In his 65th ‘Mann ki Baat’ address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the pursuit of Atmanirbhar Bharat, or self-reliant India, will take the country to new heights in this decade.
Modi indicated the need to restrict import of goods that can be manufactured in the country, which is also known as import substitution.
The PM spoke of the need to offer a “new paradigm” to offer jobs and self-employment opportunities to millions of migrant workers who have headed home to their towns and villages by setting up cottage and small scale industries.
Modi said a national migrant commission could soon be set up while skill mapping of migrant workers is being done, including by private start-ups.
On the subject of ‘aatmanirbhar’ India, the prime minister chose to read out a letter he received from a listener from Bihar in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ broadcast, which is significant in its content.
Modi said Himanshu from Bihar has written to him that “he dreams of the day when India reduces imports to the bare minimum”, be it the import of petrol, diesel, fuels, electronic items, urea or even edible oils.
“I understand his sentiments. There are many products that find their way into the country from outside resulting in wasteful expenditure on part of the honest tax payers. Their substitutes can easily be manufactured in India,” Modi said.
The PM further said that people across the country are taking the reins of the leadership of the Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in their own hands.
“Many have mentioned that they have made complete lists of the products being manufactured in their vicinity. These people are now buying only these local products, promoting ‘vocal for local’. In order to encourage ‘Make in India’ everyone is expressing one’s own resolve,” the PM said.
In the context of millions of migrant workers heading back home to their towns and villages, particularly to eastern India, the PM said that “the need of the hour is devising a new solution – a paradigm” in that direction. He said his government is “constantly taking steps in that direction”.
He said, for example skill mapping of labourers is being carried out at places, while at other places start-ups are engaged in doing this. He said the establishment of a migration commission is being deliberated upon.
“Recent decisions taken by the Central government have opened up vast possibilities of village employment, self-employment and small scale industry,” the PM said, adding that this will help attain the objective of ‘Make in India’ and ‘self-reliant India’.
“Had our villages, towns, districts and states been self-reliant, problems facing us would not have been of such a magnitude as is evident today,” Modi said.
He said it has brought him joy that there is now extensive deliberation in the country on atmanirbhar Bharat, and said there was immense potential to give jobs and self-employment opportunities to people in their towns and villages.
In the context of migrant workers having to suffer because of the lockdown, the PM said it is “representative” of the need for development in the country’s eastern region, which can be become the “growth engine” of the country.
Incidentally, West Bengal and Assam have Assembly polls scheduled for May 2021, and the Bharatiya Janata Party will push for defeating the ruling Trinamool Congress in Bengal and retain its government in Assam.
“It is only the development of the eastern region that can lead to a balanced economic development of the country,” the PM said.
The PM also spoke of the signal service done by his government’s ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme to provide treatment. He said the number of beneficiaries have crossed 10 million.
“Do you know what more than 10 million patients means? It means the cumulative population of two Norways and two Singapores have been provided free treatment in such a short time,” Modi said.
He said the poor would have had to cough up more than Rs 14,000 crore if they had to pay for the treatment post-hospitalisation. He said 80 per cent of the 10 million beneficiaries are from rural areas, about 50 per cent are women, and most of the beneficiaries were suffering from diseases which could not be treated with standard medicines. Of these, 70 per cent people have had surgical intervention, he said.