rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Centuries-old evils will have to be tackled more sternly: PM

Centuries-old evils will have to be tackled more sternly: PM

Last updated on: August 15, 2016 14:46 IST

Attired in his trademark half sleeves kurta and sporting a Rajasthani turban, Prime Minister Narendra Modi devoted a bulk of his 90-minute address on the occasion of the 70th Independence Day to presenting in effect a report card of his government's work particularly in boosting economic growth, ease of doing business and welfare schemes for the poor and farmers.

Here are some of the issues he spoke on:

Social Justice

Against the backdrop of recent attacks on Dalits and Muslims, Prime Minister Modi said social evils will have to be dealt with "sternly" and with "sensitivity" as survival of the society is impossible if there is no social unity.

Economic progress is no guarantee to a strong society whose foundation is social justice, he said in his Independence Day address and asked the countrymen to work for social equality and justice.

He made it clear that social harmony is key to the nation's progress and all saints and personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar stressed on the need for treating everybody equally.

"We look at the social tension today. What message had saint Ramanuja Acharya given? He had said we should equally serve all followers of good, without any prejudice. Don't disrespect anybody for reason of his caste.

"What lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, saint Ramanajucharya, B R Ambedkar, all our holy scriptures saints and teachers have stressed is social unity. When society breaks, the empire disintegrates. When a society is divided into touchables and untouchables; upper and lower (castes), then such a society cannot last," he said.

Modi added that 'hota hai, chalta hai (it happens, it is ok)' attitude won't help in dealing with social problems.

"These evils are centuries-old and will have to be tackled more sternly and sensitively," he said.

"The governments and the society will have to work together to pull the society out of this conflict We together will have to fight these social ills," he said.

His comments from the ramparts of Red Fort came against the backdrop of attacks on Dalits and Muslims in the recent times even though he made no direct reference to these incidents.

"Only a strong society is guarantee to a strong India" and "only social justice can lead to a strong society", he said.

"Only economic freedom is no guarantee to a strong society. Social justice is our collective responsibility," he said, adding that dalits, tribals and the disadvanataged will have to be taken together for the country's progress.

Healthcare

Noting that costly healthcare facilities were wiping away the finances of the poor, Prime Minister Modi announced that the government will bear healthcare expenses of up to Rs 1 lakh annually of Below Poverty Line families.

Modi said the entire economy of a poor household gets hit when somebody falls ill and this scheme will ensure that such families are not deprived of healthcare benefits.

"The economy of a poor household is affected if somebody falls ill. The wedding of their daughters gets stalled, the education of children gets stalled and sometimes even food is not available. Healthcare is getting costlier.

"That is why the government has come out with a significant scheme for people living Below Poverty Line. In the future, if such families have to take medical facilities, the government will bear expenditure upto Rs 1 lakh for a year, so that my poor brothers are not deprived of healthcare facilities and their dreams are not shattered," Modi said.

Asserting that the main mantra behind governance is sensitivity, Modi said his government has been able to provide online registration and appointment of doctors at major government hospitals while the medical records of patients are also now available online.

"There was a time that if somebody had to visit a big hospital, one had to wait for many days. People used to come to AIIMS and spend 2-3 days before the decision to examine the patient was taken.

"We have been able to change this system. Online registration and online appointments with doctors are available. All his (patient's) medical record is available online.

"In the health sector, we want to develop this as a country-wide culture. We have started this system in more than 40 big government hospitals across the country. But the main mantra behind this is that governance should be sensitive" to the needs of the people, Modi said.

Terrorism and Pakistan

Lashing out at Pakistan for glorifying terrorists, Prime Minister Modi declared that the country will not bow before terrorism even as he said people of Baluchistan and PoK have thanked him for raising issue of atrocities against them.

The prime minister asked the international community to judge the behaviour of India and Pakistan in the context of terror attacks in each other's country.

The Prime Minister presented "two pictures" before the world about the difference between "the people who are brought up on the basis of humanity and those inspired by terrorism", appealing the world to "weigh it on a balance."

"Terrorists killed innocent children in a school in Peshawar. Blood of innocent kids was spilled by terrorists. A temple of learning was bloodied. There were tears in the eyes of India's parliamentarians.

