Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that any crisis also provides us with an opportunity and the country must use this challenging time as a turning point to become atmanirbhar or self-reliant.
The prime minister said that self-reliance was an aspiration of India for years. “Now it is time to make each village, district of the country self-reliant,” he remarked and called for pulling the Indian economy out of ‘command and control’ mode to take it towards ‘plug and play’ mode.
Prime Minister Modi was delivering the inaugural address at the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Kolkata on Thursday.
Listing the sectors in which India must endeavour for self-reliance, Prime Minister Modi said it was time for bold decisions as well as investments to prepare a globally competitive domestic supply chain.
“The goal of self-reliance has been paramount in the policy and practice of the country and now the corona pandemic has taught us a lesson on how to speed it up. It is from this lesson the Aatmanirbhar Bharat campaign has started,” he observed.
Emphasis on Self-Reliance
The prime minister urged everyone to contribute to making India an exporter of all products that it is currently forced to import. Appreciating the efforts of small traders, he said that when we purchased from them we were not merely paying them but also encouraging them.
Referring to the quote, “The simplest method to be worked upon at present is to induce Indians to use their produce and get markets for Indian products in other countries,” by the 19th-century social reformer Swami Vivekananda, he said that the words were an inspiration for India in the post-COVID-19 world.
The prime minister listed the major reforms announced under Aatmamirbhar Bharat campaigns like measures to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), decision-related to Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and creation of project development cells for fast-tracking of investments.
Hailing the recent policy decisions taken in the field of agriculture, the prime minister said that the agricultural economy has been liberated from years of restrictions. Now the farmers of India had the freedom to sell their products anywhere in the country.
He added that the government’s current cluster-based approach to local produce would provide opportunities for all. Clusters associated with these will be developed in the districts, blocks in which they are born.
“Along with this, clusters will also be made for bamboo and organic products. Like Sikkim, the entire Northeast can become a huge hub for organic farming,” he said.
People, Planet & Profit Interlinked
The Prime Minister called for reviving the historical superiority of Bengal in manufacturing. Urging people to take inspiration from the words, “What Bengal thinks today, India Thinks Tomorrow”, the prime asked the region’s industry to move forward.
He further said that people, planet and profit are interlinked and that all three can flourish and co-exist, simultaneously. To elaborate further he gave an example of the reduction in the price of LED bulbs compared to six years ago, which had led to savings of about Rs 190 billion in electricity bills every year. That had benefited both people and the planet. He also said that other schemes and decisions of the government in the last few years were based on the concept of people, planet and profits. He also highlighted how people could benefit from using waterways as it would help reduce the cost of logistics while the planet benefited from less fuel burnt.
He cited another example, the campaign to free the country from single-use plastic. He said that it will benefit West Bengal by furthering the use of jute.
Technology in Welfare
The prime minister said that banking services had become touchless, contactless, cashless and worked 24x7 through Unified Payments Interface (UPI). Transactions from the BHIM app were creating new records. RuPay card had become the favourite card of the poor, farmers, middle class and every section of the country. He urged the use of RuPay Card for creating a self-reliant India. He said that now the banking services in the country had also reached the have nots. He said it was made possible to deliver the necessary support to millions of beneficiaries without leakage through direct benefit transfers and the trinity of Jandhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM).
He also highlighted how small self-help groups and MSMEs could benefit by providing their goods and services directly to the government through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) platform.
He urged the industry to invest in R&D and manufacturing of better batteries to increase the power storage capacity of the solar panels in the country. He also called for handholding of MSMEs who were engaged in this work.
Quoting from Gurudev Tagore’s famous poem Nutan Juger Bhor, the prime minister exhorted the industry to understand the opportunities available in the current challenges and said that only marching feet can create a new path. And that mustn’t be delayed.