On one hand, the governor of the central bank is being looked for slashed interest rates while on the other, the Prime Minister and his cabinet is expected to boost the GDP and lessen the CAD and food inflation. More than just these key economic indicators are the fundamental wings ranging from women empowerment to assured healthcare facilities and from water conservation to human skill development. The pillars to success may be a sharp rise in the GDP or a steep fall in the fiscal deficit, but for ‘sustainable success’ a robust and stable substructure is the key. Books of economics or management will have nil relevance in case the state is unable to eradicate the curses of poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy and joblessness. India with some billionaires, however large proportion of poor and deprived households, will never attain the label of a ‘developed nation’. We may be one among the most promising economies of the world, but with ever-high numbers of rapes and deaths owing to starvation, or for that matter with polluted rivers and aimless water conservation programmes, any rise in the GDP is meaningless. Hereunder, I have listed a few pillars that are the key to sustainable success and to build the dream India, India that can assure dignity of life and opulence to every citizen.
Not just adept education system, but also skill development– Infusing skilled and vibrant blood in the veins of our young ones is no different than providing them with a capable education system, which shall not just open doors to wisdom but also to creativity and out-of-the-box ideas. From modifying the present curriculum for bringing it in line with global practices and needs of Indian society and economy to replacing the outdated and incapable delivery models by computers, tablets, and free-of-cost and round the clock accessible virtual lessons, there is a need to digitize educational records and maintain a database that can be easily accessed. ‘One size does not fit all’ has to be paid heed to and differential and innovative teaching approach to be encouraged. Skill development is the talk of the town and for the same the infrastructure of ITI centers can be used. In this context, toilets in all schools, and free of cost basic needs viz. books, bags, mid-day meals and uniforms are to be made a part of the education budget. Biometric way of recording attendance of teachers and students, and adequate teacher-students ratio are needed.
Not just population planning, but also strict population control measures– Aiming at apt distribution system and all-inclusive growth are pointless in case the pace of population growth is not checked. As per the Planning Commission, 21 percent of the residents fall below the poverty line and the approx. figure stands at 269.3 million. World Bank says that almost 49 percent of world’s underweight children, 34 percent of world’s stunted children and 46 percent of world’s wasted children live in India. Limited resources of the country will never be able to meet the challenge of prospering every Indian; hence the government of India will need to consider an order similar to ‘One Child Policy’ of China. Overseas funds flowing in India may be promising a brighter tomorrow, but with alike increase in the number of participants the milieu will hardly develop. Though we stand today as the youngest nation of the world, with more than 65 percent of our population less than 35 years of age; scarce skills, healthcare facilities, and higher education and work prospects would hardly be able to cater to the needs. Furthermore, unless the law of the land is uniform to all the inhabitants, social harmony is unachievable; hence the notion of Uniform Civil Code has to be implemented by the consent of all communities.
Not just quality healthcare, but guaranteed basic healthcare to all– Healthcare is a basic necessity and with mere 1.5 percent of our GDP allocated to public health, we cannot dream of a day when healthy and energetic workforce would devote heart and soul to the nation’s development. Bearing the burden of more than 20 percent of world’s total liability of diseases, it is sad that we are among the bottom five countries with respect to spending on public healthcare. The number of doctors and beds is way less than the prescribed norms of the WHO. Ensured and quality medical services in state-run centers is to be accompanied with enhancing the working conditions of nurses and curbing the curse of commercialization of medicines and their unwanted marketing. The statutory body responsible for upholding high ethics in medical practicing and education services, the Medical Council of India, embraces medical professionals at top positions, which in no way is a just notion when it comes to penalizing corrupt/ negligent conduct of peers. Tier B and C towns have always been deprived when it comes to tertiary healthcare and the same has led to high spending by middle class and lower class households on third level of healthcare, the intensive care units and advanced diagnostic support services.
