Wednesday, 7 September 2016

August 2016:15-30 (FORTNIGHTLY)

August 2016:15-30 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (15-30)  August 2016 (पाक्षिक)

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                                     - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध

Ministries pooling data to account for environmental damage in GDP

NEW DELHI: India has taken the first step to account for environmental damage while calculating its national income or gross domestic product. Various ministries have begun pooling data to create environment accounts for forest cover, water, waste and soil resources, among others, under a newly introduced System of Environmental Economic Accounting.

The work has just started on the system which can eventually yield benchmarks such as
sustainability index and biodiversity index, officials said. The system, similar to the System of National Accounts that is followed to calculate economic growth, has been mandated by the United Nations Statistical Division, they said.

"We are in the process of collecting data, but there are many gaps. This is the preparatory stage...We are talking to other ministries if they can give us some data," said a statistics ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. The statistics ministry has circulated a framework to other ministries to provide data for this endeavour which is designed to present a comprehensive picture of India's growth. 

An expert committee set up by the statistics ministry in 2013 chaired by
Partha Dasgupta, emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge, had said that the system of national being used across the world suffers from "extreme narrowness".

The committee said that the demand for green national accounts has arisen because of a growing recognition that contemporary national accounts are an unsatisfactory basis for economic evaluation.

A biofortified rice high in iron and zinc is set to combat hidden hunger in developing countries
August 18, 2016 by Andrew Trounson
Rice is the staple food for billions of people throughout the developing world. But beyond easing hunger pains and providing carbohydrates for energy, it has little nutritional value.
It means many people who depend on rice as a staple food are effectively being starved of essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc and pro-vitamin A.
Nutritionists call it "hidden hunger."
The World Health Organisation estimates two billion people, or 30 per cent of the world's population, are anaemic, in many cases due to iron deficiency. This condition leaves people weak and lethargic and poses a significant and even fatal health risk to pregnant women and their children. Equal numbers are at risk of zinc deficiency with severe health consequences including stunted growth and impaired immune function.
But researchers are now on the cusp of making a real difference. University of Melbourne plant geneticist Dr Alex Johnson and colleagues have created a genetically modified (GM) rice that produces grain with significantly more iron and zinc through a process called biofortification. And field trials have now shown that the biofortified rice is just as high yielding as conventionally bred rices.
Field Trial Success
In results recently published in Scientific Reports, an open access journal from prestigious scientific publishers Nature, Dr Johnson and colleagues describe how they were able to grow iron and zinc biofortified rice plants in the field. Rice grains usually contain just 2-5 parts per million (ppm) of iron. The researchers were aiming to increase that to at least 13 ppm to address iron deficiencies in rice-based diets. They managed to get to 15 ppm. Similarly, they had been targeting to increase the amount of zinc from 16 ppm to 28 ppm, but they managed to get to 45 ppm.
"The results shows that this technology actually works in the field, not just in the glasshouse," says Dr Johnson, from the School of BioSciences. "We exceeded our biofortification targets and the rice was just as high yielding as existing rice varieties.''
Crucially, the field-testing also showed that while the genetic modification had enabled the biofortified rice to take up more iron and zinc from the soil, it didn't increase the take up of harmful heavy metals such as cadmium.

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office

17-August-2016 11:51 IST

PM greets the people on the start of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam New Year

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has greeted the people on the start of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam New Year.

“On the start of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam New Year, my greetings to the Malayali community. May the year bring joy & peace,” the Prime Minister said.

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
17-August-2016 09:57 IST

PM greets the people on Navroz

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has greeted the people on the occasion of Navroz, the Parsi new year.

“Navroz Mubarak to the Parsi community. May there be an abundance of happiness, success & good health in this coming year,” the Prime Minister said.

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment
17-August-2016 10:49 IST
National Commission for Scheduled Caste Submits Three Reports to President of India
The National Commission for Scheduled Caste headed by Shri P.L. Punia, Chairman, Shri Rajkumar Verka, Vice-Chairman and Shri Raju Parmar, Shri Ishwar Singh, Smt. P.M. Kamalamma, Members have submitted the following reports on 16th August 2016 to the Hon’ble President of India.

The reports are:-

1. Annual Report of NCSC 2015-16,

2. Report on the Effective Utilization of Funds under the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP)-2016, and

3. Report on Atrocities against Kuravan community in Tamil Nadu-2016.v The report contain various recommendations on the issues entrusted to the commission regarding protection of Constitutional Safeguards of the Scheduled Castes as enshrined in Constitution of India on effective utilization and formation of schemes under Scheduled Casts Sub Plan (SCSP) and steps to end atrocities on the Kuravan Community in Tamil Nadu.

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
18-August-2016 13:35 IST
NMPB to launch National campaign on Medicinal Plants at Jaipur
National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) of the Ministry of AYUSH will launch a National campaign on Medicinal Plants on 20th – 21st August, 2016 at Jaipur. The campaign will be organised at State Institute of Agriculture Management (SIAM), Durgapura, in Jaipur. Approximately 500 farmers who are cultivating medicinal plants from across the country will participate. During the event, an Interactive Meet cum Seminar will also be organized on Medicinal Plants involving farmers, experts, traders, industries and other stakeholders of medicinal plants sector. Most of the stakeholders will be benefited through this event.

NMPB has been working for the growth and development of medicinal plants in the country since its inception in year 2000. At present, NMPB promotes medicinal plants conservation, cultivation, research, marketing, quality and other activities under Central Sector Scheme for "Conservation, Development and Sustainable Management of Medicinal Plants" and Medicinal Plants component under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of National AYUSH Mission for cultivation of medicinal plants.

Centre to begin fresh consultations with states on Western Ghats
if the Centre accepts recommendations of these reports, 60% of the Ghats will be opened up for development and will affect the water security of millions.
Millions of Indians living in the six Western Ghat states will have to wait longer before the Centre takes a final call on eco-sensitive areas in the 1,600km long fragile mountain chain. The ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) is set to initiate a fresh round of consultations with state governments on the contentious issue which has been hanging fire for over two years. The ministry's decision comes even as over the last year all Western Ghats states, except Tamil Nadu, have submitted ground survey reports recommending reduction in eco-sensitive areas. Only Gujarat, which has the least land under eco-sensitive areas, recommended an increase of the protected area.
The state governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Gujarat and Kerala have recommended that only 19,702.85 sq km of eco-sensitive area (ESA) should be retained as against the 56,825 sq km that was identified by the K Kasturirangan-led committee and as was declared by the Centre in its draft notification. Environment minister Anil Dave said that he has planned to visit all six Western Ghats states to interact with locals. "People want access to roads, water and power. I want to understand the entire subject and hence I will try to meet people residing in these states. We will have a decision within six months," said Dave. Speaking on the state government reports, Dave said, "All reports, including the Gadgil and Kasturirangan report, are a bunch of thoughts and the decision is up to the government."
On Thursday, Dave met with seven Members of Parliament from Western Ghats states including Sharad Pawar, Shashi Tharoor, DMK's Tiruchi Siva and Shiv Sena's Sindhudurg MP Vinayak Raut. Speaking to dna, Raut said, "We have asked the ministry to clarify whether they are going to consider both the Madhav Gadgil committee report and K Kasturirangan committee report or only one of them. Besides, we stressed that the final notification while protecting the environment should be in consonance with the everyday demands of locals."
The ground survey reports that state governments submitted to the ministry are voluminous and were based in part on meetings with Gram Sabhas. If the Centre accepts the recommendations of these reports, 60 per cent of the Ghats will be opened up for development and will affect the water security of millions.
Energy Vikalp Sangam
Energiewende: The German Experience link:


"We need to ensure that small farmers retain complete control over their land and farming"
A millet revival could solve India's Malnutrition problem. "Indian food was never about just wheat and rice. But the green revolution made it so."
Mumbai’s first farmer-to-consumer market
Food safety regulator FSSAI has decided to allow up to 5 per cent use of vegetable fat and artificial sweetener in chocolates. This is bad news for consumer health while it benefits importers.
An interesting Q&A with a reporter traveling Brazil and Latin America to learn about the food reforms taking place. "Nestlé sends saleswomen door-to-door in poor neighborhoods in Brazil, peddling sugar-filled yogurt and other snacks."

TOI: Forest rights being granted in Melghat core under pressure - The Times of India

The Anthropocene is here: Scientists declare dawn of human-influenced era

Book:Environment, Development and Radical Alternatives

Chandaben Shroff: at the Kutch Vikalp Sangam: A Tribute

Citizenship without bias

The new citizenship legislation should include refugees from persecuted minorities of all denominations who have made India their home
On July 19, 2016, the government introduced a Bill to amend certain provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Bill has now been referred to the joint select committee of Parliament. The object of the proposed Bill is to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who have fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents, or those whose valid documents have expired in recent years, to acquire Indian citizenship by the process of naturalisation. Under the Bill, such persons shall not be treated as illegal immigrants for the purpose of the Citizenship Act. In another amendment, the aggregate period of residential qualification for the process of citizenship by naturalisation of such persons is proposed to be reduced from 11 years to six years. A large number of people who would otherwise be illegal immigrants can now heave a sigh of relief if the Bill goes through as they would be eligible to become citizens of the country.
Not inclusive enough

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, owes its genesis to the assurance given by the Prime Minister that Hindus from these three countries who have sought asylum in India would be conferred Indian citizenship. But since singling out Hindus alone could be discriminatory, the Bill has extended the right to acquire citizenship to other religious minorities living in the three countries.
The Bill, when passed, would be of immense benefit to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Bangladesh displaced because of the construction of the Kaptai Dam who have been refugees for nearly 65 years. The Supreme Court in Committee for C.R. of C.A.P. v. State of Arunachal Pradesh directed the Government of India and Arunachal Pradesh to grant citizenship to eligible persons from these communities and to protect their life and liberty and further prohibited discrimination against them.
Though India has not enacted a national refugee law, the three principles underlying India’s treatment of refugees was spelt out in Parliament by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1959 with reference to Tibetan refugees. They include: refugees will be accorded a humane welcome; the refugee issue is a bilateral issue; and the refugees should return to their homeland once normalcy returns there.
The proposed Bill recognises and protects the rights of refugees and represents a welcome change in India’s refugee policy. But it would have been appropriate if the Bill had used the term “persecuted minorities” instead of listing out non-Muslim minorities in three countries. To give an example, the Ahmadiyyas are not considered Muslims in Pakistan and are subject to many acts of discrimination. Other groups include members of the Rohingyas, who being Muslims are subjected to discrimination in Myanmar and have fled to India. Such a gesture would also have been in conformity with the spirit of religious and linguistic rights of minorities guaranteed under our Constitution. Unfortunately the Bill does not take note of the refugees in India from among the Muslim community who have fled due to persecution and singles them out on the basis of religion, thereby being discriminatory.
The case of the Malaiha Tamils

Yet another disappointing feature of the Bill is that it does not provide citizenship to the people of Indian origin from Sri Lanka who fled to Tamil Nadu as refugees following the communal holocaust in July 1983. The Indian Tamils, or Malaiha (hill country) Tamils as they like to be called, are descendants of indentured workers who were taken by the British colonialists in the 19th and 20th centuries to provide the much-needed labour for the development of tea plantations. The British gave an assurance that the Indian workers would enjoy the same rights and privileges accorded to the Sinhalese and the Sri Lankan Tamils. But soon after independence, by a legislative enactment the Indian Tamils were discriminated and rendered stateless. In the protracted negotiations that took place between New Delhi and Colombo on the thorny issue of stateless people, Nehru maintained that except for those who voluntarily opted for Indian citizenship, the rest were the responsibility of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Sri Lanka, on the other hand, argued that only those who fulfilled the strict qualifications prescribed for citizenship would be conferred citizenship, and the rest were India’s responsibility.

