Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

The Modi Govt policies have acted as game changers

Various schemes have brought about a sea change in the socio-economic lives of citizens  

There are plenty of things to show on the ground that the Narendra Modi Govt has been exceptionally successful in mitigating the woes of the people, particularly the poor and the downtrodden. In the last seven years of BJP rule, hundreds of social welfare schemes have done their magical impact. It was in this background that Prime Minister, while replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address to both the Houses at the beginning of the recent Budget session in Parliament, highlighted the Government’s schemes.

The PM particularly hailed the President’s Address for its focus on the government’s scheme, Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant India). Though he highlighted all the major schemes and the ‘fruits’ emanating thereof, his main focus was on a few schemes that, in a way, have changed the very living conditions of the people, mainly in rural areas and slums in the cities. For instance, schemes for housing, water at every household’s door, electricity in every house, Rs 5-lakh medi-claim card known as, in Hindi, Bharat Ayushman Yojna, and popularly called Golden Card in English.

The main schemes the Prime Minster dwelt upon at length in the House, were:  PM’s Jandhan Yojna, PM’s  Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna, Atal Pension Yojna, PM’s Mudra Yojna and the scheme for ‘One  Nation, One  Ration Card’.

These schemes were launched in the last few years to address the social and economic welfare of the citizens of the nation, particularly the poor and the helpless in the rural and the semi-urban areas. If you count the number of such schemes since the Narendra Modi Government took over in 2014, there about 100 of them. Many of them are fully implemented, and the rest are being implemented. These schemes have played a crucial role in mitigating absolute poverty and making the lives of the people easier and comfortable.

The PM also highlighted the fact that, in 2020, a relief package worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore was announced to tackle the financial difficulties which were faced due to the Covid -19 outbreak, under the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana.

This year’s Budget 2022-23 has announced the Aatmanirbhar package amounting to Rs. 27.1 lakh crore to deal with the impact of Covid-19. Let’s discuss some of the more important schemes:

PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana: Launched a few months ago, the beneficiaries of this scheme get  free bank accounts and there is no need to maintain any balance in these accounts because they are zero-balance accounts. After opening this account, the beneficiaries get accidental insurance and overdraft facility automatically. More than 33 crore people have already opened their accounts, which has resulted in the deposition of over Rs140,000 crore in these accounts.

PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana: This scheme was established to provide life insurance security to the poor and low-income section of the society. The scheme can be availed of by people aged between 18 and 50 years.

Atal Pension Yojana: It is a scheme focusing on the unorganised sector workers. Under this, a guaranteed pension of Rs.1,000, Rs 4,000, Rs 5,000 per month is given at the age of 60 , depending on the beneficiaries’ contributions.

Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana: It was launched by the Prime Minister on April 8, 2015, for providing loans up to Rs 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises. These loans are given by commercial banks and several other financial organisations.

One Nation, One Ration Card

One Nation, One Ration Card:  One of the most ‘revolutionary’ schemes brought out two years ago was the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme. This was launched by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. To begin with, the scheme covered four states in 2019, and thereafter 12 other states were added on Jan 1, 2020. Today, most of the states are covered by the scheme, and this has helped, in a big way, public distribution of food items in a transparent and equitable way.

A similar scheme related to food security of migrant workers too was launched.  This scheme helps the beneficiaries as they are entitled to food grains from any electronic point of sale (ePoS) at any FPS in the country through portability. Portability gives that choice, while enabling the family back home to draw the remainder of the eligible ration. This scheme has been a big boon for such migrant workers who were earlier left out of any such facilities.

The main characteristics of the scheme are: The existing ration cards are turned into ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’. It is a universal ration card allotted to each registered beneficiary. A beneficiary who migrates from one place to another can buy subsidised food grains from a fair price shop in his new location. The beneficiaries are identified through biometric authentication.

Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan (PM AASHA): It is a scheme that aims at ensuring fair price for farmers and their produce. It strengthens the procurement process, thereby improving the income of the farmers. The procurement of pulses and oilseeds is carried out by the Central Nodal Agencies with support from state governments. This scheme also covers oilseeds distribution. Direct payment of the difference between Minimum Support Price and the selling price is done to the registered farmers.

Ayushman Sahakar: A unique scheme, it is to assist cooperatives to play an important role in the creation of healthcare infrastructure everywhere in the country. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus the requirement of adequate facilities in the healthcare sector. Thus, under this scheme, term-loans will be extended to cooperatives to the tune of Rs.10,000 crore in the coming years. The scheme was introduced by the Government with the following objectives:

  • Affordable and holistic healthcare through hospitals and other centres.
  • Promotion of  the AYUSH scheme facilities by cooperative societies.
  • Extending  help to cooperative societies to meet the objectives.
  • To assist cooperative societies to participate in the National Digital Health Mission.

India is No.3 in Unicorn ranking

Start-up policy: ‘The ‘Start-up India Seed Fund’ scheme has the objective  of providing financial assistance to start-ups in various areas of operation for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialisation.

