Government of India
Identifying potentials and anticipating the challenges to our future progress in different sectors of the national economy does not constitute a vision of the countrys future. These disparate threads need to be woven together to reflect the integrated nature of our national life. Then, there still remains the question of whether to be preoccupied by the negative possibilities or to throw our full weight behind efforts to fully realise the positive potentials revealed by this analysis. That will determine whether we regard the following statement as a promising glimpse of what India can become in 2020, or as mere fantasy and wishful thinking.
India 2020 will be bustling with energy, entrepreneurship and innovation. The countrys 1.35 billion people will be better fed, dressed and housed, taller and healthier, more educated and longer living than any generation in the countrys long history. Illiteracy and all major contagious diseases will have disappeared. School enrolment from age 6 to 14 will near 100 per cent and drop out rates will fall to less than one in twenty.
A second productivity revolution in Indian agriculture, coupled with diversification to commercial crops, agri-business, processing industries, agro-exports and massive efforts towards afforestation and wasteland development will generate abundant farm and non-farm employment opportunities for the rural workforce. These in turn will stimulate demand for consumer goods and services, giving a fillip to the urban economy and the informal sector as well as rapid expansion of the services sector.
Indias claim to the title Silicon Valley of Asia will be followed by the diversification from IT to biotechnology, medical sciences and other emerging fields of technology, widening the field of Indias international competitiveness and generating a large number of employment opportunities for the educated youth. These developments, driven by the firm commitment of the government and a quantum expansion of vocational training programmes, will ensure jobs for all by 2020.
Inequalities between different age groups, the sexes, income groups, communities and regions will come down dramatically. The old disparities between the very rich and the poor will not have disappeared, but the nature of poverty in 2020 will not be nearly as harsh and oppressive as it was at the turn of the millennium. Regional disparities will remain visible, though all regions will have advanced significantly in two decades. Indias achievements have been fuelled by the realisation that the progress of the whole ultimately depends on the progress of its weakest links; India 2020 must be one in which all levels and sections of the population and all parts of the country march forward together towards a more secure and prosperous future.
The increasingly congested urban traffic will be motorised as never before. Two wheelers will be ubiquitous and cars will be considered essential for most middle class families. City roads and rural highways will improve substantially in number, capacity and quality, but a four-fold multiplication in the number of vehicles will tax the urban infrastructure to the limit. Urban congestion will accelerate the movement of business, middle class families and even government offices into new self-contained suburban centres. Cell phones, computers and the Internet will permeate every aspect of life and every corner of the country.
Computerisation of education will dramatically improve the quality of instruction and the pace of learning, so that many students will complete the first twelve years of school curriculum in as little as eight. Computerised distance education will catch on in a big way and enable tens of thousands more students to opt for affordable higher education. Computerisation in government will streamline procedures and response times to a degree unimaginable now. Perceptive observers will find that India is leapfrogging directly into a predominantly service economy.
Environmental issues will remain a serious concern. Urban air pollution will come under control by strict enforcement of motor vehicle emission standards and widespread use of ethanolblended motor fuels, but water shortages in major metropolitan areas will continue despite a national programme to popularise water harvesting techniques in both urban and rural areas. A massive afforestation programme will reverse the depletion of forest areas, raise the nations Green cover to 33 per cent of area, generate millions of rural employment opportunities, and provide abundant renewable energy from biomass power production.
India will be much more integrated with the global economy and will be a major player in terms of trade, technology and investment.
Rising levels of education, employment and income will help stabilise Indias internal security and social environment. A united and prosperous India will be far less vulnerable to external security threats.
A more prosperous India in 2020 will be characterised by a better-educated electorate and more transparent, accountable, efficient and decentralised government.
Some may regard this vision as an anxious attempt to imitate and catch up with the West. But there is an important distinction to be made between blind imitation and intelligent emulation that draws upon the discoveries and experiences of others to address universal needs common to all human beings and all societies. India, with its rich cultural heritage and thousands of years of history of civilisation, need not aspire to become like country A or B. For India, realising the vision for 2020 is not an end in itself, but rather an essential condition for allowing the spirit of this country to emerge and flourish.
There is a natural temptation to attempt to reduce two decades of future progress to a concise formula and prepare a manifesto of policies or strategies that will enable the country to realise its full potential during that period. But a list of such policies or strategies will always remain unsatisfactory unless it is made comprehensive, and a comprehensive list needs to include hundreds of necessary and desirable initiatives.
However, in addition to these policy and strategy prescriptions, or rather underlying and supporting them, there are some nodal points of action which, when touched, can release the enormous pent-up energy of the society and throw it into constructive action. It is well that we conclude our summary by identifying those nodal points which will be most powerful for propelling forward the development of Indian society over the next two decades.
These nine nodes are not independent powers. Each draws upon and contributes to the power of the other seven. They are mutually supportive and reinforcing. They are not a hierarchy of powers that can be developed sequentially, but rather eight essential forces that need to be developed simultaneously. As peace and education are essential for growth of employment and living standards, so are food security and employment opportunities essential for peace and social stability, and so forth.
But beyond these physical, social and mental powers, this country possesses something even more powerful and essential to its existence. India is a nation with a soul and a great spiritual tradition founded upon faith in the power of the spirit to create and manifest in the world. It is our spiritual values, our psychic essence, which is the core strength of Indian civilisation that has sustained it for millenniums and will elevate the quality of our national life in future. These values possess the ultimate power both for national prosperity and to propel India to be a proud member of the world community. True spirituality will not make us less tolerant. Though our spiritual tradition takes on an infinite variety of forms, they all share a common faith in our capacity as human beings to realise whatever we aspire for.
Our future depends not on what will happen to us, but on what we decide to become, and on the will to create it.
NODAL POINTS OF INDIAN PROSPERITY
- PEACE, SECURITY & NATIONAL UNITY Physical security both from external and internal threatsstrong national defence, domestic law enforcement and social harmony.
- FOOD & NUTRITIONAL SECURITY A vibrant, highly productive commercial farm sector that can ensure food & nutritional security, generate employment opportunities, stimulate industrialisation, and produce renewable energy from biomass and fuel crops.
- JOBS FOR ALL A constitutional commitment to ensure the right of all citizens to a sustainable livelihood that will provide them with the purchasing power needed to freely cast their economic votes in the market place.
- KNOWLEDGE 100 per cent literacy & school education, and vocational training for all new entrants to the workforce, to equip youth with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in an increasingly competitive world: adult education programmes to compensate working age school drop-outs for the lack of education, and continued investment in science and technology to improve productivity, quality of life and the environment.
- HEALTH Expansion of the infrastructure for public health and medical care to ensure health for all.
- TECHNOLOGY & INFRASTRUCTURE Continuous expansion of the physical infrastructure for rapid low-cost transportation and communication that is required for rapid economic growth and international competitiveness. Application of computers to improve access to knowledge and information, and increase in the speed, efficiency and convenience of activities in all fields of life.
- GLOBALISATION Successful integration of India with world economy.
- GOOD GOVERNANCE Farsighted and dynamic leadership to maximise national prosperity, individual freedom and social equity through responsive, transparent and accountable administration that removes all the bottlenecks to economic development.
- WORK VALUES - Activation of all these nodal points requires firm and determined adherence to high values, including prompt decision-making, disciplined execution, systematic implementation, finely tuned co-ordination, unceasing effort and endurance.