NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his yearending Mann Ki Baat address on All India Radio on Sunday, without mentioning his surprise trip to Pakistan. But he promised to soon unveil details about the the Startup India, Standup India project announced last year.

“Startup India, Standup India will bring about a big opportunity for the youth of the country. On January 16, the government will launch the complete action plan of the project. All IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management), IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), central universities, NITs (National Institutes of Technology) will be joined with this programme through live connectivity,” Modi said. He added that a startup is not necessarily associated solely with the digital or IT world.

“We have to change the concept according to the requirements of our country. If a poor man does physical labour and a youth creates something through an innovation which lessens the physical effort of the labourer, I would consider that also a startup. I would ask banks to help such youth. Also, Startup India, Standup India, should not be limited to certain cities – it should spread to all corners of the country. I want to urge state governments also to spread this thought,” Modi said.

Modi also said that the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme had been extended to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) whereby benefits were being directly credited in many regions into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries and the same is being extended to central scholarships. He said there were many complaints earlier regarding payments under MGNREGS.

“Till now, almost Rs 40,000 crore has been transferred through DBT in various schemes, including LPG subsidy to 15 crore consumers till the end of November. Almost 35-40 schemes are now directly coming under the ambit of DBT,” Modi said. The Prime Minister also asked people to send him suggestions for the National Youth Festival to be celebrated January 12-16 in Chhattisgarh during the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

He also appealed to citizens to clean the statues of national and state leaders as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan before January 26. Modi also announced the launch of a new Duties of a Citizen contest on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary year of BR Ambedkar aimed at enhancing greater understanding of the constitution and inculcating a sense of duty.

He said there was much discussion of rights enshrined in the constitution but not as much of duties.

The Economic Times View:

Starting business must be a breeze

An enabling framework for startups makes sense. India needs an array of startups to realise the creative potential of its people, generate wealth and more jobs. These companies also need to be spread across cities and towns, not be concentrated in only a few geographical locations. So, it is incumbent on state governments to be creative as well to foster entrepreneurship, and provide the enabling infrastructure. Startups bring in new products and services to the mass market, and even disrupt the market at times. The most important element in the framework is to make it easy for startups to set up their business.