Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Monday said free education and healthcare are not ‘freebies’ and that access to these can eliminate poverty in one generation and can make India the number one in the world.
“We just need five years and we can change the entire system, from education to health, in the country,” said the CM, speaking on the occasion of the 75th Independence Day celebrations at Chhatrasal Stadium on Monday.
Paying homage to freedom fighters, Kejriwal said, “In the last 75 years, the country has made good progress and it’s time to celebrate all that on this auspicious day. But while celebrating the success, we should also think about current challenges and what path we should choose in the future. Today, people are asking, many people are asking, why India is still behind several countries… even those that got freedom after us.”
Hinting at AAP’s expansion, Kejriwal added: “India has a population of 130 crore and around 27 crore children go to school… Of the total students, 10 crore study in private schools and 17 crore in government schools. I am not saying conditions of all government schools are bad but there are several thousands of schools across the country which are in poor shape with broken walls, roofs, desks, boards… Earlier, Delhi government schools too were in the same condition but we changed it in just five years,” he said.
“Humare desh mai sab kuch hai par system kharab hai… Delhi mai bhi system kharab tha… ye system theek karna padega, hum delhi walon ko system theek karna aagaya… humne Delhi mai thik kar ke dikhaya hai… ab pure desh mai system theek karna hai, sarkari school, hospitals theek karna hai aur ye sirf 5 saal mai ho sakta hai… jaise Delhi mai sirf 5 saal mai sarkari schools thik hue aise pure desh ki school theek ho sakte hai. (We have everything in our country but the system is broken… In Delhi too, the system was broken… We changed the system in Delhi, now we have to do the same for the country… we can fix the issues plaguing our schools in just five years… like we did in Delhi),” he said.
On the ‘free ki revdi’ row, Kejriwal requested the opposition to not call schemes provided to ordinary citizens ‘freebies’. “I want to tell you all with folded hands that education is not a freebie… Parents skips meals to provide good education to their children… if there is fund scarcity, we people of India will skip a meal and provide good education to all…,” said Kejriwal.
He also said the condition of hospitals was in shambles but the AAP government, after coming to power, improved infrastructure. “Today, even the rich from areas like Greater Kailash go to mohalla clinics for treatment… On an average, the government spends only Rs 2,000 per person annually… The entire country’s population is 130 crore and if we provide free healthcare to all, it will cost Rs 2.5 lakh crore only… The Centre and state governments just have to spend a little more to provide better healthcare system to the public, ” he said.
Kejriwal further said, “Instead of providing health insurance, construct hospitals and mohalla clinics. … Desh ko hospital, mohalla clinic, dawaiyan chaiye… insurance se kaam nahi chalega… Paanch saal ke andar hum pure desh mai hospital khol sakte hain. Paanch saal ke andar is desh mai paida hone wala har nagrik ke liye free or shandaar ilaj intzzaam kar sakte hain… or fir se mai nivedan karta hu logon acha ilaj dena freebie nahi hai.”
The event saw more than 3,000 students from government schools as well as teachers in attendance.