Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the 90th birthday celebrations of Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Kerala-headquartered Mar Thoma Church, through a video link from New Delhi, on June 27, 2020.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the 90th birthday celebrations of Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Kerala-headquartered Mar Thoma Church, through a video link from New Delhi, on June 27, 2020.

Modi says India must continue fight against COVID but also focus on economic growth

Govt does not discriminate between faith, gender, caste, creed or language: PM

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, June 27, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that India cannot afford to let its guard down in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) panic but said that, at the same time, the country had to focus on economic growth and prosperity for its 130 crore people.

Addressing the 90th birthday celebrations of Joseph Mar Thoma, the Metropolitan of the Kerala-based Mar Thoma Church through video-conference, Modi cited figures to show that India was much better placed than many other nations in the battle against COVID-19, due to the lockdown and other steps taken by the government as well as a "people-driven fight".

He said the recovery rate was improving in India and the number of deaths per million population in the country was under 12, much lower than other countries such as Italy, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and France. "Lakhs of villages, home to 85 crore people remain almost untouched by coronavirus," he said.

He said that the country had to even more careful now and steps like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding crowded places, regular hand washing and so on remained important.

"At the same time, we have to focus on economic growth and prosperity for 130 crore Indians. The wheels of trade and commerce have to move. Agriculture has to flourish. In the last few weeks, the Government of India has addressed both short-term and long-term issues relating to the economy. From the sea to space, From the farms to the factories, people-friendly and growth friendly decisions have been taken," he said.

Modi said the call for Atma Nirbhar Bharat, self-reliant India, will ensure economic strength and prosperity for every Indian.

"A month ago, the Union Cabinet cleared the Pradhan Mantri Matasya Sampada Yojana. This scheme is going to transform our fisheries sector. With an investment of over Rs 20,000 crore, this scheme seeks to boost the sector. The aim is to also increase export earnings and provide more employment to over fifty five lakh people. We want to ensure better technology, infrastructure and make value chains stronger. I am confident my fishermen sisters and brothers in Kerala will gain from this scheme," he said.

The Prime Minister said historic reforms have been undertaken in the space sector. These reforms will ensure greater use of space assets and activities. Access to data and technology will improve. I see several youngsters in Kerala and in South India taking a keen interest in science and technology. They will gain from the reforms," he said.

Modi said his Government had always been guided by sensitivity and a long-term vision to make India a growth engine.

"We have taken decisions not from comfortable Government offices in Delhi but after feedback from people of the ground. It is this spirit that ensured every Indian has access to a bank account. Over 8 crore families have access to smoke free kitchens. Over 1.5 crore houses have been made to give shelter to the homeless.

"India is home to the largest healthcare scheme in the world, Ayushman Bharat. Over a crore people have got quality treatment. For the poor, we are bringing 'one nation-one ration card' scheme to help them where they are. For the middle class, we have brought a number of initiatives, to boost Ease of Living. For farmers, we have increased the MSP and made sure they get the right price and making the sector free from middle men," he said.

"For women, we are ensuring that their health gets due attention via various schemes. And, their career path is not compromised through extension of maternity leaves. The Government of India does not discriminate between faith, gender, caste, creed or language. We are guided by the desire to empower 130 crore Indians and our guiding light is the ‘Constitution of India’," he said.

Greeting Dr Joseph Mar Thoma on his 90th birthday, the Prime Minister noted that the head of the Mar Thoma Church had devoted his life for the betterment of society and the nation. "He has been particularly passionate about removal of poverty and women's empowerment," he said.

Modi said the Mar Thoma Church is closely linked with the noble ideals of Saint Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

"India has always been open to spiritual influences from many sources. The contributions of Saint Thomas and, following him, the Indian Christian community are deeply valued. With Saint Thomas we associate humility. He rightly said, 'Humility which is a virtue is always fruitful in good works'. It is with this spirit of humility that the Mar Thoma Church has worked to bring a positive difference in the lives of our fellow Indians. They have done so in areas such as healthcare and education. Saint Thomas was blessed with immense wisdom. The Mar Thoma Church played a role in India's freedom struggle. The Church was at the forefront of working towards national integration.

"This Church fought the Emergency. It is a matter of immense pride that the Mar Thoma Church is firmly rooted in Indian values. The contribution of the Church has also been recognized at the national level. The former Metropolitan of Mar Thoma Church, Philipose Mar Chrysostom, was conferred with the Padma Bhushan in 2018. He inspires many.

"The Holy Bible talks extensively about togetherness. Now is the time to join ranks, work together for the advancement of our nation. Think of this -- how can our actions contribute to national development? Today India is saying, we will produce locally and also buy local products. This will light the lamp of prosperity in the homes of many. There are many ways to strengthen our nation. The Mar Thoma Church, in line with its values, will surely rise to the occasion and play a key role in India's growth trajectory in the times to come," he added.