DailyOh! India isn't aatmanirbhar, Indians are. What Nirmala Sitharaman is doing to get India there
Rs 3 lakh crore for MSMEs is how it has started.
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When all is said and done, there remains a lot to be said and done. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi finished speaking yesterday about 33 minutes past 8 pm - actually even as he was speaking - people began saying what they had to say.
But the real task was before Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman because she has to do the actual number crunching. Things didn’t start well on that front because things started with a Twitter typo as the crore went missing from Rs 20 lakh. That’s ok because to err is human, and on Twitter you can’t edit when you err.
A special economic package is being announced- for an Atma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan with nearly 10% of a GDP (approx Rs 20 lakh) getting committed. MSMEs and the honest middle class help build a #selfreliant India, says @PMOIndia @narendramodi— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) May 12, 2020
But when Modi was done announcing a Rs 20 lakh crore package, people were faced with a Herculean task – the task to figure out how many zeroes after 2 make 20 lakh crore. The right answer is 13. So, Sitharaman, at 4 pm, gave the incomplete details of how the Rs 2,00,00,00,00,00,000 will be spent. She will be giving out the details in parts over the next couple of days. That saves us all the maths in the same day.
For today, she announced a Rs 3 lakh crore collateral-free loan for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). There are about 105,347 MSME firms in India and they employ nearly 100 million people.
So today’s task has been done by Sitharaman. She will keep performing the task of allocating the Rs 20 lakh crore over the next few days.
For us, however, there is another task – becoming aatmanirbhar. Now, India may not be aatmanirbhar, but Indians are. Indians are so aatmanirbhar that they started walking home when the lockdown was announced, not waiting for government to provide food, shelter or trains. They knew they gotta do it on their own. The rich should not feel offended. They also brought back their kids studying abroad in chartered planes – on their own. So let no one tell us apne pairon pe khade ho jaao, we already are out and about on our feet. Then why did the PM ask us to do what we have been doing anyway? For that, we need to understand the meaning of aatmanirbhar, our Word Of The Day that Modi gave us yesterday.
Put simply, ‘aatma’ means self and ‘nirbhar’ means reliant. If you are self-reliant, you are aatmanirbhar. People maybe self-reliant, but the country is not. India depends on exports from other countries for many of its needs. Indian pharma sector, for instance, supplies medicines to a large part of the world, but depends on China for the ingredients to make the drugs. Likewise, India didn’t have enough PPEs to begin with because we were getting it from China. Make in India existed, but Made in China thrived in India.
For the country to become self-reliant, we got to produce in-house is what Modi said. And we said already that when all is said and done, there is a lot left to be said and done. Manufacturing in India might mean taking on China. That can lead to some rough weather too. But it isn’t just China, Modi’s slogan ‘vocal for local’ said India needs to be part of the global supply chain. Being part of the chain doesn’t mean you only supply, you also allow supplies in. That is what the World Trade Organisation monitors. A key rule of the multilateral trade system is that trade barriers should be reduced. Finding that balance is Modi’s task. Making the mask at home is ours.
If you take precautions, you can duck the virus. But those who choose not to duck the virus could be a cause for concern. One such bunch of Covidiots was found in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district. This bunch gathered to welcome Jain monk Pramansagar. Look at the visuals. This gathering put at risk not just the bunch, but also the monk the bunch wanted to welcome.
Madhya Pradesh: A crowd gathered to welcome Jain monk Pramansagar in Banda, Sagar district yesterday. Praveen Bhuria, ASP Sagar says, "Directions given to investigate & take action against organizers if social distancing norms & section-144 were violated". pic.twitter.com/eWNgk4qf4o— ANI (@ANI) May 13, 2020
By extension, it puts at risk everyone else in the country too. In South Korea, if you remember, a gathering of the Shincheonji religious group helped the virus spread faster. In Madhya Pradesh, it could be the disciples of the monk. Don’t depend on religion and religious gurus to sail you through life, be aatmanirbhar there too. Remember what they told us in school, “God helps those who help themselves.” That was a polite way of saying, there is no god so help yourself – be aatmanirbhar. There are multiple ways of doing that. But there is one way of not doing it – it is the Elon Musk way.
Musk has reopened Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, in defiance of public health officials who did not give the company the go-ahead to start operations. California has about 71,000 positive coronavirus cases but there is no stopping Musk – till maybe he reaches Mars.
Leave Musk to California for now, let’s come back to India. On Friday, in India, hockey legend Balbir Singh was admitted to hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest. The 95-year-old is critical. Singh is considered the greatest hockey player India produced, the greatest after Dhyan Chand, that is. Akshay Kumar’s movie Gold (2018) is a ‘highly fictionalised’ version of the very real win of independent India’s first gold medal win in Olympics. Himmat Singh’s character played by Sunny Kaushal is loosely based on Balbir Singh. We wish him a speedy recovery.
And to Sunny Leone, we wish a very happy birthday. The actor turned 39 today. What a remarkable journey she has had, turning from an adult film star to a Bollywood actor! But the transition happened with Bigg Boss 5. Her career got a huge boost with her participation in the reality-less reality show. But did you know someone else also ended up making a lot of money because of Sunny being in the Bigg Boss house? We do not mean the show makers. It was her ex-fiance. Who was he? Matt Erikson, the vice-president of the marketing department of the Playboy magazine.
Sunny Leone with Matt Erikson. (Photo: Twitter)
While Sunny was becoming famous due to the show, Erikson reportedly released the first non-lesbian porn film that Sunny Leone ever did - Sunny Loves Matt. By that time, Sunny was no longer in love with Matt but the release still helped Matt make money. There was a blog under Erikson's name which provided Sunny's films on a pay-per-view basis.
Did Sunny have a problem with that? We do not know. What we do know is that even to celebreate your birthday under the lockdown, you got to be aatmanirbhar. Bake your own cake and party alone.
What we can offer is a peppy party song featuring the Birthday Girl.
We will leave you with that for today.
Be back tomorrow.