“During the last 48 months India has witnessed an extraordinary transformation in almost all the spheres of human activity and progress. Developmental initiatives and relentless efforts of the Government of India ensured that fruits of the development have reached the last mile in the remotest corner of the country. Special focus has been given to the progress of the women, youth, farmers and all those sections of the society which required special attention”. This was stated by Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Defence Minister, while addressing the press conference at Amritsar, to highlight the achievements and initiatives taken by the Government of India during the last four years. Apart from the Union Minister other dignitaries were also present during the Press Conference. The Minister said that the range of policy initiatives of the Union Government was not only impressive but also spectacular and historic in all fields. The initiatives taken by the Government include local to global, rural and urban- touching all sections of society in holistic manner. The policy initiatives have encouraged active public participation of people with an aim of “SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas” through “Saaf Niyat for Sahi Vikas”.
This Government also launched one of the major reforms in the economic system- Good & Services Tax (GST)- to enhance ease of doing business and ease of living. India’s own century old Yoga practice was recognized at global level and United Nations declared 21st June as International Yoga Day.
Giving information on achievements in health care sector, the Minster said that health care, was the prime focus area of the Government .The sector, has seen some unprecedented initiatives by the Government. Ayushman Bharat, world’s largest Health Insurance Initiative, as announced in the budget 2018-19, aims to provide coverage to more than 50 crore Indian citizens.
The Minister further elaborated on various initiatives that have been taken to ensure transparency, eliminate corruption and unearth the black money. Smt Nirmala Sitharaman added that the Union Government has always accorded highest priority to the welfare of farmers and progress of agriculture and allied sectors in the country. Initiatives like determining 1.5 times of production cost as Minimum Support Price for Kharif crops, distributing more than 12.5 crore Soil Health Cards, establishing e-NAM platforms to integrate 585 regulated markets for fetching best prices shows commitment of the Government towards the resolve.
Minister said that for ensuring better lives for all and development of the poorest sections of the society, the Government started the financial inclusion scheme Jan DhanYojna for securing the unbanked. Till now, 31.52 crore Jan Dhan accounts have been opened under the scheme. Approximately, 13.25 crore people are insured with personal accident cover under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha BimaYojna at Rs 12 per year. Pradhan Mantri Jivan Jyoti BimaYojna benefitted 5.22 crore families with a life insurance cover at Rs 330 per year. Caring for the welfare and financial security of senior citizens, Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojna, gives assured 8% interest rate for 10 years to senior citizens. Moreover, the investment limit is doubled to Rs 15 lakh and the scheme is extended till 2020.
Smt Nirmala Sitharaman said that in the area of Women Empowerment multiple initiatives were taken to ensure good health of mother and child. More than 1.26 crore accounts for the girl child opened and around Rs 20,000 crore deposited under Sukanya SamridhiYojna, 3.8 crore LPG connections were provided and the Government has set a target of providing 8 crore LPG connections. Taking a strong action for crimes against the daughters of the country, the Government introduced the provision of death penalty for rape of girl child aged less than 12 years and minimum punishment for rape of a girl aged less than 16 years has been increased from 10 years to 20 years.
The Minister said that the Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister is committed to build new infrastructure for New India. This has seen unprecedented speed and scale in transforming the nation. Around one crore houses were built for the poor under PM Awas Yojna. The Government is committed to develop 100 Smart Cities at an expenditure of over Rs 2 lakh crore. More than 1.69 lakh kilometers of rural roads built in last four years and speed of highway construction has gone up from 12 km per day to 27 kms per day in last 4 years.. A special focus has been given for the infrastructure development in the North-Eastern part of the country, with the entire railway network converted into broad gauge. The Bharat mala project of the Government aims to connect the entire country with a network of highways at a cost of more than Rs 5, 35,000 crore. Under the rural electrification scheme, the Government achieved its objective of electrifying all the villages across the country. Taking the commitment further, the Government under Saubhagya initiative now aims to provide electricity to around 4 crore household.
The Minister said that Swachh Bharat Mission, launched by the Prime Minister on October 2nd 2014, has now become a Jan Andolan. Under the mission, over 7.5 crore toilets have been constructed across the country. Over 3.6 lakh villages and over 17 States/UTs were declared Open Defecation Free. The sanitation coverage has gone up from 38% in 2014 to 83%.
Smt Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Government has allocated historic budget of Rs 95,000 crores for the welfare of backward communities. Ensuring commitment with action, the Government further strengthened SC/ST Atrocities Act. Quantitative achievements like increase in scholarships to students and more than 50% beneficiaries of Mudra Yojna belonging to backward communities mark Government’s effort for holistic development of the backward communities. 12 crore Mudra loans are sanctioned since the start of the initiative in April 2015. Also, the budget allocation for 2018-19 raised to Rs 3 lakh crore amounting to a rise of 20% over the previous year.
She added that with the aim to harness the potential of demographic dividend (Yuva Shakti), a three pronged approach is being adopted to ensure more opportunities in Public, Private and Personal sector. From launching multiple reforms for improving school education to establishing more quality based higher education organizations like IITs, IIMs etc, the Government has left no stone unturned. For building innovative skills in schools students, 2400 Atal Tinkering Labs are sanctioned at the cost of Rs 20 lakh each.
While interacting with Radio Jockeys (RJs) before addressing the press conference, Minister also appealed to them to highlight the welfare schemes of the government so that people could get maximum benefit from them.