New Delhi: Buy swadeshi, help fuel demand for local goods. This was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to his council of ministers at a meeting held earlier this month, people familiar with the matter have told ThePrint.
Urging them to buy Indian goods, PM Modi, a government source said, told his ministerial colleagues: “People are talking about Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), but if we buy our own products, then there will be enough demand for domestically manufactured products.”
Sources also said the PM did not name any country while making his point. “But the significance of what he said was not lost on anybody. Especially after India opted out of RCEP on 4 November,” said another person familiar with the matter.
The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an RSS affiliate, has been opposed to India opting for RCEP. Its National Co-convener Ashwani Mahajan had said that if RCEP is allowed, China, which is already dismantling Indian industries, will end up killing it.
The RCEP is a mega free trade agreement (FTA) that was proposed between the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members and their six trading partners — India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
India has opted out of the RCEP pact mainly because it feared Chinese goods would flood Indian markets, even as it could not cull out a deal for itself in getting more access for its professionals in Beijing.
The council of ministers also discussed if a campaign could be launched to create awareness about buying local goods. “However, no decision was taken on running a formal campaign,” the person quoted above, further said.
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Ministers should cut expenses by 20%
In the same meeting, the PM had also impressed upon his council of ministers to slash their expenses by at least 20 per cent, another source said.
“Ministers were told to economise their expenses and to even cut down on foreign trips,” the government source who quoted the PM added.
Modi had also expressed concern at how some of the NDA government’s flagship programmes like Fit India and Swachh Bharat were losing momentum.
A third source said that the PM had emphasised on the need to step up activities related to these programmes. “PM Modi was of the view that this is a very crucial movement but that’s not how it is being implemented. Though initially it was fine but now activities are not being stepped up,” the source added.
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