Nehru’s principled stance was abandoned by Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi when they entered into two agreements with Colombo in 1964 and 1974, respectively. New Delhi agreed to take back 6,00,000 people of Indian origin with their natural increase as Indian citizens, while Sri Lanka agreed to give citizenship to 3,75,000 with their natural increase. The wishes of the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka were not ascertained. To the ruling elite in Colombo and New Delhi the people of Indian origin became an embarrassing set of statistics. Important national leaders — C. Rajagopalachari, K. Kamaraj, V.K. Krishna Menon, P. Ramamurthy and C.N. Annadurai — opposed the agreement as inhuman, but their views were brushed aside by the Central government in order to befriend the Government of Sri Lanka.
The ethnic fratricide in 1977, 1981 and 1983, which affected the plantation areas, convinced many people of Indian origin that they could not live amicably with the Sinhalese. They never subscribed to the demand for a separate state of Tamil Eelam; in fact, the hill country was relatively tranquil during the protracted ethnic conflict. Even then, they were subjected to vicious attacks by some lumpen sections of the Sinhalese population. They sold all their belongings, came to India as refugees, with the hope of acquiring Indian citizenship and permanently settling down here.
A point of no return

According to informed sources, there are nearly 30,000 Malaiha Tamils in the refugee camps scattered throughout Tamil Nadu. They have absolutely no moorings in Sri Lanka. Their children have intermarried with the local people and are well integrated into Tamil society. The young have availed of educational facilities, but are unable to get jobs commensurate to their qualifications because they are not Indian citizens. The refugees in Kottapattu camp, near Tiruchi, with whom we interacted, told us: “Come what may, we will not go back to Sri Lanka.”
All these refugees qualify for Indian citizenship by registration under Article 5 of the Citizenship Act of 1955. However their plea for citizenship has been negated citing a Central government circular that Sri Lankan refugees are not entitled for Indian citizenship. In a communication dated November 21, 2007 to the Special Commissioner for Rehabilitation, the Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu mentioned that there are strict instructions from the Government of India “not to entertain applications of Sri Lankan refugees for the grant of Indian citizenship”. We submit, in the light of recent developments, the above-mentioned circular of the Central government must be immediately withdrawn.
The tragedy of the Malaiha Tamils, a majority of whom are Dalits, must be underlined.
Immigrants, even those who are termed illegal, are entitled to equal protection before the law and the various rights that flow from Article 21. This was stressed by the Supreme Court in National Human Rights Commission v. State of Arunachal Pradesh while addressing the rights of Chakma refugees. If such immigrants are granted citizenship, the natural progression would mean that they enjoy the benefits of rights guaranteed under Article 19 besides others such as access to the public distribution system, right to participate in the political process, right to secure employment and other rights all of which currently are inaccessible to them. The Bill recognises this in its objects and reasons by referring to the denial of opportunities and advantages to such persons. The Bill therefore should not restrict itself to minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh but should include refugees from persecuted minorities of all denominations who have made India their home.
V. Suryanarayan is founding Director and former Senior Professor, Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras; Geeta Ramaseshan is an advocate at the Madras High Court.

 Maharashtra: ‘FRA, PESA have replaced government administration with grassroots democracy’

The transition looked all the more positive as top government officials have now made a common cause on the subject with FRA and PESA activists. 

“Forest Rights Act (FRA) and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act have removed the patronising role played by government administration to usher in real grassroots democracy for the village communities that were earlier subjected to only lip service,” said Nagpur Divisional Commissioner Anup Kumar at a programme in Gadchiroli on Saturday, signalling that the tide had been decisively turned in favour of the village communities, identified in legal corners as Gram Sabhas.
The transition looked all the more positive as top government officials have now made a common cause on the subject with FRA and PESA activists. A few years ago, the two were locked in heated arguments over who had the ultimate control over forest resources. The programme settled the debate in the favour of the Gram Sabhas.
The occasion was the release of a booklet ‘Margadarshak Tatve ani Margadarshika’ (guiding principles and guide), designed to guide gram sabhas to devise their own working plan of forest management. The booklet is a result of efforts by a committee set up by Kumar in his capacity as Chairman of the Vidarbha Statutory Development Board.
Led by tribal activist Dewaji Tofa, who spearheaded a forest rights movement at Mendha-Lekha village in Gadchiroli over the past three decades, the committee has come out with extensive guidelines for how the Gram Sabhas should prepare their working plan for the forests they have been granted Community Forest Rights (CFRs) over.
Mendha-Lekha’s forest rights story was, in fact, instrumental in inspiring the historic FRA of 2006 as clearly acknowledged by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh.
“The FRA clearly mentions that the government isn’t giving anything to the Gram Sabhas which they didn’t originally own. But with the village community’s forced alienation from their forests and the resources therein for long, the communities had virtually lost touch with their vast traditional expertise and knowledge of sustainable forest management. Hence, it was necessary to reorient them to this traditional knowledge with some modern techniques integrated into it. That is the objective which this booklet envisages to serve,” said Tofa.
Mohan Hirabai Hiralal, who scripted the Mendha-Lekha story along with Tofa through a long process of persuasion and consensus involving the entire community, said, “Gram sabhas managing forests and forest resources under FRA isn’t only about the community’s rights but also about their duties and is hence participatory, transparent and responsible in the real sense.”
Noted environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, who helped the committee in enlisting the various provisions in the booklet, said, “Real development is the one that confers self-respect on people. The FRA has done precisely that. For many decades after Independence, some expert views not rooted in ground reality were prevailing causing a lot of problems to ushering in real development. The tried and tested traditional knowledge of the communities had fallen by the wayside. Acts like FRA and PESA will go a long way in putting the process of development on the right track.”
Chief Conservator of Forest (Gadchiroli) Kalyan Kumar described FRA as “a step in the right direction” but stressed that “self-regulation” was necessary for proper management of the forest resources.
Parimal Singh, Deputy Secretary to the Governor, flagged the issue of “habitat rights” to pastoral and nomadic communities under FRA saying, “The Dindori village in Madhya Pradesh granted such right first to these communities. Gadchiroli, which has emerged as a leader in the CFR movement with maximum number of CFRs granted, should take the initiative in this direction also.”
Singh categorically said that the Gram Sabhas also had the right to grant Transit Passes (TPs). TPs had long been a bone of contention between Gram Sabhas and the forest department.
The booklet contains detailed guidelines about adoptive management of natural resources, EGS linked to CFR and biodiversity management, making detailed maps of village and its resources, enlisting important floral and faunal species, GPS survey of community forest, periodic check of the resources, registration of minor forest produces, nurseries, soil conservation etc.


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

August 2016: 1-15 (FORTNIGHTLY)

August 2016: 1-15 (FORTNIGHTLY)
  (1-15)  August 2016 (पाक्षिक)

                                                     - जलवायु संकट, पारिस्थिकी
                                                     - प्रदूषण                
                                             - आदिवासी विमर्श
                                              - कृषि और किसानी
                                        - जल दर्शन
                                                    - देशज ज्ञान और स्वास्थ्य
                                     - विविध

15 AUGUST 2016

Dams to be hub of adventure tourism
It isn’t just power generators or irrigation officials who will keep an eye on the wide expanse of water stored in dams. For soon, it will become the hub of adventure tourism.
The scenic beauty of major reservoirs of the State will be tapped to promote adventure sports and entertainment facilities, including three-star hotels, budget hotels, food courts, theme parks, and resorts. The Water Resources Department has decided to promote tourism through public private partnerships at its dam sites in the Krishna and Cauvery basins.
Availability of government lands, lush green forests, rivers, backwaters, hilly and mountainous terrains at different dam sites will be utilised for promoting aqua sports (river rafting, boat riding, kayaking, and water skiing), trekking, and rock climbing.
Currently, the services are available at Mysuru-Kodagu-Chamarajanagar belt, which has become a major hub for adventure sports, thanks to its terrain.
Floating restaurants
The plans include launching cruise services and floating restaurants at Almatti dam in Vijayapura. Feasibility reports have already been prepared and tenders called from private players. The Tourism Department has decided to promote tourism in the backwaters of Almatti and Narayanpur dams, while Jungle Lodges and Resorts will be roped in to establish lodging and adventure facilities. It is proposed to promote water sports and a public park at Malaprabha dam and snow park and other tourism activities on the 300 acres at Hidal dam.
Cauvery basin
In Cauvery basin, feasibility and structuring project reports have been prepared to exploit tourism potential at Gorur dam in Hassan, Kabini dam (Mysuru) and Manchanabele. Brindavan Gardens and KRS dam in Mandya district will be upgraded to international standards. Plans are afoot to create adventure theme parks, golf course, lightshow, and amusement park on 186 acres at Bhadra dam in Chikkamagaluru district.
GST Bill is will of the people, says Jaitley
Terming the passage of the GST Bill the will of the people, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said that the people’s pressure was what spurred the politicians to pass the Bill in Parliament.
“The common thing between the GST and Bankruptcy Bills was that they were passed unanimously,” Mr. Jaitley said while speaking at a convocation ceremony of the OP Jindal Global University. “This shows that there was very strong public opinion inflicted on the politicians that now was not the time to go slow.”
The Finance Minister pointed out how several countries and regions in the world are trying desperately to achieve growth while India is doing pretty well in this regard. “The whole world is in slowdown mode,” Mr. Jaitley said.
“Countries are resorting to desperate measures to achieve growth, such as negative or negligible interest rates, competitive devaluation of currencies. But India is coming out of this very well.” He, however, added that the world would increasingly be turning to India to supply the manpower needed, something that can be to India’s great benefit.
“The world will need more hands and minds in the coming year,” Mr Jaitley said. “We have a surplus population in agriculture and even when we start to increase the size of our manufacturing, our main strength is services.”
The Finance Minister said India’s education sector had progressed leaps and bounds from the time when the only option was public sector educational institutions.
Private institutes
“When there was regulation, the system was for the government to raise taxes and create educational institutions,” he said. “Then, when it was opened up, many private sector universities came up.”
“Often it is suggested that most of these private sector institutes are not up to the mark,” Mr. Jaitley added.
“But these will fall by the wayside. The advantage of being private is that they are not bound by government structures, and they can attract the best global teaching staff.”
Countries are resorting to desperate measures to achieve growth… But India is coming out of this very well.
Lodha panel says 'no' to BCCI's request to defer meeting: sources
The Justice Lodha Committee has shot down a request from Ajay Shirke, secretary, BCCI, to defer the meeting on Tuesday, August 9. A source close to the Justice Lodha Committee said: "Ajay Shirke finally wrote to the Committee late last night requesting that the meeting on Tuesday with him and Anurag Thakur be deferred. The request has been declined."
Board president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shrike were summoned by the Committee for a meeting in New Delhi. It was believed that the three-member committee would draw timelines for the BCCI and the State associations to implement its recommendations on governance and management structure in a concurrent manner.
Subsequent to receiving the summons from the committee, the BCCI held a working committee meeting in Mumbai and a Special General Meeting in New Delhi, appointed a four-member Committee including retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju to play the Board’s interface and even decided to file a review petition with the Apex Court.
Justice Katju presented and interim report to the BCCI on Sunday in New Delhi. The former Supreme Court judge lashed out at the Supreme Court and its Committee led by the former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha, saying their intention to clean up cricket may be good, but it cannot be done by “throwing the law to the winds.”
Justice Katju, appointed by the BCCI to head a four-member panel to “advise and guide” it on the July 18 Supreme Court verdict, asking the BCCI to implement the Lodha Committee’s recommendations in six months to overhaul the cricket body to usher in accountability, declared that the judgment itself was unconstitutional.
India to attend SAARC young Parliamentarians conference in Islamabad
The YPC intends to offer young Parliamentarians’ narrative as a prelude to the 19th SAARC Summit that Pakistan will be hosting in November.
A three-member Parliamentary delegation would be travelling to Islamabad to attend the first SAARC Young Parliamentarians Conference (YPC) on `Peace and Harmony for Development’ scheduled to be held from August 16 to 18 in Islamabad.
A note by the Lok Sabha Secretariat said that the delegation members would be briefed here on Tuesday. Names of the delegates are not known yet.
The Parliamentarians would be going to Pakistan days after the India-Pakistan show-down in Islamabad at the 7th SAARC Interior and Home Ministers conference.
The YPC intends to offer young Parliamentarians’ narrative as a prelude to the 19th SAARC Summit that Pakistan will be hosting in November.
A statement on the Pakistan Parliamentary web site said that ``With sub-themes such as peace and development, human rights, sustainable development, regional trade, cultural diplomacy, youth issues and social inclusion, the SAARC YPC 2016 will be a watershed in engaging young Members of Parliament to share knowledge and formulate action plans to unveil a future vision of emancipation of each member of their young population”.
India wants market access for organic products in Japan
India will demand more market access in Japan for its pharmaceuticals as well as marine and organic products, in a meeting slated Thursday to help boost bilateral trade and investment ties, official sources said.
Japan, meanwhile, has asked India to remove curbs on steel imports (including Minimum Import Price and safeguard duty) and do away with the Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on Special Economic Zones (SEZ). The imposition of 18.5 per cent MAT on SEZ developers and units in the FY’12 Budget was a major factor that led to a slowdown in investments into SEZs.
There are Japanese units in SEZs such as Sri City in Andhra Pradesh. India imported iron and steel (and its articles) worth around $1.85 billion from Japan in FY’16. India had imposed curbs to counter a surge in cheap imports of steel that were hurting local manufacturers of the item.
Tokyo wants India to ensure “specific timelines for introduction” of the special incentives proposed by many Indian State governments to Japanese Industrial Townships (JIT). States including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana had wooed Japanese investors to set up JITs in their respective territory with proposed incentives including single window clearance, power, roads and water as well as waiver of taxes (central sales tax, entry tax and land acquisition tax) and duties (electricity duty and stamp duty). Japan now wants these States to act fast on their promises.
Thursday’s bilateral meeting will be that of the India-Japan Joint Committee — a panel established following the inking of the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2011. The committee can review the CEPA and suggest amendments to the pact to facilitate an increase in bilateral trade and investment.

Modi asks NITI Aayog to drive transformation
PM tells think tank to frame policy to propel India into the next century

Create a new architecture of policy making that anticipates problems and suggests remedies, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the NITI Aayog on Thursday.

This was his second visit to the policy-making think tank he established in January 2015, after scrapping the historic Planning Commission.

On Thursday, officials said Modi, who is also the chairman, gave last-minute directions to
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya to change his presentation from a 15-year vision document to flaws in the earlier Plan process.

Then, he told the Aayog to work towards transformational and not only incremental change.