It was on Feb 5, 2021, that the Government made an official announcement about the approval of scheme for a period of four years, and was implemented with effect from April 1, 2021.

The scheme has several interesting features:

  • Financial assistance to start-ups  right at the initial stage of the project.
  • Approval  for a time period of four years, starting from 2021-22.
  • A Rs. 945-crore corpus will be divided over the next 4 years for providing seed funding to eligible startups.
  • The scheme will help over 3600 start-ups in the country
  • It is in line with the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign, launched in May, 2020.

Today, it is a matter of great pride that India has 80,000 start-ups. All put together, these start-ups raised 42 billion USD in 2021 alone. Out of the total start-ups, there were 85 Unicorns in India in 2021. And the PM very proudly addressed the Devos convention recently, particularly highlighting the Unicorn success story of India. He was emphatic that the upstarts were the backbones of future India.

The PM also was happy to announce that the number of Unicorns will cross the 100 mark this year. India is already at N0.3 in Unicorn ranking, replacing Britain, in 2021. The 1st and the 2nd top rankers are America and China, respectively.  By the way, a Unicorn is defined as a start-up project that has a valuation of USD 1billion or more.

India’s missiles come of age

Under the Atma Nirbhar scheme, India has done a great deal of progress in its defence and security sector. It is getting stronger and stronger every day to fully protect its sovereignty and integrity. It is a fact of great pride for all Indian citizens that the country recently signed a deal with Philippines to export missile defence equipment. There are, in the pipeline, other likely deals with a few other countries on the BrahMos missiles export. Why should other countries be willing to go for Indian missiles? Very simple: Indian missiles are not only cheaper but more effective and reliable too. They can be launched from land, sea or air to hit any enemy target. Their range is being raised from 400 to 1500 km.

With the Philippines, India has struck a deal to export BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles worth INR 2770 crore (375 mn USD).  It is understood that most of the neighbouring countries having problems with China are approaching India for deals on missiles import in order to check the Chinese aggressive postures. Philippines has had several territorial disputes with China over the latter’s claims in the South China Sea in recent months.

The other countries likely to sign such deals in the near future are Bangladesh, Maldives and a few other South-East Asian countries. An average cost of a BrahMos missile is INR 25 crore. The Indian government has already cleared an INR 8000-crore plan to equip the IAF with BrahMos.

SVAMITVA Scheme: The Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) scheme is an initiative to enable an integrated property validation solution for rural India. This is the first time ever initiative that such a large-scale exercise involving most modern drone technology is carried out to benefit millions of rural property owners covering all villages across the country. It was launched on April 24, 2020, which is the National Panchayat Day. The Nodal Ministry for this scheme is the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

DHRUV: The Pradhan Mantri Innovative Learning Programme (DHRUV) is an initiative with the assistance of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The main objectives of the DHRUV Innovative Programme are that the Government will encourage talented children to enrich their skills and knowledge. Children will be mentored and nurtured by experts in different areas through centres of excellence across the country.

The idea is to boost the confidence of young students and encourage them to learn new and innovative things.

Swachh Bharat Scheme: This is a country-wide campaign initiated to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management. It is a restructured version of the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, launched in 2009. Under this scheme, the phase1 of the Swachh Bharat Mission lasted till October 2019.  And the Phase 2 was implemented between 2020 and 2021.

The mission aims at achieving an “open-defecation-free” India through the construction of toilets in every rural family house. In all, 89.9 million toilets were built in the first phase. And, with that began the objective of  the eradication of manual scavenging, generating awareness and bringing about a behaviour change regarding sanitation practices, and augmentation of capacity at the local level.

The second phase of the mission will continue with the open defecation-free campaign, and improve the management of solid and liquid waste, while also working to improve the lives of sanitation workers.

The campaign’s official name in English is ‘Clean India Mission’. The campaign was officially launched on Oct2, 2014 at RajghatNew Delhi, by the Prime Minister. It is India’s largest cleanliness drive with three million government employees and students from all parts of the country participating in 4,043 cities, towns and rural areas.

At a recent rally in Champaran, the Prime Minister called the campaign ‘Satyagraha Se Swatchhagrah’ with reference to Gandhi’s Champaran Satyagrah, launched on April 10, 1916. The mission was split into two parts: Rural and urban. In rural areas, the mission was  financed and monitored through the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, whereas the scheme in urban areas was overseen by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

As part of the campaign, volunteers, known as Swatchhagrahis (Ambassadors of cleanliness), promoted the construction of toilets at the village level. Other activities included national real-time monitoring and updates from non-governmental organisations.  The campaign was financed by the Government of India and state governments. The former released a Rs 40,700-crore fund for toilet construction in over 700,000 villages, covering all major regions.

All these schemes collectively have brought about phenomenal socio-economic changes among the rural people, the poor and the needy; and today’s rural India scenario gives a picture of complete change, reflecting a shining India.

(The writer is a New Delhi-based Editor-at-large, columnist and professional speaker. The opinions expressed are his own)