Arjun Ram Meghwal writes: A government that focuses on welfare

May 2014 marked the beginning of an era of stable governmet. The nation had inherited strong constitutional and democratic ideals, but policy paralysis weakened the underlying spirit. The Narendra Modi era has awakened the national spirit. As we look back on the eight-year journey of the strong Modi government, significant milestones are visible.

The Modi government has taken inspiration from our glorious past in a mature and holistic manner. The most admirable characteristic of its journey remains that the uplift of the poor continues to be the focus of all government programs. This dimension has led to a culture of improved governance for delivering government services with minimum interference.

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A meticulous approach to realizing the “antyodaya” vision by utilizing technology in governance has broken the long-running systemic inertia. The JAM trinity Aadhaar and Mobile) has plugged the loopholes in service delivery. Direct Benefit Transfers of Rs 22.3 lakh crore to the target beneficiaries have translated into estimated gains of Rs 2.22 lakh crore.

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In order to provide basic amenities to the poor, 1.77 crore houses have been completed under the PM Awas Yojana with 57 per cent of beneficiaries belonging to backward communities, SCs, STs and minorities. 10.93 crore “izzat ghhars” (toilets) built under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan have instilled a sense of security among women. The ambitious Ayushman Bharat Scheme facilitates free healthcare — Rs 36,112 crore has been disbursed among 17.88 crore beneficiaries. Under the PM Ujjwala Scheme, 38 per cent connections were extended to SC/ST families. The free vaccination drive, Mission Indradhanush, and the fortification of staple food have been targeted at the young. The PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana has consistently provided food items to more than 100 crore beneficiaries.

Programs such as Eklavya Model School have taken care of educational and capacity-building needs. Pre-matric, post-matric and merit cum means scholarship schemes have given wings to the aspirations of hitherto ignored communities. The aspirational district programme, PM Adarsh ​​Gram Scheme, and the National Social Assistance program are dedicated to improving basic social indicators. The development of the Northeast is the top priority of the government.

The specially designed policies fulfill the minimum needs of the poor and enable them to become a significant stakeholder in the nation’s growth trajectory. Self-attestation, self-certification documents, and doing away with the interview for junior-level group C and D and non-gazetted Group B central government jobs has built an ecosystem of trust. Citizens and businesses have benefited as the government invoked the principle of minimum government, maximum governance to do away with 30,000 compliance burdens.

Another hallmark of the Modi government is breaking the silos and following “the whole government” approach to improve efficiency of schemes. The National Infrastructure Master Plan in the form of the PM Gati Shakti program is a massive collaborative exercise for speedy execution of projects. The Mudra loans, Stand up India and Venture Capital Funds, and PM Svanidhi, among others, are turning vulnerable sections into enablers and recognizing them as stakeholders in the development journey of India. PM Gram Sadak Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, PM Fasal Bima Yojana are improving the prospects of the farmer community. The proposed FPOs have enhanced the bargaining power of small and marginal farmers.

The Prime Minister’s undivided attention to poor people’s welfare continues. The instance of washing the leg of the sanitation worker in Prayagraj and showering flowers on the laborers of Kashi has touched millions. His commitment to better working conditions and ease of life is evident in increased formalization of workers through e-Shramik registrations, labor codes, and one nation-one ration card.

The last eight years have witnessed massive improvement in the implementation of government schemes. Despite the pandemic-related shocks, development projects are on track. Growth is finally reaching the masses and a just society is under incubation.

The world is looking at India to play a significant role in global affairs. Once a food starved country, India is now extending food assistance to other countries. Amid the uncertainties and chaos of international events, a strong and confident India provides valuable lessons to developing nations — in deploying public investment, building institutional infrastructure, regulatory systems, delivery systems, market interventions and innovation — in pro-people governance.

The unbounded potential of the 130-crore Indians is the bedrock for the nation to scale new heights in the upcoming Amrit Kaal. Let’s resolve to utilize this emerging nectar and imbibe the spirit of reform and performance to transform India into a world leader.

This column first appeared in the print edition on June 1, 2022 under the title ‘From margin to centre’. The writer is Union Minister of State for Culture & Parliamentary Affairs

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