He said the vision document should not only lay the road map of the next 15 years but also form the foundation of the country’s development in the next century.

Even as the possibility of the Goods and Services Tax Constitution amendment Bill being passed in the Rajya Sabha next week brightens, Modi called for big-bang reforms.
“I am a person who experiments because I have the confidence,” he said.

Recounting his somewhat stormy relationship with the Planning Commission, the PM said the erstwhile body was bent on finding flaws in the states. But, he advised the
NITI Aayog to desist from doing so, and become a forum where states raise their problems and solutions are found in spirit of cooperative federalism.

“The state governments are a very vital pillar of India,” Modi said.

He directed the Aayog to make use of the best talent available both in the country and outside to prepare the vision document for transformation.

The PM also told the
NITI Aayog to think in advance about a number of issues.

For instance, on agriculture, Modi told the NITI Aayog, to think of the demand for food in the next 15 years, possible sources from where it would come (both domestic and international) and also prepare a clear road map through which these requirements could be met.

Giving the example of pulses, Modi wondered why everyone talked about it when prices shot up.

In its reply, the Aayog is believed to have assured the PM that it will soon constitute a working group of experts to anticipate the requirement for food in the country in the next 15 years and also all available sources.

Modi also spoke of entering into long-term agro-procurement agreements with countries in lieu of technology transfer. Except for these imports, he directed the Aayog to plan towards a zero-import policy for agriculture.

Modi directed the Aayog and all its officials to shed their past lethargy and prepare a 15-year vision document that would lay down the foundation for the next century and take the country forward.

On energy needs, the PM underlined the importance of mapping the country’s energy needs and directed them to prepare a catalogue of untapped natural resources.

He listed mineral wealth, vast untapped solar energy potential and sub-optimally used coastlines as examples.

He also directed them to visualise future workforce requirement and plan accordingly.

The PM talked about the tourism potential in the country, saying there are 1,300 in its territorial waters. He asked NITI Aayog to identify and develop 10 to promote tourism.

Modi urged NITI Aayog to take inspiration from events such as the success of the Give-it-Up campaign, and the widespread positive response from the people to the Swachhta Abhiyan. Earlier, NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya while pointing towards the flaws in earlier Plan Processes said that lot of laws were made without thinking of the consequences.

During the presentation, NITI member Bibek Debroy said the new vision document should benchmark targets, while Ramesh Chand underlined the need for big reforms in the agriculture sector, where markets should have a direct role.

The meeting was also attended by the Minister of State for Planning Rao Inderjit Singh, members of the NITI Aayog, besides senior officers from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet secretariat.


The Indian Union gets a common market
Landmark Constitution Amendment Bill for GST clears RS
New Delhi, August 3:  
A decade-long effort by successive governments to usher in the most sweeping reform of indirect taxes finally moved a step closer to realisation on Wednesday, with the Rajya Sabha clearing the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill to enable a goods and services tax (GST) regime.
The momentous Bill, which marks the first parliamentary step towards impementation of a “one country, one market, one tax” framework, was cleared by a two-thirds majority, which is required for any Constitution Amendment Bill, following a division of votes. The AIADMK, which walked out before the vote, was the only party to oppose it.
Soon after the Bill was passed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the vote. The GST, he said on Twitter, would be the “best example of cooperative federalism. Together we will take India to new heights of progress.”
On this truly historic occasion of the passage of the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha, I thank the leaders and members of all parties.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 3, 2016
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who moved the Bill for voting after a debate spread over seven hours, assured the Upper House that the GST rate would be kept as low as possible, and would be “much lower than the present situation”.
The debate saw strong arguments and counter-arguments, a clash between of two lawyers -- former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Jaitley -- demands from the Opposition that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be present in the House, and a curious voting exercises that kept springing numerical surprises.
The Bill, which incorporates fresh amendments based on inputs from political parties and the States, does not have the earlier provision for a 1 per cent additional tax on inter-State trade that would have been given to manufacturing States. It also specifies that the GST Council “shall” set up a mechanism to adjudicate disputes arising between the Centre and the States or between States, and that the States’ revenues will not go into the Consolidated Fund of India. It also guarantees compensations to the States against revenue loss for five years.
Moving the Bill, Jaitley said, “The government felt it was necessary to gradually build a larger consensus as we were trying to radically change the country’s taxation structure. GST will give a boost to the economy which is now at a critical stage.”
A common concern across parties was that the the tax rates be kept low to ensure that the tax incidence on people does not increase and lead to higher evasion. “The standard rate of GST should not exceed 18 per cent and the lower rate can be worked on that,” said Chidambaram, in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha.
Although he said the Congress would support the Bill, he added that his party would expect the government to incorporate the tax rates in the subsequent GST legislation.
Three key concerns

Apart from the rates, Chidambaram also listed three key concerns of his party, including the rate of tax, the dispute resolution mechanism, the 1 per cent tax on inter-State trade and the “clumsy drafting” of the latest amendments specifiying that the States’ revenue would not go into the Consolidated Fund.
He also suggested further amendments to the provision of dispute resolution to include that the GST Council “shall by regulation” establish a mechanism to adjudicate disputes. These should also include disputes arising otherwise between States outside the recommendations of the GST Council.
Congress leaders, including Chidambaram, Anand Sharma and Ghulam Nabi Azad, also sought an assurance from Jaitley that the subsequent pieces of legislation on Central GST and State GST would be introduced as financial bills, and not money bills, to ensure that the Rajya Sabha too has a chance to discuss it. This was a common refrain from most Members of the Upper House, including CPM leader Sitaram Yechury. However, Jaitley refused to accede to the demand and said it would be decided based on the final format of the Bills. Yechury also called on the government to ensure that the States do not have to come to the Centre “with begging bowls”.
N Navaneethakrishnan, AIADMK MP, articulated his party’s opposition to the GST as it would cause a permanent revenue loss to Tamil Nadu.
The Constitution Amendment Bill for GST was cleared by the Lok Sabha in May last year, but fresh amendments were introduced last week to accommodate the demands of the Congress and the concerns of the States. The government hopes to roll out GST from April 1, 2017.

Minimum Import Price is completely WTO-compliant, says JSW Steel Joint MD

Mumbai, Aug 2:  
The fat profit margin recorded by JSW Steel has come into focus particularly when the steel industry has been demanding extension of Minimum Import Price to protect itself from cheap imports. Buckling under falling demand and restriction on steel imports, small units are putting pressure on Government scrap MIP and various other duties on imports. Seshagiri Rao, Joint Managing Director, JSW Steel in an interview to Business Line justified the protective net. Excerpt:
What are the chances of MIP getting an extension?
In our view, the oversupply situation in the global market is still prevalent and not much has changed ever since MIP was introduced in February. So MIP should not only be extended but also expanded because there has been lot of circumvention happening. When MIP was introduced to cover 80 per cent of the imports, it was expected that shipments will fall by at least 50 per cent. However, imports have come down only by 26 per cent. A few variety of TMT bars used in construction sector are being imported as alloy steel which is not covered under MIP.
User industry feels that rising steel prices in India squeezed them out?
It is not possible for any one company to raise steel prices unilaterally as there is enough competition domestically. After a long time international steel prices have started looking up. China’s steel prices have increased 67 per cent to $450 a tonne from $270 a tonne in February when MIP was introduced in India. On the other hand steel prices in India have gone up by only 12 per cent when one compares June quarter with March quarter. In fact, prices in India are coming down since May due to weak demand and onset of monsoon slowing infrastructure activities in the country.
Does MIP violate WTO agreement?
It is totally a misconception. WTO member countries point to Article 11 of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to say MIP is not WTO compliant. Out of curiosity I went through the Article 11 and found that there are exceptions to this rule in Article 19. It can be applied on three counts when there is a sudden surge in imports of any commodity, injury caused to domestic industry due to large scale imports and shortage of any food items. So when they talk of violation to Article 11 they should look into the exceptions provided for it in Article 19. Interestingly, the same was also adopted in Indian Customs Act.
It is also viewed that MIP is eroding the export competitiveness of Indian industry?
Exporters always have an option to import steel without paying duty or MIP under advance licence. Moreover, steel prices in India are always in line with the international trend. So to say MIP is eroding export competition does not hold true.
How much of the total imports in June quarter is through Advance Licensing?
This data is not available right now. One has to analyse the whole import and arrive at this data. The fact of the matter is imports have not fallen as envisaged when MIP was introduced and over 50 per cent of imports have come in below MIP. If you take the current average of 6.5 lakh tonne of imports a month, it works out to 7-8 million tonnes an annum. This kind of imports will derail the domestic steel companies.
Has MIP helped JSW Steel record highest ever Ebitda and profit in June quarter?
It is true that our Ebitda and net profit has gone up when compared to last year, but if you compare sequentially our sales realisations are up by just one per cent. The main drivers for profitability are 12 per cent fall in cost and higher volumes. The impact of MIP was common for all steel companies in India. To credit MIP for our good performance is not correct.
Margins of user industry are squeezed due to high steel prices?
We have to really wait for the financial results of other steel companies and user industry before coming to a conclusion. Automobile companies have managed to increase prices even as steel prices fell between May-June. This is because auto sales were going up. So to blame it all on steel is not correct.

India to defend stand against zero-tariffs at RCEP trade ministers’ meet

Offers made to India by other members in services still weak
New Delhi, August 1:  
Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will have her task cut out at the trade ministers’ meet of the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Laos later this week with members refusing to back India’s latest proposal of not reducing tariffs on goods to zero.
India’s proposal on moderate tariff reduction, as opposed to tariff elimination being negotiated so far, circulated at the recent negotiations in Jakarta, was not received well by any member, a government official told BusinessLine.
New Delhi, however, is determined to stick to its guns, especially with offers in services from other countries still not up to its expectations.
RCEP members, which include the 10-member ASEAN, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, are seeking to create one of the largest free trade blocs in the world as the countries account for 45 per cent of the world population and over $21 trillion of gross domestic product.
“We have made it clear at the Jakarta meeting that if other members want a reasonable level of commitment from us in terms of tariff reduction in goods, they have to agree to our terms that we will not be eliminating duties in most sectors,” the official added.
The level of tariff reduction that India will offer other members will also depend on the quality of offers it receives in services.
“So far, offers have been made in over 100 services sub-sectors, but serious offers have not been made in mode 4 which relates to movement professionals and workers. Some kind of bench-marking of offers has to be done in modes, failing which we will not be in a position to be generous in goods,” the official said.
A meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) of RCEP is scheduled on August 3, following which trade ministers will meet on August 5. “The TNC will try to hammer out the contentious areas in goods, services and investments following which the trade ministers will decide on a feasible deadline to conclude the negotiations,” the official said.
Changing stand
India’s current position on goods is a departure from its earlier stand when it had agreed, as part of its initial offer, to eliminate tariffs on 42.5 per cent of goods from China, New Zealand and Australia, on 65 per cent of goods from Japan and South Korea and on 80 per cent of goods from the ASEAN.
The Centre decided to change its position on goods as complaints from the Indian industry on the negative impact of the older trade pacts with countries such as Japan and South Korea have been growing.
At the RCEP, too, with increasing pressure from other countries on equal market access to be offered to all (including China which is India’s greatest concern), New Delhi feels it is best to move away from a zero-tariff commitment, the official said.

Development agenda, reforms will ensure new growth path: Modi

PM lays foundation for Mission Bhagiratha
Hyderabad, August 7:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his Government would continue the development agenda which will take the country into new growth path.
Addressing a massive gathering after laying foundation stone for Mission Bhagiratha in Gajwel about 80 km from here, the Prime Minister said that the focus now is on sustaining the reforms agenda which will ensure all round development take us into a leadership position in the 21st century.
“The only way out to ensure that the country achieves its true potential of growth is to focus on development and remove various hurdles infrastructure projects and other sectors face in the country,” he said.
“There has been a healthy competition among various States in the country with each vying to be the best facilitating ease of doing business.” Welcoming such competition, he said, the Government would ensure true federalism where Central and State Governments work collaboratively and see to that the benefits of development reach grassroots.
Mentioning about some of the initiatives of this Government and how they have had a positive impact on the people, he said “the changes brought about in the fertiliser sector in the country had managed to ensure that within two years of the NDA Government, from most states seeking additional supply of urea, we have come to a stage where there is adequate supply of urea now.”
Referring to the power sector and the role played by Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Modi said, “If the Telangana example is taken into consideration, the State was purchasing power at about Rs. 10.50 to Rs. 11 per unit about two years ago. This has now come down dramatically to about Rs. 1 to Rs. 2 per unit. The State, which has been facing deficit is now in the process of heading towards being self sufficient and possibly surplus too down the line.”

