By Prashant Sood
Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to expand the political capital of his government by reaching out to vast sections of people, including the poor and the industrialists, in a speech that laid stress on dignity of labour, ending “inspector raj” and skilling of youth.
Modi, who launched the Deendayal Upadhyaya Shramev Jayate programme here, voiced his concern at workers facing difficulty in accessing their funds from previous provident fund accounts.
Modi, who has established himself as a formidable communicator in the country’s present political firmament, connected with the audience in his usual direct style, sometimes posing questions, sometimes making them laugh. He spoke like a man deeply involved in the initiatives of the labour ministry and not like a leader performing a perfunctory role.
He spoke of the fascination of society with white collar jobs, its lack of relative respect for low-paid skilled workers and the need for trusting people in their interaction with the government.
In the course of his nearly 25-minute speech, Modi got rapturous applause from the audience as he sought to give primacy to skill over bookish knowledge and illustrated how he was implementing his dictum of “maximum governance, minimum government.”
Modi seemed to take personal ownership of the initiatives launched.
“The initiatives being launched… this is maximum governance. It will uncomplicate issues (faced by people),” he said.
Modi referred to the speed at which he was working and said he could have launched the initiatives on different dates.
“I am finishing five-five works in a day. I have to do a lot in five years,” Modi said.
As the programme started, a sleekly-produced brief documentary introduced the audience to the initiatives being launched. Modi unveiled Shram Suvidha portal and labour inspection scheme, launched an apprenticeship programme and dedicated portability through a universal account number for employees provident fund.
Seeking to connect with millions of employees with provident fund accounts, Modi said that Rs.27,000 crore was lying in inoperative accounts and he had been wondering how the money could be returned to those to whom it belonged.
He said a mobile phone owner gets connectivity if he is travelling from one state to another. “If there is all facility for mobile (owner), should a person who leaves a job not have connectivity? This question bothered me. I have to give the money back to the poor,” he said.
Modi said hard work had already gone into the initiatives and beneficiaries were already getting SMSes.
“(This shows) how work culture can be changed.”
He also outlined the unique concept of brand ambassadors of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) – individuals trained from these institutes who have made a mark in their lives – and said it will raise stature of these primary industrial training units while enhancing esteem of students studying there.
Modi also spoke about a revamped Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY).
Modi also said the ease of filing returns on the labour portal will contribute to the government’s Make in India initiative.
“If Make in India is to be successful, then ease of business has to be successful.”
He also spoke of the role of people in governance and said there was need to come out of the thinking that the government will run the country. “All of us should run it collectively. We want to work by connecting with every one,” he said.
Modi also said that there was need for society to look at those engaged in labour with a sense of pride and respect.