HTLS 2021— Covid action spurred economic bounceback: Union minister Amit Shah
Union minister Amit Shah says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership saved thousands of lives from Covid-19, instilled self discipline in 1.3 billion citizens, and transformed the mechanism of government welfare delivery, changing the lives of 800 million beneficiaries.
Bold structural reforms have helped the country’s economy to quickly bounce back from the pandemic shock and put India in a position to lead the world, Union home minister Amit Shah said on Saturday.
In his keynote address at the 19th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership saved thousands of lives from Covid-19, instilled self discipline in 1.3 billion citizens, and transformed the mechanism of government welfare delivery, changing the lives of 800 million beneficiaries.
“When the whole world was struggling with Covid, PM Modi started the process of undertaking reforms to boost the economy and advance national development. He had the vision that after the pandemic, India will be gifted with a great opportunity. He could visualise an impending global recession and helped stave it off in India,” Shah said.
He rattled off statistics to note how quickly India had shaken off the adverse impact of the pandemic -- GST collections rose from ₹1.05 lakh crore in the pre-Covid era to ₹1.3 lakh crore now, steel production increased from 9.3 million tonnes to 9.5 million tonnes, vehicle sales from 1.59 million to 1.8 million per month, tractor sales from 64,000 to 127,000, service PMI (purchasing managers’ index) from 57.6 to 58.4, manufacturing PMI from 54.5 to 55, e-way bill from 2.1 million to 2.3 million, exports from about 27 billion dollars to 35 billion dollars, UPI transaction from 1.3 billion to 4.22 billion and forex reserves from 473 billion dollars to 640 billion dollars.
“We can see how quickly India’s economy is out of the shadow of the pandemic and is ready to take on global competition. This is the result of policy decisions that helped India post the fastest recovery in the world and I am sure in the future, it will remain the fastest,” he added.
He said even after spending ₹15 lakh crore on health infrastructure, disbursing free grain to 800 million people and free vaccines to 1.3 billion people, the fiscal deficit was kept under discipline. “This is a big achievement. I am sure that India will take its rightful place in the world order and we will be able to fulfil Modi ji’s dream of becoming a $5 trillion economy,” he said.
In 2019, Modi set the goal of making India – whose economy is around $3 trillion at present – a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25.
In his address, Shah recalled the havoc wreaked by the second wave of the pandemic this summer, and how the country dealt with, and emerged stronger, from those testing times.
“India’s citizens have fought every challenge and emerged victorious,” he said. “Across the world, governments fought the virus. But in India, in addition to the central and state governments, PM Modi inspired 1.3 billion people to battle the infection. No other world leader could have brought people together, boost public participation, and instil discipline at such a mega scale,” he added.
Shah took the example of oxygen supply – many of India’s cities and towns were roiled by an acute medical oxygen crisis at the peak of the second wave, and distressed hospitals often moved high courts in the middle of the night to appeal for urgent refills – to illustrate how the government had taken on the crisis.
He explained that the surge in infections had made oxygen demand outpace production tenfold but with patience and hard work, Modi collated resources from across the world, augmented production and guided the country out of the crisis. “In 10 days, we increased production of medical oxygen 10 times. It is a tremendous achievement,” Shah said.
At the same time, the government took up a raft of policies to boost production – the results of which are visible in the quick economic recovery today, Shah said. He held out the example of reforms in the mineral and coal sectors, which he said unlocked investment potential and helped the country overcome a global coal supply crunch. “At the time, many were worried about a blackout in India but it didn’t happen because we hiked production at the right time.”
He mentioned reforms in the aviation sector, relaxation in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) norms in several sectors, easy loans, fast-track investment clearance, project development cells in every ministry and a dynamic ranking of states to encourage healthy competition and new schemes that ushered in investment worth R 2.5 lakh crore, a new drone and space policy, new nuclear policy and a new Production Linked Incentive scheme, and better support for micro small and medium enterprises as among the key decisions that helped boost the economy.
Shah contrasted the working of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government with previous administrations, and said due to poor governance and rampant corruption in earlier regimes, large sections of the population were losing their faith in democracy.
“There was no delivery earlier. The first thing that PM Modi did was add 800 million people to the national development path and make them an equal participant in the democracy,” he said.
The government opened 430 million bank accounts, delivered gas cylinders to 120 million people, constructed 20 million houses and 100 million toilets, and has almost achieved the goal of bringing electricity to each household, Shah said. Moreover, 600 million people were given health insurance and clean drinking water is on its way to every household. Under the PM-Kisan scheme, 100 million farmers were given financial assistance of ₹1,60,000 crore, he added.
“This changed the scale and size of resolving public schemes. Earlier, schemes would target 10,000 toilets, now the target is toilet in every household. Earlier, cylinders would reach 2 million houses, now we want it to reach every household. Hence, 800 million people started believing that they were a part of the national progress.”
He said the government also presented a humane face of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), by providing clean drinking water, toilets, gas cylinders, houses to the people, not only did the GDP rise but public problems were also solved. He said the government cleared non-performing assets in banks, installed one-rank-one-pension, tackled insurgency in the northeast, made 4,000 extremists surrender and brought many regions out of the shadow of militancy. “Since Naxalism began, these last seven years saw the lowest rates of violence,” he added.