Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought to rise above the acrimony that had marred the recently concluded Lok Sabha election campaign to outline his government’s vision for the next five years.
During his reply in the Lok Sabha to the motion of thanks on the President’s address to Parliament, the PM said the government would run on the twin tracks of the welfare of the poor and developing modern infrastructure.
Also, alluding to his government’s commitment to helping set up 50,000 start-ups by 2024, the PM coined a new slogan. He said from now on the country should speak of not only ‘jai jawan, jai kisan, jai vigyan’ but also in the same breath of ‘jai anusandhan’, or ‘victory to research’.
In his hour-long speech, the PM said it was difficult to cure ailments of 70 years in five years, but his government “neither diverted nor diluted” from its goal to improve “ease of living” of the people. Appealing to all political parties to contribute to the building of a “new India, a modern India”, Modi stressed the need for a “paradigm shift” from the focus on fundamental rights to duties.
Modi said as the country would be celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this year and the 75th anniversary of Independence in 2022, and it was time to reawaken the “spirit” of the freedom struggle to shape the “country’s agenda”.
Modi did not directly refer to the drought affecting large parts of the country or joblessness, or to the economic slowdown and agrarian distress. However, he did outline his government’s vision on each of these issues. The PM said water scarcity was a big concern. Modi said he has constituted the new Jal Shakti ministry with the purpose of addressing the issue and stressed the need for water conservation. Linking it to agricultural, the PM said sugarcane farmers could do well to adopt micro-irrigation for the crop.
Modi said farmers needed to shed obsolete techniques of farming. He said farmers needed handholding of the government and also corporate investments into the farm sector to set up warehouses and cold storages to boost the food processing industry.
On his government’s goal of making India a $5-trillion economy by 2024, the PM took a dig at its critics, stating that statistics could be used to prove any argument, but it was a “dream” that each one should contribute to help attain that target. Modi said the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, despite the ridicule it has faced, would help achieve the objective and said defence exports could be the principal driver.