The biggest takeaway from the Narendra Modi government’s budget presented on Friday was the goal to make the nation a $5 trillion economy.
The prime minister has set his hopes on rural India, and not just corporate India alone, to achieve this target. While launching BJP’s membership drive in Varanasi on Saturday, Modi clearly outlined his vision on the path he has chosen to reach this goal.
Following Mahatma Gandhi's principles, who, at the beginning of the 20th century said, “Soul of India lies in its villages... India lives in her seven hundred thousand villages" — Modi seems to be carrying his message forward by giving a big push to and placing trust on rural India for achieving the $5 trillion economy target. The BJP govt sees this as an apt tribute to Gandhi in his 150th anniversary year.
In Varanasi, Modi reiterated Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's Budget 2019-20 vision and strongly emphasised that the prosperity of rural India and the villages of the country would be paramount in bringing the much desired economic growth.
While referring to a section ‘Gramin Bharat or Rural India’ in her maiden Budget speech, Sitharaman had said, “At the center of everything we do, we keep ‘gaon, garib aur kisan’ (villages, poor and farmers).”
To underline the idea, Modi set out specific targets to achieve the desired growth, including empowerment of farmers and rural and traditional industries, developing clusters for cottage industry, increasing milk and farm production, encouraging export of farm produce and processed vegetables and fruits and generating solar power, among others. He said, “This goal of ours — a $5tn economy which amounts to $5 lakh crore — double the size of India’s economy today, has created ripples. The bigger the size of the cake (read economy), the bigger the share an individual will get."
Annadata to Urjadata
Reaffirming Sitharaman’s statement — ‘Annadata to Urjadata’— Modi emphasised that the ‘annadata’ (farmers) could actually become ‘urjadata’ (provider of energy) by using solar power in their fields. “The farmers can generate solar energy in their fields, consume it to meet their needs and can sell-off the rest to earn money. It can turn out to be a big initiative,” he said.
The prime minister also advised that besides sowing crops and vegetables, farmers could use a portion of their fields for growing oilseeds, which will pay big dividends in future as the crop has heavy demand in the international market.
Chitloor village sets an example
A nondescript village in Chhattisgarh, Chitloor has been following the path laid out by Modi for ‘annadatas’ since 2016. Nearly 2,000 tribal villagers residing in the Bakavand tehsil of the 'Maoist-hotbed' Bastar district have been using solar power in their fields.
Instead of using traditional diesel-operated pumps, the farmers in this region have adopted solar energy- based pumps to draw water from the adjoining Indravati River for irrigating their fields. There are 22 such solar panels installed along the bank of the river and the price of each solar panel is Rs 3 lakh.
“We’ve got rid of diesel-operated pumps as diesel is expensive and we have to repair it several times. Maintenance of diesel pumps is a costly affair. These solar-based pumps are perfect. I paid Rs 10,000 and Raman Singh government paid the rest Rs 2.90 lakh as a subsidy and installed it here,” Mansaivar, a tribal farmer had told this reporter when he visited Bastar in 2018.
Chitaloor and many other villages in Bastar district became free of Naxal influence long ago, but they continue to be extremely backward. The prime minister's plan is to harness the dormant potential lying in thousands of villages across India.
Citing examples of rehabilitation in Gujarat's Kutch and Uttarakhand's Kedarnath which faced natural calamities, Modi said it was made possible due to the courage and efforts of the people.
“I have immense faith and trust on people’s power. The crores of people living in rural India can bring a big transformation in our economy... We need to bring the poor out of poverty, which is also a state of mind,” he mentioned.
Modi's message to the masses is that if the latent potential of rural India is harnessed properly, it won't take India long to reach its desired target of a $3 trillion economy. And, in the process, rural India — by being self-sufficient and self-sustainable — can lead the nation in fulfilling the dream of a 'New India'.
Updated Date: Jul 07, 2019 09:22:01 IST