Prof A N Sadhu
India has been passing through a period as also a process of transformation for last over seventy years now. After about a thousand years of alien agressions, loot and plunder and cultural invasions, the country as it was handed on to us at the dawn of independence was certainly impoverished and stagnated on all fronts and had to undergo a good deal of transformation to be put on wheels of change towards socio-economic development. When in 1951, the First Five Year Plan was launched, it was for setting the base for building a New India. The term chosen that time was ” Modernising India” with a view to create an egalitarian society capable of living in peace with a democratic set up, enjoying equal rights and living a dignified life. For a newly independent country, it was a challenging task to carve out its way forward in a bi-polar world. The country needed foreign aid, advanced technology and expertise to chalk out its strategy for a speedier transformation on economic front. One should admire the thoughtfulness of the leaders who were presiding over the destiny of the country at that time in having evolved an alternative model of economic development, which came to be known as ” Mixed Economy”, in order to benefit from the foreign aid available from the western advanced countries and also benefit from the innovative technology developed in the socialist countries. Soviet Union , after Bolshevic revolution of 1917, had done miracles in terms of science and technology through its Five Year Plans launched in 1928 and emerged as a super power parallel to the United States of America, in a short span of just 20 years , and any new independent country of late 1940’s could not escape its impact. The country did manage a balanced approach to keep the two super powers inclined to help it overcome its deficiencies of resources as also of technology to usher in faster growth in the country. The Nehruvian model of rapid industrialisation was very well thought of, to accelerate growth by creating more jobs and allowing trickledown mechanism to percolate the gains of growth among the poorer sections of the population.
Galvanising a stagnant economy for change needs hard work, commitment and far sight backed by an administrative set up which is efficient and honest. Unfortunately the country lacked in this regard. The continuation with colonial administrative model resulted in both, the administrative inefficiency, on the one hand, and rampant corruption, on the other. As a result the Mixed economy model failed to yield the desired results because of the extremely poor performance of the Public sector which was managed by administrative officers and not by the professional as should have been the case. The modernisation slowed down and problems of poverty, unemployment and in equality, persisted , resulting into the need for building New India with renewed thinking and alternative methodology in line with the changing world.
The 1980’s witnessed the disintegration of Soviet Union, at the international level, and instability of our economy and polity , at the national level. This led to Dr. Manmohan Singh devise the New Economic Policy and end up the earlier model which he thought was based on ideological hiatus. Dr, Manmohan Singh deserves credit for salvaging the economy from a deep crisis into which it would have fallen, if he had not taken the corrective measures immediately. The New Economic policy based on liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation, was more outward looking and globally linking politico- economic arrangement to lay thrust on building New India as part of the New World order, which was taking the shape of a Global village wherein living in isolation would deny the benefits of fast changing science and technology in the advanced countries of the world. India tended to liberalise its economic policy and it did yield better results since 1990. Although not without hiccups. The New India has been making since then. However, for last few years a new thrust is being placed on making and shaping of New India. The mission New India will continue till New India of our dreams is built. Let us imagine what this New India would/ should be like and how will it give our citizens, a sense of pride and pleasure of our rich ancient civilisation that reigned supreme all over the globe. Indian civilizational ethos is based on ” Vasudev Kutambkum” and its prayer begins with ” Sarve bhavantu sukhene……” and mission New India will have to be directed accordingly. The programmes of transformation shall have to be oriented towards achieving sustainable economic, social and political development with lasting impact on peace, harmony and security.
This New India shall have to be built within the policy perspectives enshrined in our constitution. India is a democratic country and it will remain so.We have chosen democracy , not only only as a political model but also as a civil system wherein there is universal participation of the countrymen in running the affairs of the nation. The Indian Nationalism will have to reach its zenith to give India the respectable international recognition of being a vibrant largest democracy of the world. India is a secular state and secularism is the nerve thread of sustaining a country with a wide variety of culture, language, geography and ethnicity..Perhaps it will not be required to read between the lines when expression ” Hinutava” is used in one or the other context. Let it be an alternative expression of ancient Indian civilisation which has its basis in ” Vasudev Kutambkum” and leaves no scope for ,whatsoever, for discrimination between one sect and the other. Equality and tolerance has been the inherent character of Indian society. Some of the recent happenings in different parts of the country are disturbing and should engage the attention of the government. Besides, safeguarding socio- economic and political parameters, the approach to building New India will have to focus on the following concerns with immediate attention.
Water scarcity. In many hill states one notices a large number of streams have dried up. The situation in plains is worse. There is danger of water famine in the country which will be devastating. The government needs to take this danger more seriously.
Quality education. For a vast country like India, having only three educational institutions in the top 200 educational institutions of the world is not enough. More investment will have to be made in this sector. The education sector has not to be viewed from a political angle alone. Expanding educational institutions without adequate academic and physical infrastructure, does not serve any purpose. It neither builds the competent human stock nor the comparable quality standards which is going to be disastrous for New India. Coining new terms and expressions is fine, but the substance is vital for sustainability. In fact the country has utterly failed to evolve an appropriate educational model and has relied on imitation of models developed elsewhere in the world under different socio- economic conditions. For drawing political balances,the merit should not be put on peril. New India will seriously be impaired if quality standards are not improved continuously in line with changing market conditions and technology.
Health sector. The health sector leaves much to be desired. It has become a pure exploitative business. It warrants serious attention.
Responsible citizenship. Some plans need to be evolved to infuse the spirit of responsibility and commitment to national goals among the youth, in particular, and the people of the country, in general. There has to be new thinking, new ideas and new attitudes towards achieving new land marks in the days ahead.
New government initiatives to mobilise the youth towards productive activities is a welcome thing. Empowering women is equally essential to realise the demographic dividends to enrich New India. The most important factor in this process is the social harmony. Extremism, ideological or otherwise has no place in a progressive society more so when it is composite comprising of wide diversity. Forces inimical to the emergence of India as a strong nation have to be kept under check. Reformative measures to change the psyche and the mind set of the people is necessary. New India has to be a representative model of unity in diversity.
Anyway New India has been in the making for the last over 70 years, let the present regime also not miss the target.
Prof A N Sadhu