We are edging closer to celebrate our 72nd Independence Day. In 1947, on August 15th when our freedom was declared, we were a devastated state. With the brunt of partition, poor economic health, uncertain political scenarios and incomprehensible social structure, we started our journey as a free state.
At 72, India has done a pretty fair job in transforming herself from a ruled colony into a leading nation on the global map. The largest democracy of the world, India, has come a long way to achieve this status. Over the past few years, India has emerged as a potential power centre in the international power matrix.
India is considered to be one of the superpowers of the world in coming years. This is the right time to introspect and analyse how far we’ve come and how much to cover in order to become a world leader.
A nation is considered strong when its basic pillars are solid. Overall economic conditions, healthcare and education, state of national infrastructure, basic social necessities, external and internal security, industry, market are the major pillars to be taken care of.
With an excellent past experience, we also had had a rough political patch to go through when we were led by a puppet premier for nearly a decade. As the former head of War History, and fellow of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, Col. (Retd) Anil Athale remarked after 2014 general elections, “The next government’s first task will be to repair the damage done to the whole gamut of national security by an inept UPA government… The next government will this have to re-establish the credibility of India’s retaliatory threat,” the NDA government had a herculean task to repair the tarnished image and take out the nation from the security jeopardy.
The same can be said for the condition of food and water supply, cent per cent electrification, rural development and other social arrangements. It is not that there was nothing done but the condition was such that needed to have a well-conceived approach with aggressive measures.
After a decade of dormant government, corrupt administration, stagnant growth, deteriorating social mesh and vulnerable phase of internal security, there was an utter despair.
But India is a great country and with its experiences, she knows how to recover from week phases. For the past 71 years after independence, we have reached a point where we can analyse the problems, discuss their treatments and development in the due course of our country and what are the issues still left to be addressed.
Out of many issues, India’s response to the rise of China and continuous attacks from Pakistan was quite a disappointment in the decade spanning from 2004-2014. A combination of prolonged neglect towards armed forces made it difficult to keep its arsenal up-to-date and inhibit from keeping proper and sufficient stock.
After 2014, there were three major events in the national security domain:
2015 commando raids on an NSCN-K camp in Myanmar
2016 Surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control,
2017 tough faceoff with Chinese soldiers at Doklam.
These events exhibit the continuously strengthening security and military’s belief in the government.
Artillery modernization has been long overdue which has been now paced up under the Modi regime with his plan worth $250 billion to modernize the armed forces and overcome a 30-year lapse in its firepower procurement program to counter the potential threats from the neighbouring countries.
The government’s accomplishments also range from aggressive ways to deal with border issues, a big crackdown on the number of terrorists and a sharp decline in internal security threats and communal violence. In coming years one can expect total overhauling of the internal and external security system to remove all the vulnerabilities.
Foreign Direct Investment and ‘Make in India’ have been vital in pushing Indian economic growth to a positive trajectory. Thirty-nine foreign trips on six continents, visiting 57 countries including the visits to the USA to attend UN general assembly by Narendra Modi played the key role in repositioning and establishing India on the world trade map. It has attracted more FDI than ever. India managed to jump 22 ranks in the last four years in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list.
Several of the Government’s programmes tend to directly contribute to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A noteworthy example is the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) which is the world’s largest financial inclusion programme.
From a period of high and variable inflation that the economy witnessed during the period of 2009-2014, it came to the more stable state in the last four years.
Good agricultural production coupled with regular price monitoring by the Government helped to contain inflation, especially food inflation.
It can be easily concluded that the NDA government has been able to control inflation more efficiently than the predecessors.
Being a key driver for the Indian economy, the infrastructure sector has been vital in propagating India’s growth and development.
India has a road network of over 5,603,293 kilometres the second largest road network in the world. At 1.70 km of roads per square kilometre of land, the quantitative density of India’s road network is higher than that of the United States (0.67) and far higher than that of China (0.46).
When it comes to railways, between 2004 and 2009 the UPA regime had seen assigning of 1,477 km per year railway lines and 1,528 km between 2009- 2014. The data improved significantly when in 2016-17, a large number of lines (including the running of passenger trains), that is, around 2,857 km was commissioned.
India has become 100% electrified country with Leisang village in Manipur getting connected to the national power grid in April 2018. In a country where millions of households are still without electricity, it is, indeed, a milestone to get the last village in darkness on to the national power grid.
India has grown above expectation in the area of technology. With over 460 million internet users, India is the second largest online market. There are about 650 million mobile phone users in India, it is a huge land that is becoming future-ready for data connectivity.
The overall development to improve the quality of life and making it sustainable for all living in rural areas is rural development. UPA regime has rolled out some brilliant schemes to uplift the rural life but uncontrolled massive spending on rural welfare schemes had taken a toll on an overall development.
In the 2015-16 budget, the government has allocated the fund for rural development wisely in different sectors to remove financial untouchability from other sectors. Apart from that Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna- Gramin (PMAY-G) with the aim of providing ‘Housing For All’ by 2022, toilet coverage plan for a toilet in every house and Jan- Dhan Yojna have made rural life more sustainable.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) the rural road construction projects have been paced up to 133 km a day over the three years to 2016-17, up from 69.35 km a day in 2013-14.
The insufficient number of colleges and government- funded super speciality centres were not the only problem in the health sector once. Expensive treatment and non-generic costly medicines with different brand names were there to rob money from patients.
