From Independence to Resilience: A Great Journey of India!
Ours is an extremely hard earned Independence. Our freedom struggle is an epitome of our endless suffering, unfathomable endurance, grit and determination and the urge to excel in an atmosphere which is free from all bondages and where there is nothing to fear but complete freedom to aspire and achieve. As we celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, marking 75 years of Independence, we need to pause and reflect upon the colossal amount of sacrifices our forefathers made in freeing Mother India from the clutches of Britishers. They made supreme sacrifices without expecting anything from the nation. Their struggle for our freedom was selfless. They were bubbling with the spirit of patriotism. Mahatma Gandhi, Chandrashekhar Azad, Vir Savarkar, Lala Lajpat Rai, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Rao Tula Ram, Jawaharlal Nehru, Komaram Bheem, Anabheri Prabhakar Rao, Chinnaswami Subramanya Bharathiyar, Veera Mangai Velunachiyar, and many others sacrificed every comfort of life for the sake of our nation’s freedom.
The period of 42 years – from 1905 to 1947 – was the most significant phase of our freedom struggle movement. Mahatma Gandhi’s tool of ‘Satyagrah’ became a rallying point in our freedom struggle movement. The return of Gandhi from South Africa in 1916 infused new vigour in our fight for freedom. The Champaran Satyagraha of 1917 is widely considered as a milestone in Indian freedom struggle. Equally important was the Salt March. The Quit India Movement Resolution passed on August 8, 1942 at the Bombay Session of All India Congress Committee (AICC) proved the last nail in the coffin of the British Rule. To be precise, the period of 1905-1947 was of a great churning, marked by a strong but spontaneous mass urge to make India vibrant, self-reliant, caring, inclusive and assertive to lead the world towards peaceful co-existence, prosperity and sustainability.
The journey of India as a nation since 1947 to till date has been one of perseverance and performance. The period of 1947 to ’65 was really tumultuous for us. Close on the heels of achieving independence, we had to fight a war with Pakistan, and again in 1965. The Chinese attack on our sovereignty in 1962 was bravely faced by our soldiers. Notwithstanding such reverses, we were focused on building resilience in our national ecosystem. A number of academic institutions, public sector undertakings, and other infrastructure were coming up across the country. Our toiling farmers of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh had logged a great towards our food security through sowing the seeds of Green Revolution. The rest is history. The subsequent decade was no less turbulent, which culminated in the imposition of Emergency. The people of India fought the second war of independence. The period of 1980-’91 was a kind of mixed bag of pain and happiness. There was a disturbance in Punjab. People were in great agony. The decade ended on the great note of economic reforms spearheaded by then Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
Since then India has not looked back. We witnessed multi-sectoral development during the six-year long Prime Ministership of Late Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee. There was monumental progress in rail, air, tele, and road connectivity. From creating a separate ministry of disinvestment, introducing Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, Golden Quadrilateral project to electricity reforms, the foundation of a New India was laid during tenure. Through path-breaking Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), India ushered in a connectivity revolution by aggressively pursuing the building of national highways and promoting communication infrastructure. The way he handled nuclear tests in 1998 and subsequent economic sanctions added great value and verve to India’s image in the world.
Today, India’s credibility is stronger than ever. There is visible momentum, energy and optimism. ‘Make in India’ is opening investment doors. Multiple enterprises are adopting it as their mantra of growth. The world’s largest democracy is well on its way to becoming the world’s most powerful economy. In a short span of time, the obsolete and obstructive frameworks of the past have been dismantled and replaced with a transparent and user-friendly system that is helping drive investment, foster innovation, develop skills, protect IP and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure. The most striking indicator of progress is the unprecedented opening up of key sectors including railways, defence, insurance and medical devices to dramatically higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). India remained a preferred investment destination in FY 2020-21 with FDI pouring in amidst global asset shifts towards equities and prospects of quicker recovery in emerging economies. Net FPI inflows recorded an all-time monthly high of US $ 9.8 billion in November 2020, as investors’ risk appetite returned, with a renewed search for yield, and US dollar weakened amid global monetary easing and fiscal stimulus packages. India was the only country among emerging markets to receive equity FII inflows in 2020.
Multiple reforms including the four codes — the Code on Wages, 2019, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Code on Social Security, 2020 – have further strengthened the fundamentals of our economy. Despite reverses caused by Covid-19 pandemic, India is witnessing a ‘V-Shaped’ economic recovery, which should be attributed to mega vaccination drive, robust recovery in services sector, growth in consumption and investment, resurgence in high frequency indicators such as power demand, rail freight, e-way bills, GST collection, steel consumption, and so on!
According to the Economic Survey-2020-21 report, India’s real gross domestic product (GDP) will record a growth of 11 per cent in 2021-22 and nominal GDP by 15.4 per cent, the highest since independence. The Survey says that India’s mature policy response to Covid-19 ‘once-in-a-century’ crisis provides important lessons for democracies to avoid myopic policy making and demonstrates the significant benefits of focusing on long-term gains. India adopted a unique four-pillar strategy of containment, fiscal, financial, and long-term structural reforms. Calibrated fiscal and monetary support was provided given the evolving economic situation, cushioning the vulnerable in the lockdown and boosting consumption and investment while unlocking, mindful of fiscal repercussions and entailing debt sustainability.
