NDA report card

Modi goes to a village to convince the poor that the first year of his government wasn't bad

Addressing a rally in Mathura, Prime Minister Narendra Modi avoided the land acquisition debate and underlined his government's pro-poor, pro-farmer policies.

Stung by the overwhelming public perception that he is working for the interests of  leading industrialists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going out of his way to emphasise his government’s pro-poor credentials. This was evident from Modi’s hour-long speech at a rally near Mathura on Monday to mark the completion of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government's first year in office.

The NDA government has been on the defensive ever since  the Congress-led opposition labelled the Modi government as “anti-farmer and pro-corporate” over its decision to dilute the land acquisition act. BJP ministers have addressed a series of press conferences and given innumerable interviews to the media over the past several days to attempt to dispel this perception.

Every BJP minister has gone out of his way to emphasise that the ruling alliance is dedicated to the welfare of the poor farmer and other underprivileged sections of society and had provided a transparent and corruption-free  government over the past year. On Monday, it was the turn of the Prime Minister to challenge the perception about his government in general and about himself in particular.

Pro-poor Prime Minister

To begin with, he took a conscious decision to hold a rally in a village and address a rural audience on his government’s first anniversary. He took care to inform those present that he could have celebrated this occasion in the national capital but it was his personal decision to hold a rally at  Deen Dayal Upadhayay’s birthplace as his values and philosophy had inspired his government and shown it the way to serve the poor.

Modi began by reminding his audience that he had pledged to work for the poor when he took over as prime minister a year ago and that he had not wavered from that path. The Prime Minister’s speech was replete with references to his government’s commitment to the poor and details about the various social schemes unveiled during past year for the underprivileged.

He specifically referred to the NDA government’s social security schemes like the  Jan Dhan Yojana and the Atal Pension Yojana to assure his audience that his government was not acting in the interests of the corporate sector. “My government's schemes are for the poor and not rich industrialists.," he said. "Did you ever imagine that a farmer in our country could get pension after 60 years?”

Presenting a virtual report card about his government’s achievements at the rally, Modi also showcased his flagship programme – Swachch Bharat – as part of his commitment to the welfare of the poor, especially women and children. Reiterating his plans to construct toilets in every home in rural areas, Modi asked the audience, “Don't our mothers and sisters deserve toilets?”

Focus on the farmer

There was no mention of the controversial land acquisition bill over which his government is facing flak from a united opposition. Skirting this issue, the Prime Minister spoke sympathetically about the plight of “mera kisan” (my farmer) and how he would not let farmers suffer for want of proper inputs like seeds and uninterrupted power and water supply.

Modi was at pains to give details of the various schemes launched by his government for farmers. He spoke at length about the soil health cards introduced by the ruling alliance, the decision to modernise fertiliser plants and the move to coat urea with neem so that the fertiliser cannot be stolen for use in chemical factories.

Referring to Rajiv Gandhi’s remark that of the rupee allocated for villages, only 15 paise reaches the beneficiaries, Modi asserted, “ We have removed the middlemen and ensured that the full 100 paise reaches the poor villager.”

Trader over industrialist

Besides reaching out to the rural poor, Modi’s speech also had a special message for the retail trader and small businessman, long considered the BJP’s core constituency. There was only a oblique reference to big industry, and that, too, in not very flattering terms.  While speaking about the provision of loans made by his government to help small businessmen through Mudra Bank, Modi remarked “Big corporates don’t generate a lot of  employment...it is the small traders and businessmen who provide maximum employment.”

The country’s corporate heads who had extended unequivocal support to Modi in the last Lok Sabha election are not going to be pleased with the Prime Minister’s statement. As it is, they are becoming increasingly disillusioned with the Modi government for not moving fast enough with its reforms agenda.

Corruption-free

As always, Modi was at his combative best when he was attacking the Congress stating that those who had been voted out were now shrieking and shouting because they had lost power. Launching a strident attack against the main opposition party, he pointed to the  various scams and scandals which had riddled the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government. With his “achche din” slogan becoming a butt of many jokes, Modi tweaked it and instead spoke about how “burre din” were now over. Thundering in his trademark manner, he asked the audience “Burre din gaye ke nahee?" Haven't the bad days disappeared?.

Reiterating that he had provided a cleaner government than the previous regime, he wondered what fate would have befallen the country if the Congress had not been voted out. “There would have been a scam a day,” he remarked. “My government has brought burre din for those looted the country for 60 years.”

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

Play

Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.