Prior to the 2014 General Election, the country was passing through a phase of uncertainty. After the elections, my Government assumed charge and vowed to build a new India. A new India with no place for imperfect, corrupt and inertia ridden systems. From day one, the mission of my Government based on transparency was to improve the lives of our citizens, to eradicate their difficulties owing to poor governance, and to make sure that the benefit of public services reach the lowest strata of the society.The targets of my Government were determined by countless and helpless faces such as – that poor mother who cooked in a smoke filled kitchen; that helpless sister who was compelled to postpone her own treatment due to financial worries despite serious illness; that daughter who had to wait the whole day until the cover of darkness for going to the toilet; that child who was compelled to wait for day light to study because there was no electricity; that farmer who was caught in the anxiety of repaying his loan while watching his crops damaged by hail storm; that youth who was unable to earn his livelihood because no bank would lend to him. These very thoughts have shaped the schemes of my Government. These ideals of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s Antyodaya have been the touchstone of my Government’s work. In the last four and a half years, My Government has infused new hope and confidence among the people of the country, enhanced the country’s image and has effectively brought in social and economic change. As a result, my Government has been able to win immeasurable affection and trust of the people. The main goal of my Government is to improve the life of every Indian.
Lack of toilets had forced crores of Indians, especially our daughters and daughters-in-law to lead an undignified and unhealthy life. Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, more than 9 crore toilets have been constructed. It is the outcome of this mass movement that coverage of rural sanitation that was less than 40 percent in 2014, has increased to 98 percent. According to an assessment, because of the toilets built, numerous poor persons have been spared of various kind of diseases and more than 3 lakh lives have been saved. In the year of the 150thbirth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we must remember that we have resolved in his memory to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2ndOctober.
Many of our mothers, sisters and daughters used to suffer from various illnesses because of smoke filled kitchens, which also affected health of the entire family; and much of their effort and time were spent in collecting firewood. My Government has provided more than 6 crore cooking gas connections to such sisters and daughters under the Ujjwala Yojana. Even after decades of efforts, there were only 12 crore gas connections in the country in 2014. In a short period of last four and a half years, 13 crore families have been provided gas connections.
We are fully aware that the burden of expenditure on medical treatment further impoverishes the poor families. My Government which empathizes with this pain has launched the “Ayushman Bharat Yojana” last year. Under the world’s biggest health care scheme, ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Abhiyan’, 50 crore poor are eligible for availing treatment up to Rs 5 lakh per year per family in case of a serious illness. In a short period of four months, more than 10 lakh poor have already availed free treatment from hospitals under this scheme.
The endeavour of my Government has also been on reducing the burden of out of pocket expenses on medical care for the poor and the middle class. Under ‘Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana’, 4,900 Jan Aushadhi Centres have already been opened in more than 600 districts. More than 700 different medicines are being dispensed at low cost in these Centres. Similarly, reduction in the cost of cardiac stents has resulted in an annual saving of about Rs. 4,600 crore to the poor and middle class. Reduction in cost of knee replacement has led to an annual saving of about Rs. 1,500 crore. My Government has provided the facility of dialysis free of cost to those suffering from kidney diseases. This has resulted in a saving of more than Rs 2,000 per session for these people.
In addition, for a premium of just one rupee a month under ‘Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana’ and 90 paise a day under ‘Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana’, as many as 21 crore poor brothers and sisters have been provided with insurance coverage. An assistance of Rs 2 lakh in the event of an untoward incident is made available to them under both the schemes. By disbursing more than Rs. 3,100 crore under these schemes till now, my Government has supported the people in their times of difficulty.
My Government is also striving hard to alleviate the challenge of malnutrition among poor women and children. My Government has launched the National Nutrition Mission for persons suffering from malnutrition and to eliminate the factors responsible for malnutrition. ‘Mission Indradhanush’ has been launched by the Government to provide immunization facilities to children and pregnant women living in remote and tribal areas. As a result, the country has moved rapidly towards the target of “Universal Immunization”.
Be it cities or villages, the Government is working at a fast pace to strengthen the healthcare related infrastructure. New medical colleges are being set up by the Government, district hospitals are being upgraded and Wellness Centres are being established in all major Panchayats of the country. From Madurai in Tamil Nadu to Pulwama in Jammu-Kashmir; and from Rajkot in Gujarat to Kamrup in Assam, new ‘AIIMS’ are being established. Government is setting up new Ayurveda Science Institutes and encouraging yoga for physical and mental well being. To address the shortage of doctors in rural areas, 31 thousand new seats have been added in medical education in the last four years.
EXCERPTS OF ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, RAM NATH KOVIND TO THE JOINT SITTING OF TWO HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
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