“Till when will Dalits and tribals wait for jobs and till when can the government give them jobs?”

With that rhetorical question, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Stand Up India scheme, which seeks to transform job seekers into job creators who can set up businesses across the country and boost economic activity.

The scheme launched on Tuesday, the birth anniversary of Babu Jagjivan Ram, aims to promote entrepreneurship among the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and women by providing loans between ₹10 lakh and ₹1 crore.

The Prime Minister said under the scheme, 1.25 lakh bank branches would each be expected to lend every year to at least one Dalit or tribal entrepreneur and one woman entrepreneur in their service area.

“At present, only established cities get a boost from the establishment of new industries ... Now in 1.25 lakh places across the country, new industrial activity will be triggered by 2.5 lakh people every year,” he said.

Social security schemes Modi further said that moving away from its focus on big business and government expenditure, the Finance Ministry is now working on social security schemes such as bank accounts, insurance and pension.

“Bank nationalisation was done in the name of the poor, but for the first 70 years after Independence, nearly 40 per cent of the population did not have access to banking services,” he noted.

Addressing the event, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government hopes that the scheme will give an impetus to at least 2.5 lakh new businesses this fiscal.

“The idea is to provide finance and loans to not only big businesses but also to the common man,” he said. The MUDRA scheme, which was launched last year, has seen a good response, Jaitley said, noting that against the target of disbursing ₹1.22 lakh crore loans last fiscal, ₹1.35 lakh crore had been disbursed by March 31 to 3.32 crore families.

Apart from lending facilities, the Stand Up India scheme, which was announced by the Prime Minister in his Independence Day speech last year, will also provide handholding facilities to entrepreneurs.

The Prime Minister launched a website for registration and support services. He also distributed 5,100 e-rickshaws.