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TIMES NOW Summit drives India’s Action Plan 2020

Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address on his aim to make India a $5 Trillion economy in the next couple of years and to transform India to a tax-compliant society.

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Times Network, India’s premium broadcast network concluded Day 1 of  the first edition of its flagship property, TIMES NOW Summit in New Delhi, today. Themed, India Action Plan 2020, TIMES NOW Summit is driven with a purpose to accelerate the ‘New India’ vision by taking a holistic approach in defining a constructive action plan for India.

Addressing issues of national priority, TIMES NOW Summit hosted collaborative discussions with India’s leading political voices to offer an objective assessment of the performance against promises made, highlight need-gaps and identify solutions to set up the action plan for next year, pertinent to India’s growth. 

Delivering the inaugral address, MK Anand, MD & CEO Times Network said, “As India’s most influential News broadcast network, it has been our continuous endeavour to actively drive the India growth story. We have successfully championed this narrative with our channels besides our established event platforms such as India Economic Conclave, Digital India Summit, Leaders of Tomorrow etc. TIMES NOW SUMMIT is an important impetus in this direction. I hope that collaborative discussions with India’s leading voices over the 2-day summit will increase clarity on critical subjects of national importance and help develop tenable solutions and a conclusive action plan for India’s next stage."

Delivering the key note, Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, “India is the youngest nation in the world that wants to play on the front foot. The 8 months old government has scored a century of decisions and  marries perfectly with Times Now Summit’s Theme of 'India Action Plan 2020'. The government took immediate decisions and work has happened at a quick pace. Special fund has been created for the middle class and law has been brought against child abuse and chit funds. In addition to this, Article 370 has been abrogated, triple talaq banned, corporate tax reduced, fighter planes delivered, trust on Ram Temple created and Citizenship Law amended. This is just a sample and the government will soon hit a double century”. 

“Talking about the economy, the PM said, the next aim is to make India a $5 Trillion economy in the next couple of years. "This is not an easy goal but not impossible to achieve. Tier I and Tier II cities are driving economic growth in the country. It is for the first time that a government has focused on economic growth in smaller cities and towns and valued their dreams. Government is looking at increasing the number of economic centres in the county. These will be in Tier II and Tier III cities. Half of the start-ups in the country are in tier II and tier III cities. Under the Make in India initiative, the country has seen tremendous growth. One lakh 90 thousand crore electronic products were manufactured in the country in 2014 alone. Now the figure has increased to 4 lakh 60 thousand Crore. In 2014, there were two mobile manufacturing companies in India. Today, India is the second-largest mobile manufacturer in the world.

Our aim is to transform India to a tax compliant society. The tax system will be made citizen centric. We will safeguard taxpayers’ rights and the changes in the tax slab are going to benefit the people of the nation in a big way”.

Reacting to the rising rate of unemployment in India, which currently at 6.1% is touted to be the highest in the last four decades, Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, said “There are six different indicators that reflect a positive employment scenario in India. However, currently, we do not have comprehensive data in both formal and informal sectors. We are only exposed to partial data which is not enough to determine the real figures of employment. I assure you that employment is happening, but due to lack of sufficient data to validate it, this debate will persist”. Commenting upon the state of the Indian economy and whether the government is broke, the Finance Minister highlighted the growth in revenue collection from November 2019 – January 2020. “Yes, there was a dip in revenue collection from September to October 2019, but we are back on track. Revenue collection is constantly improving, commercial activity is picking up pace again, our capital expenditure is growing. We are pushing exports strongly. All these things mean that the government is acting”. 

Responding to the news of 72 Indian citizens associated with high amounts of black money, fleeing India in 2015 during the times of demonetisation, Sitharaman said that she sees those incidents in positive light, as clearly the alleged perpetrators were living happily within Indian boundaries until 2015 and as soon as they started facing the heat of the BJP Government, they realized that their black money was no longer safe in this country.

Maintaining her stance on the “Suit-Boot Sarkar” phrase used by the BJP for the Congress Party, she retorted “I would not like to take any names but I must highlight one incident where the Congress-led Kerala Government invited one of the most influential industry leaders for the construction of a new port, without even going through the formal and transparent process of tendering. If this is not Suit-Boot Sarkar, then what is? The Congress just likes to throw allegations at BJP, which we always respond to with proper facts and figures. During the time of Rafale deal, they blatantly abused the Prime Minister without any basis. Nevertheless, we submitted our facts to the court of law and to the court of people.”