India’s forests valued at Rs 115 trillion, but tribals unlikely to get a share
  • Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

India’s forests are worth as much as the combined market value of BSE-listed companies with a notional value of Rs 115 trillion but the money collected from diverting parts of this land for industries won’t go to communities that live in and are dependent on the jungles.
The Union environment ministry accepted most recommendations of a 2013 expert panel that hiked the rates at which industrialists pay for diverting forest land but dropped a crucial clause mandating half that money be used to compensate tribals for the loss of jungles, documents reviewed by HT show.
A new law enacted by the Centre to disburse these funds – Rs 42,000 crore at present – also says the money should go to state forest departments, leaving out tribals. The government says the suggestion to give money to local communities isn’t practical.
“A lot of things are easier said than done. The governments anyway try and spend the money in such a way that the local communities get the maximum benefit,” said a government official.
Under a 1980 law, when forest land is diverted for industrial use, the project developer has to pay for compensatory afforestation and the Net Present Value (NPV) of the forest, to make up for the loss in ecosystem.
At present, the government charges Rs 4.38 lakh to Rs 10.43 lakh per hectares (ha) NPV, depending on the type and density of forest. These rates were fixed in 2008 but the Supreme Court asked the government to revise rates of NPV every three years.
The 2013 report revised the rates to a range of Rs 5.54 lakh to RS 50.72 lakh per ha. The panel – comprising scientists from the Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) and Forest Survey of India – said the previous 2008 numbers were “grossly underestimated”.
The environment ministry accepted the new figures and is sending them to the committee of secretaries (CoS) for its nod, documents reviewed by HT revealed.
Before accepting the recommendations, the ministry asked the IIFM to estimate the total NPV of India’s forests, an exercise never done before. The IIFM told the ministry the notional value of India’s forest would be Rs 115 trillion.
This will increase the money collected from industrialists. “The rate of accumulation of the compensatory afforestation fund will be more than double now with an overall hike of 117% in the NPV as compared to previous rates,” said an official.
But one crucial recommendation is missing from the environment ministry’s proposal to the CoS. The 2013 panel estimated 50% of the value of forest goods and services are created at the local level, 34% at the state level and 16% the national level and suggested the NPV money be accordingly distributed between local communities, state governments and the Centre, respectively.
Such a mechanism, the panel said, would ease land acquisition worries for big projects, which face the ire of forest-dwelling tribals who fear the loss of livelihood.
Another source of worry for local communities is a new law -- the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, or Campa act, which was cleared by Parliament recently – that will govern the disbursal of these funds.
Campa act has tribal rights activists up in arms as the legislation says nothing about sharing the revenue with the traditional forest-dwelling communities. The money is set to go to state governments, which violates the spirit of the 2013 panel report and the 2006 forest rights act, activists say.
Activists have repeatedly alleged that the government disregards environmental norms and tribal rights in handing out permits to use forestland for industries.
The 2013 report recommended the increase in NPV based on the monetary value of several goods and services from the forests such as timber, bamboo, non-timber forest produce, fuelwood, fodder, carbon sequestration, water recharge, soil conservation, pollination and seed dispersal that were not valued earlier.
The new NPV rates will be part of the yet-to-be-framed rules under Campa act.
Waiting for a fair share:
• Under a 1980 law, when forest land is diverted, the project developer has to pay for compensatory afforestation and the Net Present Value of the forest
• At present, government charges Rs 4.38 lakh to Rs 10.43 lakh per hectares NPV. These rates were fixed in 2008
• In 2013, a panel recommended that rates be revised to a range of Rs 5.54 lakh to Rs 50.72 lakh per hectare and additional premium of 20% to 4 times of NPV be charged if the project is coming up in ecologically sensitive areas
• The Centre accepted the hiked rates but dropped a clause mandating half that money be used to compensate tribals for the loss of jungles

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
12-August-2016 19:26 IST
Government of India and NSCN issue Joint Communique

Talks progressing in right direction, closer than ever before to final settlement
Shri R.N. Ravi, Government of India Interlocutor and Shri T. Muivah, General Secretary, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) issued a Joint Communiqué after their talks here today.

Following is the text of the Joint Communiqué:

“The political initiative of the Government of India and NSCN to amicably resolve the Naga political issue has received a new urgency and impetus during the last two years. The talks have become more purposeful, less ritualistic, more forthright and far more frequent. In the last two years we met more times than all the years before. It helped building unprecedented mutual understanding and trust.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's statesmanship, his respect and love for the Naga people, their legitimate rights and aspirations and wisdom of the Naga leaders could lead to the historic Framework Agreement of August 3, 2015 which settles the political parameters of the final solution. Within these parameters, details are being worked out in earnest.

Prolonged illness and unfortunate passing away of Shri Isak Chishi Swu, Chairman NSCN, adversely impacted the process. His departure is a big loss for all of us.

We assure the people that the talks have been progressing in right direction with determination. We are closer than ever before to the final settlement and hope to conclude it sooner than later.”

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Agriculture
12-August-2016 16:21 IST
DADF Identifying Possible Commercial and Developmental Activities in Islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep
Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is one of the constituent Departments in the Sub Group constituted for identifying possible commercial and developmental activities including fisheries in the Islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Group of Islands. Various meetings at the level of Inter Ministerial Group (IMG) and Committee of Secretaries (CoS) were held. After initial deliberations some, fourteen Islands were identified for fisheries development activities earlier. The main activities identified under fisheries sector are (i) deep sea fishing, (ii) sea weed farming, (iii) ornamental fisheries and (iv) shore based infrastructure for fishing activities like Fishing Harbours, Fish Landing Centres and cold storages. The DADF will provide financial support for the fisheries related activities in those Islands in accordance with the relevant schemes / guidelines of Blue Revolution and the Department of Fisheries and Island Administration of the respective Group of Islands will also be kept onboard for successful implementation, considering the environmental aspects.

As per Integrated National Fisheries Action Plan and further discussion had with the States /UTs, tentative fund allocation was also made to the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Group of Islands and the UTs may earmark the funds as per fisheries activities to be taken up considering the regional requirement. In this regard, a meeting on matters related to Island Development was held today i.e 11 August, 2016 which was attended by the Secretary (ADF).

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Finance
12-August-2016 17:37 IST
Brick and Mortar Bank Branches
To promote financial inclusion and to extend the banking network in unbanked areas, general permission has been granted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to domestic Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) including Public Sector Banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks) to open branches at any place in the country, without seeking prior approval of RBI in each case, subject to at least 25 percent of the total number of branches opened during a financial year being opened in unbanked rural (Tier 5 and Tier 6) centres (population upto 9999). RBI has also specified that the total number of branches opened in Tier 1 centres (population 100000 and above) during the financial year cannot exceed the total number of branches opened in Tier 2 to Tier 6 centres (population upto 99999) and all centres in the North Eastern States and Sikkim.

For increasing banking penetration and financial inclusion, RBI has advised all State Level Banker’s Committee (SLBC) Convenor banks vide circular No FIDD.CO.LBS.BC. 82/02.01.001/2015-16 dated December 31, 2015 to identify villages with population above 5000 without a bank branch of a scheduled commercial bank in their state. As reported by SLBCs, a total of 6593 villages have been identified and allotted among scheduled commercial banks (including Regional Rural Banks) for opening of branches. State/UT-wise details are given in Annexure. The progress is monitored by RBI. Opening of bank branches is a commercial decision of the banks taken in accordance with the branch opening policy of RBI.

This was stated by Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Minister of State in the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ministry of Power
12-August-2016 14:29 IST

Consultative Committee attached to Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy meets
The villages in Naxal affected areas and other such inaccessible regions are being expeditiously connected with off-grid power solutions, said Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, while chairing the meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy, held here today.

Further, Shri Goyal informed the Hon’ble Committee Members that according to the latest figures, a total of 10,007 villages (54%) have been electrified in the country. As on 31.07.16, a sum of Rs. 42,392 crore has already been sanctioned for projects on rural electrification across the country under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY). The work of rural electrification is being expeditiously taken up by the Rural Electrification Corporation Ltd. (RECL), he added.

Shri Goyal also informed the Hon’ble Committee Members that there has been a quantum jump of 75% in the number of villages being electrified in the period of April – August 2016 as compared to same period last year.

The Consultative Committee meeting started with a presentation on RECL by its Chairman and Managing Director, Shri Rajeev Sharma. The presentation outlined the evolution of RECL since 1969, achievement of Navratna status, progress made in financing of entire Power Infrastructure value chain including renewable energy projects, performance of financial parameters, the challenges ahead and the way forward. The members were also informed that RECL is the nodal agency for DDUGJY, National Electricity Fund (NEF) and actively involved in the implementation of UDAY scheme, inter alia.

All members congratulated the Government and the Ministry of Power on the work done on Rural Electrification (RE ) and said that it will help in reducing the gaps in the reach of power to the villages across the country. Members gave their valuable suggestions to further improve the process of rural electrification. Some members suggested that the quality of power distribution infrastructure needs to be monitored and accountability needs to be fixed on the ground level so as to prevent corrupt practices and ensure that there is last mile coverage of beneficiaries.

Responding to the suggestions and queries raised by the Consultative Committee members, Shri Piyush Goyal said that the job of ensuring the reach of electricity on the ground lies with the State Governments/ Power Utilities and the Union Government cannot interfere in their matters under the Federal setup. The Union Government has ensured that surplus power and adequate financial support is made available to the States in order to facilitate expeditious Intensive Electrification at the village/ majla/ tola/ dhaani level.

Further, the Minister directed the officials of the Power Ministry to make available all the details of funds sanctioned and disbursed to State Governments and the status of project implementation to all the Members of Parliament. It would help create accountability on the part of the States, he added. He also directed to ensure the appointment of Grameen Vidyut Abhiyantas (GVAs) and District Vidyut Abhiyantas (DVAs) in all states to achieve efficient monitoring of the progress and implementation of rural electrification.

Shri Goyal assured Hon’ble Members that their valuable suggestions would be adopted by the Ministry & RECL.

The second half of the meeting consisted of the Presentation on the overview of the Implementation of Bio-Gas programme under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.

Shri Goyal, mentioning about the National Conference on Bio-fuels held recently in New Delhi, envisioned about the coordinated working of the Ministries of New & Renewable Energy, Petroleum & Natural Gas and the Department of Bio-Technology in order to give a fillip to the Bio-fuel sector from the current level of Rs. 6,500 crore to Rs. 1 Lakh crore in the next 10 years.

To achieve this target, the Minister called for organizing an International level competition called Jeevan Spardha to pool in novel innovations, ideas and new technology inventions from the society itself.

The meeting was attended by Shri Narayan Bhai Kachhadiya, Shri Ramesh Bais, Shri Jugal Kishore Sharma, Shri K.N. Ramachandran, Shri Om Prakash Yadav, Shri Uday Pratap Singh, Shri Sushil Kumar Singh, Shri Shailesh Kumar, Shri, Daddan Mishra, Shri Satish Chandra Dubey, Shri Rajesh Pandey, Shri Rajesh Ranjan from Lok Sabha and Shri Bashistha N. Singh and Shri Lal Singh Vadodia from Rajya Sabha.

The Secretary, Power, Shri P.K. Pujari, the Chairman cum Managing Director & Directors of RECL, and senior officials of Ministries of Power and New & Renewable Energy also attended the meeting.

Satyarthi launches campaign for youth against child labour

Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi announced that he was planning to launch a campaign — 100 million for 100 million — targeting 100 million youth, whose idealism, energy and enthusiasm would help liberate the 100 million children shackled in slavery and poverty across the world.
His new organisation, The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, “is trying to work for more comprehensive [child rights] policy. We want to build a big, strong people’s movement,” he said, announcing the campaign at the inauguration of a one-day conference on Excellence in Education, organised by The Hindu and Blue Star on Friday.
An easy way to direct the energy of the young people in universities, colleges and schools is to make them champions, spokespersons and leaders for children, the Nobel laureate said, inviting India to lead the way in finding a solution for “children who have been denied their right to live as children.”
Education is key
Education is the key for sustainable development, social, ecological, and economic development, Mr. Satyarthi said.
“For an individual, it is very important to be educated and good quality education is much more rewarding. A single year of schooling at primary level would result in an additional return of 10 to 15 per cent income in the later stage of life; similarly, every single year of secondary education would increase an individual’s income by 20 to 25 per cent,” he said, citing research.
Economic impact
“A study conducted by the World Bank some years ago in 50 different countries proved with empirical evidence that one single year of education in whole society increased the GDP by 0.37 per cent. If the entire society is educated for 10 years, it goes up to four per cent. It has a strong economic impact.
“If all children are educated in the least developing countries then 71 million people can get rid of poverty and there will be 12 per cent reduction in poverty. If you are able to ensure good quality education, the returns would be much higher,” he said.
Lack of quality
Mr. Satyarthi dwelt on the lack of quality education which led to poor performance of children in primary schools.
Though the country had produced a large number of engineers, around 80 per cent of them were unemployable.
“The question is whether we want to create fuel of economic engine or those who can care for the nation, and global society,” Mr. Satyarthi said.
Terror against schools
Schools were using children as shields to perpetuate terrorism, he said, citing instances of terror outfits like ISIS that picked up thousands of girls; the killing of innocent children in a school in Pakistan; and the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram.
The Nobel laureate urged teachers to “Listen to your students; the parents of students; the situation. We have to learn from the children, educators must learn what is happening in technology, the learning process must go on.”
Earlier, Editor of The Hindu Mukund Padmanabhan, who welcomed the gathering, said the idea of the event was to engage with the readers, besides being part of their daily life as a newspaper.
The Nobel laureate launched the ‘100 million for 100 million’ campaign to build a people’s movement

A new deal for mental health

The Mental Health Care Bill, 2016, passed by the Rajya Sabha is a watershed legislation that lays down clear responsibilities for the state and has provisions that empower individuals and families. Crucially, it can expand access to treatment, which is dismally poor today. According to a recent review in The Lancet, of gaps in mental health treatment, although both India and China have renewed their commitment to address the problem through national programmes, it is Beijing that has done better in terms of improving coverage. India allocates just over 1 per cent of the Centre’s health budget to mental health, with States making comparable allocations. This situation should change if the provisions of the bill are to be meaningful. The legislation, inter alia , gives everyone the right to access mental health care as well as treatment from mental health services run or funded by the government; it also provides for supply of all notified essential medicines free of cost to those with mental illness, through the government. The situation today is a far cry from what is promised. While the bill says mental health services should be available at the district level, even States with well-functioning district hospitals do not offer regular psychiatric outpatient services, leave alone in-patient facilities. In government hospitals, medication to treat even the more common psychiatric disorders is not always available. These and other deficiencies need not have waited for a law.
In a much-needed change, the Centre has adopted a medicalised approach to attempted suicide, treating it as the outcome of severe stress. The bill rightly blocks the application of the Indian Penal Code section that criminalises it. A duty is also cast on the authorities to care for and rehabilitate such individuals. What this means is that official policy must strive to strengthen the social determinants of health, especially when it comes to universal welfare support systems against catastrophic events in people’s lives. Reliable and free professional counselling must be widely offered. For too long, mental health treatment in India has existed with the colonial legacy of large asylums and degrading confinement. Many who are held in such places have nowhere else to go, as families facing stigma have abandoned them. There is much to be said, therefore, in favour of the halfway home system that the bill provides for, where supportive families, medical care and a better quality of life will help many recover. The success of this more progressive law brought in to replace the Mental Health Act, 1987, will depend ultimately on the community keeping up the pressure on the designated Central and State authorities to implement it in letter and spirit.

