On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that his administration had repealed about 2,000 antiquated laws from the British era that had led to industrialists being imprisoned for relatively minor offences.
Listing achievements of his government, PM Modi stated that despite “upheaval” in some developed economies, India, the fifth-largest economy in the world, is making steady progress. He said, India’s position in the World Bank’s annual ranking of countries for their ease of doing business jumped massively – from 142 to 63 in five years.
The Prime Minister, who is on a three-day visit to his home state of Gujarat ahead of the election, said at a rally there that he wants to see India ranked among the top-50 nations in the assessment report and launched a subtly critical attack on the Congress for upholding antiquated laws.
The PM said, “God save us from what previous governments were doing. There was a law stating that if you have a factory with a toilet, and if you did not wash it for six months and if the government learnt about it, you will be sent to jail for six months. Now, six months in jail for not plastering the toilet! The (outdated) laws continued from the time of the British rule, and I (on becoming PM) roped in an entire team (for review of such legislation) because I did want to send businesspersons behind bars (over trivial issues). We scrapped 2,000 such laws. I have to do more, and if traders sitting here know of such a law, let me know.”
Modi said that locking someone up for trivial offences reflects a slave mentality, so he has started a campaign to eradicate this way of thinking. “The campaign will run unabated. I will continue with this ‘swachhata abhiyan’ (cleanliness campaign),” he said at the rally on the second day of his visit to the state, Assembly polls are due in the next few months.
Speaking further about the “ease of doing business,” Modi claimed that prior administrations had not made any mention of the idea, but that this changed after his administration took office more than eight years ago.
“We changed the laws and revamped the system, which helped us considerably improve our rankings. When I became Prime Minister (in 2014), India was ranked 142 (in ease of doing business list). We worked hard for 5 to 6 years and we reached the 63rd position. If we push hard, we will go below-50. Such a massive improvement is not confined only on papers….small businesses are helping improve things on the ground,” the PM said.
The British and American economies, he claimed, are struggling with high inflation rates not seen in 45 and 50 years, respectively, while the Indian economy has maintained itself. Interest rates have increased and growth has slowed.
“There is an upheaval in the world economy. Indian economy is the only one which is going ahead with stability and tenacity,” he said, adding India, which ranked 10th in 2014 in terms of its economic size in the world, has jumped to 5th position now.
He praised Gujarat’s new industrial policy, saying it will advance the development of the BJP-ruled state and contribute to the creation of thousands of jobs.
“In this (industrial policy), arrangements have been made for start-ups and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises)…they will benefit immensely. Because of this, many youths will become entrepreneurs and create lakhs of jobs. Youths should study the new industrial policy and benefit from it,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said Jamnagar’s coast is home to a variety of aquatic mammals, and the Center’s “Project Dolphin” will aid in their preservation.
“Words regarding cheetahs (brought to MP’s Kuno National Park from Namibia) have reached all over…now we are paying attention to conservation and development of dolphins and big projects are underway for this. Eco-tourism will emerge as a big area along the coasts of Jamnagar, Dwarka, Bet Dwarka,” Modi said.
The PM mentioned the late Maharaja Digvijay Singh, the former king of Jamnagar, and the assistance he provided to the Polish people during World War II.
“Even today India continues to benefit from the deep relationship that Maharaja Digvijay Singh forged with the people of Poland during the Second World War through his work. When Indian students were stranded in Ukraine (after war broke out in February 2022), thousands of students were to be rescued.” PM Modi said.
“Crisis was huge, but we managed to bring them out (of Ukraine) because of the relations we developed (with Poland). The help provided by Poland (in evacuating Indian students) was reminiscent of the kind nature displayed by (late Jamnagar ruler) Digvijay Singh,” he added.
The PM also discussed a campaign against encroachment carried out by authorities in Bet Dwarka and claimed it was the result of the state government’s perseverance.
He said, “Everyone benefits from following law and order. Gujarat has seen peace in the last 20 years, and this has opened the door of prosperity, brotherhood. Gujarat is going ahead with a pledge of unity, otherwise there was a time when clashes were not uncommon and Jamnagar was also not spared. Today, we have got rid of this.”
The prime minister claimed that his administration cared for the underprivileged and protected them during the coronavirus pandemics. He added that the Center’s “One Nation, One Ration” programme will benefit migrant workers.