With barely four months to go for Punjab assembly polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dashed all hopes of the SAD-BJP alliance government by promising nothing special for the state during his visit to Ludhiana on Tuesday for the launch of the National SC/ST Hub and give away national awards for medium, small and micro entrepreneurs (MSMEs).
Even as chief minister Parkash Singh Badal made a strong case for ‘special treatment’ to state industry and agriculture in his speech before the PM, but he failed to find favour with Modi. “I urge you to constitute a special team to study the problems of Punjab industry,” Badal said, highlighting that the state’s economy had been badly shattered on account of being a border state, militancy, liberal concessions to neighbouring states and a discriminatory freight-equalisation policy.
Badal said the farmer of Punjab needed special treatment as “we owe an obligation towards the resilient peasantry that had sacrificed everything to make our nation self-sufficient in food production”. “Experts must suggest ways and means to make farming a profitable venture,” he said.
Complimenting Modi for surgical strikes on terror camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, the CM said it was a “unique and bold initiative” that had rejuvenated the spirit of patriotism and nationalism among the countrymen.
In his speech, though the Prime Minister hailed Punjab as the “sacred” land of Guru Gobind Singh and the chief minister as his “respected senior” whose wish was his command, he did not offer anything substantial to the state. He, however, promised to come back to lay the foundation stone of the Rs 1,000-crore All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) project in Bathinda. “I should have come and done that earlier. I will do it very soon,” he said.
Citing Guru Gobind Singh’s teachings on shunning casteism and untouchability, Modi said, “Due to our societal anomalies, Dalit brothers are being targeted even today. Hearing them, my head hangs in shame. After 70 years of the Independence, we cannot wait longer and need to focus more on this front. Aspirations of a Dalit or an Adivasi youth are no less and if given an opportunity, they will not lag behind in changing the fortunes of India,” he said.
He said India was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and it was despite the global slowdown. “The role of our MSME sector is crucial for economic development. We must target the global market.”
What Modi did in Ludhiana
Launched the National SC/ST Hub
What is it: With an initial outlay of Rs 490 crore, the hub will provide professional services to SC/ST entrepreneurs.
PM take: This will enable central public sector enterprises to fulfil the target of 4% of government’s procuring goods manufactured by Dalits.
Launched ZED certification for industries
What is it: This is the ‘zero defect, zero effect’ certification for entrepreneurs who will be judged on 50-point criteria to ensure quality without impacting the environment.
PM take: A made-in-India product should be as good as Japanese products. You see the tag and know there has been no compromise with the quality.
Tried his hands at the ‘charkha’
The Prime Minister gave away 500 traditional wooden charkhas to women spinners. “A ‘charkha’ can help the poorest of the poor to earn up to Rs 250 a day,” he said.
Presented national MSME awards
Of the 250 awardees announced for innovation and manufacturing excellence, Modi honoured 27 of them. “I wish I could give away all the awards myself and gain energy from the awardees to use it for the nation,” he said.