He lauded those involved in vaccine manufacturing in the country, saying India did not have to depend on others for vaccines due to their efforts.
“We can say with pride that the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination programme is going on in India. More than 54 crore people have already taken the vaccine,” he said.
Modi said had India not developed its own vaccine, its supply from outside would have been uncertain.
“The period of coronavirus pandemic presented a big challenge in front of our country and the entire human race in the world.
“The people of India exercised restraint and fought the pandemic with a lot of patience. We had many challenges. But in every field, we countrymen have worked at an extraordinary pace.
“It is the result of the strength of our scientists, our entrepreneurs that today we do not have to depend on any other country for COVID-19 vaccine,” Modi said.
“Imagine for a moment what would have happened if India did not have its vaccine. It took years to get the polio vaccine. In such a big crisis, when there is an epidemic across the world, how would we have received vaccines?
“India might or might not have received it, and even if it had received the vaccine, there was no certainty of getting it in time,” he said.
“It is a moment of pride for us that because of our scientists, we were able to develop two make-in-India COVID-19 vaccines and carry out the world’s largest vaccine drive,” he said.
The prime minister stated that online platforms like CoWIN and the system of giving digital vaccination certificates are attracting the attention of the world.
“We have to ensure we meet our goal of building Aatmanirbhar Bharat when we celebrate 100 years of India’s Independence,” PM Modi said.
The prime minister said though it is true that compared to other countries fewer people got infected by COVID-19 in India and also a high proportion of people could be saved from succumbing to the viral disease, it is not a matter of self-congratulation.
“It is not something to be proud of! We cannot rest on these laurels. To say that there was no challenge will become a restrictive thought in the path of our own development,” he said.
“Our arrangements are less as compared to the rich countries of the world, we do not have what the world has, what the rich countries have… and we also have a large population and our lifestyle is also different.
“Despite all our efforts we could not save so many people in this fight against COVID-19. So many children have been orphaned. This unbearable pain will always remain with us,” he said.
He also lauded scientists, doctors and paramedical staff for their role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the coronavirus global pandemic, our doctors, our nurses, our paramedical staff, sanitation staff, scientists engaged in making vaccines and citizens who devoted their time to public service, they all deserve to be worshipped,” he said.
The campaign to provide better health facilities to every poor in the country is also going on at a fast pace. For this, important reforms have also been made in medical education, the prime minister said, adding there has been a substantial increase in the number of medical seats in the country.
Equal attention has been paid to preventive healthcare. Under the Ayushman Bharat scheme, quality health services are being provided to every village in the country.
Affordable medicines are being made available to the poor and middle class through Jan Aushadhi Yojana, he stated.
“So far more than 75 thousand health and wellness centers have been set up. Now work is being done exclusively on the network of good hospitals and modern labs at the block level. Very soon thousands of hospitals in the country will also have their own oxygen plants,” he said.
Along with the concern of basic needs, reservation is being ensured for the poor of Dalits, Backward, Adivasis, general category. More recently, in the field of medical education, a system of reservation has also been made for the OBC category in the All India quota, Modi highlighted.
Talking about the provision of free ration to 80 crore people during the pandemic, he said it has surprised the world and is being talked about.
“At the time of epidemic, the way India has kept burning the stove of their poor by giving free food grains to 80 crore countrymen continuously for months, this is also surprising to the world and is also a matter of discussion,” he stated.
Modi also called for steps to bridge the gap between lives in villages and cities.
He batted for reaching a hundred percent coverage of schemes like Ayushman Bharat among the intended beneficiaries.
“Just as we have made electricity accessible to 100 percent households, and have made authentic efforts to construct toilets in 100 percent households, similarly, we now have to move ahead with the goal of achieving saturation of schemes, and, for this, we do not have to keep a distant deadline. We have to make our resolutions come true within a few years.
“Now, we have to move even further. 100 percent of villages should have roads, 100 percent of households should have a bank account, 100 percent beneficiaries should have Ayushman Bharat card, 100 percent eligible persons should have gas connection under Ujjwala scheme and 100 percent beneficiaries should have Aawas,” the prime minister said.