Not just women empowerment, but real and balanced enablement– Thinking of a better tomorrow, without according requisite strength and liberation to the half population is equivalent to worsening the civilization even more. Past two years of the horrible Delhi rape incident, the women of India are still unsafe and deprived of their basic rights, the infringement of which comes to notice only when a case is blessed with media coverage and the authorities are forced to give justice. There is something in the new Companies Act for women directors but execution of the same depends on how well we train these women so that they can accomplish tough tasks with competence. Women helplines are also in place but post a few advertisements on radio and in newspapers they hardly are able to cope up with the heavy call flow. Right from killing of the girl child to depriving the young ones from education and work, the ill system needs overall restructuring. It is also important that we do not overlook any abuse of women centric laws that many a time results in harassment of blameless men and their families. Counselling centers in rural areas, state benefit schemes for all girls, and measures to enhance participation of females in economic activities, which is currently only 30 percent are much-needed.
Water and environment conservation– The most basic of all and also the most ignored one. We need to address a worry that while India’s population is as high as 18 percent of the total world population, renewable water resources are just 4 percent. Not new or unheard are the news of scarce water facilities even in the national capital, Delhi. What we need is community participation and alternative water sources (cisterns, rain barrels, and rainwater harvesting) backed by the commitment of government agencies. National Water Policy as formulated by the Ministry of Water Resources needs to accord decision making powers to Water Users Association, along with including polluter pay principle and fairness in PPP model in its ambit. Pesticides, effluent from industries, solid waste and such other elements are degrading the environment. Usage of organic fertilizers as a replacement to chemical fertilizers needs encouragement and monetary support. India stands at the third position in terms of generating greenhouse gases, which is the main cause behind vulnerable lungs in Indians. Environmental clearances should not ignore a fact that mass deforestation, land degradation, rivers contamination and dropping water levels are at their very peak and the same costs billion of money every year.
Not just secured borders, but also safe villages and cities– A rape survivor girl has said that she undergoes rape each time she narrates it. It is evident that offences cannot be prevented absolutely, but justice has to be ensured in each and every case. Policemen in India are governed by Police Act, 1861. In 2006, the Supreme Court of India directed the central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives to kick-start police reforms. Many committees on police reforms have suggested major revamping of the police system coupled with systematic accountability. Political parties of India would need to realize that development is lacking without intact and promised security of the countrymen. The new government has relied on the power of digitization and the same is to be extended to the domain of internal security and reporting of grievances. In this context, the concerns of the police department, their illicit exploitation by political men, and absurd transfers are to be paid heed to. While social networking websites and such other web based applications have become so much handy to access, the elementary need of reporting any mishaps and accusations without trouble is still far than reached.
Real, not artificial jobs– Sustainability of economic and social development relies upon how the government makes use of the immense manpower we have. India’s labor force stands at 500 million, however not more than 20 percent of this has regular jobs in the organized sector. MGNREGA delivers 100 days of employment to rural inhabitants and 150 days for Scheduled Tribe households living in forest areas, but the task of upskilling these workers is paid heed to nowhere. It is very simple, landless workers are paid with guarantee at the MGNREGA worksites without doing anything, thereby making them used to such kind of easy income. The poverty alleviation programme is thus resulting in summing up of a workforce that has nil motivation to step ahead, nurture and innovate. Ghost workers and ghost accounts for crediting state money also cannot be denied. On the contrary, a few sectors are facing acute labor shortage issue, such as the apparel industry which is facing tough competition from Bangladesh. By integrating labor-short industries and state-backed schemes like MGNREGA government can save direct cash outflow from treasury and real jobs in turn will also upgrade the skills of the labor force. Elementary pillars are then to be accompanied with subsidiary ones. This calls for a red carpet to even domestic producers and service providers, and easing the complexity of tax regime. The MSME sector is the unseen backbone of the Indian economy; hence the same is to be fortified by relaxed and quick credit norms, infusion of technology which can boost the competitiveness, proper infrastructure development, and right marketing support. Proper balance between the judicial and legislative wing is also looked for to put at rest hitches like cancellation of licenses of corporates in the 2G scam and Coalgate owing to unethical process followed by the government. From systematic road transportation to an effective agricultural production advancing scheme, the new ministers have a lot to do. The enumerated concerns aren’t exhaustive, but if taken into consideration they can aptly correct the social and economic imbalance of India. Plus, all issues are inter-connected, for say, you cannot bring women empowerment without active internal security. The worries of healthcare and education will remain unresolved unless the government pays attention to population and pollution control measures. Likewise, education will play a key role in lessening crime rate and hiking contribution of women in economic activities. Much is expected from the new Modi-led government, and the acumen of his cabinet.