New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was in Sweden yesterday, addressed the Indian community in Stockholm after a busy day which saw him attend ten top-level meetings in ten hours. In his speech to the Indian diaspora, PM Modi said India is going through a period of change, and the government in the last four years has worked very hard towards building a developed and inclusive country. The event, which saw a packed house, was held at Stockholm University.

PM Modi went on to highlight the initiatives taken by his government towards the upliftment and empowerment of the poor. In his speech he criticized previous governments saying, “Earlier, removing poverty was just limited to words and slogans” thereby suggesting that it was just about lip service. He went on to say that it was his government that “is committed to poverty alleviation and was using empowerment as a tool to achieve its goal. We are working day and night to ensure we achieve this,” he said.

“The country is going through a period of massive change. Presently, there is a government in India which is working day and night for the country’s prestige, self respect and taking it to new heights in the 21st century,” PM Modi said amidst loud cheers from the audience.

“In the last four years, the government has worked for building a developed and inclusive India. It is working round the clock for creating a New India by 2022,” the prime minister said.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who was also present at the event, said Sweden greatly values its partnership with India. He also lauded the Indian community for its immense contribution to the Nordic country.

Prime Minister Lofven said his talks with PM Modi had helped the bilateral partnership between Sweden and India take a “great step forward”.

In his address, Prime Minister Modi also highlighted that India’s stature has increased manifold at the world stage. “Be it Africa or small Pacific countries, or ASEAN or Europe or Asia, all of them are looking at India as a trusted friend,” he said.

He cited India’s entry into the export control regimes – Wassenaar Arrangement, the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) – as an example of India’s increasing stature at the global stage.

Among the achievements of his government, Prime Minister Modi said that in India, the government is now using technology for accountability and transparency. “Digital infrastructure has changed how citizens used to interact with the government. Reaching out to the government has now become a practice rather than a privelage,” he said.

PM Modi also pointed out that the perception about the way the government functions was changing. “It is easier to do business in India and the country has jumped 42 ranks in ease of doing business index,” he pointed out. He also pointed to the government’s move of implementing the GST – considered India’s biggest reform since independence – saying the “historic” reform in the indirect tax regime is being increasingly adopted by the industrial sector.

He also spoke in detail about the Jan Dhan Yojna, which has helped millions of poor people and farmers get bank accounts, the Aadhaar number, which has helped majorly in sending benefits directly to the poor, and mobile technology, which is helping India become a digital economy, thereby increasing transparency and reducing corruption. He also highlighted how these initiatives have also merged to create direct benefit transfer facility.

“These are allowing welfare schemes to reach their intended targets. He said that the government has  saved $12 billion from ending up in wrong hands because of these steps,” PM Modi said.

The prime minister also stressed on the government’s focus on ease of living and mentioned the ‘Ayushman Bharat’ scheme, being termed by people as ‘Modicare’ — the world’s largest health care insurance scheme — as an example of his governments dedication towards the poor.

(With inputs from PTI)