Viewpoint| PM Modi’s Progressive Model: Transitioning From A Women-Centric To A Women-Led

What is the status of women in Modi’s New India? What steps has the prime minister taken to improve the lot of Indian women?

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) is one of Prime Minister Modi’s numerous progressive initiatives that stands out for its immense scope, size, reach, and, of course, the way it has transformed the lives of millions of Indian women. Since the start, more than 43 crore individuals have benefited from the more than Rs 24 lakh crore in total loans that have been approved. Thirty percent of these recipients are women, particularly those from disadvantaged social groups. Women make up more than 81% of Modi’s Standup India program recipients.

Similar to this, although cooking with a gas connection may not seem like a huge achievement to many, Ayesha Shaikh, the “8th crore” recipient of Modi’s Ujjwala plan from Maharashtra, considered receiving a gas cylinder to be a significant accomplishment. The days of gathering dry wood from surrounding places to cook on a rudimentary “chulha” while emitting poisonous smoke are gone for this five-child mother from Ajanta village, who makes this wager every day. The motivational tale of Ayesha is not unique. The PM Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has benefited over 10 crore women; the tenth crore recipient is Meera Manjhi, a low-income Dalit lady from Ayodhya.

In contrast to common belief, the BJP is a contemporary and dynamic organization where meritocracy reigns supreme. The only places you will find evidence of the BJP’s discrimination against or treatment of women as less than human are the completely trashy and biased op-ed columns in The Washington Post or The New York Times, written by some leftist editor who despises Modi and poses as a neutral journalist while living in a world apart from the realities of Modi’s “New India.” With more than 200 million karyakartas—dedicated BJP members and workers—the BJP is now the biggest political organization in the world. The party owes its transformation into an electorally victorious juggernaut to Prime Minister Modi, who sets an exemplary example by working tirelessly and fiercely around the clock without allowing for mistakes.

Regarding women’s empowerment, India, under PM Modi, completely supports the UN’s “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” tagline. It used to seem unimaginable, but women now have the chance to work permanently in the Indian Army and Indian Navy. But more than anything else, PM Modi’s candid admission from the Red Fort’s ramparts a few years ago that more than 10,000 Jan Aushadhi Kendras had successfully supplied approximately 5 crore sanitary pads at Re 1 to underprivileged women in rural India sparked the imagination of 1.4 billion people. It is more than just symbolic for Modi, a world-renowned leader, to publicly accept and mainstream the topic of women’s hygiene, or menstruation. By acting as he did, Prime Minister Modi made it clear that, in his opinion, effective leadership is all about talking the talk and having no ifs or buts.

The Modi administration has demonstrated a fearless, modern, and mature approach towards women, something no other post-independence government in India can match. This includes defining the country’s first menstrual hygiene protocol, amending the Medical Termination Pregnancy Act of 1971, granting women reproductive rights over their bodies, increasing the fetal gestation period from 20 to 24 weeks, welcoming more women recruits in the NCC (which is being extended to border and coastal areas), outlawing the cruel and unconstitutional practice of instant triple talaq and taking the audacious decision to raise the marriageable age for women from 18 to 21 years old.

Another daring step taken by the Modi administration was the ban on commercial surrogacy, which has caused an explosion in the number of unlicensed IVF and surrogacy centers. As per the latest regulations, surrogacy would only be available to married Indian couples who have been together for at least five years and have been declared physically unsuitable to conceive naturally by a physician or other practitioner.

Women’s empowerment encompasses more than simply gender fairness and equality. It also translates into equal possibilities for development and entrepreneurship, as well as more employment. Numerous initiatives have been introduced in recent years to support women in becoming self-sufficient, such as offering free cooking gas via the well-known PM Ujjwala Yojana, promoting financial inclusion through the PM Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), and empowering women to use technology. For example, women make up more than 55% of the beneficiaries of the PMJDY initiative, which has created over 52 million bank accounts.

Additionally, there is encouragement for self-help groups (SHGs) in rural regions. Over Rs 5.5 lakh crore in cash has been given to over 85 million (8.5 crore) women who work in self-help groups (SHGs) in the previous eight years. Opportunities have been made possible by SHGs in many different fields. The whole notion of wealth creation and women’s empowerment is being redefined by PM Modi’s Lakhpati Didis initiative.

With 2000 items on display, Mahila-E-Haat is a multilingual online marketing platform that uses technology to assist NGOs, SHGs, and aspiring women entrepreneurs in showcasing their goods and services. Mahila-E-Haat offers a plethora of services, including permitting direct interaction between buyers and suppliers. It is accessible to any Indian woman who is over the age of 18. With locations in more than 115 districts, the Modi administration also established Mahila Shakti Kendras to provide rural women with access to chances for job growth, skill development, digital literacy, health, and nutrition. A few years ago, the Modi administration also instituted reasonably priced “Working Women Hostels” on a war footing to guarantee that working women and single mothers could, wherever possible, find secure and practical housing in urban, semi-urban, and rural areas, along with child care services.

Again, women in the nation who are 16 years of age or older are the target audience for the Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) program. Agriculture, gardening, food processing, handlooms, tailoring, sewing, embroidery, zari, handicrafts, computers, and IT-enabled services are just a few of the skills that are taught. The sex ratio at birth (SRB) in Haryana has increased from 871 in 2015 to over 914 at present, with districts like Panipat and Yamunanagar reporting SRBs of 945 and 943 for every 1000 males. This proves that the Modi government’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative is much more than just a mission statement. The improvement in the sex ratio at birth, or the number of female births for every 1000 male births, and the longer life expectancy of women combine to raise the total sex ratio. Today’s global sex ratio is over 1020 females for every 1000 men, marking the first time in history that there are more females than males.