"Every school in India was crying. Every child in India was feeling the pain of kids of Peshawar. Tears did not dry up from their eyes. The child victims of terrorism in Peshawar gave us pain. It is reflective of inspiration derived from our culture. This is our humanity.

"But look at the other side where terrorism is being glorified. Where killing of innocents by terrorists is celebrated. What kind of terrorism-inspired life is it? What kind of government is which is inspired by terrorism? The world will need to understand the double standards," Modi said.

At the same time, he again raked up PoK and Baluchistan issues.

"From the ramparts of the Red Fort, I want to express my gratitude to some people -- the people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and Pak-occupied-Kashmir -- for the way they whole-heartedly thanked me, the way they expressed gratitude to me, the way they conveyed their goodwill to me recently.

"People in distant land, which I have not even seen, people that I have not met..when those people thank the Indian Prime Minister, greet him, it is an honour for the 125 crore people of the country.

"And that is why, Today I want to thank the people of Baluchistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir whole-heartedly," the Prime Minister said.

Modi, who during his speech at an all-party meeting on Kashmir on Friday last had slammed Pakistan for carrying out atrocities against people of Baluchistan and PoK, said people hailing from those areas have thanked him a lot since then and he is grateful to them.

Amid continued violence in Jammu and Kashmir, northeast and Naxalism-hit areas, Prime Minister Modi urged the youth, who have taken up arms, to return to their families and join the mainstream, saying the path of violence has never benefited anyone.

The prime minister said a "game is being played to kill innocents under the garb of Maoism, and in the name of militancy and
terror".

He said that in all these years, "the motherland has become more red with blood, but those who walked the path of terrorism gained nothing".

"I want to tell those youths that this country will never tolerate violence. This country will not tolerate terrorism. This country will never bow its head before terrorism, never before Maoists.

"I am telling those youths that there is time left, come back and join the mainstream. Realize your parents' aspirations. Lead a peaceful life. The path of violence has never benefited anyone," he said.

"If Indian democracy has to be strengthened, if the country's dreams are to be fulfilled, then violence will never be our path," Modi said.

Inflation

Backing a new inflation target, Prime Minister Modi said his government has not allowed the rate of price rise to cross 6 per cent as opposed to the double digit inflation during previous government.

Modi backed the 4 per cent inflation target, within a range of 2 percentage points either way, set for the next five years under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India.

"It is true that during the time of previous government, inflation rate had crossed 10 per cent. Our continuous efforts have ensured that inflation rate does not rise above 6 per cent," he said.

He attributed the spike in vegetable prices to two consecutive droughts that impacted supplies but said efforts have been made to contain it.

"I will continue to make efforts to ensure that the food plate of poor is not affected (by inflation)," he said.

On the spike in prices of pulses this year, he said sowing of pulses this year has risen by 1.5 times and with good monsoon and efforts like Minimum Support Price and bonus to farmers as well as increasing availability will make things better.

While monsoon has been good this year, excess rainfall has caused problems at some places, he said, adding the government was fully committed to helping such states.

Modi said unlike past governments, he has stayed away from populist measures and instead relied on empowerment.

The Prime Minister said efforts by his government have led to 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh being cleared and 95 per cent of crop being sold this season being already paid for.

Also, record urea production has meant that blackmarketing of the crop nutrient is a thing of past, he said, adding that farmers are being given crop insurance cover on minimum premium.

Godown capacity of 15 lakh tonnes has been constructed to store crops and emphasis is being laid on all food procesing and agro based industries to raise farm incomes.

Hundred per cent FDI has been permitted in food processing. "These steps will help realise the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022," he said.

"I have resisted from resorting to populist schemes," Modi said.

Good Governance

Prime Minister Modi said his government is committed to resolve the situation where people are scared of the Income Tax authorities, particularly among middle class families, assuring that he will bring the change.

"We want to change the situation where people are scared of income tax authorities, particularly among middle class families. We have to change this situation and I will change it. I want to change the lives of common people, I am committed to it," Prime Minister Modi said.

