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Policy & Politics

Need for aggressive stand against extremism in Northeast

China is resorting to its old tricks to destabilise India, arming extremists with lethal weapons.

Vijay Darda

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The jawans of Assam Rifles in Manipur have been ambushed and three of them martyred in the same Chandel district in which the militants had launched a deadly attack on an Indian Army convoy in June 2015 killing 18 of our soldiers. It is clear from the latest attack that the militants have started raising their ugly head and are reasserting their defiance to such an extent that they can now dare to attack the Indian security forces.

The threat of further attacks by militants in the Northeastern states and the unrest there had started to loom large the moment Chinese incursions started in the Ladakh region. China is the biggest supporter of militants in the Northeastern states and the sole purpose of creating unrest there is to not let India shift the Army stationed there anywhere else! This move of China was further confirmed in the last week of June 2020 when a huge cache of arms was caught at the Thailand-Myanmar border. All the weapons were made in China. Prima facie, it seemed that the weapons were meant for the Myanmar terrorist outfit called Arakan Army, which China keeps aiding and abetting but the experts later confirmed that the Arakan Army does not use such weapons. Through the Arakan Army, this cache of arms was being sent to the militants of the Northeastern states in India. Militant groups in Myanmar and India work in tandem. However, India has also sought information from the Thailand government regarding the stockpile of arms and requested it to provide a detailed investigation report. Our intelligence agencies are at work too.

Though this stockpile has been seized, would China not have already delivered such arms cache before, is the moot question. There is nothing to suspect otherwise. In fact, one route to deliver a consignment of Chinese weapons in Northeast India is from Myanmar, wh e r e m a ny m i l it a nt groups have links with terrorist groups in Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. The other route is from Bangladesh. The Netherlandsbased think tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) has categorically stated in its report that China is continuously engaged in fomenting tension in India. It is arming the rebels of Myanmar to stand against India. Many militant outfits in the Northeast have taken refuge in Myanmar. They cross the border, carry out attacks here and go back to Myanmar with impunity. India shares good relations with the government there, but the problem is that the terrain is inaccessible and the militants hide in the forests and mountains. Many a time, the armies of India and Myanmar carry out joint operations but the network of militants is very strong, and China too may be informing them about all the activities. So they escape.

So naturally, the question is what kind of strategy which could prove effective against extremism in the Northeastern states should be adopted. The administrative machinery has been strengthened and development brought about in the region, thanks to the efforts made by the previous Congress government and now the BJP regime. The common man too wants that peace should be restored, but the militants are so dominant that people remain silent. Here, the common man is sandwiched between the militants and the security forces. Many a time, the locals suffer too during the counter-measures by security forces against the extremists. This has bred resentment among the people on many occasions. Therefore, special attention is needed. But the major problem before the government is whom it should talk to in order to establish peace. There are many militant outfits and each one of them has its own agenda. Most of the rebel leaders dance to China’s tune.

Under the circumstances, it is imperative to adopt an aggressive stand against extremism while taking care of human rights. In 2015, when the Indian Army had entered the dense forests and destroyed the militants’ hideouts to avenge the martyrdom of their fellow soldiers, it had created a sense of fear in their minds. Almost all the militant organisations had gone silent. Though there have been a few isolated incidents, the militants could not carry out any major attack after that. The need of the hour is to put in place a firm, strict and aggressive strategy for the elimination of these militants. They should be cornered and cordoned off in such a way that no external element, including China, could deliver weapons to them under any circumstances. If we are successful in doing this, the screws on extremists could definitely be tightened to a great extent. But we will have to eliminate all those leaders and elements, too, who sneak into our system, nurture extremism and help it to spread on our soil.

Vijay Darda as served as Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha for three consecutive terms and is Chairman of the Editorial Board, Lokmat Media.

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Policy & Politics

The much-maligned journalist

Anil Swarup

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The news about a couple of lady journalists being detained is nothing new. It keeps happening every other day. Much worse has been in store for such journalists who attempt to be true to their profession. There is absolutely no doubt that there are a large number of journalists who make us all proud, who do their job like true professionals despite extremely adverse set of circumstances. However, the perception about the media is perhaps determined by those that are “sold” out or have succumbed or both.

