By: Amar Krishna Paul
Let’s start with a worthy statement of Narendra Modi. He says, “I was born in a very humble abode where there were no windows and only one door. My mother used firewood for cooking. Sometimes, the smoke was so dense that we could not even see our mother when she was serving us food. This is how I ate in my childhood. So, I have experienced and lived the pain of these mothers and children. I want to free these mothers from such a painful life. And that is why we resolved to provide clean cooking fuel to 8 crore families.”
In the above statement, our most dynamic Prime Minister has indirectly given a pictorial presentation about the financial health of an ideal Indian householder Heeraben, mother of Modi in early 1950s.
At Independence, our country inherited a fragile and derailed system of economy. It was primarily agricultural in its core. There was no clue of the services sector. There was rampant unemployment. Precisely, our economic backbone was not very positive and upright in the post Independence era.
Like any other post-colonial country, after gaining Independence India adopted the policy of planned economy, led by the government and its public sectors. But this policy was found to be inadequate and inappropriate in achieving the required goals of overall economic growth. There was a growing realisation among the policymakers that the planned strategy of economic development failed to achieve the developmental goals of the Republic of India. So, NITI Aayog was placed on the driver’s seat to march forward the nationwide economy on a bullish note.
Meanwhile, many analysts have argued that the first seven Five-year plans covering the period 1951-1990 tried to attain the four main goals – growth, equity, modernisation and self-sufficiency; to some extent they succeeded in doing so in agriculture, industry and trade. Out of these four goals, plans have mainly succeeded in the self-sufficiency target and to some extent in growth, modernisation and equity.
The issue of decentralisation in development planning, accountability of the implementing agencies, and monitoring and evaluation of programs were raised. This was followed by a more specific chapter titled, “Governance and Implementation” in the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007). It defines Governance as “the management of all such processes that, in any society, define the environment which permits and enables individuals to raise their capability levels, on one hand, and provide opportunities to realize their potential and enlarge the set of available choices, on the other.
The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012) signified that the vision of inclusive growth, reducing poverty, and bridging the various divides that continue to fragment our society can only be achieved if there is a significant improvement in the quality of governance. The twelfth five-year plan (2012-2017) defined good governance as an essential element of any well-functioning society.
Economic researchers feel that healthy growth rates, modernisation and target of equity have not fully been achieved by the Five-year plans. The gap between the poor and the rich is still widening day by day. Modernisation facilities are yet to reach the rural areas. The root causes of not achieving these goals are population explosion and large scale graft practices by corrupted officials of the country.
In 2014, Narendra Modi replaced the Planning Commission with NITI Aayog (National Institute for Transforming India, in line with Modi’s penchant for acronyms). The Planning Commission was a Soviet-style body that drew up five-year plans for the country and played an advisory role in formulating allocation of central funds to each State. Now, the NITI Aayog acts as the government’s think tank, formulating medium-and long-term strategies and breaking them into year-wise plans after consultation with the states.
The PM on August 7th, 2022 in Delhi heralded the collective efforts of all the States in the spirit of cooperative federalism as the force that helped India emerge from the Covid pandemic. Addressing the seventh meeting of the Governing Council (GC) of NITI Aayog, he said, “Every State played a crucial role according to its strength and contributed to India’s fight against Covid. This led to India emerging as an example for the developing nations to look up to as a global leader.”
The PM also spoke about India’s G20 presidency in 2023 and called it a unique opportunity to show the world that India is not just Delhi-it is every State and Union Territory of the country. The PM said we should develop a mass movement around G20. This will allow us to identify the best talent available in the country. He also said there should be a dedicated team for G20 in the States to derive the maximum possible benefit from this initiative.
In his closing remarks, the Prime Minister said that each State should focus on promoting its 3Ts, Trade, Tourism, and Technology, through every Indian Mission around the world. He said the States must focus on reducing imports, increasing exports and identifying opportunities for the same in every State.
This year, the Governing Council discussed four key agenda items: (i) Crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in pulses, oil seeds and other agri-commodities; (ii) Implementation of National Education Policy (NEP) in school education; (iii) Implementation of National Education Policy in higher education; and (iv) Urban governance.
The way ahead
Here we find the top ten achievements –
- Our country could not produce even a needle at the time of Independence. But today, we are manufacturing defence missiles, medicines, FMCG products, home appliances, etc. on a large scale and export to many countries. Exports from India to the world have gone up by 600 times since Independence.
- India’s forex reserves have increased 335 times since Independence.
- India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen 10 times within 20 years.
- India’s annual per capita income has posted an almost 500 times rise since Independence and 7-fold growth in the last 20 years.
- India ranks 1st in Global Milk Production nowadays.
- Life expectancy has almost doubled since Independence.
- Literacy rate has also witnessed a remarkable growth since Independence.
- There has been a seven-fold rise in National Highways Development since Independence.
- India’s rural sanitation coverage has gone up from 1% in 1981 to 100% in 2019.
- Last but not the least; energy is the engine of growth. Our Bharat has been promoted from a power deficit country to a power surplus nation during the period between 1947 and 2022.
- Independence brought dreams of not just individuals, but also economic, social and political freedom. Seventy-five years later, these ideals have undergone a transformation as India seeks to join the $5 trillion club.
The 75th year of Independence is the perfect occasion to look back and cherish our glorious past. Lakhs of our revolutionaries, freedom fighters and Indian soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for achieving the country’s political and economic welfare. “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.” This evocative epitaph is enshrined on the Kohima War Memorial in Nagaland, which was built to commemorate soldiers of the empire who laid down their lives to repel Japanese assault in 1944 during World War-II.
In her first address to the nation on July 25, 2022, President Droupadi Murmu said, “…today, in the 75th year of Independence, I have been assigned this new responsibility. It is my great privilege to be given this responsibility at such a historic time when India is engaged with full vigour in realising its vision for the next 25 years.”
To sum it up, we should define the national priorities for the next 25 years. The seeds we sow today will define the fruits to be reaped by India in 2047. Optimistically, our great nation will celebrate 100 years of Independence in 2047 in a big way. (The writer is may be contacted email@example.com)