Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for a development paradigm involving all stakeholders and reaffirmed his government’s commitment to reining in inflation, building skills and infrastructure, eliminating poverty and improving lives of all sections of society, including Muslims.
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 Mukherjee’s address on Monday.
The president’s speech had listed the government’s 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 country’s 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