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देश को एकता के सूत्र में पिरोने वाले आधुनिक भारत के निर्माता को विशेष श्रद्धांजलि

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नरेन्‍द्र मोदी, भारत के प्रधानमंत्री

वर्ष 1947 के पहले छह महीने भारत के इतिहास में अत्‍यंत महत्‍वपूर्ण रहे थे। साम्राज्‍यवादी शासन के साथ-साथ भारत का विभाजन भी अपने अंतिम चरण में पहुंच गया था। हालांकि,  उस समय यह तस्‍वीर पूरी तरह से साफ नहीं थी कि क्‍या देश का एक से अधिक बार विभाजन होगा। कीमतें आसमान पर पहुंच गई थीं, खाद्य पदार्थों की कमी आम बात हो गई थी, लेकिन इन बातों से परे सबसे बड़ी चिंता भारत की एकता को लेकर नजर आ रही थी, जो खतरे में थी।

इस पृष्‍ठभूमि में ‘गृह विभाग’ का बहुप्रतीक्षित गठन वर्ष 1947 के जून महीने में किया गया। इस विभाग का एक प्रमुख लक्ष्‍य उन 550 से भी अधिक रियासतों से भारत के साथ उनके रिश्‍तों के बारे में बातचीत करना था जिनके आकार, आबादी, भू-भाग अथवा आर्थिक स्थितियों में काफी भिन्‍नताएं थीं। उस समय महात्‍मा गांधी ने कहा था कि, ‘‘राज्‍यों की समस्‍या इतनी ज्‍यादा विकट है कि सिर्फ ‘आप’ ही इसे सुलझा सकते हैं।’’ यहां पर ‘आप’ से आशय किसी और से नहीं, बल्कि सरदार वल्‍लभभाई पटेल से है जिनकी जयंती आज हम मना रहे हैं और जिन्‍हें हम भावभीनी श्रद्धांजलि दे रहे हैं।

अपनी विशिष्‍ट सरदार पटेल शैली में उन्‍होंने सटीक तौर पर सुदृढ़ता और प्रशासनिक दक्षता के साथ इस चुनौती को पूरा किया। समय कम था और जवाबदेही बहुत बड़ी थी। लेकिन, इसे अंजाम देने वाली शख्सियत कोई साधारण व्‍यक्ति नहीं, बल्कि सरदार पटेल ही थे, जो इस बात के लिए दृढ़प्रति‍ज्ञ थे कि वह किसी भी सूरत में अपने राष्‍ट्र को झुकने नहीं देंगे। उन्‍होंने और उनकी टीम ने एक-एक करके सभी रियासतों से बातचीत की और इन सभी रियासतों को ‘आजाद भारत’ का अभिन्‍न हिस्‍सा बनाना सुनिश्चित किया।

सरदार पटेल ने पूरी तन्‍मयता और लगन से दिन-रात एक करते हुए इस कार्य को पूरा किया और इसी शैली की बदौलत ही आधुनिक भारत का वर्तमान एकीकृत मानचित्र हम देख रहे हैं।

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कहा जाता है कि वी. पी. मेनन ने स्वतंत्रता मिलने पर सरकारी सेवा से अवकाश लेने की इच्छा व्यक्त की। इस पर सरदार पटेल ने उनसे कहा कि समय आराम करने या सेवा निवृत्त होने का नहीं है। सरदार पटेल का ऐसा दृढ़ संकल्प था। वी. पी. मेनन विदेश विभाग के सचिव बनाए गए। उन्होंने अपनी पुस्तक ‘द स्टोरी ऑफ द इंटीग्रेशन ऑफ इंडियन स्टेट्स’ में लिखा है कि किस तरह सरदार पटेल ने इस मुहिम में अग्रणी भूमिका निभाई और अपने नेतृत्‍व में किस प्रकार पूरी टीम को परिश्रम से काम करने के लिए प्रेरित किया। उन्होंने लिखा है कि सरदार पटेल के लिए सबसे पहले भारत की जनता के हित थे, जिस पर कोई समझौता नहीं किया जा सकता।

हमने 15 अगस्त, 1947 को नए भारत के उदय का उत्सव मनाया। लेकिन राष्ट्र निर्माण का कार्य अधूरा था। स्वतंत्र भारत के प्रथम गृह मंत्री के रूप में उन्होंने प्रशासनिक ढांचा बनाने का काम प्रारंभ किया जो आज भी जारी है- चाहे यह दैनिक शासन संचालन का मामला हो तथा लोगों विशेषकर, गरीब और वंचित लोगों के हितों की रक्षा का मामला हो।

सरदार पटेल अनुभवी प्रशासक थे। प्रशासन में उनका अनुभव विशेषकर 1920 के दशक में अहमदाबाद नगरपालिका में उनकी सेवा का अनुभव, स्वतंत्र भारत के प्रशासनिक ढांचे को मजबूत बनाने में सहायक साबित हुआ। उन्होंने अहमदाबाद में स्वच्छता कार्य को आगे बढ़ाने में सराहनीय कार्य किए। उन्होंने पूरे शहर में स्वच्छता और जल निकासी प्रणाली सुनिश्चित की। उन्होंने सड़क, बिजली तथा शिक्षा जैसी शहरी अवसंरचना के अन्य पहलुओं पर भी जोर दिया।

