Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday said the goal of making India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024 is challenging but surely achievable, as he asked states to focus on their core competencies and work towards increasing the GDP right from the district level. Addressing the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, Modi also announced setting up a high-powered committee comprising some chief ministers and union ministers on structural reforms in agriculture.
The meeting which held in a "very positive atmosphere" was attended by senior union ministers and almost all the chief ministers, except for Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) and K Chandrashekhar Rao (Telangana).
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could not attend the meeting due to health reasons. Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jairam Thakur too could not attend the meeting as he was in Germany.
Banerjee had earlier said she would not attend the meeting saying Niti Aayog is a "fruitless" body as it has no financial powers. Rao did not come as he was busy with preparations for the launch of the ambitious Rs 80,000 crore Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project that would end water woes in the state.
After the meeting, Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar told reporters that composition and terms of reference about the high-powered committee on agriculture reforms would be announced in the next few days. The committee, he added, would be submitting its report in two-three months. On the absence of the Bengal chief minister, Kumar said it is regrettable that she did not come as her contribution to the meeting would have been helpful.
In his inaugural address, the prime minister also underlined the need for taking effective steps to tackle drought in various parts of the country. According to an official release, Modi recalled the recent General Elections as the world's largest democratic exercise and said that it is now time for everyone to work for the development of India. He spoke of a collective fight against poverty, unemployment, drought, flood, pollution, corruption and violence.
The prime minister said that everyone has a common goal of achieving a New India by 2022. He described Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and PM Awaas Yojana as illustrations of what the Centre and the states can accomplish together. Stressing that the focus should be on collective responsibility for achieving short-term and long-term goals, Modi said the goal to make India a USD 5 trillion economy by 2024, is "challenging, but can surely be achieved".
The size of India's economy was estimated at USD 2.75 trillion at end-March 2019. States, he added, should recognise their core competence, and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level. He also stressed on increasing exports from the country.
Amid drought-like situation in several parts of the country, Modi called for effective steps to tackle drought and emphasised that "per-drop, more-crop" strategy should be promoted. India has faced deficit monsoon rains for the last five years and water management has become a major issue.
The release further said Modi reiterated the Union Government's commitment to double incomes of farmers by 2022. To achieve this, he said there should be a focus on fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture, fruits and vegetables. He said that the benefits of PM-KISAN - KisanSammanNidhi - and other farmer-centric schemes should reach the intended beneficiaries well within time.
Noting that there is a need for structural reform in agriculture, Modi spoke of the need to boost corporate investment, strengthen logistics, and provide ample market support. He said the food processing sector should grow at a faster pace than foodgrain production.
Referring to the left-wing extremism, Modi said the battle against Naxal violence is now in a decisive phase. "He said violence will be dealt with firmly, even as development proceeds in a fast-paced and balanced manner," the release said quoting the prime minister.
The Prime Minister urged those states who have not implemented PMJAY under Ayushman Bharat, so far, to come onboard this scheme at the earliest. He said health and wellness should be the focal point of every decision.
While welcoming the participants, Modi said Niti Aayog has a key role to play in fulfilling the mantra of SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas, SabkaVishwas. The Centre has embarked upon a major policy initiative for rapid transformation of 115 districts which are lagging on specific development parameters.
Giving further details about the meeting, the Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman said the stress was on boosting the agriculture sector and many of the states suggested a review of the agricultural produce market committees and norms related to essential commodities law. He also said the issue related to Jammu and Kashmir too came up for discussion and Governor Satya Pal Malik informed the gathering that there was a marked improvement in the law and order situation in the state.
On the Left-wing extremism, Kumar said that Home Minister Amit Shah talked about improvement in situation citing data. The problem of Naxalism was being contained because there has been better coordination and information sharing among affected states.
Kumar said several states made many suggestions regarding the forthcoming Union Budget. He said the suggestions would help in budget making. He also said devolution of funds from the Centre to states has almost doubled to Rs 41 lakh crore in the past four years.