Synopsis: Frankly Speaking with PM Narendra Modi

The prime minister had a very forthright interview with Arnab Goswami where they touched upon a lot of issues. But while the original interview was lined with humor, grace and also a lot of frank speak, at almost 90 minutes, it’s too long for a lot of people to watch. For all of them, here is a quick 5 minute synopsis:

On the performance of his government

When I first came to the parliament as an MP, the two major challenges I faced were my naivety to the government and its style of working and the deep disappointment in the entire system. You will have to measure the performance of this government against this environment created in the previous 10 years. We have moved the needle in each and every function of the government while achieving milestones in a time bound manner. This has enthused a new confidence in the system which is a huge achievement.

Foreign Policy

  1. Lack of a stable government at the Center has always weakened our foreign policy
  2. The world looks at the head of the state while dealing with a country and so it was necessary for them to know who I am personally, so that a wrong perception of me doesn’t affect India
  3. The global foreign policy is no longer bipolar and hence we are focusing on engaging even with the small island countries to become a global force
  4. We have a lot of problems with China and we are dealing with them one by one through dialogue
  5. We have to stop seeing everything in our foreign policy with relation to Pakistan as we talk to other nations as an independent country of 1.2 billion people looking for our own benefits
  6. Our view towards Pakistan has always been of having a friendship, but this does not stop the forces on the border from replying in full force if agitated. You have to understand that there are multiple forces at play in Pakistan, but a democratically elected government can only talk to the corresponding democratic force

Economy

  1. The core of our economic policy is the benefit of the last man in the line
  2. Instead of helping the poor survive, we want to empower them to beat poverty forever through financial inclusion
  3. Swachh Bharat is aimed at improving the quality of life for the poor who are the most affected by unhygienic conditions
  4. Startup India, Railways and Ports development are aimed at catering to the aspirations of the middle class
  5. This year marks the highest electricity and coal production, highest length of roads per day, lowest time of steamer unloading at ports which shows our focus on infrastructure development
  6. Standup India is helping the dalit and backward classes become a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem which will create a lot of jobs
  7. Mudra loans were provided to 3 crore small and medium businesses without collateral so they they can expand their business and employ more people
  8. Even small shops can now work for 7 days a week and till late at night which will again increase the opportunities for job creation
  9. Housing policy and textile policy will also create a lot of jobs as we have now linked tax benefits with job creation
  10. Inflation should not be viewed as a perception but reality. The rate of increase of inflation has slowed down but the effect of two years of drought will take time to be nullified.

On Raghuram Rajan’s exit and Subhramaniam Swamy

We did not cut Rajan’s tenure short as expected by people. His patriotism is no less than anyone else and he will continue to serve the country in whatever post he is. But, whether in the BJP or in some other party, nobody should consider themselves above the system. The nation is not going to benefit from such publicity stunts.

On Black Money and scandals of the previous governement

  1. When the previous government stalled the SC order to form an SIT to probe black money, people got a window to move their money around
  2. Our first executive decision was to set up the SIT and I raised the issue in the G-20 meet to stress our commitment
  3. We are in talks with Switzerland for Automatic Information Exchange and with Mauritius to close the input route for black money into the country
  4. We are also working to stop the creation and outflow of black money from the country to stop the problem at the source
  5. There is a lot of dirt that we are having to dig up to get to the base of all of the scandals. But, it is evident that these people were experienced in these black practices and had a big shield protecting them
  6. My government will not hunt particular people and we hope the investigation agencies can uncover the truth

On the parliamentary logjam

  1. I feel there are a lot of problems in the parliament and I leave it to the people to decide whose fault it is. Not letting a debate happen is more dangerous than not letting the government work in a democracy
  2. Some of the opposition parties also are supporting the government on key legislations. It’s only one party that’s creating a problem. A party which has been in the government for 60 years cannot behave like a naive opposition like we were in 2009
  3. GST is not just an economic reform. Not having GST is a direct loss for the poor of UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam and hence most parties are supporting it. With this arithmetic that I am seeing, I am hopeful that we will be able to pass the bill soon

On elections

  1. We will fight the UP elections only on the issue of development and try to destroy the communal mindset through education and employment
  2. Electoral reforms like holding central and state government elections together can save costs, increase productivity of government employees through lesser election duties and also help curb the rise of black money. But this should be dealt with by the election commission only to be fair to all political parties
  3. I am an apolitical PM and don’t get involved in politics apart from in elections. The biggest loss for this country has been because governments were run for elections instead of running for the common man. A PM who is thinking of 2019 wouldn’t have warned the people against tax fraud

On the Farmers’ crisis

  1. We are focussing on water management, conservation and micro irrgation through Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojna in order to avoid this annual crisis
  2. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojna will insure against crop crisis even for farmers who haven’t even sowed their seeds or whose standing crops have got damaged by rain
  3. The e-mandi will help the farmer decide what price he wants to sell his goods at directly to the buyers
  4. We have opened 100% FDI in food processing to help the farmers. We have urged for aerated drink companies to use 5% natural fruit juice in their drinks to create a market for the farmers fruits
  5. Soil health cards will help the farmers in scientifically understanding what kind of crops and fertilizers are right for his farm preventing damage to cultivable land and save Rs. 15,000–20,000 per acre per farmer
  6. Neem coating of Urea has stopped the black marketing completely, helps repair the soil and reduce the quantity required
I am never satisfied with my run rate as the world which was far behind us has now left us far behind and we need to run faster than fast to catch up.