Inching towards Atamnirbhar Bharat

Prof. M. K. Bhat
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for Atamnirbhar Bharat (self reliant India) and every denizen of the country also wants to see New India as self reliant. Atamnirbhar Bharat needs a bit of explanation to do away with the misconception with many people inside and outside the country. It hardly means isolation rather it talks of upgrading the various sectors of economy to meet the challenges that may arise in the post Covid -19 economic scenarios. All those obsessed with negativity may take it as a figment of over enthusiastic brains but others with a clear understanding of emerging national and international economic scenario post Covid-19 feel it as a chance to grow, rather than to miss the wagon of growth as we did at the time of industrial revolution.
Atamnirbhar Bharat will get its birth from self confidence of people and self confidence involves a neat and clean socio, economic and political set up. It needs decisive leadership, proper distribution of sources of income, equal opportunities for all, no social discrimination etc. It is not the work of one man or one party but it will depend on the collective conscience of the society. It may involve both short term and long term objectives. Its base has to be strong, sustainable and environment friendly. It may involve legislative, judicial and executive changes over the period of time. It is worth to mention here that if 1.30 billion people resolve to take one step forward, India will gain 1.30 billion steps and definitely things will change for the better.
Government of India feels that Atamnirbhar Bharat requires a quantum jump in economy, world class infrastructure, tech driven system, vibrant demography and demand, so it has come out with five phases for its implementation. Phase 1st will deal with MSME’s, phase 2nd poor including migrants and farmers, phase 3rd will involve agriculture, phase 4th will find new horizons of growth and phase 5th Government reforms and enablers.
It has come out with a package of $300 billion for containing the impact of pandemics, to bring the economy back on track by building modern infrastructure and put in place a technology driven system .The slogan ‘vocal for local’ is in no way an attempt for protectionism, any such attempt can make us to land in the pre liberalised era where long queues for every little thing was a reality. India can’t even afford to think in this direction as a signatory of WTO accord.
The Prime Minister in his recent address to United Nations on the occasion of celebrating 75 years of UN has categorically mentioned that “India wants to reform multilateralism. Multilateralism needs to represent the reality of the contemporary world. Only reformed multilateralism with a reformed UN at the center can meet the aspirations of humanity. He added that let us pledge to reform global multilateral system to enhance its relevance, to improve its effectiveness and to make it the basis of a new type of human centric globalization”
Atamnirbhar Bharat stands for assertiveness, for its share in the world affairs, India with second biggest population in the world wants its share in the international decision making. India’s Ramaswami Mudaliar was the first president of Economic and Social Council in 1946. PM reminded UN that India one of the largest members of the UN system and the oldest did not yet head even one of the bigger UN organizations, China heads three.
The new aspiring India raises concern about the fact that 16% of the world population enjoys over 77% share in world income thus enabling some to enjoy a high living standards and better quality of life and leaving 84% of people to enjoy 23% of the world income. India with one fifth of world population has got 2.6 percent of the world trade. India spends more than 7 lakh crore on oil imports it has the potential to reduce this bill by 2 lakh crore by shifting to alternative sources of energy like ethanol, methanol, bio CNG and electric vehicles as per Nitin Gadkri, Minister of road and highways. New India is gearing for clean sources of energy, the Prime Minister recently launched Asia’s largest solar power plant project at Rewa in Madhya Pradesh, spread in 1590 acres of land and is India’s first single site solar plant. It will produce 750 mega watts.
Covid -19 has destroyed international economic system and Atamnirbhar Bharat is an attempt to upgrade the different sectors of economy to reap the various opportunities that may arise in the post covid era. At present Covid -19 has disturbed global supply chain, employment, production process, purchasing power etc. This devastation of economies is going to formulate new alliances at international level; it will create new challenges and chances for every country. India can’t remain mute to the changing world, so it needs to gear up to reap the benefits by reshaping the economy. It needs to skill its workforce to increase their demand. Besides skill development, the specific sectors of the economy need to be given a shape with due respect to environment, product pricing, quality, logistics, and technological up gradation etc. It may have to make business friendly environment and reduce the habit of suspecting its own business men, the trust between business and Government will yield good results.
Atamnirbhar Bharat aims at a vibrant economy that may restrict low cost, low quality goods from other countries to flourish in the market easily. It will be a natural deterrent to dumping from other countries. In a very brief period, India has shown its capacity from zero production of personal protection equipment (PPE) before March 2020 to 2 lakh PPE’s daily at present. India today stands as the second biggest producer of PPE’s in the world. The same story was almost repeated in case of ventilators and new entrepreneurs have started to write success stories.
In order to make Atamnirbhar Bharat success, India shall analyse its strength and weakness, for arriving at short term and long term solutions. In case of strength, India bears demographic dividend because of its 65% population below 35 years and a big drive under ‘skill India’ program is being undertaken to make them industry usable. Large population with growing income also means a big market. India is a democracy with large English speaking population. Its professionals have world wide acceptance. It is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with a big pool of IT professionals, the wage rate is low. It is the largest democracy, smooth transition of power has taken place over the years and so it can be safe place for investment. On the weakness side we have; low infrastructure, low financial power, military challenges from two neighboring countries, low technology, lackluster administrative system and unnecessary business laws.
India will be Atamnirbhar in real sense when last man in the row has equal opportunities to grow, when he feels himself as a part of system. The New India carries little meaning if it comes to the rescue of a few at the cost of many. It shall lead to a decrease in the income disparity in the country. In order to generate employment it may have to go for SME’s besides mechanizing agriculture sector. It has to be village centric as India is a country of villages.
(The author is Professor (M.A.I.T) Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi.)