Noida, April 5 : To boost entrepreneurship among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women by facilitating loans in the range of Rs.10 lakh to Rs.1 crore, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched the Stand Up India initiative and said it will transform the lives of Dalits and Adivasis.
Modi said people from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes can perform as well as others if given the opportunity.
"Our tribal brethren and those belonging to Scheduled Castes will perform equally well as us if they are provided with the opportunities. How long will they wait for jobs and to which extent the government can give them jobs? God has given equal power and strength to Dalits as to us," Modi said.
He said the scheme will convert "job-seekers into job-creators" and will also change their lives.
"We got the opportunity but they were denied it. If we can perform on getting an opportunity, they can also perform," Modi said, advocating equal opportunities for people belonging to the Scheduled Castes.
Referring to Dalits, he said "they should not depend on someone's mercy".
"Dalit youths should aspire to become entrepreneurs and businessmen. They can easily avail loans from the Mudra Bank now," Modi said.
"Our poor have rich hearts. We asked them to open bank accounts with zero balance but they said they will contribute something or the other. The poor deposited Rs.50, Rs.100 in these accounts and the government got Rs.35,000 crore through the Jan Dhan Yojana."
He said Stand Up India will help in creating 2.5 lakh entrepreneurs as every bank branch will provide two such loans without collateral for setting up a new enterprise.
Paying tributes to former deputy prime minister and defence minister Babu Jagjivan Ram, Modi said the government was launching the Stand Up India campaign on his birth anniversary.
"Babu Jagjivan Ram was the defence minister of our country at the time of the 1971 war. He was the agriculture minister at the time of the Green Revolution but his contributions were forgotten over a period of time," Modi said.
"He (Jagjivan Ram) has always been an inspirational and respected leader for us," the prime minister said, adding that the Stand Up India campaign announced by him in his Independence Day address will strengthen the Dalit households.
Urging the gathering to educate their children, Modi said India's development journey will be stronger when it is scripted by the poor.
On the occasion, Modi also handed over keys of 5,100 e-rickshaws to the beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojna.
Modi interacted with the families of some of the beneficiaries, over a cup of tea. The beneficiaries explained how e-rickshaws would change their lives for the better.
Commuters can also call the e-rickshaws through the Ola app. Modi booked an e-rickshaw through the app and took a brief e-rickshaw ride towards the stage, making the payment for the ride through a cellphone.
The e-rickshaws were given to those who had to rent them for a livelihood.
"Earlier, manual rickshaw-pullers had to toil hard and earned much less. Now they can earn more with less labour by running e-rickshaws. Also, they would not have to pay anything as rent of the rickshaw. Instead, by paying a small amount daily, they would become the owners of their e-rickshaw," the prime minister said.
The drivers who were given the e-rickshaws on Tuesday have been trained in driving and using the app to transact with commuters.
"Energy banks have also been established for these e-rickshaw drivers where they can charge batteries with solar energy. The entire initiative is environment friendly," he said.