Trying to hardsell the government’s ‘pro-poor’ image, Prime Minister Narendra Modi deplored the “destruction” of villages due to “venom of casteism” and said efforts should be made to help them rise above it so that they become inclusive and cohesive entities.
The prime minister, addressing a gathering in the capital, to mark the birth centenary of reformist Nanaji Deshmukh and the 115th birth anniversary of socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, also said there was a need to create development schemes for rural India that were “outcome oriented”. “Our villages are still poisoned with the venom of casteism…the poison of casteism destroys the village and crushes its dreams. Everyone should resolve to work for the village. The government is taking steps to take villages forward,” he said. Modi said the country had sufficient resources to deliver benefits to the last man in queue.
Explaining the impact of good governance, he said poorer states had fewer jobs under the government’s flagship rural employment scheme – MNREGA – as compared to states that were better off. The prime minister said states with good governance were able to launch more projects, creating greater employment opportunities.
Recently, Modi has been criticised by the opposition for not speaking out on the alleged corruption charges against BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay. The opposition has dubbed the ruling regime as a government for capitalists, and the BJP has tried hard in the past two years to shake off the tag.
Harping on the importance of digitisation, Modi said for sustainable development of rural India, schemes should be implemented using latest technology. But, he cautioned that it should not be at the cost of diluting the spirit behind it. “It (schemes) should be outcome-based. There should be no dilution or diversion from the spirit in which it was conceived. We also have to adhere to the timeline for its completion,” Modi said.
He said if rural products such as earthen lamps were used in cities like a “fashion statement”, it would help the poor prosper. In its 2014 manifesto, the BJP had aimed for 100 per cent electrification of villages by May 2018. Modi said that if that was achieved along with proper water supply and internet connection, teachers, doctors and bureaucrats would not hesitate in living there. A child in a village should get opportunities like a city student to experiment in a laboratory and use latest technology, he said.
Referring to efforts being made to end the practice of open defecation, the prime minister said an increasing number of villages were now naming toilets as ‘izzat ghar’ (house of honour) as women do not have to relieve themselves in the open anymore.
Modi also launched the DISHA Portal – a tool developed for MPs and MLAs for monitoring the implementation of various schemes of different ministries in their constituencies through a single portal. The prime minister also digitally inaugurated 11 Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETI) and a Plant Phenomics Facility at Indian Agricultural Research Institute.
Speaking about Jayaprakash Narayan, who led the students’ movement that culminated in the formation of the first non-Congress government in the country in 1977, Modi said, “The likes of Loknayak JP and (Ram Manohar) Lohia were active during the ‘Quit India’ movement inspired by the clarion call of Mahatma Gandhi. JP was never interested in power politics,” he said.
“Loknayak JP fought against corruption. His leadership rattled those in power at that time, and during a march in Patna he was even attacked. At that time, standing shoulder to shoulder with him was Nanaji Deshmukh, who took the blow to protect him,” Modi said.