Shobhana Bhartia ji, all the members of your team from Hindustan Times, and all the guests present here, ladies and gentlemen.
Firstly, I apologize to all of you because I was in an election meeting, so it took me a little while to get here. But I’ve arrived directly from the airport to be among you. Shobhana ji was speaking very well. The issues that she raised were good. I will definitely get a chance to read it sometime as I arrived late.
Greetings to all of you! Once again, you have invited me to the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, for which I am very grateful to the HT Group. When our government was formed in 2014, and our term started, the theme of this summit at that time was “Reshaping India,” meaning the HT Group believed that a lot would change in Bharat in the near future and there would be a reshape. When our government returned with even more majority in 2019, at that time, you kept the theme as “Conversations for a Better Tomorrow.” You conveyed a message to the world through the HT Summit that Bharat is progressing towards a better future. Now that the country is set for elections next year, your theme in 2023 is “Beyond Barriers.” As someone who lives among the people, a political figure, and a representative of the people, I see a message in it. Usually, opinion polls come a few weeks before the elections and predict what will happen. But you have clearly indicated that the people of the country are going to break all barriers this time and support us. The 2024 election results will be beyond barriers.
The journey of Bharat from ‘Reshaping India’ to ‘Beyond Barriers’ has laid the foundation for a bright future ahead. On this foundation, we will build a developed, grand, and prosperous Bharat. For a long time, Bharat and the people of the country have faced numerous barriers. The prolonged periods of attacks and slavery bound Bharat in many shackles. The spirit that emerged during the independence movement, the passion that was born, and the sense of community that developed, broke many of these shackles. After gaining independence, there was hope that this momentum would continue, but unfortunately, it did not. Our country, bound in various types of barriers, could not move forward at the pace it was capable of. One significant barrier was the mentality, mental barriers. Some barriers were real, some were perceived, and some were exaggerated. Since 2014, Bharat has been consistently working hard to break these barriers. I am satisfied that we have overcome many barriers, and now we are talking about ‘Beyond Barriers.’ Today, Bharat, while breaking every barrier, has reached the moon, where no one else has reached. Today, Bharat is the number one in digital transactions, overcoming every challenge. Today, Bharat leads in mobile manufacturing, emerging from every barrier. Today, Bharat is among the top three in the world of start-ups. Today, Bharat is building the world’s largest skilled pool. Today, Bharat is being talked about in events like G20. Today, Bharat is moving forward, freeing itself from every restraint. And you must have heard – सितारों के आगे जहां और भी है (there is more beyond the stars). Bharat is not going to stop at this point.
As I was saying, the biggest barrier here was our mindset. There were mental barriers. Due to this mindset, we used to hear things like, “Nothing can happen in this country… Nothing can change in this country… and everything works like this here.” Even if someone arrived late, they proudly called it “Indian Time.” There were beliefs like, “Corruption, oh, nothing can be done about that, just learn to live with it… If the government has made something, its quality must be poor, it’s government-made…” However, some events occur that inspire the entire country to break mental barriers and come out of them. When Gandhi ji picked up a pinch of salt during the Dandi March, it was just a symbol, but the whole country stood up, and people gained confidence that we can achieve independence. The success of Chandrayaan did not suddenly turn 140 crore citizens into scientists, nor did they become astronauts. But we are still experiencing an atmosphere filled with self-confidence throughout the country. And what comes out of it is – “we can do it, we can progress in every sector.” Today, every Indian is filled with high spirits. You might recall the issue of cleanliness. Some people used to say that talking about cleanliness from the Red Fort, addressing the issue of toilets, goes against the dignity of the PM’s position. The term “sanitary pad” was something people, especially men, avoided mentioning in common parlance. I raised these issues from the Red Fort, and that’s where the change in mindset began. Today, cleanliness has become a people’s movement. Remember, nobody was interested about khadi. At the most, it was relegated to be worn by the politicians, especially during elections, to just wear a long kurta and show up. But in the last 10 years, khadi sales have increased by more than three times.
