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Covid crisis an opportunity, time for bold decisions and investment — Modi

By PTI Updated: Jun 11, 2020 11:34 pm

Kolkata, June 11 (PTI): Insisting that the Covid -19 crisis should be turned into an opportunity to create an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said this is the time to make bold decisions and investments.

Addressing the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata through video conference, he said, steps have to be taken to ensure that products imported from abroad are manufactured in the country and exported.

“In the last five-six years, India’s goal of self- reliance has been paramount in the policy and practice of the government. The Covid -19 crisis gave us lessons on how to speed up efforts in that direction. It is from this lesson – Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) campaign has started.

It is time for bold decisions and bold investments, and not for conservative approaches. This also is the time to move from command and control economy to plug-and-play and to build a competitive global supply chain,” he said.

The Prime Minister said everybody must work towards making India an exporter of all products which it is currently forced to import.

Appreciating the efforts of small traders, he said, that when we buy local produce from them, we are not just paying them for their goods and services, but are rewarding their contributions.

While noting that people-centric, people-driven and planet-friendly development has become part of the BJP-led central government’s way of governance, the prime minister said recent decisions by the Centre had freed the farmers and rural economy from years of “slavery” as they now have the freedom to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

“India is fighting multiple challenges along with Covid -19, including floods, locust attack, earthquakes…We have to turn crises into opportunity for creating an Atmanirbhar and take steps to ensure that products which we import from elsewhere are manufactured in India,” Modi said.

Now is the time to make each village, each district of the country self-reliant, he said.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, who had once written that Indians should produce for themselves and find markets in other countries, the prime minister said they had for long wished the country to become self-reliant in areas like medical equipment manufacturing, defence manufacturing, coal and minerals, edible oil and many more.

Lauding the resolve of the countrymen to turn disaster into opportunity, the prime minister said the pandemic “will be a turning point for the country”.

“We have to make it a big turning point…..a turning point for creating a self-reliant India,” he asserted.

The prime minister also said that the country has already ushered in several reforms like changing the definition of MSMEs, decriminalising certain things (under the Companies Act), introducing Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, bringing in more competition in coal mining, altering the APMC and the Essential Commodities Act.

Citing the campaign to free the country from single use plastic, Modi said it will benefit West Bengal by giving a fresh impetus to the jute industry.

He said time has come to revive Bengal’s historical pre-eminence in manufacturing.

Modi said banking services have now reached the “have nots”. Initiatives such as Jandhan accounts and Aadhaar have made it possible to reach necessary support to millions of people without leakage.

Referring to the efforts to develop the North-East as a hub of organic farming, Modi said the government’s current cluster-based approach to local produce will provide opportunity for all.

Along with this, clusters will also be created for bamboo and organic products. Like Sikkim, the entire North- East can become a huge hub of organic farming. Organic farming can become a huge movement in the North-East and dominate the global market, he said.

Underlining that people, planet and profit are interlinked, Modi said all three can simultaneously co-exist and flourish.

He cited the example of the reduction in price of LED bulbs over the last six years. Its extensive use has resulted in savings of about INR 19,000 crore in electricity bills every year.

The prime minister urged the industry to invest in research and development, and manufacture better batteries to increase the storage capacity of solar panels for enhanced energy efficiency. He also highlighted how small self-help groups and MSMEs can benefit from providing their goods and services directly to the Government of India on the GeM platform.

By PTI Updated: Jun 11, 2020 11:34:55 pm