore for farmgate agriculture infrastructure but also path breaking reforms permitting sale of agriculture produce anywhere and to any buyer across the country which will help in realising best price for farmer’s produce.
Prime Minister has also taken the challenge of COVID19 to address long pending reforms to unleash the creative and entrepreneurial abilities of Indian and make India globally competitive to make Aatma Nirbhar movement effective. This includes bold reforms in coal and mining sectors, making India a hub of aircraft maintenance and overhaul and reforms and indigenisation in defence production. Incentives worth Rs. 50,000 Crore for electronics manufacturing announced earlier is also a part of the same initiative for manufacturing and job creation.
COVID19 has also seen a big spurt in innovations. Platforms like Aarogya Setu to caution and trace affected persons, innovative Indian products on video conferencing is in the pipeline, work from home movement and extraordinary emphasis on digital education including TV channels are all designed to create opportunities for ordinary Indians. Using Aadhaar Enabled Payment System, India Post has facilitated cash withdrawals to the tune of Rs. 1,675 Crore through 92.81 Lakh transactions obviating the need for visiting an ATM or bank branch.
Yes, the plight of migrant labourers is indeed very painful and we all need to do our best to mitigate that. Many initiatives have been undertaken like higher allocation of MGNREGA funds, providing around 3,500 Shramik Special trains for their movement, humane provisions for their screening, support to the state governments for providing quarantine facilities and free ration. COVID19 challenge has posed difficulties of Himalayan proportions, rarely experienced in last so many years. It is due to a bold and decisive leadership of our Prime Minister, along with the state governments as working as a team, that India has handled this crisis far better than most other countries of the world. The courage and compassion which Narendra Modi government has shown will surely enable us to overcome this crisis. We are sure that this challenge will create a big opportunity for the country. India’s moment has arrived.