आज यदि भारत जीवंत सहकारिता क्षेत्र के लिए जाना जाता है तो इसका श्रेय सरदार पटेल को जाता है। ग्रामीण समुदायों, विशेषकर महिलाओं को सशक्त बनाने का उनका विजन अमूल परियोजना में दिखता है। यह सरदार पटेल ही थे, जिन्होंने सहकारी आवास सोसाइटी के विचार को लोकप्रिय बनाया और इस प्रकार अनेक लोगों के लिए सम्मान और आश्रय सुनिश्चित किया।

सरदार पटेल निष्ठा और ईमानदारी के पर्याय रहे। भारत के किसानों की उनमें प्रगाढ़ आस्था थी। वह किसान पुत्र थे, जिन्होंने बारदोली सत्याग्रह के दौरान अगली कतार से नेतृत्व किया। श्रमिक वर्ग उनमें आशा की किरण देखता था, एक ऐसा नेता देखता था जो उनके लिए बोलेगा। व्यापारी और उद्योगपतियों ने उनके साथ इसलिए काम करना पसंद किया, क्योंकि वे समझते थे कि सरदार पटेल भारत के आर्थिक और औद्योगिक विकास के विजन वाले दिग्गज नेता हैं।

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उनके राजनैतिक मित्र भी उन पर भरोसा करते थे। आचार्य कृपलानी का कहना था कि जब कभी वह किसी दुविधा में होते थे और यदि बापू का मार्गदर्शन नहीं मिल पाता था तो वह सरदार पटेल का रूख करते थे। 1947 में जब राजनैतिक समझौते के बारे में विचार-विमर्श अपने चरम पर था, तब सरोजिनी नायडू ने उन्‍हें ‘‘संकल्‍प शक्ति वाले गतिशील व्‍यक्ति’’ की संज्ञा दी।

उनके शब्‍दों और उनकी कार्य प्रणाली पर सभी को पूरा विश्वास था। जाति, धर्म, आयु से ऊपर उठकर सभी लोग सरदार पटेल का सम्‍मान करते थे।

इस वर्ष सरदार की जयंती और अधिक विशेष है। 130 करोड़ भारतीयों के आशीर्वाद से आज ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ का उद्घाटन किया जा रहा है। नर्मदा के तट पर स्थित ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ दुनिया की सबसे ऊंची प्रतिमाओं में से एक है। धरती पुत्र सरदार पटेल हमारा सिर गर्व से ऊंचा करने के साथ हमें दृढ़ता प्रदान करेंगे, हमारा मार्गदर्शन करेंगे और हमें प्रेरणा देते रहेंगे।

मैं उन सभी को बधाई देना चाहता हूं जिन्‍होंने सरदार पटेल की इस विशाल प्रतिमा को हकीकत में बदलने के लिए दिन-रात काम किया। मैं 31 अक्‍टूबर, 2013 के उस दिन को याद करता हूं जब हमने इस महत्‍वाकांक्षी परियोजना की आधारशिला रखी थी। रिकॉर्ड समय में, इतनी बड़ी एक परियोजना तैयार हो गई और प्रत्‍येक भारतीय को इससे गौरवान्वित होना चाहिए। मैं आप सभी से आग्रह करता हूं कि आने वाले समय में ‘स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ को देखने आएं।

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स्‍टैच्‍यू ऑफ यूनिटी’ दिलों की एकता और हमारी मातृभूमि की भौगोलिक एकजुटता का प्रतीक है। यह याद दिलाता है कि आपस में बंटकर शायद हम डटकर मुकाबला नहीं कर पाएं। एकजुट रहकर, हम दुनिया का सामना कर सकते हैं और विकास तथा गौरव की नई ऊंचाइयों को छू सकते हैं।

सरदार पटेल ने उपनिवेशवाद के इतिहास को ढहाने के लिए अभूतपूर्व गति से काम किया और राष्‍ट्रवाद की भावना के साथ एकता के भूगोल की रचना की। उन्‍होंने भारत को छोटे क्षेत्रों अथवा राज्‍यों में विभाजित होने से बचाया और राष्‍ट्रीय ढांचे में सबसे कमजोर हिस्‍सों को जोड़ा। आज, हम, 130 करोड़ भारतीय नये भारत का निर्माण करने के लिए कंधे के कंधा मिलाकर काम कर रहे हैं जो मजबूत, समृद्ध और समग्र होगा। प्रत्‍येक फैसला यह सुनिश्चित करके किया जा रहा है कि विकास का लाभ भ्रष्‍टाचार अथवा पक्षपात के बिना समाज के सबसे कमजोर वर्ग तक पहुंचे जैसा कि सरदार पटेल चाहते थे।

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A special tribute to a great unifier & the maker of modern India

unnamed.jpg Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

The first half of 1947 was a critical period in India’s history. The end of colonial rule was certain and so was India’s partition but what was uncertain was whether there would be more than one division. Prices were rising, food shortages were common but over and above everything else, the unity of India was under severe strain.

