August 23, 2017

Speaking with Times Now on the Govt’s efforts to build a New India

Q: Good afternoon and joining us this afternoon is Minister of State, Independent Charge for Power, Coal and Non-Renewable Energy Sources. Mr Piyush Goyal, thank you very much for joining us here on Times Now. We are talking today about Sankalp se Siddhi, which is the New India pledge that has been put forth by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What does this pledge really stand for? Is this the roadmap for the country over the next five years that your party, the BJP and your government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to chart out for the entire country?
A: Prime Minister Modi has always been deeply concerned that 70 years after independence, there is a large section of people in India, poor, the marginally and socially deprived people, women, youth, who still haven’t got the feeling that independent India is giving them a good quality of life. When we were celebrating the 75th anniversary of Quit India movement on 9th August, 2017, Prime Minister Modi felt that as we progress from this date until 15th August, 2022, when we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of India’s independence; can we collectively as a nation and a 125 crore Indians resolve that we will make sure that by 2022, we will have a New India, an India of the dreams of each and every citizen of this country where everybody has a shelter, 24/7 electricity, clean drinking water, a road leading up to his home, a good toilet inside his home, good health facilities, education in the neighborhood.

And when the entire nation has got the enthusiasm to make this happen, then no power on earth can stop us from achieving this New India of Prime Minister Modi’s dreams.

Q: Mr Piyush Goyal, you are very right and nobody can fault the basic tenets of this development programme that has been put forth by the Modi government. But the question really here translates to where is the job creation? Because all of this; incomes improvement, development and better quality of life as you talk about, only comes when there are jobs that are going in the market. That really is the biggest challenge that the Modi government faces today, would you agree?
A: That, in fact, is the biggest achievement also of the Modi government. I was recently reading a report of McKinsey, in which they have highlighted how in the changing ecosystem where the world is moving towards newer and newer technologies, innovation has come into play, the way artificial intelligence, 3D manufacturing, all of these new systems; Renewable Energy, my own department, for example, all of these are leading to an ecosystem where the old days of government job or large scale factories manufacturing a certain product or generating electricity are bygone, it’s history.

In the new age, the startups are going to provide working opportunities, entrepreneurs are going to flourish, people are going to look at self-employment, people are going to look at how they can create newer and newer avenues to increase their income. Take, for example, our engagement over the last two weeks with startup entrepreneurs, young CEOs, people from all walks of life where the Prime Minister and the many members of the Cabinet and Secretaries interacted with young minds, whose heart beats for India, whose mind is working for newer and newer technologies, newer ways to do business. They came up with some fantastic ideas.

Tourism alone, on which this Modi government is really focused, can generate 40 to 50 million new working opportunities. Now, they won’t get a 9 to 5 job in a government office in the traditional sense that you would probably calculate a job. But, maybe 200,000 people who learn Spanish could become facilitators for tourists from Spain to come to India. There could be a 100,000 people who will learn to explain the various things that we have in our museums, like that we have 3,800 heritage sites in the country. We will be focusing our energies to see how Hampi in Karnataka can become a world tourism place, how Banaras in Uttar Pradesh can attract twice the number of tourists what it already does.

And, to my mind, the potential is huge to get people engaged in the tourism sector. As honourable Prime Minister said yesterday, it’s a chicken and egg story. Once more tourists come, the ecosystem builds up to support that. But, unless there is an ecosystem, tourists don’t want to come. So, we in government are playing the role of a facilitator to encourage that mix and match.

Similarly, in renewable energy, millions of people will get new working opportunities. What one plant of 4000 MW can create as jobs, similarly, the amount of similar energy created through renewable energy will create 10 times the number of jobs. So, the mechanism and the ecosystem is changing.

Q: Well, Mr Piyush Goyal, you are right there, but there are other issues. And a former RBI Governor has stated that we create 4 lakh engineers in this country every year, but 2 lakh of these engineers are unemployable. So, questions of standardization of syllabus, the kind of training people are getting, the kind of training that is required, the skill sets that are required is a huge challenge. My question to you is nobody questions the basic tenets, but the question is impractical and the implementation, are we going to actually fulfill this dream in the foreseeable future.
A: Certainly! Quality of education is an important agenda of this government. To begin with, we have expanded the available sources; we have added a number of IITs, IIITs, IIMs all across the country. We have added more seats for medical education in the last 3 years than were done in the previous 10.

