New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who returned to a second term in office last month after a bitterly contested election, urged all states on Saturday to work together to tackle socio-economic problems, and make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024, which he said was a "challenging, but achievable" goal.
Addressing chief ministers of states and lieutenant governors of Union territories at the Governing Council meeting of federal policy think tank Niti Aayog here, Modi set out the short and medium term priorities for Union and state governments. These include allieviating poverty, creating jobs, doubling farmers' income, tackling instances of drought and flood, boosting exports, resolving a water crisis the country is facing and realising the full potential of regional economies, according to an official statement issued by the government on Modi's opening remarks at the meeting.
The priorities set out by the Prime Minister is significant considering the Union Budget for FY20, which is set to be presented in Parliament in less than three weeks. These priorities could get reflected in the policy proposals to be outlined in the budget.
However, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and her counterparts Telangana's K. Chandrashekhar Rao and Punjab's Amarinder Singh were not attending the meeting, news agency IANS reported. Unlike its predecessor Planning Commission, Niti Aayog does not have fund allocation powers, a factor that limits the think tank's ability to influence decision making at the state level.
Modi urged states to recognise their core competence and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level, said the statement. Export is an important element in the progress of developing countries and therefore both the Union and state governments should work towards growth in exports to raise per capita income, the statement said, quoting the Prime Minister.
Modi also said there was immense untapped export potential in several states, including in the North Eastern region, and a thrust in this area at the state level will boost both income and employment. "It is now time for everyone to work for the development of India... Empowerment and ease of living have to be provided to each and every Indian... The focus should be on collective responsibility for achieving short term and long term goals," said the statement quoting Modi.
Modi called for effective steps to tackle drought and piped water available to every rural home by 2024. He urged states to work on water conservation and raising the water table. Niti Aayog and the water resources ministry had warned last year that India was facing the worst water crisis in its history and millions of lives and livelihoods were under threat. About 600 million face high-to-extreme water stress and about 200,000 people die every year because of inadequate access to safe water, a crisis that will only get worse, the think tank had said in a document. Modi said the spirit of per-drop, more-crop should be promoted.
Modi said that fisheries, animal husbandry, horticulture and cultivation of fruits and vegetables need to be focused to realise the government's commitment to doubling farmers' income by 2022. There is need for structural reform in agriculture for higher corporate investment, better logistics and ample market support for farmers, he said. Modi also said the battle against Naxal violence was now in a decisive phase and violence would be dealt with firmly, while development had taken place in a fast-paced and balanced manner, the statement said.