Unveiling his vision of 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat', Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the goal is to make India a global manufacturing hub while a Rs 110 lakh crore pipeline of national infrastructure projects is being created to boost the economy and create jobs.
Addressing the nation on the country's 74th Independence Day from the ramparts of the 17th-century Red Fort, he said India received record foreign investment in the last fiscal when FDI rose 18 per cent. Companies were looking to invest in the nation even during the corona crisis.
"How long can the raw material be sent out of our country and finished products imported," he asked. "Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) is not only about cutting imports but also raising our capacity, creativity and skills," the prime minister said. The vision, he said, is not just to make in India but make for the world.
"Today world's biggest companies are looking at India," he said in his 86-minute speech. "Now along with 'Make in India', we will have to move ahead with the mantra of 'Make for World'." He cited the example of India during the corona crisis becoming an export surplus nation in the manufacturing of N-95 face masks, PPE kits and ventilators.
From just one corona testing lab, India now has 1,400 labs. "Our policies, our process, our products should be the best," he said. Asia's third-largest economy's main focus will be the creation of a pipeline of national infrastructure projects worth more than Rs 110 lakh crore, Modi said. "About 7,000 projects in different sectors have been identified. This will be a type of infrastructure revolution."
Stating that working in silos in the infrastructure space has ended, he said a large scheme to connect the country through a multi-modal connectivity infrastructure is ready. The National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) project will play a crucial role in pulling the country out of the impact of COVID-19, he said.
Vocal for local, re-skill and up-skill campaigns will be the main pillars, he said. "I am confident that India will realise this dream. I am confident of the abilities, confidence and potential of my fellow Indians. Once we decide to do something, we do not rest until we achieve that goal," the prime minister said.
On his government's response to mitigate economic hardships caused by the coronavirus outbreak and ensuing lockdowns, Modi said 7 crore families were given free cooking gas LPG cylinders, over 80 crore people got free ration and close to Rs 90,000 crore transferred into bank accounts.
The moratorium on EMI payment during the pandemic period has resulted in a rebate totaling Rs 6 lakh crore over the loan period, he said adding that Rs 25,000 crore fund was created for completion of unfinished real estate projects. "During the corona crisis over 80 crore Indians received free foodgrains, Rs 90,000 crore was transferred into accounts of the needy, a feat unthinkable till a few years ago," he said.
Highlighting his government's reform measures, the prime minister said one nation one tax (GST), insolvency and bankruptcy code (IBC) and bank mergers were the cornerstone of the six-year rule. Only five dozen village panchayats were connected with optical fibre in 2014. This has increased to 1.5 lakh in the last five years.
"In the coming 1,000 days (less than 3 years), all the 6 lakh villages in the country will be connected with optical fibre network (to bring digital connectivity to rural masses)," he said. Also, Lakshadweep Islands will be connected with submarine optical fiber cable just like Andaman and Nicobar Islands to usher in high-speed internet and mobile connectivity.
A blueprint of a national cybersecurity policy is ready to guard the nation against cyber threats, he said without giving details. "One of the main priorities of Aatmanirbhar Bharat is self-reliant agriculture and self-reliant farmer," he said highlighting the recent announcement of Rs 1 lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund to create modern agri-infrastructure as well as the reforms that allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
There was a time when India imported grains, but today farmers are producing enough not just for the country but also for those in need across the world, he said adding the farm sector needs to evolve in line with the requirements of the world. "Value addition is required for our farm sector."
Ethanol product has increased from just 40 crore litres five years back to over 200 crore litres, which is being used to mix in petrol, helping cut oil import bill as well as save the environment. "In the midst of the corona pandemic, 130 crore Indians have pledged to build an Aatmanirbhar Bharat," he said adding that he is confident that India will realise this dream.
Modi said India has always believed that the entire world is one family. "While we focus on economic growth and development, humanity must retain a central role in this process and our journey," the prime minister noted.