“AtmaNirbhar Bharat” dream requires farm sector income over 24% of the GDP
India won’t be able to reach its ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant) goal until the share of agriculture and related industries in the GDP goes over 24%, said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday, arguing for the use of technology in farming and in rural and tribal areas. The minister was giving a speech here at Sri Balaji University’s 22nd convocation.
‘12% of our GDP comes from agriculture and allied sectors, 22 to 24% from the manufacturing sector, and 52 to 54% from the service sector. I’m here to say that it will be hard to make ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ as long as this 12% (of agriculture and allied sectors) doesn’t go above 24% ‘he said.
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Gadkari stressed how important it was to bring technology to rural and tribal areas, saying that it would help reduce poverty and hunger, improve the areas’ economies, and create jobs.
‘Industries won’t come until we improve water, transportation, and communication in certain areas,’ he said. Gadkari said that industries need capital investments, which could lead to new jobs.
The minister told a story about the Pune-Mumbai Expressway when he was the PWD minister for Maharashtra in the mid-1990s when the BJP and Shiv Sena were in power. He was speaking to management students.
Gadkari said that even though the Reliance Group’s bid was the lowest, he did not accept it. Instead, he paid ₹1,600 crore to a government group to build the carriageway.
‘Tenders were asked for, and the lowest bid was ₹3,600 crore from Dhirubhai Ambani’s Reliance Group. According to the rules, the job should have gone to the lowest bidder,’ he said. Gadkari said that his conscience told him that the work could be done for ₹1800 crore and that ₹3600 crore was too much.
‘Balasaheb Thackeray, Pramod Mahajan, and everyone else told me that if it was the lowest bid according to the rules, why was I against it? I told them that they could do this for half as much. The bid was turned down because I didn’t sign ‘he added.
The minister said that Dhirubhai was sad and asked him how he was going to build the road. ‘It’s not the job of the government,’ he said, quoting the late businessman.
Gadkari said, ‘I joked with him that if I couldn’t build the road, I would shave off my moustache. I also asked him what he would do if I could build the road.’
The minister said that he then set up the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC). ‘The road was finished for ₹1,600 crore in two years,’ he said.