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I Do Work With Positive Intent: Yogi Adityanath
In a freewheeling interview with Annurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath explains why it is important for UP to become a trillion dollar economy so that India could become a $5 trillion economy.
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When Yogi Adityanath, a saffron clad Mahant of the Gorakhnath temple, was made Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, eyebrows were raised about whether he would be able to give a direction to this politically sensitive state. The concerns were genuine because UP, the biggest state in India and home to 24 crore people – or 16 per cent of the total population of the country going by the 2011 census – needs an astute leadership. Four years down the line Yogi Adityanath has proved that he has the calibre to not only provide an able leadership driven by the motto of Sabka saath, sabka vikas, but also the vision to take the state forward on the path of development.
In a freewheeling interview with Annurag Batra, Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath explains why it is important for UP to become a trillion dollar economy so that India could become a $5 trillion economy. He expounds his mantra of attracting investments to the state and how Uttar Pradesh had become the most sought after destination of entrepreneurs.
Here are the excerpts of the interview in which Yogi Adityanath talks of the UP government’s initiatives to create new jobs, speed up development work and provide a transparent administration.
Annurag Batra: Your government is set to complete four years in office in March. What have been the achievements and challenges before your government?
Yogi Adityanath: In 2017 my biggest challenge was to end the prevailing anarchy and Goonda Raj in Uttar Pradesh and revive the faith of the people in law and order. We have been successful in our endeavour to maintain law and order in the state. Due to effective measures taken by the administration and the police, no incident of violence was reported at the time of the order for the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and at the time of the verdict on Sri Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in Ayodhya.
In opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, some anti-social elements unsuccessfully tried to disturb law and order but this too was effectively controlled. As an exemplary measure and to send a stern message to the anti-social elements, the cost of damages caused to public property is being recovered from them.
We have transformed the state into an ‘Industrial Powerhouse’ over four years. During the Investors Summit in 2018, the state received a record Rs 4.68 lakh crore of investment proposals.
In another groundbreaking ceremony we announced the grounding of projects worth almost Rs 3 lakh crore in two years’ time. Even amidst the pandemic, we received proposals worth Rs 57,000 crore. We have empowered youth and women by creating job opportunities for them.
The current unemployment rate in Uttar Pradesh as on 2 February stood at 4.1 per cent, which is one of the lowest in the country going by statistics of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE). It was around 18 per cent before our government came to power.
Prior to 2017, unemployment in the state had been above 15 per cent and with our commitment to ensuring employment, the figures drastically came down to 2.1 per cent in 2017 and remained well below 10 per cent till 2020. Uttar Pradesh has worked consistently and constantly to generate employment in the state and the result is quite evident.
Annurag Batra: Is employment generation a reflection of the strides UP has made in developing industries?
A clear indication of the remarkable progress of the state in the ease of doing business is the quantum jump in the state’s ranking in the recently announced Business Reform Action Plan ranking of states by DPIIT, Government of India. Uttar Pradesh bagged the second position – a jump of 12 positions in three years.
We have surged to the second spot on the GSDP list nationally. Uttar Pradesh has become the second largest state in India in terms of Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP), surging ahead of industrialised states like Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
The Uttar Pradesh government has constantly reinforced its commitment to prioritise farmers’ welfare and growth of the agriculture sector too by ensuring pro-farmer measures, be they waiving off farmers’ debt worth Rs 36,000 crore or ensuring procurement of their crops nationwide. During the tenure of the previous government, farmers had suffered immensely. Our priority was to make things right for them.
Annurag Batra: What parameters assessed the effectiveness of the initiative on education?
Yogi Adityanath: The first positive sign of this initiative is that the enrolment of children in primary schools has increased. Over 1.85 crore children have been enrolled under the School Chalo campaign.
The kids were given free uniform, bags, sweaters, shoes and socks. The primary schools were tastefully decorated and walls were coloured with fresh paint. Teachers who could motivate the students and parents were appointed in these schools. Thus, the quality of education also improved.
Annurag Batra: The basic problems in primary education is scarcity of teachers, is it not?
Yogi Adityanath: When we came to power, many government posts were lying vacant. We took several initiatives to solve the problem and ensured that all appointments were made.
Recently we have completed selection for about four lakh government posts. This includes appointment of more than 1.5 lakh teachers of even basic and secondary education in schools.
Other vacancies like in police, revenue department, health and other sectors are also being filled.
Annurag Batra: You talked of those trying 11 months of tackling Covid. How difficult was this challenge?
Yogi Adityanath: The Covid time has been the most trying period for our government. The focus of the government was to take care of the lives and livelihoods of the people of the state. When you talk of livelihood, the first question that comes to mind is education, particularly at the primary level.
