Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday blamed the Opposition for harming the financial sector, with its “aggressive policies”, and claimed that his government had taken several steps to expel this “non-transparent credit culture” in India.

“The old ways and old systems of banking and non-banking sectors are being changed,” Modi said, while addressing a virtual conference to discuss the measures offered to strengthen financial services in this year’s Budget. “Ten to 12 years ago, in the name of aggressive lending, how the banking sector of the country, the financial sector was harmed, you know it well, you understand.”

The prime minister said that the government had three priorities areas of focus while tending to the economy. These are protecting the earnings of ordinary families, effective and “leakage free delivery” of government benefits to the poor, and the promotion of infrastructure-related investment for the development of the country, he said.

Modi said his government believed in the concept of a cooperative arrangement between public and private sectors. “It is our constant endeavor to encourage private enterprise as much as possible where possible,” he added. “But along with this, an effective participation of the public sector in banking and insurance is still needed by the country.”

The prime minister then spoke about his vision of turning India into a self-reliant country. “Self-reliant India will not be made up of just big industries or big cities,” he said. “A self-reliant India will be created with the efforts of villages, small entrepreneurs in small towns and the hard work of ordinary Indians. Self-reliant India will be made up of farmers.”

StartUps and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises will also play a crucial role in helping India achieve economic independence, Modi added.

“You all know very well that our Fintech startups are doing excellent work today and are exploring every possibility in this sector,” he added, referring to the business ventures of individuals in the financial sector. “Our Fintechs have a very high share in the StartUp deals that have taken place in the Coronavirus era as well.”

The prime minister also touched upon some of the other policies and initiatives of his government. “Today 130 crore people in the country have Aadhaar cards, more than 41 crore countrymen have Jan Dhan accounts,” he said. “About 55% of these Jan Dhan accounts are of women and about one and a half lakh crore rupees are deposited in them.”

Modi added that with the help of the Mudra Yojana, loans worth about Rs 15 lakh crore have reached small entrepreneurs in the past years. “In this also about 70%are women and more than 50% are Dalit, deprived, tribal and backward class entrepreneurs,” he said.

The prime minister said that his government had taken these decision with the “right intentions” and was willing to stand by them, PTI reported.

‘Stand up for MSMEs,’ says S Jaishankar

Meanwhile, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar said the government was conscious of the need to support domestic businesses, especially micro, small and medium enterprises, reported ANI.

“This realisation is very sharp in India,” the minister said. “We need to stand up for our business and that doesn’t mean just big business, it means MSMEs.”

Jaishankar added that India needs to do more to support such small business ventures. “It’s not just the business of Indian diplomacy to do business, it’s the business of the government to support businesses,” he said. “Every government in the world does that, we in India have not done that enough and I think that is changing.”