From concerted war against the pandemic to developing a network of over 2,200 laboratories in a short time span, women entrepreneurs have played a vital role in building a self-reliant country and ‘Vocal for Local’ becoming the people’s movement. India, under the leadership of PM Modi, has salvaged every situation, says Ashish Sood
The fight against the Coronavirus pandemic was not an easy proposition at all. It was an unprecedented situation, not encountered by humanity in the recent past. It was a global challenge, which hit us all. The rich and advanced countries faltered like anything in the face of Coronavirus, but not India. It faced the challenge with resilience, thanks to visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Realising the gravity and magnitude of the challenge, he did not waste even a moment in engaging the people in our war against the virus. The Janata Curfew was the beginning of India’s concerted war against COVID-19, where the soldiers were none other than our own people — 135 crore Indians who joined hands and exhibited the ultimate sense of solidarity and empathy to ensure nothing goes out of control.
It was a bit rich to see the opposition parties jeering at the Prime Minister’s appeal to the people to beat utensils, light candles or blow conches. They were not able to visualise the kind of challenges our country was going to face and limited options the government had to deal with ensuring that our people don’t face extreme hardships. Equally important was to keep the morale of our people high. There was a kind of eerie silence during the lockdown period. It was getting difficult for the government to hold people back where they were living and working, but they were restless to return to their native places. It was indeed a herculean task the government was faced with. The poor people were on the verge of starvation and the lower middle class were in trauma due to loss of their income. India, under the leadership of PM Modi, rose to the occasion and salvaged the situation, which was globally praised.
Thanks to timely and calibrated decisions taken by the government, we were able to save the lives of lakhs of our countrymen. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 80 crore people were provided with an additional five kg free food grains per month for eight months. The government was also mindful of the plight of migrant labourers, workers and those who were away from their homes. Besides, providing them with the facility of ‘One Nation-One Ration Card,’ the government made free food grains available and organised Shramik Special trains for them. The central government also launched the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan in six states to provide employment to the returnee migrant labourers in their villages, during the pandemic. As a result of this abhiyan, 50 crore man days of employment were generated.
The government also launched SVANidhi, a special scheme for street vendors and hawkers. Further, an amount of approximately Rs 31,000 crore was directly transferred to the Jan Dhan accounts of poor women. During this period, 14.17 crore gas cylinders were given free of cost to poor women beneficiaries under the Ujjwala scheme. Similarly, India demonstrated its scientific capabilities, technical expertise and strength of its start-up ecosystem by developing a network of over 2,200 laboratories in a short time span, manufacturing thousands of ventilators, PPE kits and test kits, thereby, attaining self-reliance. It is a matter of immense pride that India is conducting the world’s largest vaccination programme. The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses is inching closer to five crore. A record 32,53,095 vaccinations were administered in the last 24 hours.
The gains from the work done by the government in the healthcare sector in the past six years were visible during the Coronavirus pandemic. During these years, emphasis has been placed not only on modernising the healthcare systems but also on prevention of diseases. Programmes such as Rashtriya Poshan Abhiyaan, Fit India Movement and Khelo India Abhiyan have helped in creating awareness about health within the country. Under the Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, 1.5 crore poor people in the country have received free treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh. As a result, the poor have been able to save over Rs 30,000 crore. Today, benefits of Ayushman Bharat Yojana can be availed at more than 24,000 hospitals across the country.
In order to develop healthcare facilities across the country, commensurate expansion in medical education is equally important. In 2014, there were only 387 medical colleges, but today there are 562 medical colleges in the country. In the last six years, there has been an increase of over 50,000 seats at the under-graduate and postgraduate levels in medical education. Under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana, the government has also sanctioned 22 new AIIMS. The central government has laid the foundation for historic reforms in the field of medical education by establishing the National Medical Commission along with four autonomous boards. The decades old Medical Council of India has been replaced with the National Medical Commission as a part of these reforms.
Similarly, the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat is to make India resilient and self-reliant in more ways than one. It is not just confined to manufacturing in India but is also a campaign aimed at elevating the standard of living of every citizen as well as boosting the self-confidence of the country. It will be further strengthened by self-reliance in agriculture. Over the last six years, attempts have been made to bring positive transformation in the ‘Seed to Market’ system so that Indian agriculture is modernised and also sees growth. Widespread improvements are being brought in various sources of irrigation. Following the mantra of ‘Per Drop More Crop’, the government is not only completing the pending irrigation projects, but is also delivering modern irrigation techniques to the farmers. In 2013-14, only 42 lakh hectares of land was under micro-irrigation whereas today more than 56 lakh hectares of land has been brought under micro-irrigation.
The MSME sector, which accounts for about 50 per cent of India’s total exports, received the requisite impetus through measures like modification in the definition of MSMEs, increase in the investment limit or priority in government procurement. Initiatives such as Emergency Credit Guarantee Scheme for Rs 3,00,000 crore, special scheme of Rs 20,000 crore for MSMEs in distress and Fund of Funds have benefitted lakhs of small scale industries. Women entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in building a self-reliant India. Under the MUDRA scheme, more than 25 crore loans have been sanctioned so far, of which nearly 70 per cent have been given to women entrepreneurs. Under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana - Rashtriya Grameen Aajeevika Mission, more than seven crore women entrepreneurs have become a part of the network of nearly 66 lakh Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the country.
Today ‘Vocal for Local’ has become a people’s movement. Efforts are being made to inculcate an emotional attachment for goods manufactured in India. Continuous steps are being taken to improve ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in India. Thanks to the calibrated efforts of PM Modi, the country has also started emerging from the economic setback suffered in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic when the focus was primarily on saving the life of each citizen. Even in these difficult times, India has emerged as an attractive destination for foreign investors. Between April and August 2020, a record foreign direct investment of 36 billion dollars has been made in India. Well, facts speak louder than hollow hype!
(The writer is a senior BJP leader and co-in-charge for the party’s J&K affairs. The views are personal.)