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Friday, September 24, 2021

True independence will come from self-reliance

Shivraj Singh Chouhan writes: The Swaraj that Mahatma Gandhi dreamt of should be founded on the atmanirbharta that PM Modi speaks of.

Written by Shivraj Singh Chouhan |
Updated: August 19, 2021 7:38:38 am
In order to ensure oxygen availability, we have ordered 186 PSA plants from the Government of India and other sources, with a total capacity of 229 MT

“I dream of an India that is prosperous, strong, and caring. An India, that regains a place of honour in the comity of great nations.” In the last 14 years of my government, I have often reflected on these words by Atal Bihari Vajpayee. As we celebrate India’s 75th year of Independence, we must chart a route that will not only create a progressive, prosperous, and caring nation, but will also give us the necessary strength to hold this greatness intact for future generations.

Not long ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorted us to partner with him to create an “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. The tumult of the last year and a half has given us the opportunity to galvanise our efforts to create a strong, secure, and self-reliant Bharat.

Over the years, I’ve become firmer in my belief that true independence lies in being able to choose the right response in dire straits.

When we were hit by Covid last year, we stood by the people and fought the pandemic. It was only after successfully containing the virus that we rested. While we were still celebrating, the virus returned in a more lethal avatar. We did not lose hope and fought, despite the losses. We sought all possible help from the Centre, and the state government, the bureaucracy and the people came together to stop the virus. Victory was won when we clamped down on its further onslaught.

As I write this, we are in a much better position with robust preparedness against an imminent third wave. We have developed the Sarthak portal for capturing real-time facility-wise patient data for monitoring oxygen consumption. In order to ensure oxygen availability, we have ordered 186 PSA plants from the Government of India and other sources, with a total capacity of 229 MT.

It has been heart-wrenching to witness so many deaths. As a result, we have augmented the healthcare facilities to ensure widespread coverage by increasing the oxygen-supported bed capacity to 11,185 beds, with a plan to further augment this by 3,063 beds. The government has also provided healthcare staff training and development. We have trained over 1,50,000 healthcare workers to amp-up our efforts against the third wave, and over 700 doctors and nurses to treat paediatric Covid cases.

As we rally against this health emergency, it pleases me to note India’s historic win at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games, with seven medals in all. I am overjoyed about Madhya Pradesh’s contribution in securing a bronze medal through Vivek Sagar Prasad’s remarkable performance in field hockey. News like this makes my chest swell with pride, as I repose my trust in the power and imagination of our youth.

Our PM had said, “the youth will become the strong foundation of India’s future.” I am committed to serving the youth of Madhya Pradesh by ensuring that they are provided with state-of-the-art sports facilities so that they can aim for gold in the Paris Olympics in 2024.

In the past few months, I have reflected much upon my work to create Madhya Pradesh as “prerna aur pragati ka pradesh”. Parallels can be drawn between the atmanirbharta that Modiji speaks of and the self-reliance that Mahatma Gandhiji referred to. In fact, I believe that atmanirbharta is the bedrock of Gandhiji’s call for “Swaraj”.

Every government before us developed numerous schemes for the state’s people. But were these well-received and beneficial for all stakeholders? Were people able to choose what they needed? Within the responses to these questions is a nugget of administrative wisdom which says that until we put the freedom to choose in the hands of the people, our plans and policies will not result in the desired progress and growth, least of all in achieving Swaraj.

Therefore, in the 75th year of Independence, I commit to ensuring that the freedom to choose from a bouquet of government schemes will lie with the people of my state — the end beneficiaries. It is my deep desire that Madhya Pradesh lead from the frontlines as India sets out to become the vishwaguru in all spheres of life. With our political will, efficient administrative capabilities and the pervasive model of jan-bhagidari, we can achieve this.

The public has invited me to lead the state from strength to strength. To honour this mandate, my cabinet and the administration have worked together to build and execute a strategy to make Madhya Pradesh an atmanirbhar state — a state which is anchored in the idea of progress for all.

In fact, we are also the first state in India to ensure prompt action to achieve PM Modi’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. We have outlined our vision under the four pillars of physical infrastructure, governance, health and education, economy and employment. This will help us move from contributing to create an India@75 to ensuring a well-rounded MP@75 in the next ten years, as Madhya Pradesh prepares to celebrate the 75th year of its foundation in 2031.

This epidemic has taught us what could be the lesson of a lifetime — to ensure that even the smallest voice gets heard. Hence our journey from India@75 to MP@75 will be of immeasurable significance and value. It will lay down a path and a resplendent future for generations to follow. It will tell the world that because no one gets left behind, Madhya Pradesh is indeed a prerna aur pragati ka pradesh.

This column first appeared in the print edition on August 18, 2021 under the title ‘Till no one is left behind’. The writer is the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh

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