The Government at the Centre led by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi is completing one year in office today. This would have been an eventful day with ministers spanning across different parts of the country to give an account of the achievements of the last year. But the situations are different today and are more challenging. The government is completing its one year at an unprecedented time when the whole world is shaken by the Novel coronavirus.
Countries across the world including superpowers such as the USA, China, Russia, Germany, Italy, France, England and have all been adversely affected by the Pandemic. With more than 5.69 million cases, and more than 3, 52,000 deaths the world is mourning.
The United States of America is on the top of the most suffered with 1.74M cases, followed by Brazil with 4,15,000 cases and Russia with around 379000 cases. The US alone suffered a loss of more than one lakh people and 25000 people died in Brazil. Here in India, the situation is comparatively different and positive. We have been largely successful in arresting the erratic spread of the virus.
Thanks to the planning and timely announcement of lockdown, and increased testing of the Indian Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has not faced such a tragic situation and the Covid19 spread is being contained effectively. It is reflected in the number of cases coming to light daily.
As of 28th May, India has around 158000 confirmed Cases and around 4531 deaths. More than 67,692 have already recovered. This could not have been achieved without the relentless efforts of the government machinery amply supported by the people of the country.
With nearly 3.2 per cent mortality rate, India has fared better in comparison with most other countries like the US with a total mortality rate at 5.26%. India is one of the countries to have the lowest Coronavirus death rates across the world.
Government’s efforts such as the lockdown, testing and isolation of infected patients on time have slowed done the virus spread. Going by the latest reports it took nearly 65 days for India to touch the 1 lakh cases from 100. Whereas in countries like the US, Spain and Germany these cases jumped from 100 to 1 lakh in only 25, 30 and 35 days respectively.
The Government took all the necessary measure ever since it noticed the case in Wuhan in December last year. Following upon the COVID19 situation in Wuhan and its fast-spreading nature, India began thermal screening of passengers arriving from China on 21 January and expanded the thermal screening to all major airports receiving international passengers. It has enhanced its operations after January 30th when the first confirmed Covid19 case came to light in Kerala.
Since then it made available every possible measure to keep the virus in check. A dedicated GoM on Covid-19 was formed and an advisory was issued urging all states to take social distancing measures as a preventive strategy on March 17.
Taking the lead on India’s fight against Covid19l, Hon’ble Prime Minister’s appealed to people to follow the strict hygiene protocols and maintain social distancing norms which made a huge positive impact.
The nation went along with the Prime Minister and helped India tackle the situation. His appeal caught the attention of all and motivated them to support the government’s efforts by staying at home.
Announcement of lockdown forced migrant workers to march towards their native places on foot and the government swung into swift action to help them. As on 27th May, the Indian railways ran 3500 Shramik Special Trains and have facilitated transport of more than 48 lakh migrants to their home state.
Government of India has undertaken a massive mission under the name of Vande-Bharat to transport stranded Indians from various countries.
Indians from more than 34 countries have already arrived and another 100,000 passengers will arrive in the next phase.
These measures showcased India’s steely resolve, its operational capability and its commitment to ensuring the safety of the common man. No country in the world has done such massive airlifting operations in recent times.
Measures to boost the economy
Announcement of programs such as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi meant to augment the income of the Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) reflects the concern of the government for farmers. They would receive a direct payment of Rs. 6000 per year which would be transferred in three equal instalments of Rs. 2000 each every four months.
The announcement of a special economic package reflected the pro-people approach of the Government. Additional measures announced to boost Agri-sector and improve the rural economy reflect its pro- people's approach.
Improving logistics for food and goods transportation, increasing storage and preservation facilities remain the top priority of the government.
It has also been deliberating to bring in legislative changes to remove inter-State barriers in the transportation of vegetables and other food supplies. Such measures would offer a better selling price to farmers and provide them with a wider pool of buyers.
Intervening to give a fillip to the economy and to bring economic activity back on the track, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji announced a Special economic and comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh crore -equivalent to 10% of India’s GDP. He also gave a clarion call for Self-Reliant India Movement.
As stated by him, The Five Pillars - Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography and Demand will drive India’s growth in the coming days. He also laid special emphasis on promoting local industries in a big way.
Supporting the government’s efforts, Indian Small and Medium Scale Units have been producing nearly two lakh PPE kits and two lakh N95 Masks daily.
This has not only helped India, fight the virus but also helped other countries. With the help and support of the government and agencies such as ICMR Indian Pharmaceutical companies are engaged in the process of developing vaccines.
The present crisis and the way government of India, responded to the Pandemic reaffirmed people’s belief in the able leadership of Shri Narendra Modi led BJP Government at Centre. It reconfirms and justifies the massive mandate bestowed upon Bharatiya Janata Party in 2019.
