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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 29 October 2020 8.20 PM IST

Modi @70: Modi’s three ideas that changed lives of Indians

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a long history of ‘firsts’, with many examples of success arising from his upsetting of the status quo. Some of these—like his bringing down of the price of solar power in India from Rs 15 to Rs 2.5 per unit—are scarcely known. That was a result of his 2009 Gujarat solar development policy, which went on to become a forerunner of the solar revolution in India, in which he has targeted the installation of 175 GW of solar power production by 2022. When the plan was first launched, he had been criticised for offering high prices to solar power producers. His response, in an interview to INDIA TODAY magazine, was characteristic: “A nation refusing to tap the vast solar energy [potential] of the country just because it has to pay a high price on the first day is retrograde thinking. Gujarat will make this beginning and let the nation benefit.”

On the eve of the prime minister’s 70th birthday, here are three other significant innovations


The Sweet Revolution
Modi’s ‘Mission Honey’, a scheme he floated while addressing farmers in Gujarat’s Banaskantha district in December 2016, has slowly been spreading across India, and is becoming a popular choice amongst poor farmers. The plan, announced at a programme under Banas Dairy, a leading dairy in the Amul network, was picked up in a big way by V.K. Saxena, chairman of the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and Banas Dairy chairman and former minister Shankarbhai Chaudhary. Today, India has risen from #12 to #6 in global rankings for beekeeping, with perhaps 15,000 farmers producing 9,000 tonnes of honey every year. The KVIC distributed over 150,000 honey boxes (for beehives) to make this programme a success, particularly among tribal farmers.


Thanks to these efforts, the small farmers of Banakantha are becoming major honey producers, with 700 farmers producing upto 80 tonnes of honey every year. Incomes among some farmers have risen from Rs 3 lakh per year to above Rs 20 lakh per year.


Electric Pottery
In 2019, the prime minister ordered a survey of potters in the country, with a view to adding value to their profession. Earthenware, aside from being a sustainable material, is also an object of tourist attraction. One finding was that there were 45 million potters in India, with another being that they still depended largely on manually powered potters’ wheels. Modi instructed KVIC chairman Saxena to find a way to increase the use of electric potters’ wheels to improve production. As many as 17,000 such wheels were distributed, improving the lives of hundreds of potters. There has also been a gradual uptake of electric potters’ wheels in the country. On the demand side, the Indian Railways—which no longer allows plastic cups to be used at over 400 major railways stations across the country—is a major market.


Cow-Powered CNG
Another initiative Banas Dairy is working on is to open bio-CNG gas stations—based on gobar gas—to improve the use of green fuel. This will also have a direct impact on the wellbeing of cows and buffaloes and those who maintain herds, preventing them from being sent to the slaughter houses. The hero of this revolution is Banas Dairy chairman Shankar Chaudhary, who took a leaf out of Modi’s 2018 speech at Anand Agriculture University. At the time, the prime minister had pitched for scientists and rural leaders to innovate using the materials at hand—for instance, to make CNG from gobar gas.
Chaudhary first sent Banas Dairy’s research teams to Germany to understand the technology required. The next step was to import the technology into India and hire engineers to run it. Two years later, he opened his first gobar-gas based CNG station in Palanpur, the capital of Banaskantha district, in north Gujarat. He plans to open another 49 in the next few months, with an investment of Rs 500 crore that he hopes to recover in just two years. This model is set to take the country by storm. Says Chaudhary: “Modi sahib is a revolutionary thinker. He is a bank of ideas that people can encash, to the benefit of society.”

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