Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman
Prime Minister Narendra Modi often says, we have not come here to enjoy power, but to bring about fundamental changes in critical areas of governance. Nine years is enough time to prove that he walked the talk.
The new Parliament built in record time, abrogation of Article 370, pushing up the economy into the world’s top five despite Covid, amalgamation of 10 state-owned banks to four and getting them into prime health, the Goods and Services Tax, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, digital public infrastructure yielding six billion payment transactions in a month, 74 airports built and operationalised, delivery of six notoriously delayed infrastructure projects (one delayed by over five decades), repeal of 1,400 archaic laws and 39,000 compliances, permanent commission for women in the armed forces, highest ever defence exports, becoming the third largest producer of renewable energy — these are but a few outcomes of the fundamental changes made in the way we are governed.
The need for fundamental change in the way we are governed was not a cliché. The lethargy, the stasis in governance, were deep-rooted and, dare I say, a result of unstable governments or dynastic rule. It must be recognised that there have been attempts to break away from this even earlier. However, they didn’t make much progress. Prime Minister Modi’s political will and stability, vision, relentless pursuit
New Parliament built in record time, abrogation of Article 370, pushing up the economy into the world’s top five despite Covid, amalgamation of 10 state-owned banks to four and getting them into prime health, the Goods and Services Tax, 74 airports built and operationalised… a few outcomes of the fundamental changes…
of set goals and putting nation above self are yielding results. The role of the Opposition has, sadly, been less in Parliament. It has been more to disrupt and delay through filing petitions in the courts of law rather than debate and discuss in the House. Over 15 cases, including on the GST, Article 370, vaccination, triple talaq, Central Vista, were vigorously argued only for them to lose in each one of them. In each of these cases, if the time spent in the courts is reconciled, then we have perhaps delivered outcomes in less than nine years’ time.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that three of the nine years saw challenges beyond our control. The pandemic and its second wave, volatility in fuel and fertiliser prices, and the Ukraine war, have had spill-over effects globally. To provide immunity to our large population, there was a pressing need to have a vaccine in time. Thereafter, the emphasis was on manufacturing sufficient doses to meet the urgency. Then again, to get our people vaccinated. India conducted the biggest vaccination drive administering 220 crore vaccines — free of charge. If our prime minister strongly supported and encouraged speedy development and production of our vaccines, he had another sensitive job to perform. He used the trust that people have in him to appeal to all citizens to accept vaccination. He took the vaccine himself publicly, when he was eligible as per the policy. Why was this necessary? Because, some of our Opposition parties raised doubts, creating vaccine hesitancy among the people.
In his speech in the new Parliament, the prime minister drew a comparison: If parliamentarians needed a new House to discuss issues related to the common people, people needed a pucca house to live in. More than 3.5 crore pucca houses have been constructed in these nine years. 11.72 crore toilets have been constructed, with 100 per cent saturation achieved in rural areas. 12 crore households have been given access to clean drinking water.
It is with untiring work, rooting out corruption, delivery on promises and by remaining continuously responsive that Prime Minister Modi has earned the trust of the people. Trust is also earned by standing by those in distress. During Covid 2.97 crore Indians who were caught up in various parts of the world were safely brought back home. Similarly, over 20,000 Indians who were stuck in strife-torn countries were brought back.
The encouragement and support given to youth has shown in the results achieved in various global events. The number of higher educational institutions built and made operational is staggering, to say the least: 700 medical colleges, 15 AIIMS, over 69,000 medical seats, 7 IITs, 7 IIMs, 15 IIITs and 390 universities — all new.
Efficiencies have increased dramatically in many sectors such as fish production. It had taken 63 years to take the production level to 59.14 lakh tonnes. In just nine years, we have added another 59.89 lakh tonnes and globally we now rank third.
We rank second in fruit and vegetable production, next only to China. Our dairy sector which employs more than eight crore farmers today ranks first in world milk production —India contributes 22 per cent to the global milk production. We are the second largest honey producers in the world. Indian poultry sector ranks third globally in egg production.
Eliminating pilferages of benefits meant for eligible beneficiaries is a duty of a responsible government. Misuse of taxpayers’ money had to be removed. 3.99 crore
It is with untiring work, rooting out corruption, delivery on promises and by remaining continuously responsive that Prime Minister Modi has earned the trust of the people. Trust is also earned by standing by those in distress. During Covid 2.97 crore Indians who were caught up in various parts of the world were safely brought back home.
duplicate/fake ration cards and 4.11 crore fake LPG connections were cancelled. This has resulted in a saving of more than Rs 2.73 lakh crore (2021-22). However, in these nine years, total transfers through direct benefit transfer (DBT) are more than 29 lakh crore. For two years since the pandemic, over 80 crore people were given free foodgrain and pulses, so they do not remain hungry.
Approaching national security issues comprehensively and with a greater sense of purpose is a hallmark of this government. Gone are the days when we were told by the Raksha Mantri that there are no resources to better equip the forces. Our border roads and villages were left underdeveloped because, we were told, that if developed, they would be useful for the enemy. Now, PM Gati Shakti and the Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geo Informatics (BISAG-N) are bringing resource efficiencies and real-time monitoring.
Transformative changes are happening in empowering women. For the first time, there are 1,020 women per 1,000 men. Maternal mortality rate has declined to 97 (2019-20). Under the MUDRA Yojana 68 per cent beneficiaries are women. Paid maternity leave has been increased from 12 to 26 weeks. Jan Aushadhi Kendras dispensed over 27 crore sanitary pads. Girls get admitted to Sainik schools now.
The past nine years were dedicated to lifting India from the hopeless morass it had been thrown into. The next 25 years leading to India@100 need similar dedicated, corruption-free governance. Policy stability and continuity are critical. PM Modi, as a sevak, has given India that stability.
(The writer is Union Minister of Finance, GOI)