Modiji has led this country successfully for the last six years. This is the first year of the second term which has been completed. This year was eventful. Modi's work can be seen as a three-pronged activity. First, some historical national initiatives. Second, fighting Covid-19 and, third, laying foundation stone for the future of India through "Aatmanirbhar Bharat".
Abrogation of Article 370, creation of Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, passing of Citizenship Amendment Bill and abolition of Triple Talaq, facilitation of Ram temple, can be grouped into national and historical political initiatives. Kashmir situation has improved thereafter. Now, even the internet has been restored. Our forces are keeping watch on Pakistan's nefarious designs. A comprehensive agreement to end over 50 years of old Bodo crisis was done and all sections of the society are very happy.
Likewise, Bru-Reang refugee crisis has been solved successfully with a tripartite agreement between Tripura, Government of India and Mizoram. Also, in one year, it ushered major social initiatives in the form of six months' leave in pregnancy; Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, 2020; Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020 and amended Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
In fighting coronavirus, we held the longest and very strict lockdown which ensured minimum damage for the country. We had no capacity in many areas. We had zero Covid hospitals. Now we have more than 800. We had only one lab for testing and now we have more than 300. PPE suit, mask and even the swab stick was getting imported. We became ‘Aatmanirbhar' and now it is a ‘Make in India' story. Even ventilators are being produced in India. 165 distilleries and 962 manufacturers were given licence to produce hand sanitizers which resulted in production of 87 lakh litres of hand sanitizers.
Government released Rs 15,000 crore health package and Rs 11,000 crores for State Disaster Relief Fund to enable the states to take up the challenge and fight it without borrowing. In Covid fight, 3000 trains have ferried nearly 45 lakhs migrant laborers back to their homes. Thousands of Indian residents stranded in foreign countries were evacuated successfully.
Modiji cares for masses first. In his very first package, he had given food security cover to 80 crore families with 25 kg rice / wheat and five kg of pulses free of cost (for five months). It continued with earlier schemes of providing five kg a month rice / wheat at a highly subsidized rate of Rs 2 – 3 per kg. For nearly five crore non-ration card holders, government gave 10 kg free rice / wheat and two kg of pulses for two months.
20 crore Jandhan accounts of women received Rs 30,000 crores. Each one got Rs 1,500 (500 x 3) in their bank accounts. Eight crore families got three gas cylinders worth Rs 2,000. Nearly nine crore farmers received Rs. 2,000 into their bank accounts. 50 lakh Redi-Patriwalas will get Rs. 10,000 each. Lakhs of construction workers got fund from the Construction Workers' Fund. If somebody calculates, the 10 per cent bottom of our society has received more than Rs 10,000 in the family.
The third part of the development is, major reforms unleashed through "Aatmanirbhar" package. The five pillars of Aatmanirbhar Bharat are Economy, Infrastructure, Systems, Demography and Demand. It is a Rs 20 lakh crore package which is 10 per cent of the GDP. It cares for every section of the society. EPI contribution was reduced for both employers and employees to the tune of Rs 2760 crore. Two per cent interest subvention has been given on small and medium loans. 63 lakh self-help groups will receive collateral free lending up to Rs 20 lakh which was restricted earlier to Rs 10 lakh.
The definition of small and medium industries was changed to accommodate more companies to benefit. They have been provided with Rs 4,45,000 crores for small and medium industries and NBFCs put together. Rs 1,00,000 crores for agri-infrastructure programmes, plus Rs 20,000 crores for Fisheries Development and nearly Rs. 15,000 crores for vaccination and treatment of foot and mouth disease in the cattle population have been provided. There is credit link subsidy of Rs 70,000 crores which is important.
Major reforms have been unleashed in this package. Self-reliance in defence is a historical initiative. We were importing 100 per cent weaponry, but were not allowing FDI in defence. Modi ji brought the country out of this hypocrisy and allowed 74 per cent of FDI into defence production and simultaneously banned import of defence spares and weapons which are made in India. 1,00,000 crore rupees for MNREGA is one of the best initiative as it provides jobs to the needy and, as migrant workers are returning, there will be more demand for jobs in the rural areas. UPA never crossed the expenditure on MNREGA by more than Rs 37,000 crores. Our last five years' record is an average of Rs 55,000 crores. Now we have nearly doubled it to Rs 1,00,000 crores. Modi Government cares for the poor. Many concessions are given to the revamp of industries and tax payers.
Lastly, the headline of this package is the historical reforms in agricultural sector. Farmers have been freed from APMCs. They can sell anywhere by their choice. They can engage with anybody for any period his farm product and its captive marketing and he has been given relief from many anti-farmer provisions of Essential Commodities Act. Now, there will be no restricts on farmers when market offers them more price.
"Aatmanirbhar" package will decide the future of India. It is visionary, historical and prudent.
<em>(The author is the Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change; Information and Broadcasting; Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises. The views expressed are personal)</em>.