New plans instead of new pills

As with the environment, so with health care: there have to be changes in lifestyle at a societal level that are preventive in nature
I recently read Amitav Ghosh’s book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, where he says that contemporary literature has simply failed to acknowledge the new reality of climate change outside of the realms of fantasy and science fiction. There are few books in which climate change and its impact are simply embedded in the narrative as part of the twenty first century world we live in.
The more I thought about it, I realised that there seemed, at least superficially, to be a parallel with the health crisis. A variety of health-related messages abound in our lives — warnings, articles, advertisements. And we are aware of the changes that have occurred in our own lifetimes. More of our friends and family, including young people, now have cancer compared to when we grew up. Just two decades ago, we reacted with shock and horror when someone was diagnosed with cancer. Today we take a deep breath and say we hope it was diagnosed at an early stage. If it was, we nod and say, that’s tough but he or she should be fine. Indeed, many of them get treated and survive (sometimes without too much trauma). Others, sadly, don’t. But this simply doesn’t make the casual appearance in novels that we would expect based on their real-world occurrence. However, I would argue that the parallels go beyond the fact that our imagination has failed to cope with the not-so-brave new world.
Ecology and health
The most straightforward nexus is that environmental problems cause health problems. Air pollution has caused a range of respiratory problems, and has been implicated both directly and indirectly in rates of increase in cancer. Water scarcity, water-borne diseases and pollution lead to considerable loss of lives, but also high health-care costs and loss of work days and school hours for children. Climate change itself has led to changes in distribution of both pathogens and their vectors, leading to epidemics and spread of a variety of infections.
This much is obvious. But there are more insidious similarities. The most fundamental of these is the belief — both individually and collectively — that the current models of development and lifestyle cannot be compromised or changed. In fact, as Ghosh argues, our very notion of freedom (and therefore happiness) is tied up irrevocably with it. The idea that substantial changes in lifestyle can reduce environmental or health problems exists but appears almost impossible to adopt. This is particularly peculiar in the case of the latter. With environmental problems, individual efforts can be perceived as having a negligible effect and therefore lead to inertia. With health, on the other hand, individual choices can make the difference between life and death, literally. And yet, barring a few, there seems to be the same collective lethargy towards making those choices.
This resistance to change leads to an interesting conundrum — we are likely to spend far more money on cure than on prevention. This is more obvious in the medical world. Millions of dollars are spent on cancer, but little on changed lifestyles that would prevent it. Even in less crisis-ridden fields such as dental care, the onus is entirely on post-hoc filling than on preventing. Given that this makes little sense even economically, why then does this persist across the globe?
The answer to this lies lies perhaps in the nature of modern neo-liberal economics, which is held captive by the state-industry-science nexus that is responsible for creating a world where technological solutions are given primacy. This drives both industrial and economic growth (both are normative within this paradigm) which keeps governments in power. So, there is nothing to be gained in people not falling sick or the Earth being ill.
The Cuba model
One of the few counter examples to this global paradigm comes from Cuba, a country much reviled across its Bay. But Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., and its life expectancy is nearly as high. Moreover, Cuba spends 4 per cent per capita of what the U.S. does on healthcare. While some of this difference may come from low wages, it is still a significant difference. While there are numerous factors that drive Cuba’s success, two stand out. First, there is a great emphasis on preventive medicine — as its model shows, this is both more effective and cheaper. Second, there is an interlinked emphasis on social rather than technological solutions. Much has been written about how doctors and nurses are embedded within communities, thus understanding their patients and improving their ability to treat. This is a model not just for poor countries but for the world. Yet only a few Latin American countries have started to adopt it.
What is the lesson for the environmental movement which has to deal with the cancer of climate change, apart from a host of equally debilitating environmental ills? The first is that supply-side economics is not the solution. There have to be changes in lifestyle at a societal level that are preventive in nature. While it has been widely argued that one cannot expect a return to a Gandhian lifestyle, my argument here is more about collectivising the focus on prevention. Simultaneously, one has to recognise that social solutions are as important as technological ones. Certainly, the right buttons must be pressed and the right switches flipped, but in society, not on a machine.
Finally, and most importantly, none of this is possible unless we understand the politics of change. One can ask, how did Cuba successfully achieve as good a health-care system as the richest, most technologically advanced country in the world? Certainly, one is not advocating ‘communism’ — democracy remains paramount. However, as long as the current forms of democracy also allow complete ‘freedom’ to the modern state-industry capitalist enterprise, no meaningful change is possible.
The parallels between human health and environmental health are not absolute. Nevertheless, they do provide insights that I believe could help in addressing both challenges and provide new paths (rather than pills) to a healthier future.
Kartik Shanker is Director of the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, and Founder Trustee, Dakshin Foundation. The views expressed here are personal.
As long as democracy today allows complete freedom to the modern state-industry capitalist enterprise, there can be no meaningful change

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
15-August-2016 15:57 IST
Draft text of the english rendering of PM Shri Narendra Modi’s address to the Nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 70th Independence Day

My beloved countrymen, on this auspicious occasion of our festival of freedom; I extend lots of greetings to the one hundred and twenty five crores fellow nationals and also to entire Indian diaspora spread all over the world, from this rampart of the Red Fort. This festival of our freedom, this 70 years of our Independence, is the festival for our resolution to take the nation to new heights with a new resolve and a new fervour and new energy. We are able to breathe in a free air as the result of the sacrifices, renunciation and penance of our millions of great forefathers. We are also reminded of the youths who kissed the gallows. We also remember Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Pandit Nehru and countless great persons, who fought ceaselessly for the freedom of our nation. It is the result of their struggles that we are now fortunate enough to breathe as a free citizen. India is a very ancient nation. We have a history of thousands of years and our cultural heritage is also millennia old. Right from the Vedas to Vivekananda, from the Upanishads to the satellites, the Sudarshan Chakradhari Mohan to Charkhadhari Mohan, from the Bhim of Mahabharat to the Bhimrao; we have a long historical journey and heritage. Our land has seen many historical ups and downs and our generations have waged many struggles and observed penance to bequeath great values to the humanity. India's age is not just seventy years. But having won freedom after a period of subjugation; we have made efforts to take the nation forward in this journey of seventy years. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel united the nation. Now, it is the responsibility of all of us to make this nation better. We all have to work ceaselessly for the realization of the dream of ' One India, great India'. (Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat).

Brothers and Sisters, We have not attained freedom for free of cost. Innumerable were the atrocities, but undeterred were our resolves also. Every Indian was a soldier in the battle for freedom. Each one of them dreamt of an independent India. May be every one of them was not fortunate enough to sacrifice, may be each of them was not fortunate enough to go to prison; but every Indian had a resolve and the leadership of Mahatma ji and also the inspiration of countless revolutionaries who had sacrificed every thing. All these movements contributed to our attainment of Independence. But, now we have to convert this freedom into 'the real freedom'. Now, this is the resolve of the one hundred and twenty five crores of Indians. So, just as we did not attain our freedom without sacrifices; we would not be able to attain ' the real freedom' without renunciation, without human endeavour (Purusharth), without bravery, without dedication and discipline. So, in order to take ahead this resolution of one hundred and twenty five crore Indians; all of us will have to move ahead with our specific responsibilities in a most committed manner. Be it a Panchayat or the Parliament, be it a village headman or the Prime minister; every one of us as well as every democratic institution will have to shoulder their responsibilities completely and perfectly. Only then we will be able to realize the dream of our the real freedom as soon as possible.This is correct to say that our nation is beset with many problems now- a- days. But, we should never forget that if we have the problems, then we also have all the capacities to solve them. So, if we move ahead with all our capabilities, we will find the ways and mean to solve all these problems. So, brothers and Sisters, if we have lakhs of problems, then we also have one hundred and twenty five crore brains also which are all capable to solve these problems.

Dear Brothers & Sisters, there was a time when Government used to be surrounded by aspersions. But now time has changed. At present, no aspersions are being leveled on the Government. Rather, people have great expectations from it. When the Government is engulfed in expectations then it signifies hope and trust, which in turn generates those expectations. Expectations give pace towards good governance, invigorates and so the pledges are implemented ad continuum. My Brothers & Sisters, today when I am addressing you from the rampart of the Red Fort, it is, therefore, but natural that we should discuss the journey of good governance, the work done by the Government and work being done and should be done for the country. I can present before you a very detailed account of work done and also multiple issues regarding the performance of the Government. During the tenure of two years, the Government has taken innumerable initiatives and multiple tasks have been done. If I start giving details about them, I am afraid I will have to talk about it for a week from this very rampart of the Red Fort. So instead of that temptation, I would like to draw your attention towards the work culture of the Government. Sometimes, it is easier to present the account of work done. But, it is not easy for a common man to comprehend, understand and identify the work culture without dwelling deep into the work culture. My Brothers & Sisters, My Countrymen, I would not talk solely about the policy, but also the intention and decisions of the Government.

Dear Brothers & Sisters, it is just not an issue of direction and outline, rather it is about holistic approach and a resolve for transformation. It is confluence of trinity of expectation of people, democracy and support of people. It is both wisdom and consent. It is also pace and realisation of progress. Therefore, My Countrymen, when I talk about the Good Governance, it does implies bringing in transformation in the life of common man of my country. Good governance means that the government should be sensitive, responsive and dedicated to the common man. Then only good governance gets the emphasis. Responsibility and accountability should be at the root of it and it should draw its vital energy from there only for the government to be sensitive, dear Brothers and Sisters. We remember the days when there used to be a very long wait to go to any big hospital. People used to come to AIIMS, spend two three days and then only it would be decided what diagnostic tests were to be done. Now we have been able to change this system. Registration is done online and the doctor’s appointment is also given online. The processes start on arrival of the patient at the appointed hour itself. Not only this but all his medical records are also available online. And we wish to develop it as a countywide culture in the field of medical treatment. Today this system has been put in place in 40 big hospitals of the country. Its basic premise is that the government has to be sensitive.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the government should be accountable. If it be not so then the problems of the common man are kept pending for solutions. How does the change come? Now technology is there, but there was a time when the railway ticket in the railways, concerning the common man and the poor was available only two thousand tickets per minute. Those who might have seen it, would know how the buffering used to be there, nobody knew when the website would be operational again, but today I have to say with satisfaction that now it is possible to have fifteen thousand tickets per minute.The government should be accountable, it should take steps according to the necessities and expectations of the people. There is a class across the country, particularly the middle class, higher middle class whom you see troubled more at the hands of the income tax officials rather than the police at times. I have to change the situation and I am trying and I will certainly change it.

There was a time when a common and honest citizen used to give two rupees extra as a measure of caution at the time of paying his income tax. He used to think that he might not be harassed, but once the money was deposited to the government exchequer, he had to run from pillar to post and seek recommendations for getting the refund. It took months together before the rightful money of the citizen was returned to him from the government exchequer. Today, we have made a system of issuing online refund. Today, refunds are given in one, two say or three weeks. Those who are hearing me today on TV, they would also be realising that they had not given any application, yet they had got refund directly into their account. So, this responsibility and accountability are the results of these efforts.

It is equally important to lay emphasis on the transparency for good governance. You know that a global relationship has already started to become a common thing in the society today. A middle class man wants to have his passport- there was a time when about 40 lakh, 50lakh applications were received for getting passport. Today, approximately 2 crore people apply for the passport. Brothers and Sisters, earlier 4-6 months were taken for scrutiny of applications if one did not have recommendations. We changed that situation and today, I can say with pride that passports are issued to the citizens with all genuine details, in about one or two weeks and there is transparency no recommendation is required and there is no dilly-dallying. Today, I can say, we have issued 1.75 crores passports (in 2015-16 itself.)