It was in these circumstances that the States Department came into being in the middle of 1947. Among the chief aims of this Department was to negotiate India’s relationship with the over 550 Princely states, which were as diverse as they could get, be it in size, population, terrain or economic situation. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi remarked, “The problem of the states is so difficult that YOU alone can solve it.”

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The YOU in question is none other than Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, whose Jayanti we are marking today and to whom we pay our tributes. In vintage Sardar Patel style, he went about his work with precision, firmness and administrative efficiency. Time was less and the task was herculean…but this was no ordinary person, it was Sardar Patel, who was determined not to let his nation down. One by one, he and his team negotiated with the Princely states and ensured that they all became a part of free India.

It was due to the round the clock effort of Sardar Patel that the map of India is what it is today!

Once freedom was won, VP Menon, it is said, wanted to retire from government service, only to be told by Sardar Patel that this was neither the time rest nor the time to retire. Such was Sardar Patel’s firm resolve.VP Menon was made the Secretary of the States Department. In his book ‘The Story of the Integration of Indian States’, he writes about how Sardar Patel led from the front and inspired the entire team to work assiduously. He also writes that Sardar Patel was clear- first and foremost came the interests of the people of India, there would be no compromise on that.

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On 15th August 1947, we celebrated the dawn of a new destiny but the work of nation building was far from complete. As Independent India’s first Home Minister, he set the stage for an administrative framework that continues to serve the nation be it in matters of day to day governance and protecting the interests of the people, particularly the poor and marginalized.

Sardar Patel was a veteran administrator. His own experience in governance, particularly in the 1920s, when he served the Ahmedabad municipality, was extremely handy when he worked towards strengthening independent India’s administrative framework. While in Ahmedabad, he did commendable work in furthering cleanliness in the city. He ensured clean and functioning drainage systems across the city. He also focussed on other aspects of urban infrastructure such as roads, electricity and education.

Today, if India is known for a vibrant cooperative sector, a large part of the credit goes to Sardar Patel. The roots of Amul can be traced back to his vision for empowering local communities, particularly women. It was Sardar Patel who also popularized the idea of cooperative housing societies, thus ensuring dignity and shelter for many.

Two traits synonymous with Sardar Patel are trust and integrity. The farmers of India had unparalleled faith in him. Afterall, he was a Kisan Putra, who led from the front during the Bardoli Satyagraha. The working class saw him as a ray of hope, a leader who would speak up for them. Traders and industrialists preferred to work with Sardar Patel because they felt here was a stalwart who had a vision for India’s economic and industrial growth.

His political peers too trusted him. Acharya Kripalani remarked that whenever they faced an issue and if Bapu’s guidance was not available, they would turn to Sardar Patel. When political negotiations were at their peak in 1947, Sarojini Naidu called him “the man of decision and man of action.”

Everyone trusted him, his words and his actions. Sardar Patel continues to be respected across caste, creed, faith, age!

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This year’s Sardar Jayanti is even more special. With the blessings of 130 crore Indians, the ‘Statue of Unity’ is being inaugurated today. Situated on the banks of the Narmada, the ‘Statue of Unity’ is among the tallest in the world. ‘Dharti Putra’ Sardar Patel will stand tall in the skies, to guide us and inspire us.

 

I congratulate all those who have worked day and night to ensure that this grand statue in tribute of Sardar Patel becomes a reality. My mind goes back to 31st October 2013, when we laid the foundation stone for this ambitious project. In record time, a project of such scale has become ready and this should make every Indian proud. I urge you all to visit the ‘Statue of Unity’ in the times to come.

The ‘Statue of Unity’ is a symbol of both the unity of hearts and the geographical integrity of our motherland. It is a reminder that divided, we may not be even able to face ourselves. United, we can face the world and scale new heights of growth and glory.

Sardar Patel worked with astonishing speed to dismantle the history of imperialism and create the geography of unity with the spirit of nationalism. He saved India from Balkanization and integrated even the weakest of limbs into the national framework. Today, we, the 130 crore Indians are working shoulder to shoulder to build a New India that is strong, prosperous and inclusive. Every decision is being taken to ensure that the fruits of development reach the most vulnerable, without any corruption or favouritism, just as Sardar Patel would have wanted it.

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How Bapu united India: Today we have a similar opportunity to build the India of Gandhiji’s dreams

Today we mark the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of our beloved Bapu. He remains a shining beacon of hope for millions of people across the world who seek a life of equality, dignity, inclusion and empowerment. The impact he left on human society has few parallels.

 

Mahatma Gandhi connected India, in letter and spirit, in thought and action. As Sardar Patel rightly said, “India is a land of diversity. If there was one person who brought everyone together, made people rise above differences, to fight colonialism and enhanced India’s stature at the world stage, it was Mahatma Gandhi.” In the 21st century, the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi remain as essential as they were in his time and offer solutions to several problems the world faces. In a world where terrorism, radicalisation, extremism and mindless hate are dividing nations as well as societies, his clarion calls of peace and ahimsa have the power to unite humanity.

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At a time when inequalities are not uncommon, Bapu’s emphasis on equal and inclusive growth can herald an era of prosperity for the millions on the margins. In an era where climate change and environmental degradation have become central issues of discussion, the world can refer to the thoughts of Gandhiji. More than a century ago, in 1909 he differentiated between human wants and human greed. He urged both restraint and compassion while utilising natural resources and, he himself led by example in doing this. He cleaned his own toilets, ensuring clean surroundings. He also ensured minimal wastage of water and when he was in Ahmedabad, he took great care to ensure that unclean water did not merge with the Sabarmati.

