- On 15th August 2022, independent India will turn 75. In the lifespan of nations, India is still young. The best is surely yet to come. India’s youthful and aspirational population deserves a rapid transformation of the economy, which can deliver double-digit growth, jobs and prosperity to all.
- The purpose of this, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, is to define clear objectives for 2022-23 in a diverse range of 41 areas that recognize the progress already made; and challenges that remain; identify binding constraints in specific sectors; and suggest the way forward for achieving the stated objectives.
- The Strategy document has disaggregated the 41 sectors under four sections: drivers, infrastructure, inclusion, and governance.
- The first section on drivers focuses on the engines of economic performance – in macroeconomic terms with chapters on growth and employment.
- The section also discusses strategies for the doubling of farmers’ incomes; boosting Make in India; upgrading the science, technology and innovation ecosystem; and promoting sunrise sectors like fintech and tourism.
- An annual rate of growth of 9 percent by 2022-23 is essential for generating sufficient jobs and achieving prosperity for all. Four key steps, among others, have been spelled out for achieving this GDP growth rate. These are:
a. Increase the investment rate as measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) from present 29 percent to 36 percent of GDP by 2022. About half of this increase must come from public investment which is slated to increase from 4 percent to 7 percent of GDP. Government savings have to move into positive territory. This sharp increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio will require significantly higher resource mobilization efforts as elaborated in the chapter on Growth.
b. In agriculture, emphasis must shift to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding e-National Agriculture Markets (e-NAMs) and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act. The creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and the abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth.
c. A strong push would be given to `Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) techniques that reduce costs, improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes. This is a tested method for putting environmental carbon back into the land. Therefore, ZBNF allows India to significantly contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.
d. To ensure maximum employment creation, codification of labour laws must be completed and a massive effort must be made to upscale apprenticeships.
- The second section on infrastructure deals with the physical foundations of growth. A lot of progress has been made across all infrastructure sectors. This is crucial to enhancing the competitiveness of Indian business as also ensuring the citizens’ ease of living. Three key steps, among others, are:
a. Expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA), which is already approved. RDA will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the railways. Investment in railways will be ramped up, including by monetising existing railway assets.
b. The share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways will be doubled. Initially, viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. An IT-enabled platform would be developed for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitised mobility.
c. With the completion of the Bharat Net programme in 2019, all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats will be digitally connected. In the next phase, the last mile connectivity to the individual villages will be completed. The aim will be to deliver all government services at the state, district, and gram panchayat level digitally by 2022-23, thereby eliminating the digital divide.
- The section on inclusion deals with the urgent task of investing in the capabilities of all of India’s citizens. The three themes in this section revolve around the various dimensions of health, education, and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalized sections of the population. While there are multiple dimensions and pathways contained in the chapters in this section, four key steps, among others, are:
a. Successfully implementing the Ayushman Bharat programme including the establishment of 150,000 health and wellness centres across the country, and rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan.
b. Upgrading the quality of the school education system and skills, including the creation of a new innovation ecosystem at the ground level by establishing at least 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs by 2020.
c. As already done in rural areas, affordable housing in urban areas will be given a huge push to improve workers’ living conditions and ensure equity while providing a strong impetus to economic growth.
d. Implementing strategies to achieve regional equity by focusing on the North-East region and successfully rolling out the Aspirational Districts Programme.
- The final section on governance delves deep into how the tasks/business of government can be streamlined and reformed to achieve better outcomes. It involves a sharp focus on ensuring accountability and a shift to performance-based evaluation.
- The government will revamp its data systems and analysis so that all policy interventions and decision-making are based on evidence and real-time data. This will yield efficient and
targeted delivery of services and justice to those who need them the most.
- Three key steps, among others, are:
a. Implementing the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a prelude to appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and the growing complexity of the economy.
b. A new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India, may be set up to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost-effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.
c. The scope of the Swachh Bharat Mission may be expanded to cover initiatives for landfills, plastic waste and municipal waste and generating wealth from waste.
