The NDA government led by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has been facing criticism over issues like growing attacks on women in the wake of Hathras rape case but Modi’s focus remains firmly on protecting the life and livelihood of people hit by corona pandemic. He is doing this with all the resources at his command. Even his Atmnirbhar Bharat mission is aimed at making the lives of people better.
While the Congress-led opposition has been trying to corner the NDA government over issues such as the Hathras rape case, which triggered a country-wide furore, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has been working tirelessly to keep his promise of saving both lives and livelihoods which have been so badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Antics of the opposition have failed to distract his attention from this task which he considers to be the most important at the moment. While health care measures have been ramped up and work on developing a vaccine against the virus is in the advanced stages, the government is doing everything possible to keep the economy stable. The latest example of Modi government’s bid to boost the economy is the announcement of two new plans by finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman aimed at boosting demand and nudging the central government employees to spend more. States, too, have been given incentives that would help ease their financial burden.
The proposals include a new leave travel concession (LTC) cash voucher scheme and revival of an old special festival advance programme that had been abolished by the 7th pay commission. These two schemes along with the move to provide interest-free loans to state governments will accelerate the process of reviving the economy that had begun in May with the announcement of a Rs.20 lakh crore package by the government. The package that had come in the immediate wake of COVID-19 hitting the country included, among other things, a Rs.3 lakh crore collateral free loan scheme for businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The package had addressed the needs and demands of various sectors of the economy. For example, if it had incentives for the industries it also offered relief to the salaried class and tax payers. Apart from MSMEs, other business sectors like non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), power distribution companies and real estate sector also received the attention of the government. The overall focus has been on making India self-reliant as envisaged under Prime Minister’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The bulk of the first tranche of funds announced under the Abhiyan has gone to the MSMEs for the obvious reason that they were perceived to be the most stressed segment of the industry. It was a major incentive that guaranteed access to working capital to several lakh MSME units to be able to resume their activities and save jobs. While power distribution companies facing a cash flow crisis were promised support real estate sector, too, received incentives. Some economists chose to describe it as a survival package instead of a stimulus package but call it what you may there is no denying that it helped infuse a new life into the economy. The latest announcements made by the union finance minister appear to be aimed at sustaining the momentum generated by the May package. The way the government led by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is moving it is certain to achieve its immediate goals of saving the life and livelihood of the people hit by the pandemic. As it is Prime Minister’s renewed emphasis on self-reliant India ( Atmnirbhar Bharat ) is seen by some as a reaction to the new global realities in a world battling the COVID-19 pandemic. It also harks back to the nationalist economic policies that India followed before globalization forced a change in strategy.When Modi took over the reins of the country in 2014 global corporations wanted him to go for bolder reforms. But keenly aware of India’s economic realities he treaded cautiously and sought to strengthen the country’s manufacturing base through the ‘Make In India’ initiative. Be it economy or politics he has always stood for self-reliance and his focus has always been on making the people of the country realize and actualize their true creative potential. His Atmnirbhar Bharat mission has to be seen in this perspective. This is not to suggest that the Prime Minister has lost sight of India’s role in global trade and economy. In fact, he realizes more than anyone else how the future of humanity has become interlinked across national boundaries. He has been quick to understand the cross-currents of global politics and economy and has sought to advance India’s interests accordingly. Thus his slogan of Atmnirbhar Bharat does not mean India becoming insulated from the rest of the world. Rather it means India trying to make the best possible use of its own resources to serve its needs and to help others. Swadeshi as a nationalist slogan now has a new ring to it. The Prime Minister has taken several steps to take this mission of making India self-reliant forward. These include asking Indian companies to cut down overseas imports and meeting their needs to the extent possible by manufacturing those products within the country. Towards this end markets are being liberalized and steps are being taken to ensure ease of business in India. The overall aim is to create a globally competitive domestic supply chain across the country.
The emphasis is on making each area of the country self-reliant. The Prime Minister, who realizes the importance of fresh economic incentives at this stage, recently announced a Rs.20 lakh crore package in a move that was hailed by people engaged in different sectors of the economy. Some people seek to limit the Prime Minister’s vision of Atmnirbhar Bharat by linking it with India’s stand-off with China in Ladakh. While there is no doubt that the confrontation with China, which led India government to ban most of the Chinese Apps being used in India, acted as a spur to accelerate the process of making the country self-reliant, work in this direction had begun right from the day Modi took up the reins of the country in 2014. The launch of the Make in India campaign was the beginning and now it is being pursued with even greater zeal with new and more innovative projects. The slogan of Atmnirbhar Bharat has found resonance across the country and is everyday moving closer eto becoming a complete reality. Critics of the Prime Minister should let him focus on this important mission.