Asserting that renewable energy is a focus area for the government, Prime Minister Modi said that before the BJP-led NDA government, they used to lay 30,000-35,000 km in transmission lines in a year, but today their government lays 50,000 km in transmission lines per year.

He said today, in all the major government hospitals, online registration is available and medical records are also available online.

"There was a time when government was surrounded by allegations but now the government is surrounded by expectations. There was a time when getting a passport was a tedious process and needed strong references. We have changed this. Now, one can avail passport in a week, have eased processes. We have to give speed to our work," he added.

Prime Minister Modi said in the last 60 years, 14 crore people were given gas connections, while the present government provided gas connections to over four crore people in 60 weeks.

"We have connected 70 crore Indians to Aadhaar and social security schemes. We are working to bring in social change. In such a short span of time we have built two crore toilets.over 70,000 villages are free from open-defecation," he added.

The Prime Minister asserted that his government has taken forward the work of village roads which was started under former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"Earlier, we used to make 70-75 km of roads in a day. Today we make over 100 km in a day. We have found 9,000 lower ranks in which there will not be any interviews, there will not be any need of references and middlemen. These appointments are being done on merit. Today the citizen is not happy with just the announcement of projects, the unveiling of plans. She / He want to see the actual work being done on the ground," he added.

While pointing out that in the past, when someone wanted to start a company or set up a factory it used to take months, Prime Minister Modi said at present the government is ready to register them within 24 hours.

The prime minister said efforts by his government have led to 99.5 per cent of past dues of sugarcane farmers in Uttar Pradesh being cleared and 95 per cent of crop being sold this season being already paid for.

Also, record urea production has meant that blackmarketing of the crop nutrient is a thing of past, he said, adding that farmers are being given crop insurance cover on minimum premium.

Godown capacity of 15 lakh tonnes has been constructed to store crops and emphasis is being laid on all food procesing and agro based industries to raise farm incomes.

Hundred per cent FDI has been permitted in food processing. "These steps will help realise the target of doubling farmers' income by 2022," he said.

Going Green

Prime Minister Modi said the government's emphasis on non-polluting renewable energy has meant that generation from wind has gone up by 40 per cent in last one year and that from solar by as much as 16 per cent.

"This is not an incremental change but a high jump. We want to increase to quantum jump," he said, adding, laying of transmission lines, to transport electricity from production sites to consumption centres, has been expedited to 50,000 km per year from previous 30,000-35,000 km.

Of the 18,000 unelectrified villages, power has reached 10,000, he said citing the example of Nagla Padam village which is a three hours drive from the national capital and has been without electricity since Independence.

"LED bulb used to cost Rs 350 (apiece) in India. At that price who will buy a LED bulb (over a conventional bulb). And the government did not bother much about it.

"But if the LED bulb can change the life of people, environment and economy, the government should also try to change its work culture. We did that and through government intervention, the price of a Rs 350 LED bulb has now been brought down to Rs 50," he said.

Use of LEDs in households and public lighting could reduce energy consumption by 50 per cent to 90 per cent.

So far, the government has distributed more than 13 crore LED bulbs, and is aiming to distribute more than 70 crore bulbs through bulk orders within the next three years.

Under the Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme, the government procures LED bulbs through competitive bidding and provides the bulbs to consumers at competitive rates. This has led to bringing down of cost of LED bulbs.

Stating that so far 13 crore LED bulbs have been distributed, Modi said the government would have been hailed by people if it would have resorted to populist style of giving Rs 300 as subsidy from the exchequer.

But through its intervention, thousands of crores of rupees in energy cost as well as price of LED bulb have been saved, he said.

If the 77 crore incandescent bulbs sold in Indian households were switched to LEDs, the country could save 20,000 megawatt (25 billion KWh or units) of energy per year worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore, he said.

He appealed to citizens to switch to LED bulbs and save Rs 250-500 in electricity bill. "We can save Rs 1.25 lakh crore in energy bills annually if 77 crore LEB bulbs are installed and 20,000 MW of consumption cut," he said.

Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves at crowd after his address during the 70th Independence Day function at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Monday . Shahbaz Khan/PTI Photo

© Copyright 2018 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.