One of the key ministers in the Modi government, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who holds the Law and Justice, and Information Technology portfolios, says that “reform with equal stress on equity is the essence of three years of this government”.

How woud you describe this hectic third year in office, and, going forward, how will you sustain it?

All this happened because we changed the image of India. Our government acts in a transparent manner.

For example, spectrum auction is absolutely channelised today. Because the image of India has changed, FDI flow has started in a big way. We have taken decisions on the known principles. Remember one thing: we did not take these initiatives under compulsions, we took them because this was right way to go. We took them in spite of headwinds.

Why is GST important? Apart from the concept, GST is important because of the manner in which we forged a consensus. GST is part of a larger scheme of strengthening India’s economy to make it more transparent. The Bankruptcy Code, Benami Property Act redefined, FDI norms being made easier and easier, ease of doing business, and GST... all this could happen in spite of many headwinds both domestically and internationally. Coupled with these was demonetisaiton. If you see the economy, we set right the basic fundamentals: inflation, current account deficit, and so on. Reform with equal stress on equity is the essence of three years.


Yes, see JAM Trinity: linked up Aadhar with Jan Dhan Account and connected it to mobile and started direct transfer of subsidy benefits. We have saved ₹50,000 crore.

A former prime minister (Rajiv Gandhi) used to say, ‘I send ₹1 and only 15 paise reaches the villages’; in this government we are sending ₹100 from Delhi and the same is transferred into the account. The poor are empowered.

When the NDA took office in May 2014, was it fully aware of the kind of financial situation it was saddled with…

Yes, yes we were aware. The first thing was lack of investors’ trust in the Indian economy. Forget foreign investments, even Indian investments were seeking to go outside. That is the fact. Therefore, reform with equity.

Look at direct benefit transfer. I agree that Aadhar was started by (the UPA), but we refashioned it. We made it a tool of empowerment. And now we have a proper Aadhar Act.

Minimum information, optimum utilisation, federated information is how it works. There is nothing here to profile because the data is safe and secure, under cover by a parliamentary law. The poor person appreciates it as he has an identity now. The poor know that the money is coming to the bank account.

It also helps in tracking an alien. Suppose an illegal alien is seeking the benefit of the Aadhar subsidy, he can be tracked, if a complaint comes.

The Fasal Bima Yojna and eMandis are important examples to show how we are using technology for farmers. The eHospital facility has connected 70 hospitals to streamline the process of getting an appointment. Two crore students are getting the benefit is e-scholarships through technology interventions.

There seems to be a heavy dependence on technology, but isn’t infrastructure an issue?

The Prime Minister’s interventions have allowed technology to become a tool of empowerment, delivery and pro-poor initiatives. Coming to the larger issue, digital infrastructure is important for the economy as well. We are linking 250 Gram Panchayats through the optical fibre network.

When our government came in, the electronics manufacturing development initiative had only ₹11,000-₹12,000 crore; now it is close to ₹1.27 lakh crore. Nokia had been closed when our government had come to power.

In the last two and a half years, 72 mobile manufacturing factories have come up. Of these, 42 manufacture mobiles, while 30 manufacture chargers and other accessories. We have accorded a separate treatment for defence and medical electronics, to aid the needs of the industry.

Going digital is one thing, but what about jobs?

The Indian digital economy is going to be a $1 trillion economy in 5-7 years. Digital Economy must bring in digital inclusion. The biggest defining moment of India’s digital spread is low-cost tools. Aadhar costs two dollar (₹125) per head. The system currently does over 3 crore authentications per day. The focus is to get pro-poor, low-cost products; this is going to a model for the rest of the world.

You ask about jobs: lakhs of jobs have been created under electronic manufacturing, digital economy and the Start Up India initiatives. There were 80,000 common service centres when our government came, it is now at 2.80 lakh. The Mudra scheme has created an army of small entrepreneurs who are generating jobs. Self-employment generation has been a focus of the government.