Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched the government’s mega pension scheme – Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana – in Ahmedabad in Gujarat, ANI reported.
The scheme was announced in the interim Union Budget on February 1 for workers in the unorganised sector. The scheme will cover workers with a monthly income of up to Rs 15,000. Workers who enrol for the Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan Yojana will get Rs 3,000 per month after the age of 60.
Workers will need to contribute a nominal amount every month during their working age – those who join the scheme at the age of 18 will need to pay just Rs 55 a month. The government will deposit an equal share in the worker’s pension account every month. Workers will need to visit the nearest common centre to fill out a form, which will only take a few minutes, said the prime minister. “This is the wonder of Digital India,” he added.
Modi said the scheme will benefit all workers across the country, including those “working as servants in homes, earning livelihood from garbage, working in fields, building roads and houses, driving hand-carts, and weavers”.
Modi said the scheme was born after he thought about the pain workers in the urorganised sector go through in old age, when they have no means of income. “I am aware that the question of millions of poor in the country was that as long as the hands and feet function, we will get work and some money,” he said. “But what will happen when the body becomes weak?”
Modi claimed that previous governments had no intention of helping out such workers. “Those who collected votes in the name of the poor ruled for 55 years, but they did not come up with a single scheme to benefit those in the unorganised sector,” he said. “Those who have never gone through the pain of sleeping on an empty stomach, for them poverty is just a mental state.”
Modi said that poverty, for his government, was a massive challenge.
Modi also installed the idol at the newly-built Annapurna Dham temple in Adalaj town of Gujarat’s Gandhinagar. Addressing a gathering afterwards, Modi said asking the government to account for its work has become a trend in the country.
“There is a recent trend of people expecting that everything has to be done by the government,” Modi said. “They also seek answers from the government for the works that are not done. This was not a tradition in our country.”
Modi said society used to build dharmshalas (guest houses), gaushala (cow shelters) and libraries. “Slowly, knowingly or unknowingly, this activity of the society was suppressed and the state took the role of carrying out social work,” he said.
Modi said his government aimed to do the administrative work, while empowering the society to carry out social work.
The prime minister said it was the Leuva Patel community led by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who began the Amul movement and benefited people from all castes and classes in the villages of Gujarat. Modi urged the community to continue social work. “I will ask you to distribute one plant to each person coming to the temple as ‘prasad’ [offering].” The Annapurna Dham temple was set up the Leuva Patels, a sub-caste of the Patidar community.
‘Congress leader called Pulwama attack an accident’
At a rally in Dhar city of Madhya Pradesh later in the day, Modi claimed that the Congress was questioning the ability of the Armed Forces, ANI reported. Referring to Digvijaya Singh, he said a Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh claimed the Pulwama attack was an accident. “The party which ruled our country for decades is now questioning ability of our brave forces, especially a leader from Madhya Pradesh,” he said. “Today he said Pulwama terror attack is an accident. This is their mentality, he is the same person who gave Pakistan a clean chit after 26/11 [Mumbai attacks].”
In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Singh had referred to the Pulwama attack as a “durghatna” – which could mean accident, tragedy or disaster. He said that some international media organisations had raised doubts on the Indian air strikes across the Line of Control, which has in turn led to questions being raised over the government’s credibility.