By: Dipak Kurmi
As we commemorate our 76th Independence Day, there is a multitude of economic achievements that fill us with pride. India has emerged as a prominent economic powerhouse, garnering admiration across various domains. In the preceding decades of the 1980s and 1990s, our notable impact was in the realm of software, etching India’s name into the annals of Silicon Valley in the United States. Over time, our influence has transcended singular sectors, propelling India into a position of global prominence and making it an indispensable participant in international dialogues. Let’s outline these remarkable accomplishments.
India stands as a focal point in worldwide economic deliberations and holds membership in crucial collectives such as the Quad and G-20. As its economic prowess continues to burgeon, its impact on other economies is swiftly amplifying. Notably, within the assembly of BRICS nations, India has distinctly surged ahead, securing acknowledgment as the preeminent globalrepresentative of emerging economies.
With regard to GDP magnitude, India is on the brink of claiming the position as the world’s third-largest economy. What sets India apart is its existing untapped capacity, affording it the potential for rapid expansion in the forthcoming years – a prospect not universally shared by other nations.
The escalating income within the nation beckons as a gateway of opportunity for global stakeholders. Evident in the influx of substantial foreign direct investments, the burgeoning market serves as an irresistible allure for companies aiming to carve a niche in this narrative. Notably, over the past decade, progressive governmental policies have facilitated the smooth inflow of such funds, underscoring this transformative trend.
Despite its substantial size and pivotal role within global value chains across key industries and services, India has adeptly disentangled itself from international trends. This resilience is evident in its sustained rapid economic expansion, even during the past two years when the global landscape experienced a deceleration. This accomplishment speaks volumes about the robustness of our economy, ensuring its continuity even when global dynamics suggest a slowdown.
India has positioned itself as a highly alluring market for foreign institutional investors. Capitalizing on the promise of India Inc’s potential, substantial funds have flowed into the equity markets since their liberalization in the 1990s.
The nation’s delivery system has achieved a state of near-perfection through the integration of technology. This narrative commences with the introduction of the Aadhaar card, providing each citizen with a distinctive identification number. This innovation has significantly enhanced the precision of public service distribution and stands as a resounding triumph. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that, considering the magnitude of our population, the accolades for this achievement are even more pronounced, given that no other country has accomplished a comparable feat.
The government has spearheaded comprehensive financial inclusion initiatives primarily facilitated by Public Sector banks, which have rendered invaluable contributions. Notably, the Jan Dhan Scheme stands as a direct approach to guaranteeing widespread access to banking services. This effort has been complemented by targeted lending programs, such as for agriculture and SMEs through MUDRA, culminating in a holistic cycle. Moreover, in the realm of seamless transactions, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has emerged as an exemplary model. Its resounding triumph, reflected in its staggering transaction volume, has led other nations to emulate its success.
The government’s resolute endeavours to extend electricity, water, and fuel access to every household have borne fruit, evident in data illustrating a remarkable reduction in deprivation rates (according to the NITI Aayog Multi-dimensional Poverty Index). This achievement unequivocally demonstrates that ambitious initiatives on a grand scale are attainable through unwavering determination, as aptly demonstrated by the government’s actions.
Indian agriculture has evolved into a realm of substantial self-sufficiency, fortified by targeted programs addressing vulnerable crops. While strides are being made towards achieving similar autonomy in oil seed production, the notable reduction in reliance on imported pulses stands out as a significant accomplishment.
The strides achieved in the infrastructure sector have been nothing short of remarkable. The narrative of highways is widely acknowledged, marked by extensive construction endeavours spanning years. This feat has fostered robust interconnections with pivotal industries in this realm, including cement, steel, and machinery. The transformation of the aviation industry, encompassing both airports and ports, stands as a palpable testament to change, especially when juxtaposed against the landscape at the start of the century.
Within this tale of achievement, certain crucial aspects warrant attention. Looking ahead, a central challenge involves generating employment opportunities at an accelerated rate. Currently, the pace of job creation lags behind overall growth. While the educated and professionally-trained youth tend to secure positions within this expanding landscape, the same cannot be said for those lacking specialized skills. This predicament underscores the necessity for the youth to comprehend the significance of acquiring and upgrading their skill sets, thereby enhancing their prospects for meaningful employment. Presently, the job market predominantly absorbs blue-collar labor into roles within construction or service sectors such as retail, delivery, and security. However, these positions often lack substantial remuneration and do little to foster skill development among the workforce.
This underscores the imperative for a substantial transformation within the industry, which must serve as the growth engine, thereby fostering the emergence of self-sustaining job opportunities. Regrettably, in India, the services sector gained prominence prior to the momentum of industrialization, impeding robust job generation. While India Inc. has played its role, the majority of the industry persists within the SME sector, characterized by fragmentation and a lack of professional management. Although there exists significant potential for heightened employment within this sphere, the current absence of scalability poses a significant hurdle.
The roadmap for the upcoming five years is clear: prioritizing job creation. This endeavor will not only yield production growth but also stimulate income generation, consequently propelling the consumption cycle and subsequently encouraging investment. Historically, India has been accustomed to investment rates around 34-35%, a benchmark that needs to be reinstated. Despite the setbacks caused by the shock of the Covid pandemic, the essential foundations are in position to facilitate the required acceleration. (The writer can be reached at email@example.com)