Narendra Modi's first decisions set tone of second term in office; welfare likely to be focus of NDA-II regime
The decisions taken within 24 hours after Modi and his Council of Ministers were sworn in have heightened expectations from the first regular budget of the Modi 2.0 government. If this much could be given by an executive order then people would surely hope for more to be contained in finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman's budget speech
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the Cabinet meeting in less than 24 hours of his Council of Ministers were sworn-in by the President
The first decision taken by the new Cabinet are pro-poor, pro-farmer, pro-unorganised labor and for welfare of families of soldiers killed in terror and Naxal attacks
Modi removed the two-hectare or five-acre ceiling for giving Rs 6,000 per annum to farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in one of the first Cabinet decision on Friday
He also increased enhanced scholarships for wards of police personnel killed in terror or Maoists attacks, and announced a pension scheme for small and medium farmers
Modi government 2.0 hit the ground running. The first decisions of first Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, held in less than 24 hours of his Council of Ministers being sworn-in by the President, are pro-poor, pro-farmer, pro-unorganised labor and for welfare of families of soldiers killed in terror and Naxal attacks.
The range of decisions taken are significant in at least five counts — first, by doing so he has consolidated gains of massive mandate he got in these elections, current and potential support at the bottom of social and economic pyramid.
Second, it gives a sense of the direction in which the Modi government in its second term would be headed to. This completely reverses the charge made by Congress president Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Modi that it was “suit boot Sarkar". Modi had earlier said his government was dedicated to the poor and by Friday’s Cabinet decision he has given an indication to his resolve and intent.
Third, even as a month and half long election process was going on and the government formation took its own time, the process of policy making was on and the bureaucrats were accordingly directed to be ready with a Cabinet note to be approved in first meeting of the Union Cabinet. That shows the kind of confidence Modi had about the outcome of these elections, his return to power.
Normally a cabinet note is prepared by the ministry and the minister of the department concerned and goes to the Cabinet Secretary and the PMO for consideration and approval. There are instances when files moves back and forth for weeks and even months before it is put up to the Cabinet. In this case, the speed of file movement is noteworthy, essentially meaning that Modi was clear as to what he wants for the first Cabinet meeting. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was a PMO driven exercise.
Fourth, in his first day of office, the prime minister has come true to four things listed at the top of the ruling BJP’s 2019 vision document, which was released in the first week of April, days ahead of the first phase of polling. The vision document opened with nation first and the things listed as top priority were national security, welfare of farmers, animal husbandry and welfare of small traders.
Fifth, the decisions taken today have heightened expectations from the first regular budget of the Modi 2.0 government to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. If this much could be given by an executive order then people would surely hope for more to be contained in finance minister’s budget speech.
Now, consider the decisions taken in the Cabinet meeting — it fulfilled the promise made by Modi in his election campaign that the two-hectare or five-acre ceiling would be removed for giving Rs 6,000 per annum to farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi. It would now cover around 18.5 crore farmers and the government would now be spending a total of Rs 87,000 crore as against earlier outlay of Rs 75,000 crore. The scheme would now be universal for those engaged in agricultural activity.
Then a new pension scheme for small and medium farmers would be initiated. Similar scheme will be initiated for small traders, those having an annual income of Rs 1.50 crore, and those who are out of the GST purview. In the next three years, the government intends to cover five crore traders. The government has also come out with an animal husbandry scheme to deal with the diseases which trouble cattle in India. Though this is an ongoing scheme, the provisions till now were such that the Centre paid 60 percent and states had to pay 40 percent. Now the Centre would be paying the entire amount to the tune of Rs 13,000 crore.
Minutes before Modi walked into the conference room to chair the Cabinet meeting, he signed the very first file of his new term, an order dedicated to the welfare of families of those who live and die to defend the nation. He tweeted:
Our Government’s first decision dedicated to those who protect India!
Major changes approved in PM’s Scholarship Scheme under the National Defence Fund including enhanced scholarships for wards of police personnel martyred in terror or Maoist attacks. https://t.co/Vm90BD77hm pic.twitter.com/iXhFNlBCIc
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 31, 2019
The words "enhanced scholarships for wards of police personnel martyred in terror or Maoists attacks" is important. The scholarship amount as increased from Rs 2,000 per month to Rs 2,500 per month for boys and from Rs 2,250 per month to Rs 3,000 per month for girls. The ambit of the Scholarship Scheme was extended to wards of state police officials who were killed during terror and Naxal attacks. So far, it was meant for personnel armed forces, para-military and Railway Protection Group forces only.
A note, the link to which was shared by the prime minister in his tweet, and published on his official website, said, “As a nation, it is our duty not only to express gratitude but also do things that improve the welfare of the police personnel and their families. It is in this spirit that the prime minister has taken the decision. The availability of scholarship with enable more youngsters from police families to study and excel in different fields. It will have an empowering effect on several bright young minds."
Five years ago when Modi had chaired his first Union Cabinet meeting on 27 May 2014, the first decision he took was to constitute a Special Investigative Team (SIT) on black money headed by Justice MB Shah. Black money was a major issue of his poll campaign and on assuming office he was taking a step forward to fulfil that promise. On 31 May 2019, on initiation of second consecutive term, he was following the pattern he had set for himself in his his first term.
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