External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speech at the UN has won plaudits for her take on Pakistan’s terror history. However, that was not all Swaraj spoke about. She also talked about several Modi government initiatives to take on corruption, black money and boost development. She also talked about demonetisation and GST, which have been routinely attacked by opposition parties within the country.
“Demonetisation was a courageous decision to challenge one of the by-products of corruption, the ‘black money’ that disappeared from circulation. Today, India has passed the Goods and Services Tax legislation, through which there is one-tax across the country, without the untidy and punishing system of multiple taxes under differing categories in different parts of the country,” Swaraj said.
“Our ‘Save the girl, Educate the girl’ campaign is reducing gender inequality. Our Clean India programme is generating what can only be described as a revolutionary change in social attitudes and habits,” she added.
Talking about other schemes of Modi government, Swaraj heaped praise on initiatives like Mudra yojana and Jan Dhan. “Mudra yojana has enabled government to fund the unfunded. Those who had never dreamt that bank credit was within their options, today, through Mudra, are getting soft loans without collateral to begin micro businesses. I am particularly delighted to inform you that over 70 per cent of these loans have gone to women.”
On Jan Dhan Yojana, Swaraj said, “The Jan Dhan plan must surely count as the world’s largest financial inclusion scheme. Those who did not have any money, their bank accounts were opened with zero balance and this would not have happened anywhere in the world that even if you do not have any money, you have a bank passbook. But this impossible has been made possible in India.
“At least 300 million Indians who had never crossed the doors of a bank today have bank accounts: this is equivalent to the population of the United States of America. This was, understandably, not easy to complete in three years, but our banks, achieved this visionary goal set by our Prime Minister.”
Praising PM Modi, Swaraj said, ” All our economic programmes have a principal purpose, the empowerment of the poor: Jan Dhan, Mudra, Ujjwala, Skill India, Digital India, Clean India, Start-Up India, Stand-Up India. To describe them all would take up more time than I have at my disposal, and I shall therefore dwell on only three core programmes.”
Swaraj also talked about Ujjwala scheme, saying, “Ujjwala is a signature scheme of our government. Free gas cylinders are being provided to the poor so that women do not have to suffer the dangerous consequences of wood-fired kitchens. Poor women had to work hard in their kitchens and sometimes they lose their eye sight because of smoke. Uniquely, gender emancipation is at the creative core of this programme.”
During the speech, Swaraj rapped Pakistan. “On Thursday, from this dais, Pakistan’s Prime Minister ShahidKhakan Abbasi wasted rather too much of his speech in making accusations against us. He accused India of State-sponsored terrorism, and of violating human rights. Those listening had only one observation: ‘Look who’s talking!’ A country that has been the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity and human rights from this podium.”