New government hits the ground running

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government set the pitch for its second term with key announcements for the welfare of the armed forces, farmers and small traders, just a day after the cabinet was sworn in.

In a major outreach initiative to address the concerns of the farming community, which cost the Bharatiya Janata Party three state elections last December, the Prime Minister extended the scope of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, or PM-Kisan scheme, to include all the 145 million farmers across the country, besides announcing a ₹3,000 monthly pension scheme for 125 million small and marginal farmers.

In a departure from the past, the Union cabinet also approved a ₹13,343crore centrally-sponsored vaccination scheme for livestock, including cows, bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats and pigs, to eradicate diseases such as foot-and-mouth and Brucellosis to support livestock-rearing farmers.

The government also announced a pension scheme for 30 million small traders, recognising the plight of shopkeepers, small traders and the self-employed hurt by the November 2016 decision to demonetize high-value currency notes, and the much-debated roll-out of the goods and services tax  in July 2017.

“All small shopkeepers and self-employed persons as well as the retail traders with GST turnover below ₹1.5 crore and age between 18-40 years, can enrol for this scheme. The scheme would benefit more than 3 crore small shopkeepers and traders,” the government said in a statement.

“By imitating a pension architecture for the trading community, the Prime Minister and his team have fulfilled a major promise made to the people of India,” the statement added.

In the first decision of its second term, the Prime Minister announced substantial changes to the scholarship scheme for the children of security personnel killed in the line of duty, by extending it to the wards of state police officials, and central and state paramilitary forces.

“The first decision is dedicated to those who protect India,” Modi tweeted, referring to the changes to Prime Minister’s Scholarship Scheme under the National Defence Fund. The amount of scholarship for boys was increased from ₹2,000 per month to ₹2,500, and for girls from ₹2,250 to ₹3,000 per month.

Briefing reporters after the first cabinet meeting of the re-elected NDA government, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar said the cabinet decisions indicate how, within 24 hours of taking oath, the Modi administration has started taking big decisions for farmers.

These big-bang announcements are expected to further cement BJP’s support base among farmers and traders in the backdrop of the impending assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Delhi.

No comments: