Gently rejecting criticism that his goals are undeliverable while striking a conciliatory approach towards the Opposition in his first speech on policy in the Lok Sabha, Modi said the government will leave no stone unturned in implementing through cooperative federalism the road map outlined in President Pranab Mukherjees address on Monday.
The presidents speech had listed the governments priorities, including curbing price rise, building 100 smart cities, introducing high-speed trains, allowing foreign direct investment in sectors that would create jobs, preparing a transparent mechanism for distribution of natural resources, putting the economy back on track, reigniting the investment cycle and developing a skilled workforce.
Replying to a debate on the motion of thanks to the president for his address, Modi specifically stressed creating a real-time database for farm products and harnessing technology to replicate in the field wonders achieved in the laboratories to raise productivity and curb food inflation. He also promised unbundling FCI to maximise efficiency and assured the House the best practices of any state in sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure would be replicated where needed.
There should be competition among states for development; I want to hear states saying they have left Gujarat behind, he said, referring to the debate on Gujarat model of development, but conceded that no single model could invariably work for a vast country like India.
Modi said the government will issue soil health cards to every farmer to apprise him of the status of his and in a bid to raise yield.
However, although such a card will help farmers know what crop to sow where, it would barely stop the excessive use of urea in soil that needs judicious mix of other farm nutrients. The maximum retail price (MRP) of urea is still controlled while those of phosphates and potash, where the subsidy is fixed, are to that extent free.
The countrys fertiliser subsidy stood at Rs 67,971 crore in 2013-14 and accounted for 1.2% of the GDP, thanks to successive governments ignoring calls to end such a skewed fertiliser policy, fearing a political backlash. It is learnt that a big hike in urea price or fixing a limit to the subsidy on this most commonly used fertiliser is one of the reforms the Modi government is contemplating.
Modi also affirmed the governments promise of eliminating poverty so that nobody sleeps hungry and creating regions with the idea of rurban where urban amenities in rural areas will be provided while preserving the ethos of the villages. Concrete houses for everyone with adequate electricity and water and toilets by 2022 is his goal, he added.
As 65% of the population is below the age of 35, Modi called for changing the countrys image from scam India to skill India by creating a strong skilled workforce, which he believes would be our important edge over China where a vast majority of the population is greying.
Keeping with his partys slogan of sabka saath, sabka vikas, Modi said: We can bring about change but I dont want to move forward without you (Opposition). I dont have to move forward on the basis of numbers but on the basis of collective decision-making.