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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday unveiled plans to launch a 100 trillion integrated infrastructure scheme that would make the economy more competitive.

The PM Gati Shakti scheme is aimed at breaking the silos between road, rail, air and waterways to reduce travel time, improving industrial productivity, making manufacturing globally competitive, facilitating future economic zones and creating employment.

“Gati Shakti will be a national infrastructure master plan for our country that will lay the foundation of holistic infrastructure and will lead to an integrated and holistic pathway to our economy. Right now, there is no coordination between our means of transport," Modi said in his Independence Day speech.

India has been working for a reset of its logistics sector involving railways, highways, inland waterways and airports to put in place an effective transportation grid. Logistics make up about 13% of costs for Indian companies, making exports uncompetitive vis-a-vis China.

“There comes a time in the development journey of every country when the country redefines itself afresh and pushes forward with new resolutions. Today, that time has arrived in the development journey of India," Modi said.

While articulating the NDA government’s focus areas, Modi, in his eighth Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort, also announced a National Hydrogen Mission and plans to build e-commerce platforms for women self-help groups. He also called for an Amrit Kaal (divine nectar period)—for the 25 years until India celebrates 100 years of its independence—to meet all growth imperatives.

The government is trying to revive the economy that nosedived due to the pandemic. The economy since then has rapidly recovered, with India exporting goods worth a record $35.4 billion in July.

“The goal of Amrit Kaal is to create an India where the level of facilities is not dividing the village and the city. The goal of Amrit Kaal is to build an India where the government does not interfere unnecessarily in the lives of citizens. The goal of Amrit Kaal is to build an India where there is world’s every modern infrastructure," Modi said.

The announcement of a National Hydrogen Mission comes against the backdrop of India spending 12 trillion annually to meet its energy needs. Green hydrogen, produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrolyzer powered by electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, can be a game-changer for India, which imports 85% of its oil and 53% of its gas demand.

Stressing the need for energy independence, Modi said India needs to be made a global hub for green hydrogen production and exports. He said for India to progress and become self-reliant, it is important to become energy-independent.

Modi said the government is building an e-commerce platform to help the 80 million women self-help groups in villages to sell products within and outside the country.

On the coronavirus pandemic, Modi said, “It is true that fewer people have been infected in India as compared to other countries; it is also true that in comparison to the population of other countries of the world, we managed to save more citizens in India, but it is not something to be proud of. We cannot rest on these laurels. To say that there was no challenge will become a restrictive thought in the path of our own development."

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