In Surajya there must be efficiency in governance and therefore, earlier, if a company had to set up a factory or desiring to do business in our country, applications were submitted. There was a task of registration only, one wanted to do something for the country, but almost 6 months passed in normal course. Brothers and Sisters, if efficiency is brought, then the same government, same rules, same officials have got geared up to perform the same task of company registration within 24 hours and they are virtually doing it. In the last July itself, they performed the task of more than 900 such registrations.

Brothers and Sisters, good governance is also necessary for Surajya and the steps we have taken towards this good governance are that, as I had said last year from the Red Fort that we would exempt group 'C' and group 'D' posts from interviews, they might get job on the basis of merit. We have detected almost 9,000 posts for which thousands and lakhs of people need to be recruited. Now, there would not be any interview process for these 9,000 posts, my young men would not need to spend any money for interviews. Recommendations would not be needed, roads for corruption and agents will be shut and this work has been implemented.

Brothers and Sisters, there was a time when a common man got satisfied if the government announced any plan or merely announced that this would be done, he used to think that something concrete would happen now. Then, a time came when people asked for the plan unless the drawing of the plan came. Then, there was a time when people asked for the budget. Today, the mood of the country has changed in 70 years. It does not get satisfied with the announcement, it is not satisfied by seeing the plan, if a budget provision is made, it is not ready to accept this. It is accepted when things get implemented on ground and we cannot bring things on ground with the old pace. We have to speed up our work, increase the pace further and then we can say that we have done something.

Rural roads are a perpetual issue in our country. Each rural citizen craves for pakka roads. Its a huge task. Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ji took this task specifically. Even succeding governments continued this and the work continued. We have made efforts to fast track it. Earlier 70-75 Km of rural roads were completed in a day. Now we have increased that pace up to 100KM a day. This pace will fulfil the aspirations of common man in the days to come.

We have aid emphasis on energy, specifically renewable energy in our country. That was a time, when after so many years of independence, we started working on wind energy. Within a period of last one year we have increased it up to 40%. So this is the scale of up acceleration. Whole world is focussing on Solar energy. We have increased it approximately 116%-118%. This is not only a substantial incremental change, it’s a huge leap forward. We intend to enhance the things in quantum way.

In our country, even before forming of our government, we had the power production. But to reach the power, you need transmission lines and the good transmission infrastructure. Two years preceding the formation of our government, 30-35 thousand kilometres of transmission lines were being laid annually. Today I wish to submit this with satisfaction that we have raised this to 50,000 Kilometres. So we have increased the pace here. If we take the commissioning of railway lines in previous 10 years, where commissioning means capacity to ply the trains and to finish all the trials, so earlier it was at the rate of 1500 kilometre in 10 years . But we have made it up to 3500 kilometre in last 2 years. We are to increase this pace even further.

Brothers and Sisters, Now we are connecting government schemes to AAadhaar Card, focussing on stopping the leakages through direct benefit transfer. Previous government had connected four crore people to government schemes via Aadhaar Card. Today I can say this with satisfaction that in place of that work of four crore, we have completed the task of connecting 70 crore people to government schemes via Aadhaar card. The remaining will also be taken into the fold.

Today, for middle class or for common people the ownership of a car is a matter of pride. There was a time when gas stove at home was deemed as a standard and as a symbol of social status. During the last 60 years of independence, 14 crore LPG gas connections were given. Brothers and Sisters, it is a great satisfaction to me that on one side, 14 crore gas connections were given in 60 years, while on the other side, we have given 4 crore gas connections in just 60 weeks. Please compare the two figures - 14 crore in 60 years and 4 crore in 60 weeks. This is the speed, by which a change has become possible in the quality of life of common men. We have also started the task of eradicating obsolete laws. The burden of unnecessary laws has been creating hindrance in the functioning of the government, the judiciary and the public. We have identified 1700 such laws, out of which 1175 laws have already been repealed by the Parliament and several other such laws are in the process of repealing.

Brothers and Sisters, it had become a tendency among the people to say that certain work can be done and certain other work cannot be done, certain work cannot be done now and certain work cannot be done ever. A kind of negativity was prevalent in the minds of people. Now, a clear break through is visible in the mindset, a new synergy is seen in the functioning of the government. When an accomplishment is achieved, it stimulates dynamism, which sharpens our determination and then, the end result is not far away.

Brothers and Sisters, when we had launched "Prime Minister Jan-Dhan Yojana", it was almost an impossible task. There were banks and the governments, nationalisation had already taken place, but the common man of the country was not able to be a part of the mainstream of national economy.

Brothers and Sisters, we have attained this impossible task through inclusion of 21 crore persons under "Jan-Dhan Yojana". This is not a matter of taking credit by the Government, it is really an achievement of 125 crore countrymen of the country, for which I salute them. The campaign for women pride in villages of the country is an important issue of today. The practice of open defecation should be stopped; toilets should be built in villages. When I had got the first opportunity to address from the ramparts of the Red Fort, I had expressed my feelings about it. Now, I can claim that more than 2 crore toilets have already been built in villages of the country within such a short period. More than 70 thousand villages are now free from the practice of open defecation. We are working towards bringing change in the lives of common man.

I had earlier announced from the ramparts of the Red Fort that we would electrify those 18 thousand villages, which are still without electricity.We are going to complete 70 years of independence, but they had not seen electricity. They were forced to live in the 18th century. We undertook this task of making possible the impossible and today I am glad to say that, though we have not been able to complete even half the task within a thousand days, we are still away from the half-mark, out of the 18 thousand, electricity has reached ten thousand villages. I have been told that there are many among those villages who are watching Independence Day celebrations for the first time today on television in their homes. Today, from here I extend special greetings to those villages.

Brothers and Sisters, you will be surprised to know that at merely three hours journey from Delhi, there is a village called Nagla Fatela in Hathras region. It takes only three hours to reach this Nagla Fatela. But it took 70 years for electricity to reach there. 70 years, my brothers and Sisters! And therefore, I am introducing you to the work culture that we are following.

Brothers and Sisters, the LED bulbs were developed by the science and the researchers for welfare of every citizen. But in India it used to cost 350 Rupees. Who would buy it? And even the government would think, “It’s alright. The work is done. Someone must be using it.” But this should not be the attitude. If LED bulbs can bring about a change in the life of a common man, if it can ameliorate the environment, if it can improve India’s economy, then the government must make efforts in this direction. It is the nature of the government that it intervenes where it is not required and shies away from intervening where it is needed. We tried to change this situation, this work culture. And therefore, the bulb which used to be sold at 350 Rupees, it is now being sold at 50 Rupees because of governmental intervention. See the difference! 350 Rupees on one hand and 50 Rupees on the other. I do not want to ask where all this money used to go, however, thirteen crore bulbs have been distributed till date.

The politics of our country has become populist; the economic policies have become populist. If three hundred Rupees subsidy for each bulb had been given from public exchequer, the Prime Minister would have been applauded for doling out five hundred crore to the people. But we have ensured that they save thousands of crores by providing bulbs at only fifty Rupees. We have already distributed thirteen crore bulbs and we have resolved to distribute 77 crores and I would like to appeal to my countrymen to use LED bulbs in their homes and save 200, 300, 500 Rupees in a year and save energy and save our environment. The day we achieve the target of 77 crore bulbs, we would be saving 20 thousand Mega Watt of electricity. When we save 20000 Megawatt electricity, it means we save around 125000 crores rupees. Brothers and Sisters, you can save 125000 crore rupees of the country by using a LED bulb at your home. We can fight against global warming by saving 20000 Megawatt electricity and contribute a lot towards the efforts aimed at the protection of environment and a common man can also contribute to it. So, brothers and Sisters, we have worked in that direction-making the impossible possible.

You know that we depend on other countries of the world for energy and petroleum products and for that we have signed long term agreements with them so that we could get these products at fixed prices for a long period. We have entered into an agreement with Qatar for buying gas till 2024 but the prices are so high that it is costly for our economy. It was a result of our foreign policy relationship that we were able to renegotiate with Qatar, and the agreement which was the right of Qatar, and we were bound to buy gas from it till 2024, we negotiated with them and today, I can say with satisfaction that we made an impossible task possible, they renegotiated their prices and it will save 2000 crore rupees of the exchequer of India. They were entitled to get these 20000 crore rupees but the nature of relationship that we have with them and our policies have made it possible. The negotiations have been going on during the tenure of all the Governments and efforts were also made for Chabahar Port, which is an important link for connecting us with Central Asia, but today I feel satisfied to see an impossible task becoming possible. When Iran, Afghanistan and India collectively march ahead in a planned way for the construction of Chabahar Port, an impossible task becomes possible.

My brothers and Sisters, one thing, I want to talk about and which concerns the common man is inflation. It is true that the inflation rate had crossed 10% mark during the tenure of previous government. Due to our sustained efforts we were able to keep it below 6 percent. Not only this, we have, recently, made an agreement with the Reserve Bank of India that the RBI should take steps to control the inflation at the level of 4 percent with allowance of plus minus 2. We should leave behind the talks of balance between inflation and growth and work for moving ahead. But the country witnessed drought during last two years and the effect of drought are readily seen on the prices of vegetables and the outcomes of sluggishness of market have resulted in some problems. The decline in the production of pulses due to drought during last two years was also a cause of concern. But, Brothers and Sisters, if the inflation would have increased at the same pace as it had previously increased, I don’t know how the poor of my country would have survived? We have tried our best to keep it under check, but still people have lot of expectations from this government and dear countrymen your expectations are natural and I will not leave no stone unturned in achieving them. Whatever best I can do, I shall do that and keep the price of poor man’s meal under check.

My dear Brothers and Sisters, country is going to celebrate the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singhji. How can the country forget the saga of sacrifice which has been the tradition of Sikh Gurus? Today, when we are celebrating the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singhji, I recall one best thought expressed by Guruji. Guru Gobind Singhji use to say, how can I consider those hands pure which have not done any service, hands which have not strengthened by labour and have not developed any blisters by toiling hard? Guru Gobind Singhji use to say this. Today, when we are celebrating the 350th anniversary of Guru Gobind Singhji I remember our farmers. Whose hands are more pure than theirs? Whose hearts are more pious than their? Whose intentions can be more pure than theirs? I thanks our farmers that despite two years of drought, they consistently endeavored to fill our granaries, I greet them for this. Drought situation has changed and this time we are witnessing good monsoon. Heavy rains have also created problems at some places. Government of India stood with those states and citizen who suffered due to heavy rains. Today, I specially want to thank our farmers, because, when we are facing shortage of pulses and our farmers have shifted to other crops, and rise in demand of pulses by common man, I have to say this with content that this time our farmers have increased the sowing by one and half times. I want to thank our farmers because they have come forward to solve the problem of the crisis of pulses and find its solution. We have decided the MSP for pulses and declared a bonus on it. We have streamlined the process of purchase of pulses and promoting the farmers for cultivation of pulses. This will benefit us in a big way.

Brothers and Sisters, when I was talking about work culture, one thing was clear that I do not look at the issues in isolation but as a whole. Let us see it as integrated and just take agriculture under integrated things, we have developed such work culture with lot of hard work, the complete chain of which can produce a great result. First of all we focussed upon- the wellness of this soil, wellness of this land, soil health card, macro-nutrition, concern for micro-nutrition and made the farmers understand that this is lacuna in your soil, these are the good qualities, your soil is good for this crop, this is not suitable for this crop and gradually the farmers started their planning according to this soil health card. The people, who have planned, tell me, sir our expenditure has been reduced up to 25 percent and 30 percent increase is being visible our production. This number is less at present, but in future as soon as this may pass on, this concept will gain momentum. The farmers have land and if they get water, then the farmer of my country has the power to produce gold out of the soil. The farmer of my country has this power and that is why we have emphasized upon water-management, emphasized upon water-irrigation, emphasized upon water-conservation. We are emphasizing upon how every drop of water may be utilised by the farmer, how to increase the importance of water, and get per drop more crop, micro irrigation. More than 90 percent irrigation projects were lying incomplete and stalled. We have taken up the responsibility to complete those projects first of all and will work in the direction that lakh of hectares of land may get the benefit of irrigation. We have taken a big leap towards solar pump so that the input cost of the farmers may be lessened because nowadays the farmers require electricity also, they require water, they need electricity, and electricity costs dearer. On account of it, the input cost of the farmer is going to be less, the recurring expenditure is going to be less and due to owning solar pump at home will result in owning electricity, owning the sun, owning the field, owing the barn and thus our farmer would be happy. We have succeeded in distributing 77 thousands solar pumps till now.

Brothers and Sisters, I would like to congratulate the scientists of our country. Good quality seeds are also required along with soil, water and solar pumps. The scientists of our country have developed more than 131 new farmable seeds compatible to the climate and nature of India, which have the capacity to enhance our per hectare production. The values they retain are also being increased. I heartly congratulate these scientists also. The farmers require urea as well as fertilisers. There was time when black marketing was in practice to get the fertilisers, there was time when the police had to lathi-charge for fertilisers. There was time when the farmer used to watch his crop being damaged in the absence of fertilisers before his very eyes. Brothers and Sisters, the lack of fertilisers has become a matter of past, it has become history now. Today, we have succeeded in utmost production of fertiliser by overcoming the shortage of the fertiliser.

