Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview to Times Now spoke on a wide range of topics – from Raghuram Rajan, black money, inflation, NSG membership, Agusta Westland deal to his government’s achievements, foreign policy, terror attacks and GST Bill
We take a look at 15 key highlights from PM Modi’s interview:
1) Raghuram Rajan: My experience with him (Raghuram Rajan) has been good and I appreciate the work that he has done. He (Rajan) is no less patriotic. He loves India. Wherever he will work, he will work for India and he is patriotic.
Whether it is in my party or not, still I think such things are inappropriate, Modi said commenting on the recent attacks on Rajan. “This fondness for publicity is never going to do any good to the nation. People should conduct themselves with utmost responsibility. If anybody considers himself above the system, it is wrong,” he said in an indirect attack on Subramanian Swamy.
2) Achievements: There is an attempt to bring about change in everything. I am very satisfied that there is no disappointment now when it comes to India and Indians. I faced multiple challenges. When we took charge there was an atmosphere of despondency. There was news that coal production was so less that electricity would not be available after 7 days.
The big challenge was to inject new trust into the system and create confidence among the citizens. It is very difficult to evaluate this from the outside but I have gone through it. But today I can say with a lot of satisfaction that now there is no trace of any disappointment. The intention to do something is visible. And it’s not in words but in actual achievement.
3) Terror attacks: Look there are different types of forces operating in Pakistan. But the government only engages with a democratically elected system. Our effort for that engagement is continuing. But our supreme objective is peace. Our supreme objective is to protect India’s interests. We keep making effort toward that objective and sometimes our efforts are successful. As far as meetings and talks are concerned, we signalled right from the day I took oath and sent invitations for the oath taking ceremony, that we seek friendly relations but without compromising on our interests. And that is why I have said that my country’s soldiers have full freedom to answer back in whatever manner they have to and they will keep doing that.
4) Pakistan policy: Pakistan is finding it increasingly difficult to give answers for its policies on the global stage. All the steps that I have taken, be it going to Lahore or calling Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, all of them have ensured that the world is standing with India with regards to our policy on Pakistan.
The world is unanimously appreciating India’s position. And the world is seeing that Pakistan is finding it difficult to respond. If we had become an obstacle, then we would have had to explain to the world that we are not that obstacle. Now we don’t have to explain to the world. The world knows our intentions. Like on the issue of terrorism, the world never bought India’s theory on terrorism. They would sometime dismiss it by saying that it’s your law and order problem. Today the world has to accept what India has been saying about terrorism. India’s dialogue on terrorism, the losses India has suffered due to terrorism, the losses suffered by humanity, the world is now acknowledging that. So I believe we have to take this process forward.
5) Foreign policy: Biggest strength of our foreign policy- political stability. After 30 years a government with a full majority was elected. Modi’s personality shouldn’t be a hindrance for the world to have faith in India. The govt works as a team. The impact that is now visible, is not just because of Modi, it is because of the team.
More than foreign policy it was foreign relations. Yes, I was new to it. So for me, being pro active was mandatory. Foreign ministry, Prime Minister’s officer, commerce ministry, finance ministry, defense minister, everyone works as a team, not as separate pieces. The impact that is now visible, is not just because of Modi, it is because of the team.
Foreign policy would be centered around two super powers. India was a little late in realizing that this bi polar situation was for namesake. Now the entire world, in changed circumstances, especially in 21st century, it is more interdependent and inter connected, earlier, the foreign policy was possible between governments, but today it is not possible just between governments. Government relations are important but increasing people to people contact is equally important.
6) NSG membership: India has been continuously making these efforts, no matter which government was in office. Be it the membership of the UN Security Council or the SCO membership or MTCR membership or NSG membership. Every government has made an effort. It’s not that only this government is trying, it’s in continuity. But it’s during our tenure that we achieved SCO membership, we also got the MTCR membership. I have full faith that now we have begun a coordinated effort for the NSG membership too. The process has begun on a positive note. Everything has rules and will work accordingly and move forward.
7) China policy: We have an ongoing dialogue with China and it should continue to happen. In foreign policy it’s not necessary to have similar views to have a conversation. We don’t have one problem with China, we have a whole lot of problems pending with China. Slowly and steadily, an effort is on to address these issues through talks and make them less cumbersome. I can say that China has been cooperating with India to search for solutions.
The most important thing is that we can speak to China eye-to-eye and put forth India’s interests in the most unambiguous manner.
