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Modi's big push for holistic development with an eye on 2024 polls

·Columnist

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters of India on the 75th Independence Day. This was his 8th address to the nation from the Red Fort. Modi highlighted that the Swatantrata Diwas should not be merely a ceremony and we have to march ahead with new pledges for the next 25 years.

The prime minister said that we have to ensure we meet our goal of building Atma Nirbhar Bharat when we celebrate 100 years of India’s Independence. He gave a call for ‘Sabka Prayas’ along with ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ for building a new India with a thrust on participative governance.

With an eye on 2024 general elections, Modi made a strong pitch for building a New India.

1. Gati Shakti Plan for Infra

Modi made a big push for next-generation infrastructure development in his speech. With private investment not taking off as consumption has been hit after the pandemic, it is now up to the government to increase public investment / spending and take the country out of the economic crisis inflicted by the pandemic. 

The prime minister announced the launch of ‘Pradhan Mantri Gatishakti National Master Plan’, a Rs 100 lakh crore national infrastructure master plan. Gatishakti will help local manufacturers turn globally competitive and develop possibilities of new future economic zones. It will also provide employment opportunities for the youth. 

Over 4.5 crore new households have received piped water supply within two years of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ and the entire population will be covered by 2024. 

2. Fortified Rice for Poor

Highlighting that malnutrition poses ‘major obstacles’ in the development of women and children, Modi announced the fortification of rice distributed under various government schemes, including the Public Distribution System and mid-day meals in schools, by 2024. 

In India, every second woman is anaemic and every third child is stunted.

As per Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), fortification is “deliberately increasing the content of essential micronutrients in a food so as to improve the nutritional quality of food and to provide public health benefit with minimal risk to health. 

The government has earmarked more than 3 crore tonnes of rice for distribution under the Food Security Act. It has also announced free ration for 80 crore people to tide over the effects of the pandemic. 

3. Sainik Schools for girls

With an aim of providing better and equal opportunities to the girl child, and improving their representation in the armed forces, the Sainik Schools will now take admissions of girls. The prime minister made the announcement after receiving requests from a number of students across the country. There are 33 Sainik Schools in India operated by the Ministry of Defence which prepares students for careers in the defence forces. 

4. Upliftment of Small / Marginal Farmers

Hinting at the new farm laws which would increase the incomes of farmers and give them a choice, PM Modi said that more than 80% of the farmers of the country are those who have less than 2 hectares of land. In the earlier policies that were made in the country, the amount of focus on these small farmers was very less. Now his government is taking decisions keeping these small farmers in mind.

He stressed upon the need for application of scientific research and methods to boost the agriculture sector to provide food security to the nation, increase food production and productivity.

5. Inclusive and Holistic Development for All

Modi stressed on the fact that to fully utilise the capabilities of India to take it to new heights in the 21st century, we have to hold hands of the section that is lagging behind. The gap between lives in villages and cities need to be bridged. We need to work for the upliftment of the deprived communities. In the past few years, facilities like roads and electricity have reached villages. The optical fibre network is providing the power of data to villages, and the Internet is reaching there resulting in rapid transformation. 

Modi said that the Northeast region, the Himalayan region, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, the coastal belt and tribal regions will make a foundation for India’s development in the future. 

The capitals of northeast states will soon be connected with Railways and the entire region will get connected with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Southeast Asia for better opportunities. 

With respect to Jammu and Kashmir, the prime minister said that development is visible on ground, delimitation exercise is on and preparations for assembly polls are underway.

PM Modi during his speech expressed his gratitude towards the health workers including doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, sanitation workers and scientists who developed the vaccines. He thanked the Olympians and sports stars for bringing glory to the nation. 

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