Brothers and Sisters, because of this production, the fertilizers are now available to the farmers in time as per their needs. Similarly, We conceptualized “Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana”. It’s insurance cover includes maximum protection to farmer’s land and his agro-produce at a comparatively much lower premium, and that too with a guaranteed cover. We have constructed new warehouses to preserve 15 lakhs tons of food grains. Our country’s farmers will benefit only when we move towards value addition, and for this We have laid special emphasis on food processing for the first time. We have encouraged cent percent Foreign Direct Investment which would augment agro-based industries, and Consequentially, my brothers and Sisters, I believe it would help me and our farmers realize our dream of doubling latter’s income by 2022. These efforts would make it possible and for realizing the same, We have taken steps one after another.

Brothers and Sisters, Our country has a fancy for a trend. And the Governments, with an aim to leave an impression, have done a lot, and to fill the bill in this country, People go for some populist things and empty the exchequer. Governments have a trend of establishing an identity. Brothers and Sisters, I have tried my best to stay away from this allurement, and While doing so, I have tried to do several things in every range with the mantra of Total transformation, Transformation with transparency, Reform, Perform and Transform.

Brothers and Sisters, We are far more committed to build the image of Hindustan than that of our Government. Regardless of party’s identity, the Country’s identity holds primacy. For, If the Country moves on, it will yield dividends for the coming generations, for centuries, and exactly, for this reason, We have accorded primacy to the country’s identity and not to our party. Now a days, You must have observed the scope of our work in Railways. While we are talking about having Bio-toilets in train, we also cherish the dream of Bullet train. While We talk about “Soil Health Card” for farmers, we also want to march ahead in the direction of satellite and space technology. While talking about “Stand-Up India”, we are also taking steps towards “Start-Up India”. We are laying emphasis on Substance than on Symbolism. We are stressing on integrated development than on isolated development. Leaving aside entitlement, we are focused and emphatic on Empowerment because an empowering country, my brothers and Sisters, provides an identity to the Government through the prism of the newly declared schemes. But sometimes the old schemes just tumble down. Nevertheless, the Govts. is a continuity. If the earlier Govts. have done some work; then it is in the national interest that the next Government rectifies their shortcomings and gives a go ahead to these schemes. The arrogance that this was the work of your Government and this is my Govt; hence we would not do this work; is not in the fitness of the things in a democracy. This is why, with all humility, we have given similar importance to the schemes of the previous governments. This is the hallmark of our work culture as our nation is a continuous and a ceaseless system and we wish to retain that system. This is why, I have a project called PRAGATI. Under this project, every month, I myself sit and review all the on going projects. You would be amazed to know that almost 119 projects worth Rs. seven and a half lakh crores started by various previous Govts. were lying pending. I got all of them going. I said, so much of money have been spent on them, so, all these projects should be completed. Now they are all on the way to completion. We created a project monitoring group. I asked them to look into all such projects and find out as to when were they started. I came to know that some of them were started 20 years ago, the other were started somewhere between twenty five to thirty to fifteen years earlier. The people living in the areas of these projects know all. We identified such two hundred and seventy projects worth Rs. 10 Lakhs crores which were inaugurated by some earlier govts. and some crores of rupees were spent on all of them; but all that money was going down the drain. We started all such stuck up projects once again. Brothers and Sisters, such helding up and delaying of the schemes after having spent crores of rupees on them is a criminal negligence and we have tried to tide over such things.

Brothers and Sisters, earlier railway projects took at least two years in getting sanctions. A train is passing from somewhere, road have also been made on the both side; a rail over bridge is to be constructed. But the approval took two years. We have speeded up the approval process and have been able to shorten the approval time to three or four months, or maximum to six months.

Brothers and Sisters, however fast we may work, whatsoever may be the number of the schemes started by us; the touchstone of good administration of any Government lies in the last man delivery or the benefits accrued to that person. So, this has to be taken care off. Brothers and Sisters, when policies are clear, intentions are clear; then the sentiments behind the decisions are also a class apart and the decisions can be taken unhesitantly. So, due to the correct policies and the correct intentions our Government is taking unhesitant decisions and giving emphasis on the last man delivery.

We have seen and if you also go through the newspapers of Uttar Pradesh, every year there were stories about the outstanding balance of Sugar Cane farmers. Every year, there was news that this is not being done by the sugar mill owners, that was not being done by the state Govt, that sugar cane farmers are in distress. Thousands of crores of the rupees was outstanding. So, we made schemes in this regard and tired to ensure the last man delivery and also ensured that the amount should reach to the farmers. Brothers and Sisters, out of the total old outstanding balance of the thousands of crores of rupees, I would like to inform you with a lot of satisfaction that almost 99.5% has been settled. It has happened for the first time after many years. I can point out in solace that all the sugarcane which was procured and which came for marketing this time for that almost 95 per cent of farmers have got the price of sugarcane produced and I am sure and I believe that the remaining 5 percent of farmers will also be paid in the coming days.

Brothers & Sisters, We have initiated a mission to provide LPG Connections to the poor families. We have launched a dynamic mission under "Ujawala" scheme to get rid of smokes emanating from chulha for my poor mothers. A target has been laid down to provide gas connections to 5 crores poor families within 3 years. Efforts are in progress and we have already provided gas connections to around 50 lakhs and that also have been done merely within the last hundred days - you can imagine - that it may be possible to achieve the said target even before three years. We intend to emphasis upon Last Mile Delivery in this mission.

Post has steadily become irrelevant due to onlining of our Post Offices, Information Technology, Whatsapp, messages, e-mail. Our country is known as the chains of Post Offices and we have revamped these post offices. Post Offices are linked with poor and marginalised people. Postman is the only representative of the Government who is linked with the feelings and affections of the common man. We have never safeguarded the interests of the Post Man who has always got the affections of everyone and the postman always cares for common people. We have taken measures to convert our post office into a Payment Bank. By setting of these Payment Banks, a network of Banks will be set up across the villages in the country. People will get the benefits of Jan-Dhan account. The funds of MGNREGA for the common man is now being transferred into their respective accounts through 'AADHAAR', the cases of corruption are decreasing. Everyone will be benefitted through the mission of converting the Post Office into a Payment Bank.

Brothers & Sisters, PSUs in our country are merely set up for loss-making units or for turning into sick units slowly and steadily or for disinvestment. This has been the common practice in the past. We have strived to launch a new work-culture. Today, I can point out in satisfaction that we have succeeded to turn the operation of so called notorious Air India into an operational profit-making undertaking during the last year. It is a fact that which all the Telcom companies of the world are profit-making units, the BSNL was turning into a heavy loss-making undertaking. We have succeeded in bringing BSNL to operational profit for the first time. Nobody believed that the Shipping Corporation of India could also rake in profit, now it is bringing profit. There was a time when it was apprehended that how would a power factory last for a week. Whether we would be able to get coal for them or not. It also used to be reported that power factories have been shut down for want of coal. Now, we have sufficient stock of coal at the threshold of the power factories. It could be used for months by them. Dear Brothers & Sisters, we have achieved it.

Often, you must have seen that there is huge talk of corruption in our country. I have observed it myself that how corruption has looked the poor people from the lowest strata of the society and how huge amount of money is being wasted. We have linked AADHAAR Card and AADHAAR Number with the Government Policies. Dear Brothers & Sisters, earlier there was a system under which funds used to be released from public exchequer for widow pension, scholarship, persons with disabilities and minorities and also we used to receive list of beneficiaries. We looked into it deeply and found that even unborn children are also listed in it and getting benefit out of such schemes. These middlemen used to siphon off billions of rupees from it and nobody even took notice of it. But under the AADHAAR System, we have removed all these middlemen from the list of beneficiaries and directly transferred the amount to the beneficiaries and found that these are millions of such ghost beneficiaries who do not exist at all and used to receive billions of rupees from it. Now that has been checked. We saved lot of amount. We decided to find out the needy persons who were excluded from that list so that the amount of money saved from it should invariably be deposited into the accounts of those persons who want to fight for their rights. We have worked in that direction to deliver it to the last man delivery and we have made it to reach it to them.

All of us are aware of the Coal Scam. Today there is no accusation on the coal auction. No stigma is attached to it. The states which excavate coal in India, will continuously earn millions of rupees in the near future. There was a time when the auction of spectrum was surrounded by allegations. We auctioned it online and that has filled the coffers of the country, bringing about healthy competition and also fetching benefits for the nation.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, today the world is passing through an era of global economy. Every country today is inter-connected and inter-dependent. Economically, the whole world is somehow inter-connected in one way or other. However much we may progress in our country, we’ll have to keep the global economy, global arena in view; come up to the global standards, match it also to stay relevant, and contribute, and also lead the global economy when the time comes. Therefore, we’ll have to be alert all the time. We’ll have to comply with the global standards to make ourselves up to date. Recently, you must have seen how the World Bank, I.M.F., World Economic Forum, credit rating agencies and such other agencies in the world have all appreciated the progress of India. The world is constantly watching these things due to the decisions taken one after another by India in respect of legal reforms, improvement in system and changes in approach. We have very speedily improved our ranking in `ease of doing business’ ratings. In terms of foreign investment, with regard to foreign direct investment our country happens to be the most favourite destination in the world today. We have left behind even the big economies of the world in matters of growth rate and GDP.

Dear brothers and Sisters, do you know what an U.N. institute has estimated about India for the next two years ? They have estimated that in two years India will come up to the third spot in the economic sphere in place of its present level at number ten. Brothers and Sisters, logistic support, infrastructure, all these things are taken into account in global standards, comparisons are made with rich countries of the world. Brothers and Sisters, while making analysis regarding this logistic support and infrastructure of India, the World Economic Forum has said that India has reached above 19 ranks as compared to earlier positions and India is moving up and marching ahead rapidly. Brothers and Sisters, the way we are marching ahead with a dynamic and predictable economy in our country and also in global reference- the recently passed GST law, is also an empowering step towards it and all those parties deserve appreciations for this.

Brothers and Sisters, I had talked about a campaign from the same place- "Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao". We do not do any work in piecemeal. We have an integrated approach and I still need the cooperation of the society in the initiatives which we have taken in "Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao". Every single parent need to be aware. We should honour the daughters, protect them and give them the benefit of government's schemes. We have covered millions of families under "Sukanya Samridhi Yojna" which guarantees benefits for the daughters when she grows up. We have given greatest importance to the insurance schemes in which women are benefitted. They are going to reap its benefits. We have "Indradhanush Tikakaran Yojna"- because if we ensure two things for our mothers and sisters i.e. economic empowerment and empowerment against health problems and we educate them, you can take it as an assurance that if even a single woman is educated in the family, if she is strong physically and independent economically, she has power to pull the poorest of the poor family out of poverty and therefore we are working with emphasis on empowerment of women, health of women, economic prosperity of women, physical empowerment of women in our fight against poverty.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, "Mudra Yojna"- I am happy that more than three and half crore families reaped the benefits of MudraYojna. In it, most of the people who reached to the door of banks were first timers. Even out of these almost 80 percent people were from SC/ST/OBC. Out of these too, 80 percent are women who took loans from banks, Mudra bank. This is to be considered that how will these womenfolk will contribute in economic development. Brothers and Sisters! last week we decided that our mothers and Sisters who have become the participants in the growth story, need leave after child birth. Earlier that leave was shorter but now we have increased this to 26 weeks, enabling the new mother to take care of her infant. Our weavers and the people working in textile, who make yarn and yarn rolls, used to get Rs.100.We have increased that to Rs.190 so as to strengthen the hands of my yarn producing mothers and Sisters. Our mothers, Sisters and weavers who are engaged in silk production will now receive Rs.50 more per meter of production. This has also been decided that this Rs.50 per meter will not go either to the trader or to the middleman or to the dealer. Instead this Rs.50 per meter will go via Aadhaar directly to the account of the weaver who has produced it. This will empower the weavers. We have started schemes with this intention and effect is now visible.

My dear countrymen! When we visualize railway and post office then we are able to see the unity of India. More we increase the institutions connecting India, our setup will change and that will enforce the unity of the country. So in the same tune we have started a new market scheme for farmers with the name ‘E-NAM”. Today farmers can sell their produce online in any of the markets of the country. Now he is not constrained to compulsively sell his produce in the market which is 10 Kilometers from his field .Neither to sell at low prices which is not remunerative for his hard work. Now a uniform sort of market network is establishing throughout the country with ‘E-NAM’. GST is soon to result in uniform taxation system and a unitary arrangement thus achieved will unite India as well. You will be amazed to know that earlier a zone was to have surplus energy and there were no takers. Another zone used to be in dire need of electricity, had to remain in dark and factories used to be shut. To effect a change in this scenario, we earned a great success with the ‘One nation, One grid, One price’. Earlier it used to be Rs.10 per unit in summers but I went to Telangana few days back to find it to be one rupee ten paise per unit instead of that age old Rs. 10. This is the result of one-price system, which can connect the whole country.

