Kolkata: “The Atmanirbhar Bharat spirit will result in India coming out much stronger after Covid-19 because we are unleashing our animus spirits in terms of self reliance and work. Some of this is in reaction to the global trends. If the global supply chains are unduly dominated by a particular country and you apprehend difficulties, well thats the genius of the Indian people to quickly rebound and the results are heartwarming,” said Mr Hardeep Singh Puri at a special online session of The Write Circle and in conversation with former diplomat, author and foreign policy analyst, T C A Raghavan, organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation of Kolkata.

The Write Circle is a forum that brings top minds and experts to share perspectives and deep insights from diverse fields and spheres of activity.

Mr Puri, who currently holds three portfolios as the Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Minister of State, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in response to a question by Mr Raghavan further said, “Atmanirbhar Bharat is not intended to be an inward looking excuse to close our borders to the world. It is a spirit and a resolve to make us more productive and better members of International community and global system. We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution with the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and artificial intelligence and the spirit is to make sure we don’t become a lego or just nuts and bolts. Atmanirbhar will resonate strongly because we want to take advantage of the other supply chains in the world.”

As a career diplomat for 39 years, Mr Puri has held many important posts including former Representative of India in the United Nations, President of UN Security Council and Chairman of UNSC Counter Terrorism Committee and others. Mr Puri has also authored two books Perilous Interventions and Delusional Politics.

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Commenting on various challenges and struggles of covid pandemic, Mr Puri said, “Since 6th May India has now (in the fifth phase) brought back over 1.4 million citizens from across the globe during the pandemic. I can say with a sense of confidence that this is the largest evacuation and repatriation mission undertaken at any point of time in human history and the rate at which things are moving we shall set a new record. We were able to do it within reasonable arrangements of social distancing and other safety quotients.”

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Touching upon different topics he said that the lockdown has helped us to create necessary infrastructure – the number of beds required; PPEs, ventilators, medicines etc., that have been exported to many countries in the world, including the developed West.
Puri lauded the Prime Minister for the foresight and courageous steps to combat the pandemic. “The decision to prioritise life and livelihood is a difficult one. Domestic civil aviation was opened on 22nd May and in the pre-covid days India was handling 2.5 to 3 lakh passengers per day. By Diwali we hope to handle 1.5 to 2 lakh passengers per day and hopefully by the end of the year we would go back to the pre-covid days,” Puri said.
Talking about his other ministry, he said that they have built more than 6,00,000 public toilets and more than 66,00,000 toilets in individual households. This has helped to reduce the open defecation in India and also helped in gender empowerment by providing safety and security to the girl child. The Yojanas that helped micro industries has played a huge role in tackling covid. These micro industries produced crores of face masks, lakhs of PPE kits and thousands of litres of sanitisers.

Even though a scheme such Awas Yojana shouldn’t be a factor in deciding who to vote for, there is some sort of correlation according to Puri. Even in the case of youngsters who faced job problems came in and voted for Modi ji because there was a clear outline of the plan.

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