Credibility of the media has taken a severe beating in the recent past. In a survey carried out by me on the Twitter, I had a question, “According to you, which of the following institutions is carrying out its responsibilities in the best possible manner?”

1. Civil Servants

2. Judiciary

3. Politicians

4. Media

Of more than 3000 participants, 65% voted in favor of Civil Servants, 22% for Judiciary, Politicians 9% and Media was last with 5%. Most of the television channels had lost their credibility long ago. They are seen as aligned and/or promoting (some very aggressively) the agenda of a particular segment. There is hardly any news on these so called “news channels”. They are now seen and perceived as promoting particular views. Many treat them as entertainment channels. Perhaps rightly so. All objectivity has gone for a toss.

In another survey carried on Linkedin, as many as 62% voters felt that in comparison to TV news, social media and digital media, newspapers provided the most reliable news. The TV news channels were the worst in terms of reliability (4%). However, the most discussed are these channels and, perhaps for that reason they garner most of the advertisement revenue. However, newspapers are still considered most credible even though in some of the newspapers you have to wade through first few pages of advertisements to discover the page carrying news. Perhaps the huge dependence on advertisement revenue has impacted the quality of news reporting in the newspapers as well. I had personally given up watching television news channels long ago because it appeared that only decibels determined TRP ratings (though the TRP ratings have also been questioned). Soon thereafter, I gave up reading newspapers as well as it was becoming increasingly difficult to find news in newspapers.

The challenges faced by the journalists are enormous. Their job is a temporary one and, considering the number of aspirants available for each job, they aren’t many in the offing. It is easy for an outsider to criticize but it is not easy to get a job in the first place and if you lose the one you have, it is all the more difficult as you could be considered “inconvenient”.

Most of the TV Channels and Newspapers are owned by business houses. During the last century, owners of the publications did not meddle with the editorial part. Now they own the editorial content as well. The designation of “Managing Editor” says it all. This wasn’t heard of till a couple of decades ago. It has all changed now.

Governments have always been powerful on account of the advertisement muscle they had but there were rare instances of “directives” to the newspapers. There were newspapers that withstood pressure even during Emergency. However, it has all changed. There have been instances of Chief Editors of prominent national dailies being shown the door for not toeing the line. Governments have become increasingly powerful. Objectivity has gone for a toss. The attitude is simple, either you are with me or against me.

What are the choices then available with the hapless journalist? If she doesn’t toe the line, she could lose her job, as many have, and harassed. There could be criminal cases instituted against her. And, barring few mentions of protests from their associations, she has to fight her battle on her own. It is tough but she can still survive and keep her body and soul together provided she gives up her crusading spirit against all the wrongs perpetrated by those in power as they are extremely powerful and go to any extent to silence her.

The tragedy, however, is with regard to such journalists as have become loud crusaders for the ruling dispensation. They unabashedly and shamefully give up any semblance of objectivity. They take their crusading spirit to the other extreme. And, many of them benefit though bring a bad name to this laudable profession. In public perception, these are the ones that represent journalists. Hence, unfortunate terms like “presstitudes” are coined to describe them. All professions, including the civil service, have their share of the good, the bad and the ugly but impression about the profession gets determined by those that are visible. In the case of journalists, visible ones are those that are loud and “sold out”. Hence, the loss of credibility.

What can then be done by the consumers of what is dished out by journalists? In a market driven world, media also offers what we read or want to read. If the reader starts “demanding” objective reporting, even the “owners” will have no option to provide that. We have so far been demanding “masala”. Hence, TV channels have been converted into entertainment channels. It is ironical that despite poor credibility, they thrive. We can keep criticizing the hapless journalist but if we don’t change our own attitude towards news, we can’t expect journalists to be our conscience keepers. Can we?

Anil Swarup has served as the head of the Project Monitoring Group, which is currently under the Prime Minister’s Offic. He has also served as Secretary, Ministry of Coal and Secretary, Ministry of School Education.