Girls in India are considerably safer now than they were, say, eight years ago, on every imaginable measure. Modi is a really progressive statesman with an emancipated spirit who has empowered many women by bolstering the instruments of policymaking to make a difference where it counts most.

The Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act of 2015 underwent radical revisions that lowered the trial age from 18 to 16 for serious offenses, including rape and murder. Under Sections 376 and 302 of the Indian Penal Code, a 16-year-old would henceforth be treated and punished like any other adult in accordance with due process of law. This is encouraging news for young girls who have been sexually assaulted. It would be beneficial for leftist supporters of the Beti Bachao movement to be aware that almost 4 crore ambitious young women have already benefited from the Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana, which aims to support girls’ education. However, the construction of 12 crore toilets in rural India under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan plan has unquestionably been the BJP government’s historic success in advancing the cause of Beti Bachao.

Once again, there are more than 112,000 companies in India, and at least 45% of them are run by women. The proportion of female founders among India’s 113 unicorns is fast increasing, accounting for over 15% of the total. In the last five years, women’s access to credit has doubled (as measured by the proportion of female borrowers in the adult population). The percentage of loans taken out by female borrowers increased dramatically, from 7% in 2017 to over 14% in 2023. In India, the number of female borrowers has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% over the last five years, while the CAGR for male borrowers has been 11%, according to research by TransUnion (TU) Cibil. In 2023, the percentage of female borrowers climbed from 25% in 2017 to 28%.

In the previous six years (from 2017 to 2023), the number of women applying for business loans more than quadrupled, which is indicative of the rise in women-led companies in India. In addition, throughout this time, the number of women in the whole portfolio of company loans has climbed by 12 percentage points, from 20% in 2017 to 32% in 2022. In the house loan market, the proportion of female borrowers has increased as well, rising by six percentage points during the previous five years.

Eleven of the 78 members in Modi’s current cabinet are women, after the extension of the cabinet in July 2021. In the last 17 years, the proportion of women in the Union Council of Ministers has never been higher. That demonstrates how, as a result of PM Modi’s extensive outreach on this front, women-centric politics have solidified. In the Indian Armed Forces today, permanent commission status has been granted to 28% of female officers. By the end of March 2022, there were over 3938 female officers in the Army, Air Force, and Navy, of whom over 1107 had been granted permanent commissions. For instance, there are more than 1500 female officers in the Indian Air Force, including 53 fighter and 15 helicopter pilots. There are about 593 female officers in the Indian Navy. These figures have only increased throughout the last year, and they are expected to grow much more.

Empowering women is essential to India’s development. Even before he was elected prime minister, in January 2014, Narendra Modi tweeted, “Days of seeing women as just ‘homemakers’ have gone; we have to see women as nation builders.” That tweet, in many ways, encapsulates the progressive outlook of the Modi administration. Under PM Modi’s direction, Nirmala Sitharaman, who was formerly India’s minister of defense, became the country’s second female defence minister and, after Indira Gandhi, its second female finance minister. In addition, Sitharaman is the first female minister to occupy each of those positions on a full-time basis.

Comparably, from May 2014 to May 2019, the late Sushma Swaraj held the position of Minister of External Affairs. After Indira Gandhi, Swaraj was the second woman to occupy this role. Consider Pratima Bhoumik once again. She is the first female member of parliament for the BJP in Tripura and the second in the Northeast. After being selected to the Union Cabinet as the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Bhoumik is also the first permanent resident to hold the position of Union Minister. Most crucially, Droupadi Murmu, the 15th President of India, embodies what Modi’s India understands to be the essence of “nari shakti”—that is, the capacity for dreaming, the desire to put in the necessary effort, and the steadfast resolve to achieve. To sum up, let me just state that in Modi’s India, Raisina Hill is proudly occupied by a Santhali lady who came from a rural hamlet in the Mayurbhanj region of Odisha. The inspirational story of Droupadi Murmu is also a tribute to the vision and foresight of Prime Minister Modi, who is still regarded as one of the world’s most well-liked and influential figures for good causes.

Thanks to PM Modi’s flagship program, the Mudra Yojana, Kiran Kumari, a former hawker from Bokaro, Jharkhand, is now the proud owner of a toy and gift store. She received a loan of Rs 2 lakh for her business. After completing LMV driving school and receiving a Rs 1.77 lakh Mudra loan, Munirabanu Shabbir Hussain Malek of Surat is now earning Rs 25,000 a month operating an autorickshaw. After receiving a Rs. 1 lakh Mudra loan, weaver Veena Devi from the Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir rose to prominence as one of the region’s top producers of Pashmina shawls. The traditional way of thinking has been that jobs are created in the public or private sectors. Nonetheless, the Mudra system has contributed to the growth of the “personal sector” as a source of income and independent contractor work.

The concept of women’s empowerment has been reinvented by Modi’s groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind, women-led development approach. To sum up the government’s attitude toward women, PM Modi remarked, “Daughter is not a burden; our daughters are our pride.” It would be appropriate to end by quoting him.

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