 

 

Sometime back, a crisp, comprehensive and concise document caught my attention. In 1941, Bapu wrote the ‘Constructive Programme: Its meaning and place’, which he subsequently modified in 1945, when there was renewed fervour around the freedom movement. In that document, Bapu has talked about a wide range of topics ranging across rural development, strengthening agriculture, enhancing sanitation, promoting Khadi, empowerment of women, economic equality among other issues.

I would urge my fellow Indians to have a look at Gandhiji’s ‘Constructive Programme’ and make it a guiding light on how we can build the India of Bapu’s dreams. Many topics are absolutely relevant today and the government of India is fulfilling many of the points venerable Bapu raised seven decades ago but remain unfulfilled even today.

One of the most beautiful aspects of Gandhiji’s personality was that he made every Indian feel that he or she is working for India’s freedom. He instilled the spirit of self-belief that a teacher, lawyer, doctor, farmer, labourer, entrepreneur, in whatever they were doing they were contributing to India’s freedom struggle. In the same light, today, let us embrace those aspects we think we can act upon that will fulfil Gandhiji’s vision. It can start with something as simple as ensuring zero waste of food to imbibing values of non-violence and togetherness.

Let us think about how our actions can contribute to a cleaner and greener environment for the future generations. Almost eight decades ago, when the threats of pollution were not as much, Gandhiji took to cycling. Those in Ahmedabad recall him cycling from Gujarat Vidyapith to Sabarmati Ashram. In fact, I read that one of Gandhiji’s first protests in South Africa was against a set of laws that prevented people from cycling. Despite a prosperous legal career, Gandhiji would use the bicycle to travel in Johannesburg. Can we emulate this same spirit today?

The festive season is here and people across India would be shopping for new clothes, gifts, food items and more. While doing so, remember the wise thoughts Gandhiji gave us in the form of his talisman. Let us think about how our actions can light the lamp of prosperity in the lives of our fellow Indians. By buying what they make, be it a khadi product, or a gift item or foodstuffs, we are helping our fellow Indians in pursuit of a better life. We may never have seen them or may not do so for the rest of our lives. However, Bapu would be proud of us that in our actions we are helping fellow Indians.

Over the last four years, 130 crore Indians have paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi in the form of the Swachh Bharat Mission. Completing four years today, it has emerged as a vibrant mass movement with commendable outcomes. Over 85 million households now have access to toilets for the first time. Over 400 million Indians no longer have to defecate in the open. In a short span of four years, sanitation coverage is up from 39% to 95%. Twenty-one states, Union territories and 4.5 lakh villages are now open defecation free.

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An overwhelming majority of Indians today did not have the good fortune of being a part of the freedom struggle. We could not die for the nation then but now, we must live for the nation and do everything possible to build the India our freedom fighters envisioned. Today we have a great opportunity to fulfil Bapu’s dream. We have covered substantial ground and I am confident we will cover a lot more in the times to come.

One of Bapu’s favourite hymns was “vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je, peer parayee jaane re,” which means “a good soul is one who feels the pain of others.” It was this spirit that made him live for others. Today, we, the 1.3 billion Indians are committed to working together to fulfil the dreams Bapu saw for a country for which he gave his life.

Surgical Strikes – September 2016

Officially released statement by DGMO on Surgical Strikes – September 2016

It has been a matter of serious concern that there has been continuing and increasing infiltration by terrorists across Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir. This is reflected, amongst others, in the terrorist attacks on 11 and 18 September 16 in Punch and Uri respectively. Almost 20 infiltration attempts have also been foiled by the Army at or close to the Line of Control during this year.

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During these terrorist attacks and infiltration attempts, we have recovered various stores including GPS and items that clearly indicate their origins in Pakistan. Furthermore, captured terrorists hailing from Pakistan or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir have confessed to their training and arming in Pakistan or territory under its control. The matter had been taken up at highest diplomatic levels and through military channels. India has also offered consular access to these apprehended terrorists for Pakistan to verify their confessions. Furthermore, we had proposed that fingerprints and DNA samples of terrorists killed in Punch and Uri could be made available to Pakistan for investigation.

Despite our persistent urging that Pakistan respect its January 2004 commitment for not allowing its soil or territory under its control to be used for terrorism against India, there has been no let up in infiltration and terrorist actions from across the Line of Control. If damage was limited, this was primarily due to the efforts of our soldiers deployed in our multi-tiered counter-infiltration grid that has been effective in neutralizing infiltrating terrorists. The Indian Armed Forces have been extremely vigilant in the face of this continuing threat.

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Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carryout infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists. The operations were focussed on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens.

During these counter terrorist operations significant casualties were caused to terrorists and those providing support to them. The operations aimed at neutralizing terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for further continuation. However, the Indian Armed Forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise.

I have been in touch with Pakistan Army DGMO and have informed him of our actions. It is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region. But we cannot allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack citizens of our country at will. In line with Pakistan’s commitment in January 2004 not to allow its soil or territory under its control to be used for attacks against India, we expect the Pakistani army to cooperate with us to erase the menace of terrorism from the region.

