As Prime Minister Modi's government celebrates its 8 year anniversary, it is pertinent to trace the journey that began in 2014 to see how it has redefined the growth story of one of the largest nations in the world and given rise to a governance model focused on welfare, sustainability and prosperity for all.
Below are the 8 major achievements of the Modi government that have defined his governance approach and has contributed enormously to India's growth while setting the stage for the country to emerge as a major power in the years to come.
Championing Gender Inclusiveness
Since taking charge, the Modi government has made women empowerment the central pillar of its governance approach in order to make inclusive development a reality for millions. In addition to earmarking Rs.153326.28 crore for FY 2021-22 towards programmes/schemes dedicated to women under the Gender Budget Statement, Ministry of Women and Child Development has also taken some major initiatives to reduce gender gap and foster women empowerment:
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) ensures the protection, survival and education of the girl child; Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) have been opened in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs); Mahila Police Volunteers (MPV) which act as a link between police and women in distress have been operationalised; gender sensitization efforts including curriculum reforms have been made mainstream; Mahila Shakti Kendra (MSK) which aim to empower rural women with opportunities for skill development and employment have also been developed. One must not forget the massive impact of construction of millions of toilets under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has had on improving health and security outcomes for women. Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana which empowers women and protects their health by providing LPG cylinders free of cost has had a tremendous reach and popularity especially among rural women who earlier had to rely on smoke-emitting chulhas for cooking. Besides these, the launch of the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) to provide micro-credit at concessional terms to poor women for various livelihood and income generating activities was another initiative aimed at helping women achieve sustainable financial independence. Through effecting the mandatory reservation of 33% seats in Panchayati Raj and other local/ national institutions for women and ensuring 26 weeks of maternity leaves for working women (among the highest globally), the government has time and again shown its commitment to India's women and their importance in the nation's progress.
Propelling Entrepreneurship: Make in India and StartUp India
Make in India, launched in 2014, was one of the first initiatives to facilitate investment, foster innovation, build best-in-class infrastructure, and make India a hub for manufacturing, design, and innovation. Under this program, India has consistently received record FDI inflows and jumped several places in many global indices and rankings such as Global Innovation Index.
Startup India which has been at the forefront of efforts to build a strong eco-system for nurturing innovation and startups in the country to drive sustainable economic growth and generate large scale employment opportunities has been scaling new heights each year. Benefits to startups under this initiative include fast tracking and rebates on applications for intellectual property, access to Rs. 10,000 crore worth of Fund of Funds, self-certification under labour and environmental laws, income tax exemptions for 3 years among many others.
Sustainable Development: Satat Bharat – Sanatan Bharat
Through this program, India’s climate action strategies aim for clean and efficient energy systems, disaster resilient infrastructure, and planned eco-restoration. India has a SDG vertical within Niti Aayog as the nodal agency for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals and cooperating through different global mechanisms. India has electrified 100% of its villages, reduced 38 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually through energy efficient appliances, provided clean cooking fuel to 80 million poor households, and set a target to install 450 GW of renewable energy and restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
Globally, India stands third in renewable power, fourth in wind power, and fifth in solar power. India launched the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the International Solar Alliance to leverage global partnerships for climate action and disaster resilience.
Rural Development: Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan
Launched in June 2020 as a massive employment-cum-rural public works initiative, this scheme aimed to boost employment and livelihood opportunities for migrant workers returning to villages, in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. It focuses on durable rural infrastructure and providing modern facilities like internet in villages. According to the Ministry of Rural Development, government is also focusing on education, skill mapping, access to bank credit, water conservation, health and nutrition, electricity, housing, ODF, waste disposal, road, internet, LPG, DBT, social protection of elderly, sports, and promotion of non-agricultural activities in the country's rural areas to make them self-sustainable and prevent large-scale outward migration to cities.
PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan
In a major push to establish infrastructural facilities in the country for better livelihoods, ease of doing business and improved logistical performance, the central government has implemented the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan. This was done with an aim to introduce an integrated and holistic approach for planning and execution of multi-modal and last-mile connectivity. It has been instrumental in driving down the high logistics cost and is further envisaged to boost exports and make Indian MSMEs globally competitive. Furthermore, the initiative can contribute extensively in establishing modern infrastructure in the country through better coordination and monitoring.
Back to the roots: Focus on Traditional Medicines through Ayush Sector
There exists a strong global demand for Indian traditional medicines and therapies, owing to the country’s vast knowledge repository in this arena. At present, the Ayush industry is booming with a strong global demand size of $657.5 Bn in 2020 and global exports of $31.0 Bn in 2019. The sector has shown immense growth over the past few years – 17% (2014-20), with a projected turnover of $20.6 Bn in 2022. To keep the growth of the sector on track, at the Global Ayush Innovation & Investment Summit, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the first Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in India.
Moreover, in the arena of medical value travel, one significant step taken to attract foreign customers for medical travel has been to provide unhindered access to such treatments. The introduction of the special Ayush visa category was announced in the recent summit to promote Ayush medical tourism with the underlying theme of ‘Heal in India’. This will be augmented with the development of a network of Ayush parks to channelise the promotion, research and manufacturing of Ayush products and services across the country to foreign customers and investors.
Skilling the Future: Education Reforms
Global education and knowledge domains are going through a major transition. With the drastic pivot from traditional in-person educational training to a digital ecosystem of learning, many scientific and technological advances have made their way to the forefront.
The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is widely anticipated to be historic on many counts. It aims at addressing the country's numerous expanding developmental imperatives and proposes that all aspects of the educational structure, including regulation and governance, be revised and revamped in order to create a new system that is aligned with the aspirational goals of the new era in education. Ever since the inception of NEP, many efforts have been launched to meet the policy's objectives of access, equity, inclusion, and quality, particularly, for honing interdisciplinary skills and knowledge among students at elementary, secondary and senior secondary levels. Furthermore, for an easy transition to a digital learning ecosystem, the government has implemented several initiatives to facilitate multi-mode access to online teaching and learning methods for the country’s students and teachers.
Equitable Development for all: The North East of India
The northeastern states of the country have remained relatively isolated from the mainland over the past decades due to geographical and other challenges. This has undergone a huge change since 2014 with the Prime Minister repeatedly asserting equitable development for both the east and the west regions of the country. The region has received immense support in this regard to enhance infrastructure, connectivity and logistics. In accordance to this, ‘PM Development Initiative for North East’ has been announced recently. The primary focus of the plan is to develop robust infrastructure in the region to create livelihood opportunities for the women and youth along with providing for other development needs of the region.
Furthermore, to combat the connectivity challenges in the region, the government has made several efforts to establish efficient infrastructure, including highways, waterways for multimodal and last-mile connectivity, the newly launched vibrant villages pogram for border villages, and focused investments in laying down optical fibre and the recent proposal to build an underwater channel to provide year-long connectivity between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, among others. These have resulted in extensive improvements in air, road, rail, waterways, and telecom connectivity and will go a long way in positioning the picturesque north east as a major hub of socio-economic activity.
This has been co-authored by Srijata Deb, Cherishi Maheshwari and Devika Chawla.