“Self-appointed guardians” threatened by his government’s commitment to Dalits are creating social tensions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, exhorting them not to inflict pain on wounds caused by “thousands of years of injustice”.
Modi, whose government is accused by the Opposition of unleashing social terror, cautioned against giving a political colour to social problems while asking party hotheads to choose their words carefully.
Contesting the accusation that his government was anti-Dalit, Modi said he was working for the development of the community.
“All those self-appointed guardians who were trying to create tensions in the country did not like this -- that Modi is with Dalits, that Modi devotes himself to tribals… Those who see this as an obstruction to their politics are the ones creating trouble,” the Prime Minister said in an interview with CNN News 18.
Here is what Modi said on other issues ranging from the Indian economy to the unrest in Kashmir that has killed 73 people:
On the economy
There was a paralysis in the government. Investors had started looking out. Our intentions were strong and policies clear. Today, we have the highest amount of foreign direct investment in the country after Independence. At 7%, we are the fastest growing economy. The rains have been good. This has raised hopes that coming days will be better.
On next round of reforms
I say that in my government: Reform, perform and transform. Take ease of doing business. Our ranking is improving very quickly. This is not possible without reform. Our systems, processes, forms were so complicated. Now there were reformed, so our rankings are going up. These small things need to be improved. Even today there is licence raj in some areas and that needs to go. After we removed 1,700 obsolete laws, I have asked states to follow suit. We are getting more technology. The reforms have to be done at a larger scale. At the centre of our reforms is the common man: How to make life easier for the common man, how they will get what is their right, we want to stress on these.
On political vendetta
From a political standpoint, I have neither thought about this and nor will I do so in the future. I have been a state chief minister for 14 years and history is testimony to the fact that I have never opened any file due to political considerations. It has been over two years at the Centre. The government has given no instruction to open any file. The law will take its own course. I have no right to indulge in any cover up.
On black money
We have made requisite legal changes so that the black money circulating inside the country can also be curbed. There’s a scheme which is running till the 30th of September. For all those who are still willing to come in the mainstream I have publicly said, September 30 is your last date. You may have made mistakes with whatever intention. Here is your chance. Come in the mainstream. I have this plan for people to sleep peacefully at night. And no one should blame me if I take tough decisions after the 30th. This money belongs to the country’s poor. No one has the right to loot this. This is my commitment. I am working with full force and will continue the effort.
On poverty alleviation
Poverty alleviation has been a political slogan and a lot of politics has also happened on poverty. Programmes for poverty alleviation have also been started keeping elections in mind. My path is different. We have to empower the poor to end poverty. Politics is done by keeping the poor as poor. The biggest tool for empowerment is education. One of the things that we have done is called Stand Up India. I have told banks that every branch must give financial aid to a Dalit, a tribal and a woman. They must make them an entrepreneur. The country has 1.25 lakh branches of banks. If they empower even three people each, they will benefit 4-5 lakh families.
On job creation
Skill development is the need of the hour. The country has 80 crore youth who are below 30. If the youth has the skill, they can change the fortunes of this country. And we are laying stress on this. The country’s youth and employment are at the centre of all economic activity. In the agriculture sector also, if you move towards value addition, it will create more opportunities to generate employment. A youth from the village has had to go to big towns under pressure. If he gets value addition, if we empower him, then employment opportunities shall be created.
On addressing Indian diaspora
In any country in the world if there is an Indian, he feels that my country must progress. We have acknowledged the power of the diaspora in Niti Ayog. This is such a global strength. They have global exposure. They have academic quality and qualifications and a zeal to work for the country. Why should we disassociate with them? We must establish a link with them. And there will come a time, when they will be a true ambassador of the India.
When we talk about J&K, we should take the entire picture of Jammu, the Valley and the Ladakh region into account. I believe, the youth of Kashmir will not be distracted. We will proceed together maintaining peace, unity and goodwill so that the heaven called Kashmir will remain heaven. I always maintain that people of Kashmir need both development and trust.
On grassroots-level corruption
If Ganga is clean at Gaumukh then it will gradually become pure while flowing down. We have taken steps to neutralise chances of any corruption. For instance, we have shifted the gas subsidy system into the Direct Benefit Scheme. Ghost clients who used to wrongly enjoy the benefits of gas subsidy are no longer there. Chandigarh was being supplied 30 lakh litres of kerosene. We stopped providing kerosene to those houses which have gas connection and electricity. And we provided gas connections to those who earlier didn’t have. That’s how we saved 30 lakh litres of kerosene from being sold in the black market. We can do away with low level corruption through policy decisions and using technology. You will start liking at low level what you liked at top level.
On Lutyen’s Delhi’s politics
In Delhi’s power corridors there’s an active group dedicated to only a few. Look at what happened with Sardar Patel— this group presented him as a villager with ordinary intellect. This same group never talked about Morarji Desai’s abilities, but always said what he drank. What happened with Deve Gowda? A farmer’s son became the PM yet they said he only sleeps.
Short cut will cut you short’: Read full transcript of PM Modi’s interview