Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced that India’s combined economic package would be worth Rs 20 lakh crore or 10 per cent of GDP, which would make India self-reliant and position it for the post Covid-19 world.
With the third phase of lockdown ending on May 17, the Prime Minister said the fourth stage will be new in form — and the details, which will be drawn up on the basis of suggestions from the state chief ministers, would be announced by May 18.
The details of the Rs 20 lakh crore package, which would help every section including workers, farmers, middle class and industrial units, would be announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the coming days, the Prime Minister said.
“I announce a special economic package today. This will play an important role in the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ (Self-reliant India Campaign). The announcements made by the government over Covid earlier, decisions of RBI, and today’s package totals to Rs 20 lakh crore. This is 10 per cent of India’s GDP,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister emphasised on India becoming self-reliant, a point he has been stressing in almost all speeches he has made since the crisis began.
According to him, self-reliance would be based on five pillars — an economy that takes quantum jumps, not incremental gains; modern infrastructure; a technology-driven system; vibrant demography; and a demand and supply chain.
“We have realised the importance of local manufacturing and local supply chain, which met our demands and saved us during this crisis. Brands that are global were once local, but it became branded when people used it and promoted it. We should now be using local and we should be vocal about local,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister’s fifth address to the nation came a day after his marathon video conference with chief ministers, which could not reach a consensus over a complete lifting of the lockdown on May 17.
Modi said the economic package would focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws, and it will cater to various sections including cottage industries, MSMEs, labourers, the middle class, industries, among others.
“One virus has destroyed the world. This is an unprecedented crisis. But we cannot get exhausted, give up or break. We have to protect ourselves and move ahead as well. Our resolve should be bigger than the crisis,” Modi said.
Several bold reforms would have to be undertaken to make the country self-reliant so that the impact of the global pandemic could be negated, he said. Self-reliance will prepare India for tough competition in the global supply chain. “This has been kept in mind while preparing the package. It will not only increase efficiency in various sectors but also quality,” he said.
This echoes what the PM has been emphasising in his various previous addresses — to his council of ministers, panchayat sarpanches, etc., in the last few weeks. He has repeatedly said that the pandemic has taught a very good lesson with a strong message, i.e., we have to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.
Modi pointed out that India has converted the crisis into an opportunity. “Not a single PPE kit was being made in India before the crisis. Now we are manufacturing two lakh PPEs and N95 masks each daily.”
Asserting that India has the resources and talents, Modi recollected the Gujarat earthquake damage. “During Kutch earthquake, there was rubble wherever you looked. Nobody could contemplate back then that things would improve, but Kutch revived. If we take a pledge, no target is impossible, no route is too tough, and today, we have the will,” he said.
However, India’s self-reliance is different from others, he said. “When India speaks of self-reliance, it does not advocate for a self-centered system. In India’s self-reliance, there is a concern for the whole world’s happiness, cooperation and peace.”
The PM reminded citizens that one has to live with corona for some time. “But it is important to ensure that our life does not revolve only around it.” He said people must follow social distancing protocols strictly. “Our fourth stage of lockdown is going to be different. Its contours will be completely different from those seen yet. On the basis of recommendations received from the states, new rules will be framed and the information about it will be communicated before May 18,” he said.