WATCH: More visuals of Surgical strike footage of 29/9/2016 from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK)

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Source: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=151242

Success of Swachh Bharat


Amitabh-Kant.jpg Amitabh Kant , CEO NITI Aayog

We are almost at the fourth anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission, which makes this an opportune time to look at what makes it tick. The numbers speak for themselves, including the unprecedented increase in toilet coverage, and the resultant health and financial gains. Sanitation coverage in rural India increased from 38 per cent in 2014 to over 92 per cent in 2018 and 8.5 crore toilets have been constructed in rural India since the Mission began. Usage of toilets as per a recent, large-scale survey under the World Bank support project is also above 90 per cent. More than 4.5 lakh villages and over 450 districts have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Big impact

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These notable achievements of the Mission are expected to result in significant health, economic and social benefits. As per a recent WHO report, it is estimated that SBM will account for over 3 lakh avoided diarrhoeal deaths by the time India becomes free from open defecation – a milestone not too far from us today. UNICEF (2017) has estimated that each family in an ODF village in India saves Rs 50,000 per year on account of avoided medical costs, less sick days and value of lives saved.

How Swachh Bharat is different

While India has had schemes for sanitation for decades now, Swachh Bharat has surged ahead due to reasons that make the Mission unique. Primary among these is the strong political will and inspiring leadership behind the programme, with the Prime Minister of the country championing the cause at national and international levels. Swachh Bharat Mission has always found references in his monthly Mann ki Baat addresses and other public speeches, inspiring the masses to be part of this Jan Andolan. It is his personal drive towards this Mission that has further encouraged other senior political leaders including Union Ministers, State CMs, MPs, MLAs to spread the message of Swachhata in their region. Subsequently, government officers have put the sanitation agenda on priority.

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The Mission’s emphasis on behaviour change, and focus on outputs rather than outcomes also makes it stand ahead of its previous counterparts, which focussed primarily on the construction of toilets and bathrooms, mistakenly assuming use of toilets as a given. The Swachh Bharat Mission has followed the demand-driven approach as opposed to the supply-driven outlook.

 

Decentralised monitoring and use of technology

The Swachh Bharat Mission also focuses heavily on measuring outputs in terms of monitoring progress of ODF villages and districts. The guidelines for declaring a village and district ODF are well-defined and communicated to all States. Villages declared ODF are verified within three months of a declaration by block and district officials. More than 80 per cent of villages declared ODF has been verified successfully. In case of any gaps identified during verification, block officials are informed and asked to take corrective measures in a timely manner. Even toilets constructed are to be geotagged mandatorily so as to ensure the quality and usage of toilets. Verification and geotagging are also linked to funding release of funds to States so as to safeguard against slippages in verification and geotagging protocols. Technology is also being used heavily for capacity building at scale through virtual learning and a master trainer ecosystem.

Progress in aspirational districts

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The Government of India has launched the Aspirational Districts programme to improve the socio-economic conditions in 117 backward districts in the country. The programme, led by NITI Aayog, focuses on five key themes including water and sanitation infrastructure. All themes these have a direct bearing on the quality of life and economic productivity of citizens. Swachh Bharat Mission has been able to deliver successfully deliver in these challenging districts as well. The rural sanitation coverage in these districts is almost at par with the national sanitation coverage, which speaks volumes about the program’s overarching impact across the entire nation.

The way forward: Sustaining the progress

Based on the current rate of progress, the entire country will achieve ODF status well before the end of the programme. Unfair criticisms notwithstanding, a fair question to ask is, what next? The country has once experienced the pitfalls of considering sanitation a one-time exercise. Many villages in the country were handed Nirmal Gram Puraskars with great fanfare a few years back. Yet, a few years down the line, it was found that many of these had slipped back to old ways. The country was littered with dysfunctional toilets which the government had built, but the people had not used. To ensure the sustainability of the programme, the SBM guidelines incentivise on-ground Swachhagrahis to continue their door-to-door messaging, regular verifications and early morning nigrani visits to open defecation hotspots in the village long after it has been declared ODF. A long-term strategy is also being developed by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation to ensure that the gains made will be sustained and also to transition from ODF to ODF Plus.

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Lately, I have been reading a few articles poking holes in the success of the Mission. To all the friends writing these pieces, for a massive developmental programme being implemented at this large-scale, there are bound to be gaps in isolated cases. The responsibility of the fourth pillar of democracy is to highlight these gaps in a productive manner to help the government address them. To those criticising the drive based on isolated incidents, without sound evidence, I say, reflected glory is a powerful driving force. And nothing gives you access to reflected glory in our times than criticising the most successful sanitation programme in the history of not just our country, but the world.

 

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In the Wellness of All Things

By Amitabh Kant & Dr. Indu Bhushan

The sight of a family teetering on the brink of hope and despondency, surviving and falling into economic ruin on account of ill health is distressingly common. GoI’s health expenditure at 1.13% of its GDP is the lowest among the emerging developing countries. China’s expenditure is 2.45%, and Thailand’s 2.90% of its GDP.