The success of Jan Dhan bank accounts is known to the citizens. However, when we introduced this scheme, some experts said that opening these accounts is a waste of resources, as the poor won’t deposit even a single penny in them. It wasn’t just about the money; it was about breaking mental barriers, changing mindsets. These people never understood the pride, the self-respect of the poor that the Jan Dhan Yojana instilled. For the poor, going to the doors of banks was a daunting task; they were scared. Having a bank account was a luxury for them. When they saw that banks were coming to their doors, it instilled a new confidence, a new pride, and a new seed in their minds. Today, they take out their RuPay cards from their wallets with great pride and use them. We know that 5-10 years ago, the situation was such that even in a big hotel where important people were dining, there was competition among them. When someone paid the bill, they wanted to show that there were 15-20 cards in their wallet. Showing cards was a fashion, and the number of cards was a status symbol. Modi put it directly in the pocket of the poor. This is how mental barriers are broken.
Friends, today the poor feel that what the rich have, I also have. This seed has grown into a banyan tree, yielding numerous fruits. Those living in air-conditioned rooms and the narrative-driven world will never understand the psychological empowerment of the poor. But I come from a poor family, lived through poverty, and that’s why I know that the government’s efforts have broken many barriers. This mindset change has not only occurred within the country but has also been felt externally.
Earlier, when there was a terrorist attack, our governments used to appeal to the world to help us, would go to other countries in a bid to increase global opinion against terrorist attacks. But when a terrorist attack happened during our government’s tenure, the country which was responsible for it had to plead with the world to save itself. Bharat’s actions changed the world’s mindset. Ten years ago, the world thought that Bharat was an obstacle to Climate Action, a hindrance, a negative force. But today, Bharat is leading the world in Climate Action commitments, achieving its targets ahead of schedule. The impact of changing mindsets is also evident in the world of sports. People used to tell athletes, “You play, but what will you do in your career? What job will you have?” Even governments had left athletes to fend for themselves, with little financial aid and no attention to sports infrastructure. Our government removed this barrier as well. Now, we are witnessing a shower of medals in one tournament after another.
Bharat has no lack of capability or resources. The significant and real barrier we face is poverty. Poverty cannot be fought with slogans but with solutions. It can be defeated not with slogans but with policies and intentions. The thinking of previous governments in our country did not allow the poor to progress socially and economically. I believe that the poor themselves have the strength to fight poverty and emerge victorious in that battle. We need to support them, provide them with basic facilities, and empower them. That’s why our government made it a top priority to break these barriers and empower the poor. We haven’t just changed lives; we have also assisted the poor in rising above poverty. As a result, the country is witnessing a clear transformation. Shobhana ji mentioned that in just five years, more than 13 crore people have risen above poverty. This means that 13 crore people have broken the barriers of poverty and joined the Neo Middle Class of the country.
Bharat has faced a significant real barrier to development in the form of nepotism and dynastic politics. Only those could easily move forward if he was connected to a special family or knew a powerful individual. There was nobody to take care of the common citizens. Whether in sports, science, politics, or receiving honours like the Padma awards, the common citizen of the country felt that success was elusive if one wasn’t associated with a prominent family. However, in the past few years, you have witnessed that in all these fields, the ordinary citizens of the country now feel empowered and encouraged. Now, they don’t worry about having to navigate through influential individuals or seek their assistance. Yesterday’s unsung heroes are the country’s heroes today!