The challenges faced by the journalists are enormous. Their job is a temporary one and, considering the number of aspirants available for each job, they aren’t many in the offing. It is easy for an outsider to criticize but it is not easy to get a job in the first place and if you lose the one you have, it is all the more difficult as you could be considered “inconvenient”.

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Policy & Politics

Why are Babasaheb’s dreams still unfulfilled?

Bharat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, wanted to establish an egalitarian society

Vijay Darda

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Indian civilization is so great and noble that even gods and goddesses living in heaven envy it and desire to be born here! A legion of great men and spiritual avatars were born in this holy land in various eras who contributed to enhance the glory of India. But I would like to mention two great men in recent history. One of them is Mahatma Gandhi and the other is Bharat Ratna Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, fondly called ‘Babasaheb’. Gandhiji freed the country from slavery with the weapon of non-violence. He imbibed the thoughts of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir and shaped the life of the common man through the noble virtues of non-violence, renunciation, forgiveness and non-possession. Many countries have become independent by treading the same path. Ask the people of China and Russia the importance of freedom and you will know how precious it is.

Babasaheb underlined and explained the importance of freedom to the common man. He thought over the needs of the common man. The common man wants that his country should be free and every person in the country should be protected. He wants to breathe free and exercise the freedom of expression. All these things have been bequeathed to us by our Constitution. The Constitution paves the way for our life and imparts direction to the development of life. Babasaheb framed the Constitution of India by taking all these factors into consideration and showed the way to create a hatred-free society. No injustice should be meted out to anyone in the name of either caste or religion or language. He has shown a perfect way of living whereby man can develop himself in perfect freedom.

The million dollar question today is why Babasaheb’s dreams of establishing an egalitarian society as enshrined by him in the Constitution and a caste free India are still unfulfilled? Who is responsible for it? Is it the government, society or our whole system? Monday, December 6 happened to be Babasaheb’s ‘Mahaparinirvan Day’, so this question is again staring in the face of the whole country. Last week, when the Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment Ramdas Athawale informed the Rajya Sabha about the number of people still forced to do manual scavenging in the country, I was terribly shaken. As many as 43,797 people are still engaged in manual scavenging work and of them 42,594 belong to the scheduled castes! No doubt the evil system of manual scavenging is coming to an end, but as long as even a single person is compelled to do so, it is a matter of shame, a defeat, a social exploitation and a blot on our scientific society.

Babasaheb knew that as long as there is a caste system in India, the country’s overall development is not possible. But the reality is not hidden from anyone. Even today there are reports of harassment of Dalit brethren. The vibes of caste are still around. If you analyse the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data of the last 5-7 years, you will find that more than 120 cases of atrocities on Dalits are registered daily. If the number of cases being registered is so high, imagine the number of incidents that go unreported. Even today the incidents of preventing Dalits from drawing water from upper caste community wells and preventing them from entering the temple take place. Incidents like attacking Dalit bridegrooms for mounting a horse during marriage procession keep occurring! There are hundreds of incidents of honour killing every year. Even today in the rural parts of North India, villages are delimited as per caste demography. The Dalit settlements are usually located on the outskirts of the villages.

No political party ever gets tired of taking Babasaheb’s name and paying lip service to his ideals, but none of them has a roadmap to follow his path of social equality and justice. Over the years, many political leaders who played politics in the name of Babasaheb became millionaires and billionaires, but the person whose upliftment Babasaheb always advocated for, is still awaiting development! Today we are celebrating the Amrut Mahotsav of India’s Independence, but the people of independent India could not get the Amrut of an egalitarian society!

In the name of Babasaheb, we have established humongous institutions, built roads, buildings and auditoriums, developed hundreds of gardens and installed thousands of statues, assuming that we had paid back the debt of gratitude to him. This is an absolutely wrong idea. We haven’t repaid the debt at all!

