How Can India become Viksit Bharat by 2047?

| Updated: 01 April, 2024 12:30 pm IST

For India to attain the status of Viksit Bharat by 2047, India needs to get on to a job creating a high growth trajectory, and more importantly, sustain it over the next, say 15-20 years, if not more. Among others, we need to focus on the manufacturing sector and to do that, India must return to its unfinished reform agenda introducing policies concerning land acquisition, labour law reform, a suitable exit policy, mobilization of capital and ease of doing business, among others.

In the agriculture sector, we have to work towards vastly improving productivity per hectare, especially focusing on central and eastern UP, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, and the northeastern states. And promotion of agro-based industries in these states which will help create sizable job opportunities, off the farm, but still in the rural areas. Among others, Uttar Pradesh can and will play a very vital role in this journey and become a key growth engine for India.

India also needs to focus on an information technology-based development strategy. New IT-based tools can spur rural development. This idea is motivated by two essential facts. First, most of India’s poor live in rural areas. Second, IT technologies are potentially suited to offer fundamentally new approaches to rural-based development, so much so that the overall “macro-scale” characteristics of the economic development process may be fundamentally altered in the future. For example, the location of industries, population densities, division of industrial value chains, the terms of trade and the division of labour between rural and urban sectors, may all be fundamentally affected in the future by the advent of IT-based rural development.

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India will add hundreds of millions of people to its urban economy in the years and decades ahead. India’s cities need to be safe, efficient, and pleasant to live in, supported by infrastructure (water, sewerage, electricity, transport, etc.), able to create globally competitive jobs, etc. Briefly put, India needs a revolution in sustainable urban planning. Sustainable cities mean walkable, mixed-used areas, public transport, urban planning, public health and other services, and climate-resilient, especially coastal cities. To be able to create large-scale job opportunities will mean solid systems of education-apprenticeship, vocational training, etc., perhaps along the German lines that link schooling with early labour-market entry.

India will also need an integrated, life cycle, a population-scale vision of human capital accumulation. This includes significant strengthening of India’s public health system, population stabilization and early childhood development, especially to overcome the scars of under-nutrition, which may be India’s greatest plague.

On the education front, education for all with improvements in quality of education (to improve teaching and learning outcomes) and education-to-job linkages will be critical. Most importantly, the school curriculum needs to be amended to focus on encouraging creativity rather than rote learning. Manpower for skill and occupational needs in the next twenty years will be high as the economy urbanizes, modernizes, and becomes more service-sector-oriented.

More ideas to become Viksit Bharat by 2047…

Perhaps, PM Modi should use his Mann Ki Baat platform to try to bring about a change in our thinking inculcating a sense of urgency in our actions, discipline in life, punctuality and hard work. Perhaps taking lessons from the Japanese model of productivity in a fiercely competitive world.

To bring about a stronger sense of discipline, hard work, dedication and a commitment to nation-building in our youth, perhaps the Government should make NCC compulsory, say for Grades 8-12.

In general, rural India needs a new social contract in which the government’s commitment should be that every village will be assured at least access to clean drinking water, a road to the regional market, reliable power, internet connectivity, and functioning and efficiently run public schools and health centres. The current subsidy regime should be replaced with “life-line tariffs,” in which all of rural India’s below-poverty-line residents would be ensured a fixed, but limited, amount of say electricity and water at zero price, to ensure that every family can at least meet its basic needs. Above that fixed amount, families would be charged a proper tariff to cover the costs of supplying those services in amounts over basic needs. This strategy – free access to meet basic needs, and an unsubsidized price for amounts above the basic needs would save vast sums of public money and yet still ensure that the poor have guaranteed free access to meet their essential needs.

Agriculture – This will help farmers adopt modern agricultural practices. Identify comparative advantage in producing X/Y/Z crops in each region relative to just wheat and rice and aim for more crop per drop. Soil Health Cards for all of India’s farmers and vigorous promotion of agro-based industries. The need to assist small-holder farmers is the most urgent as agriculture is fast becoming a non-viable profession for them.

WILL FOCUS ON BALANCED GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT:
Major focus on uplifting the bottom 200 districts of India, largely identified from north, central and eastern India.

WIDESPREAD USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR THE MASSES:
Provision of e-public services via mobile technology, making land records, birth records, death records, pension records and the like available to people both in rural and urban India.

WILL CREATE A BUSINESS AND INVESTOR-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT:
The government will foster the establishment of an environment that is business-friendly and a conducive policy framework for small, medium and large businesses to thrive and in the process create tens of millions of jobs in labour-intensive manufacturing and agro-based industries.

WILL EVOLVE MODELS OF GOVERNANCE THAT TRANSCEND BUREAUCRATIC BARRIERS:
The government should evolve new models of governance for effective and efficient service delivery. For example, they will attempt to deliver much improved public health service delivery by integrating public health along with nutrition, safe drinking water and sanitation.

WILL CALL FOR HEALTH FOR ALL:
The government will lay major emphasis on access to safe drinking water and immunization. These two, if done properly, will be a major preventive strategy for all waterborne diseases and so many more diseases that can be prevented by effective and efficient immunization. To make India measles-free and substantially reducing diarrhoea deaths should be the NEXT targets.

WILL CALL FOR QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL:

From Access to Achievement: the government will make it a reality by vastly improving teaching and learning outcomes in public schools. Schools should inculcate values of the importance of time, discipline, hygiene, nutrition, and teamwork.

WILL ENGAGE IN GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DISCUSSIONS AND STUDY IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA:
The government will be an active partner in a global dialogue and cooperate with other nations to collectively fight anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. We will lay major emphasis on non-conventional sources of energy, such as solar, wind, biogas, etc.

WE WANT INDIA TO OCCUPY ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE IN THE COMITY OF NATIONS:
India will keep its head held high, but feet firmly planted on the ground. Dialogue will always be our first priority, but all options will be on the table when it comes to safeguarding India’s national interests. For instance, after India became a nuclear power it also declared a policy of NO FIRST USE. Build stronger India/Africa relations; Get India membership of the UN Security Council and help strengthen BRICS.

NATIONAL GOALS:

1) To create a human resource of organized, trained and motivated youth for providing leadership in all walks of life. To meet this objective make joining the National Cadet Corps (NCC) for all high school students mandatory. Revamp the NCC and make it modern and efficiently run; and
2) A significant part of the Indian economy is driven by becoming a “KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY”. Focus on universities with equal emphasis on teaching and research. To modernize and properly equip Agricultural universities and set up new universities that will specialize in biotechnology; rural development and utilization of ICT; water; sustainable energy systems and railways. Railways can become one of India’s significant engines of economic growth, and we can export its technical expertise to a large number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa.

Professor Nirupam Bajpai is a Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development and the Director of the South Asia Program at the Center for Sustainable Development, Earth Institute, Columbia University in New York.

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