Summing up two years in five hours can be difficult.
The NDA government, however, attempted to accomplish the feat on Saturday in a star-studded show at India Gate that saw 21 ministers showcasing the Centre’s achievements. An array of Bollywood stars and eminent personalities from business and industry also joined them in espousing social causes promoted by the government.
The tone for the event, Ek Nayi Subah, was set with superstar Amitabh Bachchan talking about the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, a key scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to empower the girl child and address the problem of dipping child sex ratio. During his address, Bachchan said Mahatma Gandhi always considered women superior to men because they rated higher when it came to inner strength.
The upliftment of women and girls seemed to be the common strand running through most of the segments. Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis spoke on how his government has been skilling women through specific schemes. Water resource minister Uma Bharti, while declaring that the Ganga would become one of the 10 cleanest rivers in the world by 2018, managed to get an assurance from rural development minister Chaudhary Birendra Singh that sanitary napkins would be provided in school toilets across rural areas of the country.
Cabinet ministers JP Nadda, Harsimrat Kaur and Maneka Gandhi engaged themselves in an interesting discussion on empowering women with Bollywood star Raveena Tandon. The actor spoke on how she adopted two girls when she was just 21 years old.
The government highlighted a slew of government initiatives, including the Swachh Bharat Mission, Pradhan Mantrai Ujjawala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana and Mudra Yojana, and the ways in which they enhanced farmers’ income and improved railways, roadways and air infrastructure.
Screened live on various channels, the gala show was attended by many ministers and beneficiaries from different parts of the country – including Mumbai, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Vijaywada. As part of the Swachh Bharat segment, 104-year-old Kunwar Bai came all the way from Kotabari village in Chattisgarh to narrate the story of how she sold her goats to build a toilet.
While minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh said Modi was the motivation behind the soil health card scheme, culture minister Mahesh Sharma recounted how the Prime Minister took steps to develop the northeast.
The talkathon was interspersed with songs and dances. Singer Kailash Kher entertained the audience with a song on Swachhata, penned by lyricist Prasoon Joshi. The “breaks” between each segment featured ads of government schemes, along with the NDA government’s theme song on completing two years in office – Mera desh badal raha hai.
There were a few unintended glitches too. In the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao segment, a cultural programme in Karnal highlighting gender equality ironically showed men and women sitting in separate enclosures.
The Swachh Bharat segment relayed from Guwahati failed to give the pradhan of India’s cleanest village (in Meghalaya) a chance to speak to newly appointed minister Chandra Mohan Patowary.