Whenever I visit any auditorium named after Babasaheb and see his grand statue there, why do I feel suffocated? Why do people still die unattended in the hospitals built in the name of Babasaheb? Why do I feel disappointed whenever I visit any institute of higher learning named after Babasaheb? Why does the voice of Babasaheb’s followers become feeble in Parliament? Why is travelling in a plane from the airport named after Babasaheb still a dream for many? How many more examples do I need to give you? These eyes have seen a lot of ups and downs over the years, so the mind gets perplexed at times. After all, when will the common man be free from this pomp, show and deceit? Babasaheb! When will India become a country of your dreams?

The author is the chairman, Editorial Board of Lokmat Media and former member of Rajya Sabha.

Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s profound ability and scholarship can be gauged from the fact that he was entrusted with the very crucial and extremely important task of framing the Constitution of independent India. In this Constitution, he planted the seeds of India’s future, but unfortunately his dreams are unfulfilled yet. Why?

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Policy & Politics

THIRD ROUND OF INDIA-UAE CEPA NEGOTIATIONS DUE TO BEGIN IN DELHI ON MONDAY

Tarun Nangia

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Union Minister of Commerce and Industries, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal, met the representatives of Aluminium, Copper, and Chemicals and Petrochemicals Industry here today as part of the ongoing multi-stakeholder consultations related to the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations.

The third round of India-UAE CEPA negotiations are scheduled to be held in New Delhi on 06-10 December 2021 wherein both sides aim to conclude the negotiations. Shri Piyush Goyal apprised the representatives from the Industry about the importance of the CEPA in elevating the overall economic and commercial relations with UAE which in turn will not only benefit bilateral trade but also create new jobs and provide wider social and economic opportunities.

Providing a way forward on these discussions, Goyal appreciated the accommodative spirit of the Industry and urged the Industry representatives to continue to support the CEPA negotiations in the same spirit in the wider interests of the nation contributing to the holistic development of multi-sectoral economic value chains in the country.

The Minister also stressed on the potential benefits from the envisaged CEPA agreement for Industries which are labour intensive in nature and also on the numerous complementary spill-over economic benefits, including increased investments, job creation and employment opportunities. Further, industry representatives were also apprised of the strategic importance of the agreement which encompasses deeper bilateral economic engagement and wider market access.

The stakeholders expressed gratitude to the Minister for taking into consideration concerns of Indian Industry and provided constructive inputs on this matter with a view to ensure overall balance between market access and domestic sensitivities.

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Policy & Politics

Rice has a share of more than 45% in the total APEDA basket of exports in April-November 2021-22

India’s exports of agricultural and processed food products witness an increase of more than 13 per cent in the first eight months of current fiscal notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic

Tarun Nangia

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Notwithstanding logistical challenges posed by COVID19 pandemic, India’s exports of Agricultural and Processed Food products rose by more than 13 per cent in terms of USD in the first eight months of the current fiscal (April-November, 2021-22) compared to the same period of the previous year.






The export of products under the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) ambitincreased from USD 11,671 million in April-November 2020-21to USD 13,261 million in April-November 2021-22.

The target for exports under APEDA basket products has been fixed at USD 23,713 million in 2021-22.

The export of rice was the top forex earner at USD 5937 million during April-November 2021-22, growing 11 per cent over the corresponding period in 2020-21 when it touched USD 5,341million.

Meat, dairy and poultry products exports grew 12 per cent standing at USD 2665 million in April-November 2021-22compared to USD 2371 million in the corresponding eight-month period of 2020-21. Fruits and vegetables exports were up by 12 per cent to touch USD 1720 million during April-November 2021-22 against USD 1536 million in April-November 2020-21.

Exports of cereal preparations and miscellaneous processed items grew by 26 per cent during April-November 2021-22 to touch USD 1418 million against USD 1127 million in April-November, 2020-21. The cashew exports also grew by 29 per cent to USD 302 million in the first eight months of current fiscal compared to same period previous year.

The exports of oil meals declined by 12 per cent to USD 626 million in April-November, 2021-22, compared to same period in 2020-21.

