Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged Indian industry leaders to set up globally-competitive domestic supply chains and turn the coronavirus crisis into an opportunity to become a self-reliant nation. “This is not the time for a conservative approach. It is time for bold decisions and bold investments,” he said while addressing the 95th annual plenary session of the Indian Chambers of Commerce (ICC) in Kolkata through video conferencing.
“We have to take the Indian economy out of ‘command and control’ and take it towards ‘plug and play’ mode. The coronavirus crisis has given us a pressing reason to turn the corners and become self-reliant. Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission is the reflection of that reason,” the Prime Minister said. While the world is battling coronavirus, India is fighting that too. But there are other issues also. “Flood, locusts, hailstorm, fire in an oil well, small earthquakes, two cyclones — we are fighting all of these together,” he said.
The Prime Minister said he gets a sense that every citizen of the country has resolved to face adversity with determination. “This will be a turning point in our history as we become self-reliant. Atmanirbhar Bharat is the manifestation of the dream every Indian has seen for all these years.” He said the country must exercise restraint on imports to strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Some of the areas where India can take a lead include medical equipment, defence production, solar panels, batteries, chip manufacturing and aviation.
The government will work on setting up relevant industrial clusters close by for specific local produce of all regions, he said. “These moves will surely turn farmers into producers and their crops into products for the larger market,” the Prime Minister said. At the same time, North-East India can become a major hub for organic farming by creating bamboo and organic product clusters in the region.
India is experiencing another major mission at present — to reduce the use of single-use plastic. This again, said the Prime Minister, is great for all three elements — people, planet and profit. Five years ago, an LED bulb would cost Rs 350. But the same bulb is now available for as little as Rs 50. Modi said this has been a relief on the pockets of people. It is good for the environment.
“So, the planet has also benefitted. And, of course, with mainstreaming of LED bulbs, manufacturers’ profits have also increased,” he said.