Old order changes yielding place to new. In an unprecedented swearing in ceremony attended by all our neighbours, SARC countries, and an estimated 4000 invitees from all walks of life, largest gathering ever in any similar ceremony, the new Government led by Narendra Modi took over a few days ago. The story of Modi from a socially deprived Chaiwala to Prime Minister of world’s largest democracy is manifestation of an audacity of hope and triumph of determination to succeed against all odds.
Live images beamed from Rastrapati Bhavan is testimony of successful functioning of democracy- of the people and by the people. A New Government with a decisive mandate takes over today. It represents a billion aspirations and dreams for a better India. The decisive majority brings with it scary expectations. At this historical juncture, the new Government must introspect the challenges ahead and draw up action plan to ensure that democracy is also all about for the people. There are promises to keep and miles to go before (it can afford to) sleep.
I take this opportunity to have a quick recap of issues and challenges ahead. In my previous article published in this online publication on 22nd February 2014 Elections 2014 – Electoral Agenda I had listed out 8 areas requiring policy makers’ attention. These are reproduced below:
- Conducive growth environment
- Employment Opportunities
- Social Security which includes health services and sanitation
- Quality and affordable education system that includes vocational skill sets
- Rule of law and Internal Security
- Improvement in Transparency and Governance related issues including institutionalization of processes
- People’s empowerment- premium on innovation and enterprise
- Rapid development in social and physical infrastructure
In the same article I had mentioned India’s dismal record on Human Development. A few lines from the above article is reproduced below.
“ India has been ranked 136 among 187 countries evaluated for human development index (HDI) released recently in November 2013 which takes into account assessing progress in life expectancy, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living or gross national income per capita. The Transparency International’s December 2013 Global corruption perception index India ranks India. 94th among 177 nations.It is a national shame that after nearly two third century of a free India, over 600 million people or 53 per cent of Indian households are still defecating in the open as per a recent World Bank report.”
We take legitimate pride in our demography and rightly so which has the potential to propel up real high. However, according a recent Government report the unemployment rate in the country during 2012-13 was estimated to be 13.3 per cent for the age group 15-29. One out of every three persons in the age group 15 to 29 years who have completed at least their graduation has been found to be unemployed. Our greatest strength can turn into our greatest weakness should we falter on job creation.
In a subsequent article again in this publication a month later on 22nd March 2014 Inclusive Growth India I had shared my thoughts on the vulnerability of the India Growth story. A paragraph from the article is reproduced below.
“We are a country of 1.22 billion people with median age of 26.5 years. Yes we are a Young nation. In 2013, our GDP has moved upto 3rd ranking, after US and China and surpassing traditional Asian financial Powerhouse Japan. However, this is no cheer for an average Indian. More than 250 million live below the poverty line, out of which 110 million are at the bottom of this segment and lack basic necessities of life – enough to eat or have a hutment dwelling. There are additional 450 million more people who are ‘vulnerable’ to poverty, because one shock to the system, an illness in family or an accident or loss of job can push them back to poverty line. So there are 800 million people who live on the edges. It is estimated that a basic package of food, drinking, water, sanitation, health care, schooling, energy and housing can be delivered to the poor for about Rs. 6100 per household per month.” Is it beyond world’s third largest economy? Certainly we can.
(Data Source- Reimaging India- Five ideas for inclusive growth by Rajat Gupta Edited by Global Consultant Mckinsey & Compnay).
By Hari Hara Mishra @hariharamishra
P.S.- It is interesting to note that Japanese PM Shinzo Abe follows only three persons on Twitter and Modi is one among those three. Does it convey coming of age of a New India poised for a greater and bigger global role under Modi?