‘Start-up India Stand Up India’, a new initiative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about during his Independence Day speech this year, will be the government’s New Year gift to “young people” who want to set up new businesses or innovative projects.
The government will formally launch the initiative on January 16 in an event that will see the participation of all major higher educational institutions through online connectivity, the Prime Minister said in his Mann ki Baat programme on All India Radio.
“On August 15, I had made an initial mention of ‘Start-Up India Stand Up India’. After that it has been discussed in all government departments. Can India become the start-up capital of the world? On January 16, the government will launch the full action-plan of ‘Start-up India Stand Up India’. I will come before you to discuss this in detail and would welcome your suggestions. I would request the state governments as well to take this forward,” said Modi.
The initiative was not just about the IT or digital world, but an effort to assist people starting new business ventures, especially those that involved innovation, said Modi.
“A poor person somewhere uses manual labour to earn a living. Some other young individual may create something new and innovative that can make the work of the poor labourer slightly easier. I will say even this is a start-up. I will tell the banks to support such individuals. I will tell the individual that he must move head. ‘Start-up India Stand Up India’ will bring a big opportunity for young people across the country, be in manufacturing, service sector or agriculture,” said Modi.
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The Prime Minister said there was no lack of talent amongst the youth of the country, and added that all IITs, IIMs, central universities, NITs and other institutions will be connected live to the launch event.
Four days after Modi’s Independence Day speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had launched two funds by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (Sidbi): India Aspiration Fund for start-ups with the LIC as partner and co-investor, and Sidbi Make in India Loan for Enterprises (SMILE) to provide soft term loans and loans in the nature of quasi-equity to small enterprises.
According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2016, India moved up nine spots in the starting a business category to 155 but slipped six spots in terms of ease of accessing credit to 42. This implied that it has become more difficult to get loans in India, especially for start-ups and the medium and small scale enterprises.
In his radio programme, the last for this year, Modi also spoke about progress on other schemes being run by his government. He said that the Direct Benefits Transfer scheme — it was launched by the previous government — had got a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest such scheme. Modi said about Rs 40,000 crore was being deposited directly in the bank accounts of 15 crore beneficiaries of about 35 to 40 government programmes.
Talking about the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Access India Campaign)’ for people with disabilities, Modi urged everyone to use the word ‘Divyang’ (people with a divine limb) instead of ‘vikalang’ (disabled) while referring to such people.
“Several words have been coined for such people, sometimes handicapped is used, sometimes disabled, sometimes specially abled. Words have their own importance. But all of us who have seen these people working and carrying on with their lives realise that if they are disabled with one limb they are also specially gifted with some other sense or limb. We often wonder how they are able to accomplish their tasks despite being disabled. They must be having some extra power. That is why I feel we should refer to them as ‘divyang’ (people with divine limbs). It seems they have one or more limbs that has divine powers, divine energy. I like this word a lot. I hope my countrymen would also make this word popular,” he said.
“We have just launched the ‘Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan (Accessible India Campaign). We aim to ensure that all infrastructure, physical and virtual, would be improved to make them more accessible for divyang people. Schools, hospitals, government offices, bus stations, railway stations.. ramps, accessible parking, accessible lifts, development of Braille.. .there are so many things to be done. It would require innovation, technology, arrangements, sensitivity,” said Modi.
The Prime Minister also invited people to provide feedback through the ‘Narendra Modi app’, a remark that invited sarcastic comments from the Congress party.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakan said that app would hopefully help the Prime Minister address the concerns of the poor, unemployed and women. “He is a very busy man. He has to travel… so we are very happy that he has announced this app… now you have an app in place which can ensure that there is communication between him and the people of India,” said Vadakkan.
“The farmers can reach out to the Prime Minister directly to address their grievances, unemployment can be addressed through this app. If there is a disturbing situation, like a riot, or incidents of intolerance, one can seek the Prime Minister’s help directly,” he said.