Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his monthly “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme, on Sunday congratulated the farmers of India for proving their mettle at the time of the coronavirus crisis.
“Even during these difficult times of the coronavirus outbreak, our farmers have proved their strength and resilience,” Modi said. This, he said, was evident as India’s harvest of kharif crops this year is 7% higher than the previous year.
Modi began the 68th edition of his monthly address by appreciating the restraint shown by people while celebrating festivals during the pandemic. “This is a time for festivals but at the same time, there is also a sense of discipline among people due to the Covid-19 situation,” he said.
The prime minister further said that India has the potential of becoming a global hub for manufacturing toys. “Some parts of India are also developing as toy clusters,” he added. “Like Channapatna in Karnataka, Kondapalli Andhra Pradesh, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, Dhubri in Assam, and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh – there are many places in the country which produce fine toys. India has the talent and the ability to become a toy hub.”
He added that the Centre’s New Education Policy also focuses on making toys central to imparting education. “Learning while playing, making toys etc has been made a part of curriculum,” Modi said. “The best toys are those that bring out creativity.”
The prime minister urged startups in the country to team up with toy production units and invest in the industry. “The global toy industry is worth Rs 7 lakh crore, but India’s share in it is quite small”, he said. “I urge our start-up to ‘Team up for Toys’. This also matches our call for vocal for local.”
Modi said that India is known as the “land of innovators”. He also talked about the development of technology, particularly of mobile applications under the “Aatmanirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge”. “Recently, we encouraged the development of apps with Indian innovation,” he said. “Several apps have come up now. These small steps will eventually create India’s identity.”
He claimed that this was a “good sign for Atmanirbhar Bharat”, or a self reliant India, and urged young entrepreneurs to develop computer games in the country. “There is tremendous demand for video games,” the prime minister added. “But these games hardly have Indian content... The seed that was sown during non-cooperation movement 100 years ago, it is our responsibility to transform that into a tree of self-reliant India.”
Modi further said that India is marking “Nutrition Month” in September, which will benefit young children. He also talked about the importance of a nutritious diet for pregnant women. “People’s participation is very important to make Nutrition month a people’s movement,” he added. “Like a school has class monitor, there should be a nutrition monitor and nutrition card.”
Modi also spoke on the role of dogs in disaster management and rescue missions to locate people trapped in debris. He referred to Indian Army dogs Vida and Sophie, who were awarded the Chief of Army Staff “Commendation Cards” on Independence Day for their role in different rescue operations. He urged the citizens to bring home dogs of Indian breeds next time they consider adopting a pet.
Modi had earlier this month urged people to share their inputs and ideas for the 68th edition of his monthly radio address.
In his last address, Modi had expressed confidence that India will defeat the obstacles created by the coronavirus crisis. He had also spoken about the Unlock phase that has helped open certain sectors of the Indian economy.
The prime minister had also appealed to people to be more cautious in the “Unlock” phases and follow all safety measures. The Centre on Saturday announced further guidelines, part of the Unlock 4.0, to ease lockdown regulations even as cases continued to rise
According to the new guidelines, metro rail services will gradually be opened in cities beginning September 7. Schools, colleges, institutions, indoor theatres and swimming will remain closed till September 30. Further, states and Union Territories have been directed not to impose any lockdown outside containment zones without prior consultation from the Centre. International air travel remains banned except for the air bubbles already in place.
India’s coronavirus cases reached 35,42,733 on Sunday, after the Ministry of Health reported a rise of 78,761 cases in the last 24 hours. The toll rose by 948 to 63,498. India has 7,65,302 active cases now.