More than a lakh basic schools have been made resourceful under Operation `Kayakalp’. Schools and school children have had the benefits of digital learning. Innovative efforts such as providing smart classes, report cards etc. by URISE (Unified Reimagined Innovation for Students Empowerment) portal of the government have been on.
The big challenge was to protect the lives of the people. My background is connected with the mutt, which is dedicated to manavsewa. Therefore, my first thoughts went towards these daily wage earners and how they would make both ends meet should restrictions be imposed.
I have seen in mutts how arrangements are made to provide free food to the poor irrespective of caste, creed and colour. So, I told officials to first chalk out plans for the poor and then go for a lockdown.
At that juncture we had two options: one, seek help from the Centre and two, arrange funds for the poor ourselves. We opted for the latter. I asked officials to make all arrangements so that no one has to sleep on an empty stomach.
Annurag Batra: Yes, I remember Uttar Pradesh was the first state to launch schemes for the labourers.
Yogi Adityanath: Under which daily wage labourers were given Rs 1000 and the money was transferred to 20 lakh daily wage earners through DBT. The maintenance allowance was given to street vendors, rickshaw pullers, e-Rickshaw drivers, construction workers and porters who lost employment because of the lockdown.
The government also provided free ration to the migrants. We gave them 20 kg of wheat and 15 kg of rice. In short, we ensured that both lives and livelihood were protected during the Covid pandemic.
Annurag Batra: The post lockdown period was also a challenge for you because your government had to provide employment to those who had lost their jobs.
Yogi Adityanath: Employment generation is of paramount importance. We launched Mission Rozgar and Community Service Centres were set up in villages so that the youth may get jobs at their doorsteps. Under this, 4.5 lakh youth will get employment. Besides, posts of over 58,000 Banking Correspondent Sakhis have been created who will speed up bank services in rural UP. Over seven lakh youths were trained under the Skill Development Mission.
We successfully organised Investors’ Meets and held Groundbreaking ceremonies during which projects worth around Rs 3 lakh crore were made operational. We have modified our investment policies and a single-window system has been created for investors. Also, in the sugarcane industry the government revived many closed units and cleared cane dues of the farmers.
Annurag Batra: Sugarcane is an important crop in UP and a very politically sensitive crop …
Yogi Adityanath: Sugarcane is an important crop and our previous governments did not clear the dues of the farmers. We even paid the cane dues of previous governments.
The Uttar Pradesh government has set a new record in paying arrears to sugarcane farmers. Over 97 per cent (Rs 34,847.60 crore) of sugarcane dues have been paid so far in the crushing season 2019-20. In the last four years, our government has made a total of Rs 1,21,613.85 crore of cane price payments from March, 19, 2017 till date. This is a record.
Annurag Batra: Another feather in your cap is the launch of the One District One Product (ODOP)scheme. How is it going?
Yogi Adityanath: Innovative efforts like ODOP revived local crafts and Hon’ble PM Narendra Modi Ji has appreciated ODOP.
The MSME sector has adopted it. Loans are being distributed on a large scale. Markets have been provided to local artisans. This is creating jobs at the local level. In our estimate at least 25 lakh additional jobs have been created so far.
Annurag Batra: What about infrastructure development?
Yogi Adityanath: The mantra of development is to have good infrastructure. Industries will come to UP only if we have good infrastructure like good roads and quality electricity. We are providing the same. The Purvanchal Expressway is set to connect western UP with eastern UP through quality roads. The Bundelkhand Expressway is set to transform the face of rugged Bundelkhand.
The Defence Corridor which will come at different nodes, will not only give employment to the local people but also usher in prosperity in the region. There is full emphasis on infrastructure development and focus on making Uttar Pradesh the most preferred investment destination. I am confident that the Defence Corridor will help India become self-sufficient in defence production.
Annurag Batra: You are right. People are talking about these Expressways. And in fact, when people talk about UP they talk about Jewar airport and Film City.
Yogi Adityanath: (Smiles) Jewar would be the biggest airport in Asia with multiple runways. It will become operational by 2024. Nearing Jewar we are planning to build a Film City that will come up in 1000 acres of land. This is a state-of-the-art Film City and will give Mumbai big competition.
Annurag Batra: How do you see the role of media in telling the UP government’s story?
Yogi Adityanath: The role of media is very important. I believe in doing my work. Let us do our work with positive sentiments. The public is aware of the reality of those who spread negativity. “Jaki Rahi Bhavana Jaisi, Prabhu Moorat Dekhi Tin Taisi”