8) Agusta Westland: Taking a jibe at the previous government on the AgustaWestland scam, PM NModi said that such a thing could not have happened without a strong ‘raksha kavach’.
“Those who are behind Agusta Westland are practiced and well experienced in the art of doing wrong things.”
There are many things which are not visible. One can’t imagine the difficulty I am experiencing in taking out things from dirt. Now, agencies are probing. Let’s see how far the probe goes. But the investigation shouldn’t go ahead while people are being targeted, neither does my government target anyone. The sin has been committed, but how much is done, How was it done, who did it, probe agencies will find out in a professional way. Whatever comes out, will be put out.
9) Black money: Our first cabinet decision was on Black Money. At G-20 forum also this issue was raised for the first time & consensus was formed on it. We formed an SIT immediately after coming to power, the previous government had delayed it for three years, despite Supreme Court’s verdict. This lapse of three years gave people enough time to transfer their money from here to there.
Never has black money been discussed in G-20. We are signing agreements with many nations. Soon after my visit, a delegation from Switzerland came to India. They are discussing automatic information exchange for the first time. Mauritius was widely spoken of as route for black money. We have successfully blocked that.
10) Farmers’ crisis: All efforts are being made to find long-term solution to farmers’ crisis and reduce dependence on monsoon. Water management needs to be done. I have met CMs of 11 drought-hit states individually. I am glad to say that irrespective of the party that they belong to, all state governments have come forward to work on water management. We are also focusing on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana. Scientific methods, be it micro or drip irrigation are increasingly being adopted for sugarcane and paddy.
With focus on minimum premium and maximum return, we have launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana. Farmers have to give only 2%, the rest is borne by the government. We have launched the e-mandi, which allows farmers to sell their crop to whichever market they choose, they can decide on the market without having to suffer losses.
100% FDI in food processing has been allowed so that if a company wants to buy tomatoes from farmers to make ketchup, then farmers will benefit. Soil Health card is another area that we are focusing on so that farmers can understand the needs of the soil.
11) GST: Not having GST straight away means loss for the poor of Uttar Pradesh. Absence of GST straight away means loss for the poor people of Bihar. Not passing the GST would mean loss for the poor people of poor states like Bengal, Orissa and Assam. People who sit in the Rajya Sabha must understand this. GST is beneficial for the poor people of the states represented by them, because those states will economically benefit the most from GST. The money will be used for the welfare of the poor people of those states. This is why be it Mamata Banerjee, be it Nitish Kumar, be it Akhilesh Yadav or Naveen Patnaik, all these states want the GST bill to be passed at the earliest. There is just one group which has made it the issue of prestige.
12) Inflation: You can’t view inflation as a perception issue. Price rise should be seen as a reality. What is available for a consumer should be seen for what it is. We have been successful in stopping that speedy rise of prices. But as far as pulses are concerned, production in India has been very low. Many farmers who were earlier sowing pulses have started cultivating sugar. That is also an area of concern. We gave special incentives for pulses. We have tried to set up a different MSP for pulses. We have taken steps to procure pulses from farmers with bonus. Our focus is on increasing the production of pulses. We are also focusing on building stocks of pulses by importing from abroad. An all out effort is being made and I believe that nobody doubts the sincerity of this government.
13) Closeness to US: India is an independent country. It is a country of 125 crore people. Whenever it approaches any country, it will only be concerned about its own interests. We have relations with America in the context of these fundamental points. The first thing is that we no longer live in a bipolar world. The world is interconnected and interdependent. You will have to connect with everybody at the same time. Even if there are two opposing countries, they will have to be friends. Now the times have changed.
14) For the poor: My development parameter is very simple. It is about how the poorest of the poor can benefit from development. All our schemes are meant to empower the poor and change the quality of life. Mahatma Gandhi spoke of empowering the poor. Poor can’t be kept poor, they need to be empowered to emerge out of poverty. We believe in Antyodaya, inspired by the ideals of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.
15) Job creation: Housing sector has the maximum potential for creating employment. Houses will be built in such huge numbers, how many people will get employment? You must have seen that last year we brought in a textile policy. Under this textile policy, there will be income tax benefits for those who create employment. The more employment one creates, the more tax benefits they will get. For the first time, employment generation and tax has been linked. These are the things that boost employment and our central focus is creating employment for the ordinary citizen.