For years, the lack of modern infrastructure in Bharat has stood as a significant and real barrier to our development. We have found a solution to this, initiating the world’s largest infrastructure building drive in Bharat. Today, the country is undergoing unprecedented infrastructure development. Let me give you some examples that will give you an idea of the speed and scale of the progress of the country. In the fiscal year 2013-14, we were constructing 12 kilometers of highways every day. I’m talking about the period before my tenure began. In 2022-23, we have built approximately 30 kilometers of highways every day. In 2014, there was metro rail connectivity in five cities of the country. In 2023, metro rail connectivity exists in 20 cities. In 2014, the country had about 70 operational airports. By 2023, this number has reached nearly 150, doubling the figure. In 2014, there were around 380 medical colleges in the country. In 2023, we have more than 700 medical colleges. In 2014, only 350 kilometers of optical fiber had reached the gram panchayats. By 2023, we have laid nearly 6 lakh kilometers of optical fiber, connecting the gram panchayats. In 2014, only 55 percent of villages were connected through the PM Gram Sadak Yojana. By constructing more than 4 lakh kilometers of roads, we have taken this figure to 99 percent. Until 2014, approximately 20,000 kilometers of railway lines in Bharat were electrified. Pay attention now. In 70 years, electrification was done for 20,000 kilometers of railway lines. Whereas our government has electrified nearly 40,000 kilometers of railway lines in just 10 years. This is the speed, scale, and symbol of Bharat’s success today.
In recent years, our country has overcome some perceived barriers as well. There was an issue in the minds of our policymakers and political experts here. They believed that good economics and good politics cannot coexist. Many governments accepted this belief, leading to difficulties for the country on both political and economic fronts. However, we have demonstrated by bringing good economics and good politics together. Today, everyone acknowledges that good economics and good politics can go hand in hand. Our sound economic policies have opened new paths for progress in the country. This has transformed the lives of every section of society, and these very people have given us such a significant mandate for providing stable governance. Whether it’s the Goods and Services Tax (GST), resolving the banking crisis, or formulating policies to overcome the COVID crisis… we have always chosen policies that offer long-term solutions for the country and guarantee long-term benefits for the citizens.
An example of a Perceived Barrier is the Women’s Reservation Bill. After hanging in limbo for decades, it seemed like this bill would never pass. But now, we have overcome this barrier. The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam is a reality today.
Speaking with you, I initially touched upon the topic of exaggerated barriers. In our country, there were some challenges and issues that were blown out of proportion by previous governments, experts, and individuals with a penchant for controversy, all for their political interests. For instance, whenever the discussion about revoking Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir arose, it created a significant uproar. It was almost as if a psychological pressure was created, suggesting that if such a step was taken, it would lead to a catastrophic situation. However, the abrogation of Article 370 has opened new paths of prosperity, peace, and development throughout the region. Pictures of Lal Chowk illustrate how Jammu and Kashmir is undergoing a transformation. Terrorism is gradually diminishing, and tourism is consistently on the rise there. We are committed to see Jammu and Kashmir reaching new heights of development.
Many individuals in the media sector are present here. The relevance of media delivering breaking news has been significant. While it’s traditional to provide breaking news from time to time, it is essential to analyze how breaking news has evolved from what it was before to what it is now. Although a decade has passed from 2013 to 2023, the changes that have occurred during this period are like night and day. Those who covered the economy in 2013 will remember how rating agencies used to downwardly revise Bharat’s GDP growth forecast. However, the situation is entirely different in 2023. International institutions and rating agencies are now upwardly revising our growth forecast. In 2013, there would be news about the distressed condition of the banking sector. But in 2023, our banks are showcasing their best-ever profits and performance. In 2013, the news about the Agusta Westland helicopter scandal prevailed in the country. However, in 2023, newspapers and news channels report that Bharat’s defence exports have reached a record high. It has grown more than 20 times compared to 2013-14. From record scams to record exports, we have come a long way.