People’s belief in the Prime Minister and his vision, supported by the slew of reforms undertaken by the government in 2014-19 helped in attaining a thumping majority. This magnanimous victory gave an enormous responsibility to the administration, and it has been working tirelessly to match the expectations of the people.
All the Ministries and departments have been following the Mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and have been actively engaging with people. The government provided an efficient, hassle-free administrative framework and established a quick and efficient response mechanism. It has been continuing the reform agenda of 2014-19 and building new India based on the model of inclusive growth.
Following the spirit of Antyodaya, the Government led by Shri Narendra Modi has been making sincere efforts to ensure that the benefits and facilities of its schemes and programs reach the poor and most vulnerable sections of the society.
The Former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi was quoted as saying that out of one rupee spent by the government for the welfare of the downtrodden, only 15 paise reaches the deserving. Meaning almost 85% of the sanctioned would be lost in leakages.
Direct Benefit Transfer solved the problem by eliminating all the interferences midway. The Jandhan- Aadhaar – Mobile JAM trinity has proven to be the best way to send money directly into the accounts of beneficiaries across the country.
The DBT has changed the mechanism of transferring subsidies and gave positive results in all aspects. Around 426 Schemes from 56 Ministries are using Direct Benefit Transfer. The common man is now getting his due without the interference of middlemen as payments of Wage to MGNREGA workers, fertilizer subsidy, and money transfers under PDS through DBT have put an end to the culture of leakages.
On the legislative front, the government leapfrogged on the reform agenda and brought in path-breaking legislation such as Abrogation of Article 370, and CAA. Abrogation of Article 370 has been the longstanding demand of the people has been waiting for a committed leadership to find an amicable solution.
Government paved the way for the integration of Jammu & Kashmir into Indian Union and created two new union territories J&K and Ladakh on October 31, 2019. The amendments to Citizenship Act provided an opportunity to grant citizenship to the persecuted people from the three neighbouring countries.
Following Supreme Court's verdict on Ayodhya, Union Cabinet has approved a scheme for the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya by setting up Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra. Given the significance of the holy city and Lord Ram to all Indians, the government is committed to complete temple construction on time.
Social and Gender Justice Reforms
The government enacted the law against Triple Talaq to put an end to the regressive practice and a vexed problem such as Triple Talaq and made the practice of instant divorce among Muslims a punishable offence. Women in the Muslim community have been requesting the governments for several years and have been waiting for redressal.
This step has shown the proactive nature of the government and gave a strong indication that it would not tolerate discrimination against women. This law has put an end to injustice against Muslim women and will have a strong deterrent effect for those who want to use Triple Talaq as a weapon.
As stated by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Ji, the legislation will further enhance equality in society and gives women the dignity and respect they duly deserve in society.
Continuing its efforts to ensure safety, security, and welfare of women and the girl child, Government amended POSCO Act and made stringent provisions for punishing child abuse crimes and also to fast track the trial and disposal of such cases.
To ensure the well being of Transgender Persons, it has enacted a law to protect the rights of Transgender persons and made provisions for their welfare. The government initiated labour reforms in a big way and brought in Code on Wages Bill, 2019.
The Parliament of India passed several path-breaking and important bills in the last year. The Lok Sabha passed 64 Bills, Rajya Sabha passed 60 and around 57 bills received the nod of both houses. Such accomplishments could be made possible only by better floor coordination with all the political parties in the Parliament.
Regular engagement with India Diaspora has been the centre of India’s engagement with the rest of the world. Union Cabinet ratified the Migration and Mobility Agreement between India and France in Jan 2020.
The agreement represents a major milestone in enhancing people-to-people contacts, fostering mobility of students, academics, researchers and skilled professionals and strengthening cooperation on issues related to irregular migration and human trafficking between the two sides.
In a bid to enable fair and ethical recruitment of migrants and also to ensure safe and legal migration, the Government of India adopted an enhanced outreach approach with countries in the Gulf Region.
India has proposed for integration of India’s e-Migrant system with the online system of Ministry of Human Resources ad Emiratisation (MOHRE), UAE at the Fifth Ministerial Consultation of Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD) to create an enabling environment for migrants to acquire new skills.
Enhancing Diaspora engagement to gen-next, Government launched an exclusive online portal for Know India Programme. The program is aimed at familiarizing Indian-origin youth with their Indian roots and contemporary India. Participants in the program get to understand the cultural diversity, rich heritage and the glorious Indian history by way of visits to monuments, historical places and through interactions with eminent personalities.
Indian Missions around the globe organized year-long programs to promote the ideology and philosophies of Gandhi Ji on his 150th Birth Anniversary. More than 100 commemorative stamps were released and 84 statues or busts were installed globally to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
(The writer is Minister of State for External Affairs & Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs)