PM Narendra Modi promises electricity for all, forms economic advisory council
Prime Minister Narendra Modi constituted his first economic advisory council, headed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi constituted on Monday his first economic advisory council, headed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, to analyse and advise him on key issues amid concerns over slowing growth and a stagnating job market.
The announcement came on a day the Prime Minister launched an ambitious scheme for providing free electricity to poor households and delivered a strong message against corruption.
“My battle against corruption is uncompromising. And whoever is being caught, will not be spared. I have no relatives,” finance minister Arun Jaitley quoted Modi as saying at the BJP national executive, where the party hailed the government for successfully running the nation’s economy and policies. (Highlights)
At the party meeting, BJP chief Amit Shah took a veiled dig at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who spoke about growing intolerance in India during his visit to the US.
“Tolerance is part of democracy but selective tolerance is not good for democracy,” he said and accused the Congress of pursuing the politics of “dynasty and appeasement”.
The immediate task of Modi’s advisory council is likely to be suggesting booster dozes for the economy.
India’s economic growth slumped to a three-year low of 5.7% in the April-June quarter, which experts attributed to last year’s demonetisation of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes that sucked out 86% of the money in circulation from a largely cash-reliant economy.
Modi unveiled a Rs16,320-crore scheme for power to 40 million poor households as the government and the BJP celebrated ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay’s birth anniversary.
Calling it the “Saubhagya (Sahaj Bijli har ghar yojna)” scheme, he showcased it as another example of the government’s pro-poor outreach. He said welfare of the poor is the biggest challenge before his government.
“When I was young, senior people told me not to use kerosene lamps as they effect the eyesight. I can think of what will happen to four-crore families when they get electricity,” Modi said.
“No poor people will pay money for electricity. The government will come to their house and give power, without taking money,” he announced and compared life without electricity as living in the 18th century.
Modi said that only 2,986 villages have yet to get electricity, but they will soon do.
He asked state-run petroleum major ONGC to promote innovation for electronic cooking appliances to reduce fuel consumption.
The Prime Minister asked BJP functionaries to reach out to farmers and understand their problems.
He also accused the Opposition of using power as a means of enjoyment when in the government.
He alleged that opposition parties use abrasive words against the government when there are no specific charges against it.
“Harsh language can’t be a substitute of any charges against the government,” Jaitley quoted Modi as saying.
The Prime Minister displayed his steadfast commitment to remain pro-poor and took another step to revive the ailing economy by forming the advisory council.
The council will have government think-tank NITI Aayog’s principal adviser Ratan Watal along with economists Surjit Bhalla, Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal as its members.
The panel will remain independent and its prime duty remains advising the Prime Minister on economic issues referred to it.
Several ministries had been having multiple meeting to find ways to revitalise the economy. But the responsibility will now rest on the new council.
“(Former PM) Manmohan Singh had eight advisory councils, some which never met during his tenure. So the challenge for the newly-created council will be to quickly come out with cogent politically savvy and economically viable solutions to kickstart a stagnating economy,” economist Mohan Guruswamy said.