Reacting to the loss of seats in recent Delhi elections, Sitharaman strongly opined that BJP has not lost Delhi, because it was already with AAP. “We haven’t lost Delhi, because we never had it. AAP retained their power but saw a drop-in seat, while BJP has improved its seat count as compared to last time. Why doesn’t anyone ask Congress that why did they lose Delhi? They didn’t even win a single seat, despite resorting to all kinds of vote bank politics, but no one is questioning them. I believe that the media and public are obsessed with BJP, which is a good sign.” 

Talking about Democracy being under threat, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law & Justice, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology said “Democracy isn’t under threat. Election is the celebration of Democracy. If that was the case, we would have not lost in some states. Our country is a vibrant one and home to different ideas and ideologies. The election has ended, and leader is elected. It’s now time for the winner to fulfill his promises. Some people believe in rolling Collusive Public Interest Litigation (PILS) and they are running an agenda to run this country via doors of the Supreme Court. I look at Jammu and Kashmir as a new narrative. A refreshing change is underway and good governance and accountability is critical. We have given the people of Kashmir the respect that they deserve. Kashmir is and will always remain a part of India and whoever tries to break it, will not succeed. All State governments BJP led, or non-BJP led want to reduce communal violence in the country.

Talking about the future of Indian defence sector, General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff, said “We are working towards integrated functioning of the three forces, by creating the first joint air defence command. India needs to fulfil a larger responsibility in context of global peace. We must expand our influence. Commenting upon the comparison of India’s defence power with China, he said “India is not competing with China. Our aim is to safeguard our territories and not go beyond for acquisition of land that is not ours. We are not an aggressive power, yet completely capable of venturing out. Instead of focusing upon quantity, we are laying emphasis upon quality. Therefore, we must not indulge in quantitative comparison of our army with China, a mistake committed by Pakistan, who tried to matchup our numbers, causing a negative impact on their economy”. 

“Highlighting the current priority areas for the Indian Defence Sector, General Rawat said that “Artificial Intelligence is high on our priority right now. We are looking at using AI in the field of logistics support, maintenance, operations, and even human resources and leadership. We are looking at establishing base workshops that will follow the GOCO pattern (government turned and corporate operated)”.

Rebuffing the talks of shortage of army personnel, General Rawat added that there is no dearth of people looking forward to joining the army. The reason India faces shortage in personnel is due to the high criteria of admission which only one out of thirty can clear. Commenting upon the defence scenario in Kashmir, he added, “We are at a proxy war in Kashmir and there is no real problem of law and order. Our army is committed towards resolving this proxy war and safeguarding our borders.” 

Clearing the air around de-radicalistaion camps in Kashmir, he said that the word “camps” has been misconstrued and compared literally with the kind of camps in Pakistan. My definition of camps is the bifurcation of people based on the severity of radicalisation that they have gone through.

On a discussion on Breaking the glass ceiling, Smriti Irani, Union Minister for Women Child Development and Textiles, shared an incident that happened on her show sets 22 years ago and said “When I started my career in the media business, one of the male leads tried to back slap me and I immediately retorted at him.  At that time, it took lot of courage for a female producer to tell a male star to maintain a certain level of decorum on the sets. One of the challenges that women face today is that of people presuming a certain image of them and think that whatever must be done in collaboration with her or about her must be done conforming to that image. One of the greatest strengths for us as a country today lies in the fact that we are portraying women as someone who can play multi-faceted roles and someone who can take up multiple kinds of roles and jobs. It’s easy to make a career choice when you are young however find it difficult to make a career switch when they are much older. When it comes to women breaking the glass ceiling, I disagree with that phrase because it is a concept that came as part of a suffragist movement. We often speak of violence against women. As per the latest data there are almost 32000 cases of rape and over 1 a lakh of domestic violence and we need to address that because there is a cycle of violence. Empowerment of women is twofold. One is physiological empowerment where a woman in a relationship in a society if free to forgive and not compelled to forget and second being financial empowerment and access to finance. For them, all other barriers are artificial.


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