NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday strongly countered critics questioning initiatives such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), making triple talaq punishable and revocation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status, saying the opposition stemmed from his determination to change the status quo which was holding the country back.
“When the status quo changes, then these people (critics) start seeing particular disruptions. Those who describe themselves as messiahs of gender justice oppose our decision on triple talaq. Those who tell the world about the rights of refugees oppose CAA when it is enacted for refugees. Those who swear by the Constitution are against removal of Article 370 — a temporary arrangement — to fully implement the provisions of the Constitution in J&K,” the PM said at the sixth edition of the Economic Times Global Business Summit.
As it happened:PM Modi’s address at ET Global Business Summit
The PM also spoke about the erosion of monopoly the elite had enjoyed in shaping public opinion. “There was a time when the prognoses of a few would set the direction of decisions. Their views on any matter would be treated as the final word. But thanks to technology and the democratisation of discourse, opinions of all sections of society have begun to matter and the general public is now getting its views heard in defiance of the well-settled wisdom,” Modi said.
He made the remark while referring to the “Collaborate to Create” theme of the Global Business Summit, organised by the country’s leading business daily, the Economic Times.
Modi described the theme as apt for the current times by pointing to the threat of coronavirus and said everyone needed to collaborate to overcome the threat. “Collaborate to Create is a requirement in the current times to achieve the goal of sustainable growth and to lay the foundation of the future as well. Global experience shows that people have been able to hold their own by working together. Those who worked their separate ways unravelled,” he said.
The PM said his government believed in replacing a belief in convenience with conviction in governance. “Their (critics) thought is that inaction is the most convenient action,” he said, adding that for his government, it was important to have the “conviction to do the right things, and break the status quo… in every sector, we are getting out of convenience and inaction”.
He said the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code process was unlocking massive stuck investments and noted that the government had provided a way out for businesses in distress. “Not everyone is dishonest…. There are troubles due to plans going wrong. We have offered a way out too,” he said, while also speaking of the “Vivaad se Vishwas” scheme that offers those involved in tax disputes an option to settle dues and clean their books.
Modi said the government’s foreign policy had moved past earlier formulations of the Cold War and non-alignment to strike friendships while remaining neutral. “There was a period when there was an attempt to stay clear by maintaining distance. Today, we try to move together by forging friendships,” he said, adding the government believed in working with Saudi Arabia as well as Iran and with the US and Russia.
“We could have followed the practice of the previous regimes — to make policies based on the recommendations of only a select few. Instead, we created a new path and moved with a new approach, responding to peoples’ aspirations,” he said.
The PM made it clear that he wanted the private sector to play a critical role in the economy, underlining that the $5-trillion economic target hinged on private sector collaboration, fair competition, wealth creation and removal of archaic laws. At the same time, he made it clear that his government would back honest businesses.
“Corruption and cronyism is being dealt with firmly. Whether it is in banking, FDI or allocation of natural resources, we are removing crony capitalism,” he said, adding that the government was focusing on simplification and rationalisation of rules and processes, and driving in transparency. He listed the “Vivaad se Vishwas” scheme to end tax disputes and also the decriminalisation of several provisions of the Companies Act as steps in this direction.
While Modi listed a series of reforms introduced by his government, which helped speed up creation of infrastructure, he said the global economy was going through a rough patch but the government was trying to be proactive to shield the Indian economy.
Welcoming the PM, Vineet Jain, MD of Times Group, said the series of reformist steps initiated by the Modi government had helped the country tackle global headwinds and economic challenges.
“The Prime Minister and his team have worked towards encouraging investment, enabling business and empowering Indian citizens from all sections of society. The results are clear. Even with global headwinds, the resilience of the Indian economy is apparent. We seem to have weathered the slowdown with green shoots of growth now visible in many sectors,” Jain said.
He added that the world now faced different types of challenges such as the spread of coronavirus, something that no one had imagined a year ago.
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