There has been a continuous effort both to expand the opportunities of quality education and to upgrade the existing facilities. We have recently approved, as you might recall, in the budget the honourable FM announced, 10 institutes would be as a pilot picked up and made international class, world-class institutes of excellence in the public sector and 10 in the private sector. That will be a beginning, others will then emulate that. And the entire process of taking education to the people can get upgraded.

Similarly, we are looking at using the digital world, so that even in the remotest corners, smaller schools using optic fiber, which this government has expanded as you may be aware, from 358 kms 3 years ago to over 2,10,000 kms now, we are looking at leveraging on this resource to take internet and education to the schools in the remotest corners of the country and upgrade the level of the education there.

Q: Mr Goyal, you know, the question is the growth rates have been improving, but there are two major shocks that have come in – the demonetization shock, the GST shock. Do you think this will have an impact on the overall growth rate and the overall employment rate, because that really is the basis on which the entire development model really rests?
A: Navikaji, this country was always yearning to be called an honest country, a country where trade and business is at international levels of honesty. And I think what Prime Minister Modi has embarked over the last 3 years, his journey to eliminate black money, to eliminate corruption has started bearing fruit. More and more people post-demonetization and, particularly, after the very successful launch of GST are getting into the formal or engaging with the formal economy. As we formalize the economy, it will attract more and more investment in different sectors. The world will want to come and invest.

Wherever we go in the world, we are very excited about the level of transparency, the level of predictability and simple laws that are being set up. The amount of confidence that India has been able to generate in investors worldwide will, to my mind, take this country to double-digit growth in the years to come.

Q: But, Mr Piyush Goyal, once again I bring you back to the question that yes these foundation stones, all of these tenets are extremely worthy, but the question here is of implementation – infrastructure sector, manufacturing sector. Do you think these will deliver the dividends of the plans that Prime Minister had in his mind of Making in India, Startup India, Stand Up India?
A: Undoubtedly! I wish you could have seen the enthusiasm in the young CEOs, the startup entrepreneurs, these young boys and girls who have come with so much passion in their work, who are looking to be a part of this new India, who have, in fact, pledged now, after this interaction, that we will not be looking at it only from what benefit our industry or business can get, but what we can give back to society.

Truly, the words of Robert Kennedy at that point of time, ‘ask not what America can do for you, but ask what you can do for America’, seem to now resonate in India with Prime Minister Modi getting the best interest in the young youth of India to engage in his dream of New India. Yesterday, they took a Sankalp, they took a pledge that they will be the New India, they will become ambassadors of New India, they will design how we can move on this path towards New India and that is what will give us Siddhi.

This Sankalp se Siddhi yatra is going to rest with Janbhagidaari, with people’s participation, and whence 125 crore people decide that they are going to achieve a New India of their dreams, they are going to ensure everybody has a good house, good electricity, quality education, quality healthcare, a toilet positively, I think no power on earth can stop India from achieving these ambitious goals.

Q: Before I let you go, I will only ask you one question. You may call it a politically loaded question, but Mr Piyush Goyal, this Sankalp se Siddhi pledge is for the period of the next 5 years from 2017 to 2022. Has the BJP taken it as a foregone conclusion that the 2019 election is going to be yours and there are going to be no political upsets?
A: BJP fights every election with full sincerity, goes to the people, talks about our work and works with the people of India to win every election very seriously. If the people of India have decided that they want to give us a second term that I am sure your surveys and the various surveys and various interactions that media has with the people will help you take a judgment call on that.

Recently, I read some magazine talking about the NDA getting over 400 seats if an election was to be held now, but that is the people’s voice. As far as BJP is concerned, we believe in serving the people, every single opportunity we get we wish to serve. We will continue to serve. And I am sure, the people of India are watching and seeing the kind of work Prime Minister Modi and his team is doing, both in the centre and now in over 18 states in the country.

Anchor: Well, thank you very much Mr Piyush Goyal for joining us here. And, may the future that you have charted for this country India over Sankalp se Siddhi in the next 5 years is actually converted into reality, because that’s what every Indian will look forward to an improvement in his own quality of life.

Thank you very much Mr Piyush Goyal.

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