The beginning of a year is a time marked by fresh departure. There are ways of looking at the past. Some glimpse it with regret, others with hope, and some seek continuity. We have a tendency to evaluate a year gone by through the prisms of gains and losses. But when it comes to a Government and welfare of the people, my first instinct is to see how much we could do for the people. Were there areas we may have missed out on? How can Governance be improved? What steps would make life better for the masses? These are not necessarily an annual thing for us since Governance is a continuous act and does not consider this year separate from that year, in most cases. Yes, we all set targets, but that is more of an academic exercise. As a public representative, one cannot afford not to think of welfare on a day-to-day basis. It is with this thought process that our Government has been working day and night. Without a doubt, we all have been inspired by how our Prime Minister is doing it for our countrymen. This is precisely why the news on multidimensional poverty index improvement in Assam has come as no surprise to us. Yes, it is positive news. But we knew that we would achieve these kinds of figures. As I said, we have not rested on it. We are already determined to reduce poverty and eliminate it finally to bring Ram Rajya through Governance. One set of figures does not excite us, nor do they irritate us.
I know that one of the ways we have been able to tackle multidimensional poverty is through policy action. For example, most of our policies are geared to empower women, who we believe are our bulwark against poverty. They not only work for the present but also keep an eye on the future. Orunodoi 2.0 is one such example. We have reports that this scheme is working exactly the way we had envisioned, thereby also leading to an empowered household. Children’s school enrollment percentage is going up, and so is their nutrition status. In the same vein, we have recently launched Mukhya Mantri Mahila Udyamita Abhijan wherein we are keen to empower at least 40 lakh women by tapping their entrepreneurial and innovative instincts. Of course, there are criteria that one needs to fulfil to bring discipline to any scheme to ensure its success. However, what we are aiming at is to give an annual income of ₹1 lakh to these women to make sure that they are no longer dependent on any Government largesse. I am reassuring them that their Government will always be by their side, but then we also want them to tap into their innate potential. We are hopeful that this will revolutionise rural Assam in more ways than one.
Very recently, we distributed new ration cards under the Antyodaya Yojana thereby fulfilling a promise made to the poorest of the poor keeping in sync with a Cabinet decision taken by our Government. There can be no Ram Rajya if people go to bed hungry. Now, Assam has extended ration cards to over 68 lakh families covering over 2 crores of its population. In this round, we added over 42 lakh beneficiaries to the list. This ration card is not merely a licence to food, it is also a means to get assured health treatment of up to ₹5 lakh in any hospital in Assam and outside the State. We know that there can be no happiness if good health and nutrition is missing from the menu. These steps and many more are responsible for a solid assessment of our State by the Niti Aayog. I am pledging again today in the first month of the year that we are not going to stop anywhere until we know that we have achieved what we have set out to do.
If we are working to improve the standard of life in the rural areas, we have not forgotten the fact that urbanisation in Assam is taking place at a rapid pace. Connectivity must improve by leaps and bounds to give people a truly urbanised experience. Hence, ever since our Government took charge, we have continuously been focusing on improvement in infrastructure. The spate of State highways under Asom Mala; the number of flyovers in Guwahati, and other towns, infrastructure improvement in institutions of learning are all indicators of how much importance we are attaching to improve the living standards of people. A small but significant step was the introduction of the electric buses on the roads of Guwahati. We know we have a promise to fulfil, and we owe it to the next generation that we will give them a pollution-free earth to live in. India’s commitment to climate change in multilateral forums means that we need to be ever aware that with development comes responsibility towards the environment.
When Union Home Minister Amit Shah visited Assam, it reinforced the now known commitment of the Central Government led by Shri Narendra Modi to Assam and the North East. The Home Minister not only supervised the passing out parade of our newly recruited commandos but also took time out to encourage us in pursuing peace and stability in the State, something to which we are committed to come what may.