A heartening development in the Indian politics in the recent years is, increasing focus on governance. Elections have been contested and won on the plank of "good governance." States are trying to outdo each other in implementation of good governance practices.
"You have to dream before your dreams can come true." This famous quote of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, who himself turned his dream into a reality as a nuclear scientist and has "ignited" many minds with his ideas, is perhaps the most appropriate theme for present day India aspiring to become an economic and knowledge superpower.It is the culmination of the dreams of 1.2 billion people that has led Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ideate his plan of making the $2 trillion economy a $20 trillion behemoth within the next two decades, eradicating poverty and making India a knowledge society.
Anupam Verma, who works for a multi-national company in Mumbai, was deeply disturbed after reading a report regarding the presence of poisonous chemicals in conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that he and his family used to eat everyday. The report was indeed scary. It said the consumption of these produce might cause life-threatening diseases like cancer, neurological defects, autism and respiratory and reproductive problems. Verma did not want to take a chance and decided to use only 'organic produce', which are presented in the report as a healthy alternative.
Nearly two years ago, INCLUSION ran a special edition featuring 'State of Governance' in which some well-known authors analysed the reasons behind some of the vexed issues confronting India like the dispartiies in development performance among states, shrivelled grassroots governance, barriers to social mobility and the frailties in the justice system. The series of articles underlined a fact that has not diminished in value-the acute need to "develop a credible framework for assessing quality of governance in various states that could possibly provide an agenda for governance reforms," as our Editorial put it.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked, in January this year, the question, "India is a $2 trillion economy today. Can we not dream of an India with a $20 trillion economy?", he was echoing a powerful, nuanced and intensely compelling set of questions. Some among them-ranging from ease-of-doing business, innovation, digital economy, manufacturing, entrepreneurship to skilled workforce-are all too familiar.
Since taking over as Prime Minister last May, Narendra Modi has made several major announcements-smart cities, bullet trains, Digital India, Make in India, Jan Dhan, to name a few. Recently, he talked about taking India from a $2-trillion economy to a $20-trillion one. Of course, one day, some time in the future India will be a $20 trillion economy. But, what is the timeframe we should be looking at-15-20 years, 30 years or 40 years? In a subtle way, can India become a $20 trillion economy within a generation?
Under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), India along with other developing countries, has committed to eradicate extreme poverty. The deadline to achieve the goal is 31st December 2015. However, according to a recent United Nations report, nearly 300 million people still live in extreme poverty in India and face deprivation in terms of access to basic services, including education, health, water and sanitation.
I am in politics for over 35 years. Since early days we have been talking about poverty alleviation. "Garibi Hatao" (remove poverty) slogan was given in early 1970s. Since then a number of schemes have been introduced aimed at removing poverty. I am not saying that nothing has happened. But surely the pace has not been good.