If India remains a tested and most favoured destination for foreign investors, then the credit goes to a slew of reforms implemented to ensure that the supply-side disruptions, which were inevitable during the lockdown, are minimized in the medium to long-run. The demand side policy reflected the understanding that aggregate demands, especially that for non-essential items, reflects precautionary motives to save, which inevitably remains high when overall uncertainty is high. Therefore, during the initial months of the pandemic when uncertainty was high and lockdowns imposed economic restrictions, India did not waste precious fiscal resources in trying to pump up discretionary consumption.
During the unlock phase, when uncertainty declined and the precautionary motive to save subsided, on the one hand, and economic mobility increased, on the other hand, India has ramped up its fiscal spending. A favorable monetary policy ensured abundant liquidity and immediate relief to debtors via temporary moratoria, while unclogging monetary policy transmission. India’s demand-side policy, thus, underscores the idea that pressing on the accelerator while the brakes are clamped only wastes scarce fuel. Stimulus packages – Production Linked Incentives (PLIs) – were extended to various industries to absorb the shocks triggered by Covid-19 pandemic.
Public sector enterprises (PSEs) are being encouraged to innovate, increase productivity, and respond to consumer preferences. Through disinvestment, they are being encouraged to ensure better utilisation of resources and higher productivity growth. Similarly, the functioning and health of public sector banks (PSBs) is being refurbished through various reforms including the merger of smaller banks. They are being made accountable with regards to their non-performing assets. The employment generation has caught the Centre’s attention like never before. The focus has shifted from creating employees to employers, the first of its kind initiative in India.
MISSION ATMA NIRBHAR BHARAT
India is charting a dynamic course to be self-reliant. In the past seven years, a slew of initiatives have been taken to empower the country holistically. Make In India, Skill India, Start-up India, Stand-up India and Digital India are some of the path breaking steps, which are laying the foundation of a strong Bharat, an inclusive model of development where no one should be left out. ‘Local for Vocal’ has become a part of national ethos now.
The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched in 2015, is enabling a large number of youths to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood. It has so far trained over 1.28 crore youths, of which women constitute 46 lakh. Under the placement linked programme, more than 56 per cent of the total certified youths have been linked to employment. PMKVY aims to train over 40 crore people in different skills by 2022.
Why are multiple interventions required to infuse resilience in Indian economy? India is a country that is vastly populated and is home to a variety of resources. And among those varied resources stands out the most abundant one of all – the labour workforce. This workforce is largely divided into skilled and unskilled labour. Talent is something that exists naturally, whereas skill is only developed through relentless training and exposure, day in and day out. The need of the hour is skilled labour, and the Government of India has realised the need for the same. The idea is to have a workforce that is skilled and will thus spearhead India’s development as an inclusive economy.
As India is growing rapidly, hopes, aspirations and expectations are also rising. The Stand Up India scheme is uniquely embedded in the vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Vikas – Co-operation, Confidence and Development of All. There is a large group of potential entrepreneurs particularly women and Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), who want to set up an enterprise of their own, which allows them to grow and thrive Aspiring SC, ST and women entrepreneurs are energetic and enthusiastic but may face challenges in converting their dream to reality. Recognizing these challenges, Stand up India Scheme was launched on April 5, 2016 to promote entrepreneurship at the grass roots level focusing on economic empowerment and job creation. Similarly, there is a great emphasis on the development of OBCs, minorities who are being provided with multiple affirmative supports to excel in their lives with ease.
The New Education Policy-2020 is very particular about weaker sections of society along with ensuring holistic development in our education system, which will certainly leapfrog India to the next level of development. Similarly, linking Aadhaar with benefits of welfare schemes, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) Scheme, and E-RUPI have greatly checked leakages and improved the delivery of benefits to targeted groups with total transparency.
As India has embarked on the path of celebrating Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav, we must not leave anything unturned to make development a mass movement, in which every Indian recognizes his role and also experiences the tangible benefits accruing to him in the form of better ease of living. The development strategy should help achieve broad-based economic growth to ensure balanced development across all regions and states and across sectors. This implies embracing new technologies, fostering innovation, upskilling, reskilling, modernization of agriculture and mainstreaming of regions such as the North East, hilly states and the 115 Aspirational Districts.
According to the Prime Minister, there is also a need to bridge the gap between public and private sector performance. In order to put in place a ‘development state’ instead of the ‘soft state’, there is a need of ensuring efficient delivery of public services, rooting out corruption and black economy, formalizing the economy, expanding the tax base, improving the ease of doing business, nursing the stressed commercial banking sector back to a healthy state, and stopping leakages through direct benefit transfers and widespread use of the JAM — Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile — trinity.
It is an era of new normal caused by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. A new strategy, a new approach and consistency in innovation will ensure that it emerges as a true super power, which cares for all and ignores none. In order to ensure that the 21ST century belongs to India, we all must rise above caste, colour and creed considerations and give our best to the nation building exercise. Nation is above everything. We should ask what the nation has done for us but before that we must know what we have done for the nation!