By: Raju Vernekar
With a hoist of programs organized across the country and invitation extended to a diverse group of over 800 citizens at Red Fort in New Delhi, the 77th Independence Day being celebrated based on the theme “Nation First, Always First”, is expected to be a grand affair. The country has been making rapid progress in different fields with a thrust on self-reliance. It is imperative that a stock of various aspects is taken, on the conclusion of Amrit Mahtosav’s 75-week countdown, which began on March 12, 2021.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has projected the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth at 6.5%, for the fiscal year 2023-24. Indian rupee stands at 82.78 against US Dollar while retail inflation has risen to 4.8%. The rupee is also supported by foreign capital inflows, with international investors buying $6.7 billion worth of Indian stocks. Simultaneously the Exim Bank has forecast merchandise exports to the extent of US$ 111.7 billion, during the first quarter (April-June) of the fiscal year 2024.
The disinvestment proceeds stand at $12,029.9 crore ever since the disinvestment in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) began in 1991. $2,700 crore came from the privatization of Air India and the remaining $9,330 crore came from the sale of minority holdings in CPSEs. The Government has approved the sale of assets of the 24 CPSEs and has identified 100 assets for privatization drive, valued at nearly Rs 5 lakh crore.
The government has set a target of 332 million tonnes (MT) for food grain production for the 2023-24 crop year, a 2.6% increase from the previous year. According to the Union Ministry of Agriculture, the goal includes the production of 29.25 MT of pulses, 44 MT of oil seed, and 17 MT of millets.
India’s population is estimated at 142 crore people (equivalent to 17.76% of the total world population). Uttar Pradesh is a thickly populated state with 19.98 crore, whereas Sikkim remains the least populated with 607,688, and the Union territory of Lakshadweep with 64473 population.
The ability to read and write is the cornerstone of literacy, while the acquisition of skills, knowledge, and values is the essence of education. The country has an overall literacy rate of 77%, (84.40% men and 71.50% women). Kerala with 94 %, percent (96.11 Men), (92.07 Women, and Mizoram with 91.58 %,( 93.72 Men), (89.4 Women) remain the most literate states. Andhra Pradesh with 66.4 %, (73.4 Men), (59.5 Women), and Rajasthan with 69.7 %, (80.8 Men), (57.6 Women) remain the least literate states.
The doctor-to-population ratio in India is 1:2148. The infant mortality rate is 64 per 1,000 live births; however, the overall mortality rate has declined from 27.4 to 08 per 1,000 population from 1991 onwards. The life expectancy at birth has increased from 37.2 years to 60.6 years. But the maternal and infant mortality remains a challenge. Overall the hospital facilities are inadequate.
The supply of safe and potable water across the country remains a distant dream. With 1,486 cubic meters (1.5 million liters) water available per person per year, India falls in the water-stressed category. As per data presented in the Parliament in March this year, the per capita water availability in 2001 was 1,816 cubic meters. It reduced to 1,486 cubic meters in 2021 and is expected to decline further to 1,367 by 2031.
It was claimed that the Pradhan Mantri Sahai Bijli Har Ghar Yojana will provide last-mile connectivity and electricity connections to all remaining un-electrified households and all villages were electrified on April 28, 2018. However, there are reports of certain villages including the Hill Kaka village in Poonch district in the Kashmir Valley, remaining cut off from the rest of the world.
By now most of the northeastern states barring Sikkim, have been connected through rail. Besides, many under-serviced air routes have been activated under the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme, to provide regional connectivity. But even today there are inaccessible pockets, especially in tribal areas in certain parts even in Maharashtra, that do not have road connectivity.
A provision of Rs 5.94 lakh crore for Defence has been made in the budget for 2023-24, which includes Rs one lakh crore for the defence capital procurement for domestic industry and a host of sophisticated equipment are being manufactured indigenously.
How the situation changed in the last 76 years: 1947- No of Banks-(major banks around 06), 2023-(137)(public sector banks-12, private banks-21, foreign banks-45, Regional rural banks-43, Payments banks-04, Small Finance banks-12), 1947-No of telephones-(84000), 2023- (117.2 crore including cell phones and landlines), 1947-Tele Communication-(post, telegram, and money orders), 2023-(e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and, Telebanking), 1947-Audio Visual Communication-(06 radio stations), 2023- (850 TV channels, 40 OTT platforms, 467 radio stations), 1947-Feature Film Production (178 annually), 2023- (1900 films including Bollywood 340), 1947-Newspapers-(30)-2023-(1.17 lakh periodicals including 17573 daily newspapers. 1947- No of Political parties-(around 06), 2023-(2657 including 06 national, 54 regional, and 2597 unrecognized parties), 1947- No of States-(12 states and 6 Union Territories), 2023-( 28 states and 8 Union Territories) and 1947- Strength of armed forces- around on lakh), 2023-(14 lakh). India is expected to become one of the most powerful countries. Let us hope that we become a superpower soon. (The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)