Growth with inclusivity is the driving principle behind the government’s approach to policy making, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, stressing that a road map is being readied to pursue ‘reforms by conviction’ over the coming 25 years, unlike the ‘reforms by compulsion’ undertaken in the past.
Addressing the inaugural Arun Jaitley Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, the PM said his experience as a head of government for 20 years had taught him that growth is not possible without inclusion and inclusion is also not possible without growth.
Citing the improvements in bringing basic amenities to people over the past eight years, be it in provision of housing, cooking gas, electricity or water supply, Mr. Modi said, “Over the past eight years, the speed and scale at which India has worked on inclusion, you will not find an example anywhere else in the world.”
Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, not only have over 50 crore poor got access to good hospitals for free treatment of up to ₹5 lakh, the phenomenon has paved the way for growth as a third of the population that was excluded from access to healthcare have now been added to the development mainstream.
“This has had a direct impact as the healthcare capacity had to become stronger. Before 2014, India set up an average of 50 medical colleges every 10 years. In the last eight years, 209 new medical colleges have been set up. In the coming ten years, that number will reach 400,” he pointed out.
India’s National Education Policy is emphasising on learning in mother tongue so that those who don’t know English and are excluded currently, will get a chance to study and move forward, the PM said.
“Decades ago, the country had seen that when any reform is done as a compulsion, there is a lower chance of them being institutionalised and once things improve, they returned to the old way of doing things. We don’t look at reforms as a necessary evil, but a win-win choice in the national interest as well as public interest,” he averred.
Arguing that the government heard the view of most people, the PM said decisions are taken based on the people’s pulse rather than populism. While many leading economists called for fiscal steps to prop up a demand-based recovery from the pandemic, Mr. Modi pointed out that India refrained from such populist moves and focused on people instead. “You can see the difference between the recovery in India and the rest of the world today,” he emphasised.
“Our physical and digital infrastructure is seeing record investments. This Amrit Kaal of India’s independence is bringing innumerable opportunities for us,” he said.
Seeking to strike a break from what he said were outdated extreme models of private or public sector-led growth, Mr. Modi said that it is time for the government and the private sector to work as partners as is being seen in sectors ranging from vaccine development, space exploration and digital payments.
Referring to the challenges flagged by Singapore’s senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who stressed that India must grow at least 8% to 10% over the next 25 years, the PM said, “I agree there are challenges, but if there are challenges, there are 130 crore solutions as well. This is my faith and we are walking ahead with an approach to challenge the challenges.”