A worker of our county has to change his place of work after every one or two years. But, his amount, deducted under EPF, is not transferred. You will be surprised to know that when I took the charge of the Government, Rs. 27,000 crore were lying under EPF, which belonged to the workers. Workers were not able to claim their amount, as they were ignorant of the relevant process. To solve this problem, we have issued a universal account number to each worker, which would enable easy transfer of fund to his new place of work. Now, the worker would get his amount after retirement and it would no more be lying dormant in a government treasury.

We have strengthened various initiatives such as Bharat-Mala, Setu-Bharatam, and Bharat-Net etc. We are working towards connecting the whole country and towards economic development of the country through all these initiatives.

Brothers and Sisters, this year is important due to various reasons. The country is celebrating 1000th birth anniversary of Saint Sri Ramanuja Acharyaji. The country is celebrating 150th birth anniversary of Shrimad Rajchandra Ji, the Guru of Mahatma Gandhi. The country is celebrating 350th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh ji. The country is also celebrating centenary birth celebrations of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya ji. While remembering Sri Ramanuja Acharya ji today, I wish to underline his message to the country. He used to say that we should serve all the devotees of the Lord, irrespective of their caste and class. He had said that we should never humiliate anyone and should give respect to all, without any discrimination on the basis of age and caste. The issue that was given importance by Gandhi, Ambedkar, Ramanujacharya, Lord Buddha, our scriptures and by our all spiritual gurus too is the issue of 'our social unity'.

If the society disintegrates, the empire straggles, gets divided into the highs and the lows, the touchables and the untouchables, then brothers and Sisters, that society cannot sustain. There are social evils, centuries old social evils, but if the social evils have become chronic, they need a bit harsh and yet sensitive treatment. The lackadaisical attitude will not solve the social problems and this is the responsibility of 125 crore citizens. The government and the society together will have to steer through the social conflicts. Brothers and Sisters, all of us will have to fight against the social evils. We all will have to rise above social evils in our own behavior. Each and every citizen will have to rise above them and then only we can build a strong India. Without empowering our society, we cannot make India strong. Mere economic progress does not guarantee a strong India, the guarantee of a strong India lies in a strong society. And a strong society is built at the edifice of social justice. A strong society is built only on the edifice of social justice. Therefore, it is our duty to lay emphasis on social justice. Whether they be Dalits, the downtrodden, the exploited, the deprived, my Adivasi brothers, the rural population, the urban population, the literate or the illiterate, the small or the big- the 125 crore of our fellow countrymen constitute our family. We together have to take forward our country and we all have to work in the same direction.

Brothers and Sisters, today the entire world acknowledges the fact that India is a country of youths. What cannot be achieved by a country through its youth power whose 65 percent population, about 800 Million people, is below the age of 35 years? Therefore, my brothers and Sisters, it is the need of the hour that the youth get opportunity and employment. Today we are heading towards the birth centenary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya spoke of welfare of the last human being which was even the view of Mahatma Gandhi. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya believed in the philosophy of ‘Antyodaya’. Welfare of the poorest and the weakest was the central theme of the political philosophy of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyayji. He used to say that every youth should get education, every youth should be skilled and every youth should get the opportunity to realise his dreams. We have taken many initiatives to realise those dreams of Pt. Deendayalji and to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of 800 million youths of the country. The way the road network in the country is expanding, the largest number of vehicles are being manufactured in the country, the country is becoming the largest exporter of softwares, more than 50 new mobile factories have been set up in the country, all these things have created opportunities for the youths. If two crore door toilets have been constructed, it has provided employment to someone, cement has been procured from somewhere, iron has been purchased from some other person, and the wooden work has been got done from somewhere else. As the scope of work expands, the possibilities of employment generation also increase. Today, we have stressed in that direction.

Similarly, we are working on 'skill development' as a mission so that crores of youth could acquire skills. We have changed a law, though it seems very small, and this law is 'Model Shop and Establishment Act'. We have sent an advisory to states to give reasons why the big malls are allowed to open 365 days and upto 12 in the night but a small shopkeeper in the village has to shut his shop after sunset. Even a poor should get the opportunity to keep his shop open for 365 days. Why should our Sisters not get the opportunity to work in night? We have made legal provisions so that our Sisters could go to work in night also. There should be arrangements for their safety and other requirements but they must get the opportunity to work. These are the things which increase employment. Brothers and Sisters, we are working in that direction and we are ready to do it.

Brothers and Sisters, this is the government, we are the persons who don't believe in delaying the things, we know how to fight not how to delay, so unless we deal with the problems head-on, it is not going to happen. Today when we are celebrating our freedom in the country, someone among the army jawans, who live and die for the country, would be ready for taking the bullets on the border, someone will be sitting in bunker and some other one would not be fortunate enough to meet his sister on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. How many jawans are working in armed forces? More than 33000 police personnel have got martyrdom since we got our independence. Why should we forget them and how can we? These are the people due to whom we can live a life of peace and happiness. The issue of “One Rank One Pension” was pending for many years. We do not keep the issues pending but we face them. We have fulfilled our promise of “One Rank One Pension” and have spread happiness in the home of every Indian soldier. We did this work.

It was the feeling of our countrymen that the files pertaining to Netaji Subhash Babu should be declassified. Today, I bow my head and say that without caring for the result we have decided to declassify these files; a task which was impossible and kept pending since long. We invited Netaji’s family members and shown them the files and this process of declassifying will continue. I requested the other countries of the world to declassify the files held by them and hand them over to India because Indians have full right to know about Subhash Babu and history of India. We have worked in that direction.

Bangladesh -- When partition of India took place, a boundary dispute existed since then. A boundary dispute prevailed since the formation of Bangladesh. Many decades passed. Brothers and Sisters, all parties have together solved the Indo-Bangladesh border dispute and we have amended the constitution also.

Brothers and Sisters, a middle class person wants to construct his own house, wants to buy a flat. Builders lobby shows him a beautifully printed booklet and the helpless soul falls prey to it. He is not having any technical knowledge, he pays the installments but he is not getting the promised house in time. A middle class makes one house in his whole life and in it he invests all his capital. Brothers and Sisters, we have put a check by passing the “Real Estate Bill”, so that a middle class should not face any problem if he wishes to own a house. We have worked for this.

Brothers and Sisters, I have already said that this year is the 150th anniversary of Shrimad Rajchandra Ji, the guru of Mahatma Gandhi. When Gandhiji was staying at South Africa, then also he was having correspondence with Shrimad Rajchandra Ji. In one of his letter Shrimad Rajchandra Ji discussed violence and non-violence. In that letter Rajchandra Ji writes, when violence came in to existence from same time the principle of non-violence also born. The important thing in both is that which we prefer or which is being used in the interest of mankind.

Brothers and Sisters, the discussion of violence and non-violence is very inherent in our country. Humanity is in our blood. We are the people of a great, colossal culture. This country is full of diversity, colours and beauty. This is such a bouquet of mother India wherein all type of fragrances, all type of colours and all type of dreams exist. Brothers and Sisters, the unity of diversity is our biggest strength. The mantra of unity is connected to our roots.

Brothers and Sisters, a country having more than hundred languages, hundreds of dialects, innumerable attires, innumerable life styles, despite that this country remained united- its main reason is our cultural heritage. We know how to respect, we know hospitality, we know how to assimilate, we have carried this great tradition and that is why there is no room for violence and atrocity in our country. If the democracy of India is to be strengthened, the dreams of India are to be fulfilled then the path of violence would never bring success for us. Nowadays a game of killing the innocents is being played on the pretext of Maoism in forests, on the pretext of extremism at border, on the pretext of terrorism at hilly areas by carrying guns on shoulders. Forty years have passed, this mother soil has grown blood stained but the persons on the path of terrorism have not achieved anything. I would like to remind those youth that this country will never tolerate violence nor would it ever put up with terrorism. Nor would it bow down to terrorism. It will never succumb to Maoism. But I exhort them and say that you still have time-return to the mainstream. Just think about your parents' dream; just reflect on the hopes and expectations of your parents; return back to the mainstream; live a happy and peaceful life, for, the path of violence never fetches benefit to anybody.

Brothers and sister, we talk about foreign policy. I don't want to go into details. We had invited the leaders of SAARC Countries on the day we took oath at the Centre. Our message was clear that we all, neighbouring countries, have a common problem, and that common challenge is poverty. Let us fight this poverty together, by fighting one-another, we are left shattered but if we fight this poverty, we will walk towards prosperity. So, I exhort all neighbouring countries to join us in this fight against poverty. No freedom can be much bigger than the freedom of our citizens from poverty; freedom of our country's citizen from poverty. No liberation is more liberating than the freedom from poverty. Whenever a citizen from the neighbouring countries would get freedom from poverty, we will feel elated regardless of the fact whether the poor belongs to us or our neighbouring country.

Brothers and Sisters, what kind of people are those who got  drive from humanity and, what is the kind of those who reward terrorism? I want to place two pictures before this world, and I say to the world, I say to those who believe in humanity that just weigh out the attack, when terrorists brutally killed innocent children in a school at Peshawar. The attack take place in Peshawar, and was a terrorist incident. The innocent children became victim of the bloodbath; the temple of learning had blood stream all around; innocent children were slaughtered. Hindustan, the Parliament had tears in it's eyes; Every Indian school was in tears; every child of India felt the trauma of the deaths of children in Peshawar. His tears had become unstoppable. Every child, who was killed in Peshawar in the terrorist attack, ached our heart too. This is the drive of our nurtured culture of humanity; this is our humanity, but if you look around, you will find a more to glorify terrorists.

Where innocent people are killed in terrorist attack, and they celebrate, what type of terrorism inspired life it is, what type of these creations of the terrorism inspired governments are? The world will understand these two differences properly, this is sufficient for me. Today I want to specially honour and thank to some people from the ramparts of Red Fort. For the past few days the people of Baluchistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the way their citizens have heartily thanked me, the way they have acknowledged me, the goodwill they have shown towards me, the people settled far across, the land which I have not seen, the people I have not met ever, but people settled at far across acknowledge the Prime Minister of India, they honour him, so it is an honour of my 125 crores countrymen, it is respect of my 125 crores countrymen and that is why owing to the feeling of this honour, I want to heartily thank the people of Baluchistan, the people of Gilgit, the people of Pakistan occupied Kashmir for having an expression of thankfulness.

Brothers and Sisters, today when we are celebrating the seventy years of Independence, then there is a big contribution of freedom soldiers for the country. When there is a contribution of these freedom soldiers, then the Government is deciding to increase 20 percent in the honouring amount being received, pension being received by the all these honourable freedom soldiers family members. The freedom fighters who earlier used to get 25000 rupees, will now get 30000 rupees. It is my small effort to pay my respects to the sacrifice and oblation of our freedom fighters.

Brothers and Sisters, when we talk about the history of freedom struggle of our country, some persons are talked about a lot, some are excessively mentioned but the contribution made by the people living in jungles, the tribals, in the freedom struggle was unmatched. They used to live in jungles. We hear the name of Birsa Munda but perhaps there would be no tribal dominated district where the tribals would not have fought and given sacrifice since 1857 to the time we got freedom. They proved through their sacrifice what is freedom, what is struggle against servitude. But our forthcoming generations are not much aware of this history. The government desires and plans that in the coming days, in the states where these freedom fighters, who were tribals, who lived in jungles, fought against Britishers, who were not ready to succumb. The Government would work towards building permanent museums in various states dedicated to tribal brave freedom fighters, wherever land would be available for the purpose, where their contributions and memoirs would be displayed, so that coming generations could be able to know about their sacrifices for the country.

Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of the debate on inflation, we are realising one fact that the entire economy of a poor household is affected if somebody falls ill. The wedding of their daughters gets stalled, the education of children gets stalled and sometimes even food is not available in the evening. Healthcare is getting costlier and that is why, I am announcing an important scheme from the ramparts of the Red Fort for the healthcare of BPL families. Under this scheme, in the coming days, if such poor families have to take medical facilities, the government will bear expenditure upto Rs.1 lakh per year, so that my poor brothers are not deprived of healthcare facilities and their dreams are not shattered.

My dear Brothers and Sisters, let us proceed forward with a new determination, new energy, new enthusiasm by getting inspiration from those great persons who scarified their lives for our freedom. We did not get an opportunity to die for the country but we have the opportunity to live for the country. We should dedicate our life to the nation. We should achieve something of substance for the nation. We should fulfill our responsibilities and also inspire others to accomplish their responsibilities. We should stride forward for building of one society, one dream, one resolution, one direction and one destination. With this very pious feeling, I once again bow my head before the great personalities of the country, the soldiers who risk their lives for our security on water, land and air fields and also those 33 thousands martyrs who sacrificed their lives for us. So, I, hereby, dedicate myself to dream about the future of the country and call on all of you from the rampart of the Red Fort to speak with your full might : Bharat Mata Ki Jay! Let the voice reach to every corner of the world.
Bharat Mata Ki Jay! Bharat Mata Ki Jay! Bharat Mata Ki Jay!

Vandematram! Vandematram! Vandematram !

Jay Hind! Jay Hind! Jay Hind!

Thank you.