Asserting that the poor do not need help but have to be empowered to break free of the shackles of poverty on their own strength, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said he wanted to usher in social empowerment by moving away from vote-centric politics.
Modi also urged the rich and the middle class to pay the premiums for the three social security schemes launched by his government during the day on behalf of their maids, drivers or other support staff so as to ensure a better future for them.
"The poor people don't need help. We have to change our thinking, our outlook, way of functioning. The poor people need to be empowered.
"If they are empowered, then the they would be all geared up to fight their poverty on their own strength, and free themselves of poverty," Modi said after launching three social welfare schemes here.
He said decades after bank nationalization which was done for the benefit of the poor people, one hardly saw them in the banks.
"Even today, 80 to 90 percent of the people in the country do not have a single insurance scheme. They have no chance to get pensions, they are not fortunate enough to enjoy these basic facilities. It is indeed painful."
On his first visit to West Bengal after taking over the high office, the prime minister kickstarted the "Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana" (accident insurance), "Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana" (life insurance) and "Atal Pension Yojana" at a programme at Nazrul Manch here.
Modi declared that development would remain incomplete if the benefits do not reach the slums.
He said while the government was appealing to the entire world to join in the 'Make in India' initiative, it was also working day and night "to ensure poor people have bank accounts".
Modi said under the Jan Dhan Yojana, 15 crore new accounts have been created, and now 95 percent of the country's population was part of the banking sector mainstream.
"I told the poor of the country, this country is yours, this government is yours, the banks are also yours," he said.
"I said they can open zero balance accounts, but I salute the poor people... they thought that's not right. In the 15 crore new accounts, poor people have deposited Rs.15,800 crore."
Modi said: "Generally politicians bring schemes to reap the benefits in the next election. I am not a politician. I am a pradhansevak. So I have brought these schemes for the youth who will get the benefits when they turn 60. They won't need anybody's help, and can spend their old years on their own strength."
"The government must have schemes for the poor and the middle class people who want to spend their life in peace. For this, if we empower society without looking at vote-centred politics, then the empowered society can take on poverty. This is our aim."
Modi said earlier people used to get paltry amounts like Rs.7, Rs.20, or Rs.250 as government pension. "If an old person went to collect his pension, he would spent the entire amount for his auto rickshaw or bus fares," he said, adding the minimum government pension has now been raised to Rs.1,000.
The prime minister also said contrary to popular belief that big industrialists usher in economic revolution, the country's financial system is run by small entrepreneurs.
"Those who sell vegetables on the street junction.. the washerman, tea stall owners.. in India, there are 5.5 crore such people, who give momentum to our financial system. Big industrial ventures give employment to very few people.
"But these 5.5 crore small time businessmen provide living for 14 crore people."