Modi government, after coming to power, has been in a continuous endeavour to provide free healthcare for the past four years. It has brought a paradigm shift in the national healthcare system through various schemes and practices.
Bringing down prices of medicines and medical implants, even while trying to bring most of the citizens under the healthcare net, initiating more AIIMS, reforming medical entrance exam structure by introducing NEET (The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) are to name a few.
Mission Indradhanush (MI), a Central government initiative launched in 2014, aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases. Giving its vast spectrum, it has been lauded on the national and international level.
Not only that, around 350-400 dialysis centres were in place in as many districts. At present, there are 330 district dialysis centres run on PPP mode that have so far completed 17 lakh sessions. Under the scheme, states negotiate with private providers on a pay-by-sitting basis. While the rates differ from state to state it is usually in the Rs 900-1200 range.
Public investment in social infrastructures like education and health is critical to the development of an economy. However, the expenditure on social services by the Centre and States as a proportion of GDP has remained in the range of 6 per cent during 2012-13 to 2014- 15. The data of 29 States have shown upward movement in expenditure on social services (as a percentage of GSDP) from 6.0 per cent to 6.9 per cent from 2014-15 to 2016-17.
Unsafe water, sanitation, and handwashing (WaSH) was the second leading risk factor in 1990, but its ranking has dropped to the seventh position in 2016. The focus of the Government on improving access to sanitation through Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) gains special significance.
The Government of India is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG- 4) for education – “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning” by 2030.
India has made significant progress in quantitative indicators such as enrolment levels, completion rates and other physical infrastructure like construction of school buildings/classrooms, drinking water facilities, toilet facilities and appointment of teachers etc. at the elementary school level.
In higher education, gender disparities still prevail in enrolment for which continuous efforts are being made by the Government to improve net intake rate for women in higher education. With consistent efforts by the Government through programmes like Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao, the GPI has improved substantially at the primary and secondary levels of enrolment
Issues pertaining to women have been a major concern and hindrance in the holistic growth of the nation. To address the massive issue of sexual violence against women and children, on July 30, 2018, the Indian parliament, passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, that provides for the death sentence for raping a girl under 12 years and enhances the minimum punishment for rape of a woman from seven to ten years. Other measures are being taken for women safety. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme, Women Helpline Scheme, Swadhar Greh, Nari Shakti Puraskar are the major schemes for women.
Transparency in System:
Prior to 2014, corruption was in the system, was the talk of the system but no major steps were taken to remove it from the system. Red tape and bribery had made the public convenience services much more inconvenient.
Transparency and punctuality in government functionaries have been made compulsory by Modi. The Centre has also introduced Aadhaar-enabled enabled Bio-metric Attendance System (AEBAS) in central government offices, including attached and subordinate offices, to replace the manual system of marking of attendance. The AEBAS system to ensure punctuality is to be implemented in all ministries and departments, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said.
To curb corruption on a larger scale, Modi started a national drive of demonetisation which was later dubbed ‘the single most economic reform in the history of independent India’. Fighting against black money rampant in the economy was the chief objective of this entire exercise.
Global Times, the Chinese state media said demonetisation was a very bold that could not be imagined happening in China. The highly regarded American business magazine, Forbes, entitled demonetization as a ‘clever plan’ and was optimistic about its success.
Some other major indicators of developing India include:
- The inclusion of the public in deciding the framework of schemes by giving their inputs on government’s social media platforms.
- Greater participation of citizens at execution level of various government schemes like Swachh Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, LED scheme, International Yoga Day has strengthened the bond between the governed and governance.
- Schemes to address issues pertaining to daily problems, for example:
♣ Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – housing for all by 2022 Scheme.
♣ ‘Ude Deshka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) regional connectivity scheme for making air journey affordable to everyone.
♣ Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana that offers accidental death and disability cover up to 2 lakh rupees.
♣ An $87 billion ambitious scheme to connect some of the country’s biggest rivers to eradicate flood and drought problems.
For the past 72 years, India has been reinventing and reforming herself in many ways. We still have millions of dreams to fulfil and miles to travel on the road of development.
We have today an infrastructure to build our success pillars on but 14.5% undernourished Indians demand more accurate supply of food.
We have an economy to exponentially grow on but there is a huge disparity between the upper-income class and the lower-income class.
We have our healthcare system that is advanced and yet evolving but the mortality rate is still a lingering issue.
The education system has started being more inclusive, still, free and equal education to all is something to achieve yet.
We are still far from providing free potable water to all, upliftment of quality of every citizen is still in process, perfectly planned order of urbanisation, hundred per cent corruption-free state, maximum job opportunities, passing of ‘representation of women in parliament’ Bill and many more are still the issues to be addressed with utmost urgency.
Growing population with limited resources is one of the most pressing problems in India. With a huge number of dependents, eradicating all economic and social problems is a humongous task. Spreading broad-range awareness regarding contraceptive measures is a constructive solution to this problem.
Caste-based issues are another hindrance that pulls the legs of growing India every now and then. Immediate attention and revivification are the prerequisites to contain this problem.
Women-related issues are being addressed but the lapsed Women’s Reservation Bill is still to be reintroduced, women related crime are still on a higher side and work place prejudices are still prevailing.
We have emerged from a difficult past and we have a hopeful present to build our bright future. We believe in the system and we are part of that system. Our inclusive approach to problems and issues will certainly be fruitful in terms of making our nation the greatest of all.