Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a special economic package worth Rs 20 lakh core for what he called "Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” or mission self-reliant India, to help the nation cope with the impact of coronavirus and the lockdown of large parts of the economy.
The PM, in his fourth televised address on the Covid-19 situation, said the economic package will empower all sections of the society, from the often neglected labourer and hawker, to employment generating industries and the honest tax-paying middle-class, and will also help India compete on the global stage.
"The special economic package is for our labourers, farmers, honest tax payers, MSMEs and industry,” he said.
The sum of 20 lakh crore will also include the earlier financial relief declared by financial minister Nirmala Sitharaman worth Rs 1.17 lakh crore and the monetary easing announced by the Reserve Bank of India. The package, Modi said, constitutes close to 10 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP), and it will focus on land, labour, liquidity and laws.
The details if the package will be released by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday.
Pushing for local products and self-reliance, Modi said that it has been local suppliers have met 'our demands' during this crisis and now Indians will have to be 'vocal about local' and buy products from them.
Spelling out the details of the self-reliance strategy, Modi it will depend on five pillars: growing a new economy, creating a state-of-the-art infrastructure, setting up a technology-based delivery system, leveraging the young demography and exploiting of domestic demand.
The new package comes as India further opens up its economy with riders in the fourth phase of the national lockdown starting on May 18, with fewer restrictions. Industries and states have been demanding a fiscal stimulus package from the Centre to soften the impact of the financial crunch arising due to covid-19 outbreak.
Modi said that the nationwide lockdown will have to be extended further, but said the “lockdown 4.0” will be entirely different with new sets of rules, hinting that it would lead to considerable more relaxations as the government shifts its focus towards reopening of the economy.
He said that coronavirus is here to stay, but our lives cannot revolve around it. "Corona will be with us for a long time but our lives cannot revolve around corona. We will wear masks, we will follow six feet distance, but we won't let our focus stray," he stressed, indicating major relaxations after May 17.
Drawing from his personal experience of disaster management, recovery and rehabilitation post the Kutch earthquake in 2001, Modi said that if the Kutch story is a reflection of performance in adversity, then India story will truly make for a grand one.
“The crisis has brought a message to India, it has brought an opportunity," Modi said and added, “When the crisis started, India didn’t manufacture even one PPE kit. There was hardly any manufacturing of N95 masks. Today two lakh each of these are being manufactured daily in the country."