Table: Agricultural and processed food products exports (April-November), 2021-22 vs 2020-21

Exports (April-November 2021-22) in USD million

Exports (April-November 2020-21) in USD million

Note: only oil meals exports declined Year-on-Year

The significant rise in agri-exports is seen as a testimony of the government’s commitment to increase farmers’ income through giving thrust on boosting exports of agricultural and processed food products of the country.

“We continue to focus on creating infrastructure for boosting exports by focusing on clusters in collaboration with state governments while taking into consideration objective of Agriculture Export Policy, 2018,” Dr M Angamuthu, Chairman, APEDA, said.

APEDA has been engaged with State Governments for the implementation of Agriculture Export Policy. Maharashtra, U.P., Kerala, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Manipur, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, M.P., Mizoram and Meghalaya have finalized the State specific Action Plan for exports while the action plans of other States are at different stages of finalization.

The rise in export of agricultural and processed food products has been largely due to the various initiatives taken by APEDA such as organizing B2B exhibitions in different countries, exploring new potential markets through product specific and general marketing campaigns by active involvement of Indian Embassies.

APEDA has also taken several initiatives to promote geographical indications (GI) registered agricultural and processed food products in India by organizing virtual Buyer Seller Meets on agricultural and food products with the major importing countries across the world.

In order to ensure seamless quality certification of products to be exported, APEDA has recognized 220 labs across India to provide services of testing to a wide range of products andexporters.

APEDA also assists in upgradation and strengthening of recognized laboratories for export testing and residue monitoring plans. APEDA also provides assistance under the financial assistance schemes of infrastructure development, quality improvement and market development for boosting export of agricultural products.

APEDA organizes participation of exporters in the International Trade Fairs, which provides a platform to the exporters to market their food products in the global marketplace. APEDA also organizes national events like AAHAR, Organic World Congress, BioFach India etc. to promote agri-exports.

APEDA also initiates registration of pack-houses for horticulture products for meeting the quality requirements of the international market. Registration of export units for peanut shelling and grading and processing units, for instance, is to ensure quality adherence for the EU and non-EU countries.

APEDA carries out registration of meat processing plants and abattoirs for ensuring compliance with global food safety and quality requirements. Another key initiative includes development and implementation of traceability systems which ensure the food safety and quality compliances of the importing countries. For boosting exports, APEDA compiles and disseminates various international trade analytical information, market access information amongst exporters and address trade enquiries.

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Policy & Politics

PIYUSH GOYAL REVIEWS PREPAREDNESS FOR MITIGATION OF CYCLONE JAWAD

Public Private Partnership necessary for Disaster Management and mitigation and for protecting lives and livelihoods, said Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal today reviewed preparedness for mitigation of cyclone Jawad.

Under the guidance of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, proactive disaster preparation and management are being institutionalized. Prime Minister has personally reviewed the preparation for Disaster Management and has also given instructions to various Ministries to work with State Governments, industry and all other stake holders to ensure minimal damage to life and property.

In line with these efforts, the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution and Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal today reviewed the arrangements and preparations made by the State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal today in a Video conference with the State Chief Secretaries concerned. National level Industry Associations like CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and PHD Chambers were also represented at the Conference.

The Minister took stock of the preparations being made by the respective State governments. He also reviewed the suggestions for successful mitigation made by Ministries, State Governments, industry bodies and other organizations and appreciated the concerted efforts being made to mitigate the cyclone. He said that this collaboration was a worthy example of cooperative federalism at its best. He also underscored the need for the drawing of a comprehensive action plan towards managing this natural disaster in a most effective way by incorporating the inputs and suggestions given by all stakeholders.

Goyal said that public private partnership is necessary for Disaster Management and mitigation and for protecting the lives and livelihoods of those affected. Observing that the cyclone seems to be a milder one, the Minister said that we must constantly upgrade our learnings and keep upgrading our capabilities. He also called for preparedness in the banking and insurance sectors to tackle the effects of the cyclone.

