Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday unveiled the ‘Stand-up India’ scheme to promote entrepreneurship among women, scheduled castes and tribes by enabling them secure easier loans and said this could be an engine of job creation for the youth.
“Dalits and poor people, if given an opportunity, can bring in various reforms in the country. That’s my vision for Stand-up India…This scheme is going to transform the lives of Dalit and tribal communities,” Mr. Modi said while introducing the scheme in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
Under the scheme, SC/ST and women entrepreneurs will be provided loans of between Rs.10 lakh and Rs.1 crore for setting up new enterprises.
Mr. Modi said this will help in creating 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs throughout the country as every bank branch will be required to provide two such loans – to a Dalit or SC/ST person and a woman.
The Prime Minister said the scheme, which was announced during his Independence Day speech last year, is being unveiled on April 5 to mark the birth anniversary of Congress Dalit Leader Babu Jagjivan Ram. “Whatever one’s party or ideology may be, we want to remember those who have lived and toiled for the nation. As agriculture minister, Babu Jagjivan Ram did a lot to usher in the green revolution. During the 1971 war, which we won, very few people would know that he was the defence minister,” he said. Mr. Modi’s remarks and his choice of venue to unveil this scheme assumes significance in view of the upcoming assembly elections in five states where the Dalit and other backward class votes could be critical.
“ Dalits and poor people, if given an opportunity, can bring in various reforms in the country. That’s my vision for Stand-up India…This scheme is going to transform the lives of Dalit and tribal communities. ” — Narendra Modi
Uttar Pradesh, which goes to polls early next year, has the highest Dalit population among all states.
The prime minister said the scheme aims to empower every Indian and enable them to stand on their feet. It seeks to convert “job-seekers into job-creators.”
In an indirect jibe at Mr.Vijay Mallya, who is currently facing charges of wilful default on bank loans, the prime minister said people have tried to find ways to run away after borrowing money from banks “but the poor of the country, whom we had asked to open zero balance accounts… have put in a total of over Rs.35,000 crore with accounts opened under PMJDY.”
Mr. Modi also distributed 5,100 e-rickshaws under the scheme and 151 women were among those whoreceived the vehicles.
“E-rickshaws will be given to those who do not own rickshaws. Beneficiaries of this will be the poor,” he said. This will also benefit the environment, he said pointing out that India spends billions on importing oil while these rickshaws will run on batteries charged using solar power. These e-rickshaws have been distributed for use in Delhi-NCR region.