India is undertaking a series of important reforms called “Atmanirbhar Bharat” – Self-Reliant India – to tackle the challenges of Covid-19 with a $200 billion package.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the pledge of working towards building a self-reliant India, with Atmanirbhar Bharat aiming to boost economic activities – with all due precautions put in place – and numerous sectors including agriculture, SMEs and IT set to benefit.
With Prime Minister Modi also calling on Indian citizens to show their support for home-grown products, the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat can be seen in India’s remarkable increase in the manufacture of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against Covid-19.
From not manufacturing even a single PPE kit before the outbreak, India was producing more than 200,000, the Times of India reported.
A PPE kit – which doctors and healthcare workers wear during the treatment of Covid-19 patients – consists of mask, eye shield, shoe coverings, gown and gloves.
With Atmanirbhar Bharat, India, the most populous democracy in the world, is not turning inward but is instead looking to avail of opportunities in such challenges times.
“When we talk about self-reliance, we do not mean isolating away from the world. Foreign direct investment is welcome, technology is welcome. A self-reliant India . . . translates into being a bigger and more important part of the global economy,” India’s law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
India famously broke records with the JAM Yojana financial inclusion scheme, which was aimed at ensuring affordable access to financial services, namely banking savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance and pensions.
Prime Minister Modi announced the scheme on his first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014, and by June 1, 2016, more than 220 million Jan Dhan bank accounts were opened, with more than $7 million deposited.
“Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of India from August 23-29, 2014,” Guinness World Records states.
As India tackled the Covid-19 outbreak, the government reinforced the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana over April, May and June, with $4.2 billion transferred to the Jan Dhan accounts of some 200 million poor families.
The “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana” scheme aims to help the needy fight the economic impact of the pandemic, with 30 million hard-up senior citizens, widows and the specially abled in particular benefiting.
The $24.1 billion package for the poor also saw $2.4 billion transferred into the bank accounts of more than 90 million farmers, while $6.7 billion was spent on creating job opportunities.
Prime Minister Modi on June 30 said the Indian government will continue to take further steps to empower the poor and needy, with people and industries across the board benefiting.
PM CARES Fund
Keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation – like the one posed by the COVID-19 pandemic – and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of “Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund)” was set up by Prime Minister Modi.
The PM CARES Fund has allocated $409 million towards fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund will direct $264 million towards the procurement of 50,000 ventilators, manufactured under the Made in India programme.
Some $13 million will go towards research and development into a Covid-19 vaccine, as well as supporting the efforts of Indian academia, startups and the healthcare industry.
“India is valiantly fighting the battle against the coronavirus with collective efforts. Looking at the world, we realise how big is the achievement of Indians,” Prime Minister Modi said, adding that the fight against Covid-19 “is being powered by the innovative spirit of our citizens”, the Hindustan Times reported.
The World is One Family
While taking care of its billion-plus population during the pandemic, India has not forgotten the needs of a large number of other countries.
Reinforcing India’s firm belief in “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam” – The World is One Family – India has lent a helping hand by providing essential drugs, testing kits and other medical assistance to more than 120 countries around the world to help fight the coronavirus.
While leading the country in the fight against Coronavirus at home, Prime Minister Modi has also been active in the international arena by sending the message that India is a reliable global player in addressing global threats like the coronavirus outbreak.
Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India is playing a defining role towards solving global issues.
With the Government of Prime Minister Modi showing its commitment to the poor as it vigorously fights Covid-19, India is reinforcing its position as a global leader.