As per the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the low-pressure region in the Bay of Bengal is expected to intensify into Cyclone Jawad and is expected to reach the coast of north Andhra Pradesh – Odisha around the afternoon today, with the wind speed ranging up to 100 kmph.

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Policy & Politics

Job generation: Big scope for expansion of labour intensive plastic, footwear and textile sectors, says Goyal

Tarun Nangia

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Piyush Goyal

Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyaltoday called upon the captains of Indian Industry to set ambitious targets as our economy is poised for a sustained spell of rapid growth. Addressing the 5th Meeting of the CII National Council in New Delhi, he said the Industry has a huge role to play in the uplift of the poor and underprivileged.

Goyal encouraged the Industry to have a greater appetite for taking risks, to invest in Industries that may be less profitable at the start, but are labour oriented and create lakhsof jobs. He also urged the Industry to promote tribalhandicraft products as part of their CSR activities.

Goyal said there is big scope in the expansion of labour intensive Plastics, Footwear and Textiles industry. India cannot be truly Aatmanirbhar, without empowering its poor to be Aatmanirbhar, he added.

Goyal conveyed his appreciation for the Industry’s positive approach in FTA consultations. “Right now we are engaged in FTA negotiations with 6/7 countries,” he said. Citing India’s foreign trade as “very, very comfortable”,

Seeking accommodation in trade deals, Goyal said, “On our part, I believe, that it’s time that we engaged more with the world, we look at deeper engagement, – both imports and exports.” “If we (don’t) open our autos or spirits sectors, for example, it will open greater opportunities for India than the other way round,” he said.

Observing that 2020 has been a year of resilience for the Indian economy, Goyal said that in these unprecedentedtimes India has emerged as the ‘World’s Trusted Partner’ andis poised to contribute significantly to global growth. Policies of the Government in the last more than seven years, under the able leadership of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, have laid a solid foundation for growth of the Indian economy, he said.

Stating that all economic indices hinted at a fast growth trajectory, Goyal said India has Cost advantage as well as Trust advantage. “Services is growing at a fantastic pace, exports also are, of course on Merchandise,… Similarly remittances continue to be strong, FDI is at never before levels for the 7th time in a row, but this year the growth would be even much more, the capital markets are buzzing which means FII investments also and the IPO market is also gaining a lot of traction,” he said.

Goyal said the way we have fast bounced back since Covid, the way Industry geared itself up, Services sector, for example, reoriented their processes, Government supported Industry adopt WFH, we met all our international commitments throughout the Covid period including the lockdown. “Not for a second did any international supply chain, dependent on India, had to suffer, particularly the Services sector and for that matter even in the Goods sector,” he said.

Stressing that India is going through a sharp and strong revival, the Minister said that rising economic indicators point towards “India is shaping up for a growth decade.”

“Apna time aa gya (Our time has come)! This is the time to be in India & invest in India”, Shri Goyal said, adding “If we fail our Young Generation, it will be truly a sad day for India. We are at the cusp (of history). It’s our time to grab now, we’ll probably regret if we miss this opportunity.”

Goyal said that the Government is doing its part byundertaking transformational reforms such as PLI, PM GatiShakti, ODOP, Single Window, Retrospective tax amendment, National Asset Monetisation Pipeline, etc and opening up sectors like Defence, Space & Atomic Energy, Mining & Minerals, etc.

The Minister urged the top 100 CII members, that could comprise 1,000 companies, to onboard the NSWS Single Window clearance system and make full use of IILB Land Bank System. Resolving to use Indian materials to make a truly Aatmanirbhar Bharat, he said this will transform the future of India by making it self-reliant, resilient & competitive and will create jobs.

Shri Goyal said the Government has initiated several schemes for the benefit of the Industry and the public in general, including Power sector, One Nation, One Ration Card, world’s largest health insurance programme, – AyushmanBharat, UPI payments transfer and Jan Dhan banking for each and every home. “Government has focussed on saturating schemes,” he said.

Expressing confidence on the continuous Public-PrivatePartnership, Goyal said the Government is always thinking of how to empower the Industry and urged the entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas in nation-building.

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