Two sides of the contemporary Indian reality
“As India stands poised for a quantum leap forward in global rankings for economic performance, one of the toughest challenges it faces is the removal of abject poverty and provision of a decent standard of living for all its billion-plus citizens. In recognising this truth, one cannot, of course, overlook the fact that our country has indeed made considerable progress in recent decades in lifting large numbers of people above the poverty line. It will not do to only paint a bleak picture of the socio-economic reality of India in the beginning of the twenty-first century. Economic reforms have, indeed, put India on the path of prosperity through speedier economic growth in certain sectors and certain areas.
At the same time, we must not overlook the other, negative, side of the current Indian reality. Large sections of our population continue to be victims of poverty. Equally distressing is the rapidly growing divide between the rich and the poor, on one hand and between cities and villages, on the other, the latter having caused the largest ever migration of people from rural to urban areas since the onset of economic reforms in the 1990s. The problem is aggravated by regional disparities in development, with the northern and eastern states lagging considerably behind their counterparts in the South and the West.
Human resource is the most precious wealth that India has. However, human resource becomes resourceful only if the basic necessities of life—food, clothing, housing, health, clean water, education, productive employment, and good natural and social environment—are met. No nation can become rich if the bulk of its human resources are poor. I have always wondered: If India has achieved so much with only a third of its population living reasonably well, how much more could it achieve when all its enviable resources are optimally utilised? Therefore, in my recent communications I have been repeatedly emphasising one point: For me, India Rising means the rise of every Indian and India’s emergence as a developed nation means the opportunity of all-round development for every Indian.
Is this possible? Yes, it is. Can we make poverty history in India? Yes, we can. According to me, the key to success in this endeavour is not so much well-designed policies and programmes, which are no doubt important, but good governance. True, we must have policies that promote entrepreneurship and people’s initiatives in a fairly regulated competitive environment; we must build good physical and social infrastructure; we must, especially, take necessary measures to rejuvenate our agriculture and rural economy; we must bring vibrancy to the informal sector that employs the largest number of people after agriculture; we must ensure quality education for all; we must appropriately employ scientific and technological resources, and create indigenous capabilities in frontier areas of knowledge and its applications; we must arrest the degradation of our environment, towards which our culture exhorts us to have a reverential attitude; and we must fully seize the opportunities that a rapidly changing world brings while protecting ourselves from the negative effects of globalisation.
It is equally true that we must not only achieve holistic development, but also ensure holistic security. Our concept of security should encompass India’s external and internal security—namely, security of the country and the common man. Without reliable and comprehensive security, not only our developmental gains but also our very survival as a nation would be threatened.”
GDP — Good Governance, Development, Protection
“However, to be able to achieve this objective, we must first of all ensure good governance. I firmly believe that it is honesty, probity, transparency, accountability, efficiency and devotion to duty among the people engaged in governance at all levels, which makes the greatest difference to the quantum and quality of a nation’s progress. Without these attributes, our gains in development and security will be either inadequate or distorted and reversible. Which is why, after evaluating the experience of the various governments both at the Centre and in states during the past few decades, I have come to the firm conclusion that the present and future challenges before India can be effectively met only by reorienting our polity on the basis of three imperatives: Good Governance, Development and Security.
In my own humble way, I have been trying to popularise this new and much-needed reorientation of our polity both within my own party and among the people at large. For example, abstract terms like eight per cent or nine per cent GDP growth, important though they are, do not appeal to me—and they do not mean much to millions of common Indians either. If someone were to ask me ‘What kind of GDP growth do you want?’, I would say that kind in which ‘G’ stands for Good Governance at all levels from national to local; D’ stands for Development for all regions and all Indians; and ‘P’ stands for Protection for every citizen.
I have also been making a related point in my political communication. ‘All of us are proud that India has emerged as a vibrant and energetic democracy after 1947. However, as an observer of and a participant in the evolution of India’s democracy over the last sixty years, I have also seen that a major shortcoming has crept in. Most political parties have come to believe that the politics of vote-banks is the surest way to winning elections and attaining power. They have also developed a skeptical attitude that good governance, democracy, security and probity in public life are not commitments that can win votes.
Against this backdrop, the most signifi cant aspect of the BJP’s success in winning a renewed mandate in the 2007 assembly elections in Gujarat, under the leadership of Narendra Modi, is that it signalled the triumph of good governance, development and security over the politics of vote-banks. This is a welcome development for India.”