Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked the States to focus on intelligence-sharing to help the country stay “alert” to, and “updated” on, internal security challenges.
Addressing the Inter-State Council meeting, convened after 10 years, he said: “We should focus on how we can make our country prepared to counter challenges to our internal security.”
Internal security could not be strengthened unless the States and the Centre focussed on sharing intelligence.
The Chief Ministers, Lieutenant-Governors of the Union Territories and 17 Union Ministers are members of the Inter-State Council. Modi was interacting with the Chief Ministers on a single platform for the first time since coming to power two years ago.
“With close cooperation, we will not only strengthen the Centre-State relations but also make a better future for the citizens,” he said.
The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Akhilesh Yadav, of Karnataka, Siddaramaiah, and of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, did not attend the meeting.
“It would be difficult for any government to successfully implement a scheme on its own. Therefore, provision of adequate financial resources is as important as the responsibility for implementation,” Mr. Modi said. He asked the States to increasingly use this forum as an effective instrument to strengthen democracy, society and polity.
Mr. Modi appreciated the efforts of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for restarting the process of dialogue between the States and the Centre over the past year.
The Prime Minister noted that with the acceptance of the 14th Finance Commission’s recommendations, the States’ share in Central taxes increased from 32 per cent to 42 per cent. “… the total amount received by the States from the Centre during 2015-16 is 21 per cent higher than the amount received in 2014-15.”
Mr. Modi said panchayats and urban local bodies would receive Rs. 2,87,000 crore during the period of the 14th Finance Commission, substantially higher than last time. The rights of the States were kept in mind, even in revenue from the auction of natural resources. “Auctions of coal blocks will yield Rs. 3.35 lakh crore to the States in the years to come. Auctions of other mines will yield an additional Rs. 18,000 crore to the States.”
Mr. Modi said that through amendments to the CAMPA Act (Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill), the Centre was trying to free up Rs. 40,000 crore lying in banks for disbursal to the States. The Centre also wished to share with the States the amount saved as a result of transparency being introduced in the system.
He said India’s greatest asset is its youth as over 30 crore children are now of school-going age. Hence, the country has the potential to provide the world skilled manpower for many years to come. “The Centre and the States must work together to provide our children an enabling environment in which they can develop their skills and prepare themselves for today’s needs. Merely going to school is not education. Education should generate curiosity among children. It should teach them how to attain and enhance knowledge. It should motivate them to continuously keep learning throughout their lives.”
Referring to the Aadhaar card, he said the Aadhaar Act, 2016, enabled the government to use the Aadhaar for direct cash transfer for subsidy and other services. “As on date, 102 crore Aadhaar cards have been distributed in our country of 128 crore people. Seventy-nine per cent of our people now have Aadhaar cards. Among adults, 96 per cent people have the cards. With your support, we shall connect every citizen with an Aadhaar card by the year-end.”
Mr. Modi said the Centre launched a scheme under which, if there is a reduction in kerosene consumption by a State, the Centre would disburse 75 per cent of the resultant savings in subsidy as grant to that State. He lauded the Congress-ruled Karnataka government for moving swiftly on this initiative.