The newly sworn-in Union government hit the ground running on Friday, taking four major decisions related to farmers’ and traders’ welfare in the first meeting of the Union Cabinet. The BJP had promised these measures in its election manifesto.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to announce about the decisions taken. He said the decisions will enhance dignity and empowerment of several Indians. “People first, people always,” he wrote.
Also on Friday, the government decided to extend the PM-KISAN scheme to all 14.5 crore farmers in the country, costing Rs 87,000 crore a year and also announced over Rs 10,000 crore pension scheme for five crore farmers.
The government would also provide a monthly pension of Rs 3,000 to small traders, businessmen and shopkeepers after they attain the age of 60 years. Accordingly, all small shopkeepers and self-employed persons, as well as retail traders with GST turnover of under Rs 1.5 crore and aged between 18 and 40 years, can enrol themselves for the scheme. The decision is likely to benefit five crore small traders in the next three years.
Meanwhile, new Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government has also done away with the benchmark of two hectares for the PM-KISAN scheme. With this, two crore farmers who were left out of the scheme originally would now be benefitted, he said.
In addition, PM Modi also approved a hike in scholarship given to widows and wards of deceased or ex-service personnel of armed and paramilitary forces from the National Defence Fund and extended its ambit to include wards of state police officials martyred in terror or Maoist attacks. The rates have increased to Rs 2,500 per month for boys and Rs 3,000 per month for girls.
Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with five foreign ministers who had arrived in Delhi for his swearing-in ceremony.
- The Cabinet approved a Rs 13,343 outlay to control FMD and brucellosis.
- The diseases are common among cattle, and the scheme will cover 30 crore bovines, 20 crore sheep or goat, and 10 million pigs
At A Glance
- PM Modi to retain Dept of Personnel Training, Atomic Energy and portfolios not allocated.
- New Jal Shakti Ministry, helmed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, to oversee water disputes and Namami Gange.
- Smriti Irani retains Textile ministry, gets charge of the Women and Child Development.
- Piyush Goyal to continue as Railway minister. With lowest accident figures in the previous tenure, goal is to reach the zero accident standard.
Remove Art 370, 35A, tackle Naxals & NRC
Home Minister Amit Shah’s first challenge is formulating a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism and checking illegal immigration. In its manifesto, the BJP promised abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, which is another Herculean task awaiting Amit Shah. Furthermore, he has to deal with Naxal problems, and complete the contentious NRC exercise in Assam and implement it in West Bengal.
Resuscitate economy, create employment
Nirmala Sitharaman joined as Finance minister on a day when the country’s GDP growth slipped to 5.8% in January-March 2018-19, falling behind China. With unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1%, creating an environment for employment will be her biggest challenge, apart from reviving economic growth. Her ministry will need to focus on the four engines of economy — consumption, private investment, public investment and exports.
Define position in trade war, Iran oil crisis
Career diplomat Dr S Jaishankar has a daunting task ahead in view of the US removing India from the Generalized System of Preferences list. He will also have to define India’s position amid the ensuing trade war between US and China. The government will also bank on his expertise to handle the Iran oil crisis and tackle USA’s warning to India on buying S-400 missile system from Russia.
Modernise forces, long-term plan for Kashmir
As the new Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh’s imminent challenges are the modernisation of the Armed forces, Make in India initiatives, fighting terrorism and forming long term strategies for Kashmir and the North East. Another area that will need his immediate attention is streamlining the procurement of state-of-the-art weapon systems and clearing pending projects.