Towards the centenary of Independence

Source: The post is based on an article “Towards the centenary of Independence” published in the Business Standard on 30th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 Important Provisions of the Constitution of India

News: The prime minister in his Independence Day speech spoke about the priorities for the next 25 years leading up to the centenary of independence.

Five things focussed: an India (1) that becomes a developed country, (2) that is free of a colonial mindset, (3) that is proud of its heritage, (4) that is united and integrated, and (5) whose citizens place duty above rights.

What are the challenges to the achievement of the above-mentioned focus areas?

(1) The PM’s five-point priorities for the next 25 years, do not focus on nurturing democracy, or on social harmony and respect for diversity of religion and language prevalent in India.

(2) Some surveys showed India’s democracy is considered to be in danger. This is being considered not just by outside observers, but also by India’s population, as depicted by some surveys.

(3) According to the latest report of the Varieties of Democracy Project, which rates democracies in the 0 to 1 range, India’s performance has dropped from 0.67 or higher from 1990 to 2013 to 0.41-0.44 in 2020 and 2021. The index registered a sharp dip to 0.40 between 1975 and 1976, because of the Emergency.

(4) As per some experts, India has moved from a vibrant democracy, which refers to a greater restraint in the use of police powers particularly against political opponents, to an electoral autocracy.

What should be other focus areas in the next 25 years?

(1) India has huge social diversity. This social diversity underlies the wide variety of cultures that is hosted by India. Therefore, the Union government policies must respect this social and cultural diversity.

(2) The Central and state governments work to strengthen our democracy like opposition parties must not be threatened with police power, etc. This vibrant democracy would support social harmony.

(3) Every Indian should not only respect but also take pride in the diversity of Indian society in terms of the variety of languages, religions, religious practices, and social norms.

(4) The government should focus on the prevalent economic diversity across India. For instance, Kerala has plantation agriculture, the northeast has different agriculture, and Punjab and Haryana have different. Therefore, all of these areas cannot have the same policies for agricultural marketing.

(5) The government must close the growing gap in per capita income between the states. For example, in 2019-20, the per capita income in the north-western, southern, and western states was 2.6 times larger than in the northern, central, and eastern states. This has happened because a large proportion of the fruits of liberalization have accrued to the western, southern, and north-western states.

(6) The employment generation should also be another key priority because close to 90% of the increase in the number of people of the working age in the next 25 years will take place in the populous northern states. There should be a focus on human resource development, particularly in the slow growth states. This can be done with a focus on the quality of education and health care.

(7) India should take advantage of the changing trends of globalization, technology development, a promising environment for small start-ups, and so on. These are far more important to attain than attaining the status of a developed country or gross domestic product growth targets.

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