Amid growing concerns over spread of Omicron, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said India needs to accelerate pace of development in the new year and will not allow the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic to dampen the growth process.
He stressed that the country will continue to fight the pandemic with "full caution and vigilance", and also take care of the national interest.
Speaking at the release of 10th instalment under the PM-KISAN scheme, Modi reeled out the achievements of the country during the pandemic-hit 2021 across sectors, like health, defence, agriculture, start-up ecosystem and infrastructure.
"2021 will be remembered for India's strong fight against the Covid-19 pandemic as also for reforms undertaken during the year," Modi said, and lauded the achieving of more than 145 crore Covid vaccine doses.
He said in the year gone by, India accelerated the speed of reforms in various sectors, and also created modern infrastructure.
"We have to further accelerate the pace of development. Corona poses challenges, but it cannot stall the growth process," the Prime Minister added.
India saw a single-day rise of 22,775 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, highest since October 6 last year, while the number of active cases surpassed one lakh and Omicron infection tally reached 1,431.
The Prime Minister said that as India enters the new year, the country needs to embark upon a new journey taking inspiration from the achievements of the past years.
He recalled the nation's effort in fighting the pandemic, vaccination and making arrangement for the vulnerable sections during the difficult period. The government provided additional food grains for free to nearly 80 crore people during the pandemic, which cost Rs 2.6 lakh crore.
He said the government is working relentlessly to strengthen the country's medical infrastructure and listed efforts like new oxygen plants, new medical colleges, wellness centres, Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission and Ayushman Bharat Digital Health Mission in the direction of revamping medical infrastructure.
Modi said the country is moving with the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Prayas'. Many people are spending their lives to build the country.
"This year we will complete 75 years of our independence. This is the time to start a new vibrant journey of the country's resolves, to move forward with renewed vigour," Modi said as he elaborated on the power of collective effort.
In his first address of 2022, Modi said that on many parameters, the Indian economy is looking better than pre-covid days.
He pointed out that India's economy is growing at more than 8 per cent, the country has attracted record foreign investment, forex reserves have touched new highs and GST collections are rising. Also, the country has set new records in exports, especially in agriculture, he added.
Modi also said that in 2021, transactions of more than Rs 70 lakh crore were done on UPI. More than 50,000 start-ups are working in India of which 10,000 came up during the last six months.
He further said the year 2021 was also the year of strengthening India's cultural heritage. Initiatives like beautification and development of Kashi Vishwanath Dham and Kedarnath Dham, Renovation of Samadhi of Aadi Shankaracharya, restoration of stolen idol of goddess Annapoorna, construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and getting World Heritage status for Dholavira and Durga Puja festival are strengthening India's heritage and enhancing its tourism and pilgrimage potential, he said.
Also, Modi said the process has been initiated to raise the legal marriage age of women to 21 years from the current 18 years, and bringing at par with that of men.
He also referred to opening of doors of Sainik Schools and the National Defense Academy for women candidates. Also, India is making unprecedented investment in the sporting infrastructure of the country, the Prime Minister informed.
Leading the world against climate change, Modi said India has also set a target of Net Zero Carbon Emission in front of the world by 2070. Many records of renewable energy, he added, are being met by India before time. He also spoke about India's hydrogen mission and taking the lead in electric vehicles
In his address, the Prime Minister said that PM Gatishakti National Master Plan is going to give a new edge to the pace of infrastructure construction in the country.
"Giving new dimensions to Make in India, the country has implemented ambitious plans for new sectors like chip manufacturing, semiconductor," he added.
The Prime Minister also released 10th instalment of PM-KISAN under which over Rs 20,900 crore were transferred to more than 10.09 crore beneficiary farmer families. He also released equity grant of more than Rs 14 crore to about 351 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), a move aimed at benefiting nearly 1.24 lakhs farmers.