During the lockdown induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, people received money in their bank accounts just by pressing a button, she said. “If they could not go to the bank or did not know how to take it, the bank Mitra went to the village and delivered their money,” she said.
During the same period some “advanced economies” were writing (aid) checks, putting them in an envelope and sending them to people through the post, she noted. Several doubts were raised about how electronic payments would work, especially in rural areas where Internet connectivity is patchy, but now “in spite of COVID India leads the world in UPI payments,” said the finance minister.
It was Modi’s approach to governance which starts with “trust our people, trust our industry, trust our women and trust our families,” that made the difference, Sitharaman said. A few years ago, a UPA minister had said it was impossible to popularize electronic payments as “how would one pay Rs 7 to a vegetable vendor electronically”, she said. This doubt has been dispelled now, she added.
When the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance was in power, a new corruption scam would emerge every day, but in the last eight years nobody has even “carelessly” accused the Modi government of corruption, the BJP leader said. Sitharaman also spoke about how the profile of Padma awards recipients had changed under the Modi government.
“We do not know any of them. They are picked from the hinterlands, from the corners of the country. They are great achievers themselves but we did not have time to recognise them. We did not know how to locate them. But Modiji’s team locates every one of them,” she added.
“Delivery is the story”, the finance minister said, adding that there had been slogans like ‘Garibi Hatao’ and promises to provide things like potable water in the past. “But all that is getting fulfilled now, because here is a man (Modi) who is dedicated to the country,” she added.