Out-of-pocket expenses push nearly 66 lakh Indian households into poverty every year. About 24.9% of households in rural areas and 18.2% in urban areas meet medical expenditures through borrowings, and 17.3% of India’s population spend more than 10% of their household budget for accessing health services. The poorest of the poor are the worst impacted.

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Ayushman Bharat demonstrates GoI’s strong resolve to address this issue by ensuring primary healthcare through the establishment of 1,50,000 health and wellness centres, the first of which was launched in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh, in May. Digitally linked to district hospitals, these will provide comprehensive healthcare and will be responsible for providing essential drugs and diagnostic services. They will also have convergence with yoga and Ayurveda.

The second key component of Ayushman Bharat is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) that will provide. Rs 5 lakh cover to around 50 crore economically weaker citizens and will be launched on September 25. This will be the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare scheme covering a populationthe size of the US, Canada and Mexico.

 

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The mission will provide inpatient care in an empanelled network of healthcare providers (secondary and tertiary care) for more than 1,300 packages in specialties, ranging from general medical and surgical procedures to cardiovascular and oncological ones. The benefits shall be available to all those entitled and be cashless, paperless, portable, and backed by an IT infrastructure that will provide seamless service delivery at all points of care.

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PMJAY will leverage capacities available in both public and private sector hospitals, while providing standardised high-quality care, with strong fraud protection mechanisms and an efficient, service-driven architecture that will transform India’s healthcare systems in the years to come.

The National Health Agency (NHA) and the State Health Agencies (SHAs) are the keystone for the strategic purchasing of medical services at such a massive scale. NHA will be the instrumentality to expand coverage, benefits and financial protection.

As a substantive purchaser implementing PMJAY, NHA and SHAs will use the tools of pricing and incentives to drive down costs of services in the healthcare sector. The rates that have been fixed for the procedures have undergone a rigorous vetting mechanism in more than 50 cities in the country.

PMJAY will rely heavily on fraud detection and monitoring and building complex, intelligent systems that trigger and raise red flags on suspicious transactions, built upon extensive diagnostic guidelines and self-learning pattern-recognition algorithms.

The aim is to build a world-class intelligent system for fraud mitigation, grievance redressal, monitoring and evaluation, and research that allows the programme to scientifically evolve. Pre-authorisation protocols have been defined for 621fraud-prone and high-cost procedures for ensuring discipline in the provider network.

The states are the key partners in this alliance. The scheme architecture allows the states freedom for innovations and context-specific customisations. Till date, 29 of the 36 states and Union territories are on board. The states have been given flexibility to push for providing greater inpatient department (IPD) care through public institutions, as well as a framework for upgrading their infrastructure. The portability of services across a pan-India network provides beneficiaries in the migrant community to access services without hindrances.

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PMJAY will be a truly disruptive influence over India’s healthcare system. It presents India an opportunity to move towards a mature, data-driven, intelligent and predictive health systems built on top of individualised, secure and access-controlled health records, a verified provider registry and tech-enabled drugs and diagnostics supply chains.

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India, through health and wellness centres, is finally shifting the focus of healthcare provision towards providing primary healthcare to its citizens. The care on prevention and early management of healthcare will reduce the need for complicated specialist care and outof-pocket expenses.

While catering to 50 crore beneficiaries, PMJAY will leverage facilities in both private and public hospitals. This comprehensive healthcare system linking primary, secondary and tertiary care has the potential to transform the health delivery system in India.

Union Minister J P Nadda launches the official logo of Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, in New Delhi on August 27, 2018.

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*Amitabh Kant is CEO, NITI Aayog, and Dr. Indu Bhushan is CEO, Ayushman Bharat-National Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) and the National Health Agency (NHA).

Demonetisation and its impact on Tax collection and Formalisation of the Economy – Arun Jaitley

 

The Reserve Bank has twice released its reports stating that the demonetised Notes of `500 and `1000 have been substantially deposited in the Banks.  A widely stated comment has been that just because most of the currency came back into the Banks, the object of Demonetisation has not succeeded.  Was the invalidation of the Non-deposited currency the only object of demonetisation?  Certainly Not.  The larger purpose of demonetisation was to move INDIA from a Tax Non-compliant society to a compliant society.  This necessarily involved the formalisation of the Economy and a blow to the black money.  How has this been achieved?

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  • WHEN cash is deposited in the Banks, the anonymity about the owner of the cash disappears.  The deposited cash is now identified with its owner giving rise to an inquiry, whether the amount deposited is in consonance with the depositor’s income.  Accordingly, post demonetisation about 1.8 million depositors have been identified for this enquiry.  Many of them are being fastened with Tax and Penalties.  Mere deposit of cash in a bank does not lead to a presumption that it is Tax paid Money.

  • In March 2014, the number of Income Tax returns filed was 3.8 crores.  In 2017-18, this figure has grown to 6.86 crores.  In the last two years, when the impact of demonetisation and other steps is analysed, the Income Tax returns have increased by 19% and 25%.  This is a phenomenal increase.

  • The number of New Returns filed post demonetisation increased in the past two years by 85.51 Lakhs and 1.07 crores.

  • For 2018-19, advance Tax in the first quarter has increased for personal Income Tax Assesses by 44.1% and in the Corporate Tax category by 17.4%.

