African cheetahs returned to India after a long time and India got an ambitious National Logistics Policy – Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday celebrations had a unique touch. All four major events he attended on Saturday seemed to advance the cause of India’s sustainable development goal.
After a long and action-packed day, the prime minister said he had attended programmes that covered economy, society and the environment – spheres that collectively furthered the goal of sustainable development.
“I spent the day attending programmes that cover our economy, society and the environment. I truly believe that when we collectively work on these spheres, we will fulfil our goal of sustainable and inclusive development. May we keep working harder and harder in the times to come,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted, adding that he was humbled by the affection he had received on his birthday.
The goal of sustainable development is at the intersection of economy development, societal empowerment and environmental protection while skill development ensures availability of trained human resource.
Four events that the PM attended covered these spheres – with focus on economy at the launch of the National Logistics Policy; on society at the conference with women self-help groups; on environment by releasing African cheetahs from Namibia into the Kuno National Park; and on skill development with his address to 40 lakh students at the ‘Kaushal Dikshant Samaroh’.
Modi not only thanked foreign leaders and prominent personalities for wishing him on his birthday, but reached out to and lauded those who had devoted the day to community service.
Here is a recap of PM Modi’s eventful 72, which he marked by addressing events covering fields as diverse as wildlife to women empowerment and nation-building:
Perhaps the highlight for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and an exciting day for all of India, was releasing African cheetahs into the Kuno National Park at Madhya Pradesh. The big cat returned to India seven decades after it was declared extinct. The prime minister said ‘Project Cheetah’ was an endeavour towards environment and wildlife conservation.
Eight cheetahs – five female and three male and aged between 30 to 66 months – arrived in the country from Namibia by a special flight in the morning after a transcontinental journey of over 8,000 km that began late on Friday.
He shared his own excitement with a melange of snapshots from his trip to the national park, calling it an “unforgettable day”. Armed with a camera, the PM donned a safari hat and jacket as he clicked some pictures for his own personal collection.
He said, “A long wait is over, the cheetahs have a home in India at the Kuno National Park. India has shown how a perfect balance between economy and ecology can be achieved. The journey towards sustainable development, protecting our flora and fauna is incomplete without community participation. In Madhya Pradesh earlier today, interacted with ‘cheetah mitras’, who will surely do excellent work,” Modi tweeted.
At the release event, the PM operated a lever from a high dais to slide a door of the special cage open. The first of the cheetahs stepped into the special enclosure at the KNP, located in the Sheopur district of MP, as Modi proceeded to click their pictures with a DSLR camera.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and union environment minister Bhupendra Yadav were also present. According to forest officials, the cheetahs hesitated a little as they took in the new environment with a look of curiosity mixed with bafflement, but soon found their bearing and began to amble.
After releasing the cheetahs, Modi told the ‘cheetah mitras’ to protect the carnivores and ensure that human-animal conflict is avoided. During his interaction, the PM told them not to allow anyone inside the national park, not even him, until the cheetahs were acclimatised to their new habitat. He also advised them to develop a hobby of photography by clicking photos of not just cheetahs but other wildlife as well, using their mobile phones. “You can share photos with me,” he added.
National Logistics Policy
Prime Minister Modi unveiled the ambitious National Logistics Policy that seeks to address challenges facing the transport sector and bring down logistics cost of businesses from 13-14 per cent to a single digit. At a grand launch event, he said the policy aims to expedite the last-mile delivery, helping businesses save time and money.
He said while the new policy addressed challenges of the logistics sector, together with the infrastructure augmentation plan ‘PM GatiShakti’, it will address gaps.
“From 13-14 per cent (of the GDP), we should all aim to bring the logistics cost to single digit as soon as possible,” the PM said, adding that it was imperative to do so “if we have to become globally competitive”.
According to government officials, the policy will help bring down the cost to 7.5 per cent in the coming years. Elements of the policy like Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) and Ease of logistics Services (E Logs) would help exporters and industry in enhancing logistic efficiency. The ULIP will bring all digital services of the transportation sector into a single portal, freeing exporters from a host of long and cumbersome processes. Similarly, E-Logs portal industry can enable the industry to directly take up any such matters causing problems in their operations and performance with government agencies.
Women of ‘Naya Bharat’
After releasing the cheetahs, Modi arrived at Sheopur district’s Karahal to address women self-help groups at another large-scale event. Members of different SHGs were seen assembled at the venue, waving flags and cheering the prime minister on. To them, the PM said, “Normally I meet my mother on my birthday and seek her blessings. Today so many mothers of Madhya Pradesh have blessed me.”
He described women as his strength and inspiration and said his mother will be pleased with the outpouring of blessings from women. The PM said there was a vast difference in the India of the last century and the present ‘Naya Bharat’ in the form of women-power.
He said his government had opened doors that were earlier closed for women. “Today, daughters are not only taking admission in Sainik schools but are also joining armed forces and becoming commandos. There has been a massive difference between India in the last century and the present Naya Bharat in the form of women’s power,” Modi said, adding, “in the New India, women are flying their flags high from Panchayat Bhavan to Rashtrapati Bhavan.” He indicated Droupadi Murmu joining the office of President in July.
On the occasion, the prime minister launched skill centres for women and handed a cheque of Rs 10 lakh to a woman member of Maruti Nandan SHG. The PM said the BJP-led government at the Centre had made efforts to strengthen women’s SHGs in the last eight years. Over eight crore women were associated with SHGs and the government aimed at getting at least one woman from each poor family on SHGs, he added.
“To ensure the role of women in the rural economy and to explore new possibilities for them, the government is continuously working. Products made by them are being provided to a larger market through the ‘One-district-one-product’ scheme,” he said.
‘Skilling, reskilling, upskilling’ – a mantra
The PM also virtually addressed students at the first-ever convocation of ITIs. He said the government accorded top priority to the skill development of youth and creation of new institutions. He said the Centre will open over 5,000 skill hubs to promote skill development at the school level.
After the implementation of the new National Education Policy, experience-based learning is also being promoted and skill courses introduced in schools, Modi said. He gave the mantra of “skilling, reskilling and upskilling” to the country’s youth.
“The first ITI in our country was established in 1950. In the following seven decades, 10,000 ITIs were formed. In the eight years of our government, about 5,000 new ITIs have been created in the country. More than 4 lakh new seats have also been added to ITIs in the last eight years,” Modi said, adding that in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, ‘Industry 4.0’, ITIs will have a massive role to play in India’s success.
The PM said many courses related to coding, AI, robotics, 3D printing, drone technology, and telemedicine have been started in ITIs.
(With PTI inputs)
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