Asserting that India’s global standing has improved over the past eight years since the NDA Government came to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that international organisations have begun to accept that “poverty is reducing in India”.
Modi also underlined security and integrity as the key markers that differentiate his Government from the previous regime, and said that the country’s borders are more secure than before and the “talk” now is about ease of doing business instead of corruption.
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He was speaking at a “Garib Kalyan Sammelan” at Shimla’s Ridge Maidan, where he interacted with a group of beneficiaries of Central schemes from across the country and released Rs 21,000 crore in bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
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“I remember when I used to come to you before 2014, I used to say that India would talk to the world eye to eye. Today, India does not extend a hand of friendship in compulsion but extends a helping hand. Even during the Corona period, we sent medicines and vaccines to more than 150 countries…India has proved that we have potential, too, and we are performers also. International organisations are also accepting that poverty is reducing in India and facilities are increasing for the people,” Modi said.
On national security, the Prime Minister pointed to the cross-border strike on terrorist launchpads in 2016 and the Balakot air mission. “Before 2014, there was concern regarding the security of the country. Today, there is pride in the surgical strike, the air strike. Our borders are more secure than before,” he said.
Targeting the UPA government from 2004-2014, Modi said: “Before 2014, there were headlines in the newspapers…debates were taking place on TV channels regarding loot…corruption and scams. But time has changed. Now the talk is about benefits of Government schemes. The World Bank, too, talks about ease of doing business in India. The Government prior to 2014 considered corruption as a necessary part of the system. That Government succumbed to corruption instead of fighting it. The country then was watching money for schemes being looted before it reached the needy.”
Modi said that “we should not forget the days before 2014” and that the country has moved a long way forward since then. For instance, he said, “earlier the country’s Northeast was upset because of imbalanced development and discrimination, today our Northeast is attached by heart and modern infrastructure”.
While listing the “changes” in a 40-minute speech, the Prime Minister also touched upon The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, and said that “earlier, there was fear of triple talaq but now there is courage to fight for one’s rights.”
Noting the contribution of every family in Himachal Pradesh to the armed forces, Modi said: “It is this Government that implemented ‘One Rank One Pension’ after a wait of four decades and gave arrears to ex-servicemen. Every family of Himachal has benefited a lot. Vote-bank politics happened in our country for decades and did a lot of damage to the country. We are working to build a new India, not a vote bank.”
Describing the trinity of Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile as “JAM”, Modi said money from Central schemes is directly reaching the beneficiary’s account. “We have taken the initiative to make 100 per cent benefits reach 100 per cent beneficiaries. The Government has taken a pledge for reaching the saturation of beneficiaries… 100 per cent empowerment means ending discrimination, eliminating recommendations and ending appeasement… every poor person gets the full benefits of Government schemes,” he said.
“Earlier there was a compulsion to suffer because of smoke in the kitchen, today there is a facility to get LPG cylinders from the Ujjwala scheme. Earlier there was the shame of open defecation, now the poor have the dignity of toilets. Earlier there was helplessness to raise money for treatment, today the poor have the support of Ayushman Bharat,” he said.
Striking a personal note, Modi said he still does not think of himself as a Prime Minister. “When I sign on the file, as part of my responsibility, I do the work of a Prime Minister. But as soon as the file goes, I don’t remain the Prime Minister, I become a member of the family of 130 crore people of the country… The family of 130 crore countrymen is everything for me. You are everything for me and this life, too, is only for you,” he said.
Himachal Governor Rajendra Arlekar, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur and Union Minister Anurag Thakur were among those present at the event.