  • The Income Tax collections have increased from the 2013-14 figure of `6.38 Lakh crores to the 2017-18 figure of `10.02 Lakh crores.

  • The growth of Income Tax collections in the Pre-demonetisation two years was 6.6% and 9%.  Post-demonetisation, the collections increased by 15% and 18% in the next two years.  The same trend is visible in the third year.

  • The GST was implemented from 1st July, 2017 i.e. Post demonetisation.  In the very first year, the number of registered assesses has increased by 72.5%.  The original 66.17 Lakh assesses has increased to 114.17 Lakhs.

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This is the positive impact of the Demonetisation.  More formalisation  of the Economy, More Money in the System, Higher Tax Revenue, Higher Expenditure, Higher Growth after the first two quarters.

 

Ayushman Bharat off to a good start

As many as 28 state governments have signed MoUs with the NHA to implement NHPM. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries, and 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have already been identified.

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Nearly 3,000 years ago, one of ancient India’s great sages Yajnavalkya composed the Shanti Sukta: “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah; Sarve santu niramayah” (May all be happy, may everyone be free of diseases). What is striking is not only the prescience and universality of this invocation, but also the insight that happiness and health in a populace are inextricably intertwined.

Today, as we reflect upon the journey of India as an independent nation over the last seven decades, the achievements on the health front have not been insubstantial. The life expectancy has more than doubled, and infant and maternal mortality rates are a fraction of what prevailed in 1947. However, there can be no denying the fact that a lot of potential in this sector remains unharnessed—and ill-health is one of the leading causes of Indians falling into poverty. The government spends barely 1% of the GDP on health even as we are confronted with a two-front war—containing the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD), even as we continue grappling with the control of communicable diseases and reproductive and child health issues. As a result, the citizens’ out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditure on health constitutes 62% of the total expenditure on health, placing India at 182nd position out of 191 countries on this indicator.

In fact, over 55% of this expenditure is on outpatient care, of which drugs constitute the biggest component. Expectedly, this structure of health financing places a disproportionate burden on the poor families and catastrophic health expenses have contributed to an increase in poverty levels in rural and urban areas by 3.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

Mindful of this reality and to plug the existing gaps in our health system, the government announced a new flagship scheme called the Ayushman Bharat in the Union Budget of 2018-19. One component of the scheme—the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM)—was to provide a financial cover of up to `5 lakh per family per annum to enable them increased access to secondary and tertiary healthcare, for the poor and lower middle class families, in a facility of their choice, irrespective of whether the ownership is public or private. As an initial measure, the plan is to cover 10.74 crore families, or about 50 crore individuals (roughly 40% of the total population), at the bottom of the pyramid as identified through a comprehensive Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) database.

The other component is to build a next-generation primary healthcare system, which would be publicly provided at locations close to the community. It sought to expand the reach and broaden the scope of our primary, preventive and promotive care through a network of 1.5 lakh Health & Wellness Centres (HWCs). It envisages population-level screening to detect diseases early and initiate timely treatment—which is especially critical in the context of India’s rising NCD burden. As an added measure, provision of free drug and diagnostics at these HWCs was expected to take care of that part of the OOP expenses borne by our poorest citizens for accessing outpatient care. The first of such HWCs has already been launched in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, by the Prime Minister on April 14, and as we write this, work is going on in hundreds of others in the 117 ‘aspirational districts’ to provide meaningful and comprehensive primary care to our citizens.Image result for ayushman bharat pib

When the Ayushman Bharat was announced, critics argued that the scheme has been insufficiently imagined, that there was a lack of preparation, that it was not backed by adequate budgetary resources, and that the government lacked the techno-managerial wherewithal for its implementation. The Prime Minister, during his Independence Day address, gave a befitting response to the scepticism and to the naysayers by announcing the soft launch of NHPM, christened the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan. This clarion call from the ramparts of the Red Fort is a clear indication that the teams at the National Health Agency (NHA) and the ministry of health & family welfare (MoHFW) have been able to successfully surmount the significant challenges in terms of creating an IT backbone, cleaning up the beneficiary database, setting in place the guidelines and procedures, negotiating with state governments, while simultaneously building capacities for its implementation. The fact that all this has been achieved in a relatively short span of just six months is a glowing testimony to the hard work and speedy execution by Indu Bhushan and his team at the NHA.

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In addition, as many as 28 state governments have signed a memorandum of understanding with the NHA to implement NHPM, and are in the final stages of preparation for a formal launch. Over 8,000 hospitals have offered to join the network of empanelled facilities that would provide inpatient care to the identified beneficiaries. To ensure that no one is left out, there is no cap on family size or age. Similarly, there can be no exclusion on account of pre-existing disease conditions, among those who are eligible for benefits from day one of the roll-out of the scheme. As many as 1,350 medical packages—covering surgery, medical and daycare treatments—have been identified so that the coverage includes most of the common medical conditions. The software application driving the scheme is designed in such a way that an individual can avail of the benefits anywhere in the country irrespective of her place of origin, and it is cashless for the beneficiary and the claim settlement is paperless for the hospitals participating in the scheme.