In 2013, you could find many national and international publications that used to give headlines stating that the dreams of the middle class have been destroyed due to challenging economic conditions. But, my friends, who is bringing about a change in 2023? Whether it is sports, start-ups, space, or technology, the middle class of the country is at the forefront of every development journey. In the past few years, the middle class of the country has made rapid progress. Their income has increased, and their size has grown. In 2013-14, about 4 crore people filed income tax returns. In 2023-24, this number has doubled, and more than 7.5 crore people have filed income tax returns. A study related to tax information reveals that the mean income, which was less than four lakh rupees in 2014, has now increased to thirteen lakh rupees in 2023. This means that millions of people have moved from lower-income groups to higher-income groups in the country. I remember that there was an article in Hindustan Times a few days ago that presented many interesting facts related to income tax data. One particularly interesting figure is the annual income of those earning from five lakh rupees to twenty-five lakh rupees. If we add up the total income of those in this salary bracket in the financial year 2011-12, the figure was even less than 2.75 lakh crores. By 2021, this has increased to over 14 lakh crores. This means it has increased fivefold. There are two clear reasons for this. The number of those earning salaries from five and a lakh to twenty-five lakh rupees has increased significantly, and there has also been a substantial increase in the salaries of people in this bracket. And I will remind you again that this analysis is based only on salaried income. If we include income from business, earnings from house property, income from other investments, and add it all up, this figure will increase even more.
The growing middle class and decreasing poverty in Bharat are becoming the foundation of a significant economic cycle. Those who are emerging from poverty, becoming part of the neo-middle class, are now a substantial force driving the country’s consumption growth. The responsibility of fulfilling this demand falls on our middle class. If a poor person wants to buy new shoes, they purchase them from a middle-class shop, meaning that the income of the middle class is increasing, and the life of the poor is changing. Bharat is currently going through a positive cycle where decreasing poverty is benefiting the middle class. The aspirations and willpower of people from the poor and middle classes are empowering the country’s development. The strength of these people has transformed Bharat from the 10th largest economy to the 5th largest in terms of GDP. Now, this same willpower is set to propel Bharat into the top 3 economies in the world in our third term.
In this ‘Amrit Kaal’, the country is working towards becoming a ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047. I believe that overcoming every barrier, we will successfully reach our goals. Today, from the poorest to the wealthiest investors in the world, everyone believes that “This is Bharat’s Time.” The self-confidence of every Indian is our greatest strength. With this strength, we can overcome any barrier. I don’t know how many will be here in 2047, but I confidently say, when the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit takes place in 2047, its theme will be “Developed Nation, What Next?” Once again, I extend my best wishes to all of you for this summit. Thank you very much.
India is progressing by breaking free from barriers. pic.twitter.com/glp3PEKhX0— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
Today, every Indian is brimming with enthusiasm and energy. pic.twitter.com/b3uncNsval— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
India's actions have changed the mindset of the world. pic.twitter.com/dbEW6sKN94— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
Fight against poverty can only be waged with solutions, not mere slogans. pic.twitter.com/qmwTGa0RoU— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
The citizens of the country have now started feeling empowered and encouraged. pic.twitter.com/q4ZWWhuqIj— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
The country's middle class is taking a leading role in every developmental endeavour. pic.twitter.com/KIJShSYugz— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
ये भारत का वक्त है।— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 4, 2023
This is Bharat’s Time. pic.twitter.com/MJpRYscAoB
From ‘Reshaping India’ to ‘Beyond Barriers’… pic.twitter.com/qbqDJF7Bgp— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 4, 2023
Here is how India has overcome many barriers. pic.twitter.com/uJGaXsN8ak— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 4, 2023
हमने दिखाया है कि गरीबी को नारे से नहीं, नीति और नीयत से हराया जा सकता है। हमारी सरकार ने गरीबों को मूलभूत सुविधाएं देकर और Empower कर उनके जीवन को आसान बनाया है। pic.twitter.com/Q8lFBJOrWo— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 4, 2023
भाई-भतीजावाद और परिवारवाद पर हमारे निरंतर प्रहारों का परिणाम यह है कि आज देश का सामान्य नागरिक भी खुद को Empowered और Encouraged महसूस कर रहा है। pic.twitter.com/o66FKpbE60— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 4, 2023