 

The NITI Aayog’s Three-Year Action Agenda highlights the need for creating a wave of new institutions to build a 21st century health system that every citizen of the country would be proud of. Setting up of HWCs and the NHA are steps in the right direction, which were long overdue. The government’s active stewardship in leveraging the potential of the mixed health system is a very welcome development. It is all the more heartening to note the political commitment at the highest levels to transform India’s health system into an affordable, accessible, inclusive and efficient system.

The Ayushman Bharat has the potential to protect millions who are pushed into poverty every year due to catastrophic health expenses. Building a well-functioning health system is a work of decades—it took Germany, for example, 127 years to accomplish universal coverage. Thailand undertook reforms over a period of 30 years prior to announcing its universal health policy in 2002. Now that we have unprecedented political backing for the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyan, the stage is set for its execution. Needless to say, in a country as large and complex as India, we will be faced with many implementation challenges. It is well worth recounting the Bhagavad Gita dictum of “Yogah Karmasu Kaushalam” (the path to redemption/salvation lies in the skilful execution of the job at hand). Thus, it is imperative we stay the course and pursue these ambitious initiatives with utmost vigour and determination.

4GG8U3jG_400x400.jpgAlok Kumar is Advisor and Vinod Paul is Member (Health), NITI Aayog.

Science City, Kolkata becomes the new insignia of Digital India with its state of the art hi-tech acquisitions

*Sh. Samrat Bandopadhyay

Nestled in the throbbing business arterial route of EM Bypass in Kolkata, the Science City of Kolkata is the largest science center of the Indian subcontinent and one of the finest in the world. Managed by National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), Ministry of Culture, Government of India, the first phase of the centre was thrown open to public in 1997 and the second phase in 2010. The sprawling green campus presenting Science and Technology in a stimulating and engaging manner to visitors of all age groups, including children, is actually built on a previous landfill area of the city. The environment conscious institute today is a place to experience and relive the living history and traditional culture of bygone days. The solid waste management here is also an example for building structures on an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable basis.

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Science City is the place where visitors throng to cherish and relive the ambience of excitement of dinosaur era in the ‘Evolution Park’ as one walks through the evolutionary phases of life and has a glimpse of those gigantic extinct animals of the past.

The Age of Science and Technology has grown by leaps and bounds. Central Government’s tremendous efforts towards a ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ find a living example in this vibrant learning campus. The digital technology opens a plethora of opportunities for visitors to experience living moments, expositions and immersive images with extraordinary variety.

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The decision of the Culture Ministry to provide a facelift to the existing 2D theatre replacing it with a 3D full dome space theatre system with a particularly high resolution imagery and state-of-art LED dome lighting, sound system along with comfortable seating arrangement, will provide an enthralling and vivid experience that will be etched in visitors’ minds even after leaving the campus of Science City. Scientific phenomena explained through a narrative are set to appeal to the young minds of the country. The erstwhile Space Theatre was first of its kind facility in the country that attracted around 7.2 million footfalls during its operation for two decades. The Ministry of Culture’s plan to fund about 20 cr for the switch from existing 2D celluloid based film projection system to a 3D digital immersive projection system for the theatre will augment a new chapter in its modernization approach and capture the eyeballs of the visitors to a new unprecedented level. The fully built technologically advanced dome will have the scope to display wide range of topics from astronomy, geosciences to other natural scientific phenomena. The Facility which will be ready for visitors by December of 2018 will certainly be a milestone in the field of scientific explorations.

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The renovation of the Science City will be a value add-on to the learning experience for sightseers with a scientific temper and an enduring appreciation for the innovativeness of engineering marvels by architecture professionals and civil engineers of the region. A case in point is the ‘DYNAMOTION’ building architecture, which houses a plethora of interactive exhibits on physical science, along with a unique experience of walking on the floor piano and creating mesmerizing music as one walk past the space.

In the Science Park, people come close to nature with flora and fauna in an environment friendly surrounding and help learn and synergize the basic tenets of science in an all-inclusive manner. The Park’s interactive exhibits are simulative to that learning experience of our age old tradition and interactive kiosks with multimedia facility are an add-on to the learning experience.

Another striking section of Science City is the ‘Digital Panorama on Human Evolution’ which provides a 360 degree view of a narrative in a video format in a huge cylindrical screen. Started in 2016 it is the first of its kind in the country. The presentation hall presents exhibits and mannequins depicting pre-historic human species with varied flora and fauna of those times. There is an awe-inspiring feeling of moving in a space ship as one gazes at the screen unfolding all around. The Science and Technology Heritage of India exhibition gallery houses dioramas exhibiting emerging technologies over the ages with a special focus on mathematics, basic science and scientific development of Metallurgy, Information Technology, Medical Science and town planning of ancient India. The curator of this fascinating exhibition put special emphasis on the fact that the Indian Civilization dated back more than 7000 years while all other civilizations of the world are less than 5000 years old.

The Science City of Kolkata resembles a living architecture of a modern era, typifying a blend of ‘SMART CITY’ with ‘DIGITAL INDIA’ and ethos of ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ built and weaved on the fabric of culture and tradition of the rich and diverse heritage of modern ‘NEW INDIA’!!

*Sh. Samrat Bandopadhyay is Deputy Director (M&C), PIB, Kolkata

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