- To achieve the goals of New India in 2022-23, it is important for the private sector, civil society and even individuals to draw up their own strategies to complement and supplement the steps the government intends to take. With the available tools of 21st-century technology, it should be possible to truly create a mass movement for development. With the Sankalp of all Indians, India will have Siddhi.
Check out our previous blogs on the Strategy for New India at 75:
- Inclusion- Skill Development
- Inclusion- Public Health Management and Action
- Inclusion- Comprehensive Primary Health Care
- Inclusion- Human Resources for Health
- Inclusion- Nutrition
- Inclusion- Gender
- Inclusion- Senior Citizens
- To create opportunities for and empower persons with disabilities (PwDs) to realize their potential and live a productive and dignified life.
- According to Census 2011, India had 2.68 crores PwDs constituting approximately 2.21 percent of the total population. India enacted the first legislation for PwDs in 1995, which has been replaced by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The Act is harmonized with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006, and lists 21 categories of disabilities. India also formulated its first National Policy for PwDs in 2006. PwDs face several challenges.
- According to the Census 2011, 27 percent of disabled children between the ages of 5-19 had never attended an educational institution. Only 50 percent of the disabled population in the 15-59 years category was working.
- They also tend to be stigmatized and discriminated against and lag behind others with respect to access to basic infrastructure and opportunities for economic participation.
- The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwDs) has the overall responsibility for implementing several schemes; however, utilization of funds has been a challenge.
- Accurate identification of the disabled population in India has been a major problem. People tend to hide their disability to avoid facing social stigma.
- Beyond Census statistics, there is a lack of appropriately disaggregated data for PwDs generated at regular intervals. In India, the last survey on disability was carried out by the National Sample Survey Organisation in 2002.
- Disability-related issues require multi-sectoral action, which has been difficult to achieve in practice.
- The National Institutes (NIs), Composite Regional Centres (CRCs), District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRCs) and the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) need special attention to ensure the adequacy of resources and infrastructure as well as effective monitoring of schemes.
- Generate data on PwDs
- Disaggregate data by sex, age, and socio-economic status in order to identify reliable and regular trends for informed policymaking.
- Feed data collected into an electronic database for PwDs at the national level and link with the Unique Disability Identity Card.
- Bolster the institutional architecture and policy framework
- Reorient the DEPwD to focus on data collection, identifying gaps, and evaluating the impact of various schemes, instead of focusing on the implementation of a large number of schemes with small budget allocations.
- Bring programmes focused on improving specific issues related to PwDs under the purview of the relevant line ministries.
- Earmark at least 5 percent of the total budget of social sector ministries for schemes for PwDs.
- Include courses in disability etiquette and success stories on PwDs in the mainstream curriculum to change attitudes towards PwDs.
- Provide special education training in teacher training courses.
- Enhance scholarships/fellowships to students with disabilities.
- Make schools more inclusive by addressing the barriers related to the physical environment (e.g. accessible toilets), admission procedures as well as curriculum design.
- Ensure that schools have at least one section of every class accessible under the Universal Design Guidelines.
- Foster partnerships between the Ministry of Human Resource Development and MoSJE to promote synergies among inclusive and special schools in the government and private sectors.
- Develop indicators for rating schools on inclusivity.
- Include disabled-friendly sports, cultural and technical programmes in schools and colleges.
- Provide aids and assistive devices to at least 3 lakh beneficiaries every year.
- Conduct cochlear implant and corrective surgeries for 5000 children annually.
- Establish 20 state spinal injury centres.
- Set up early diagnostic and intervention centres at the district level to screen children and identify special needs or requirements for assistive devices at an early age.
- Employment and income generation
- Integrate the skill development scheme with schemes of the National Trust (e.g., Disha), to address the needs of the intellectually disabled.
- Establish dedicated training centres for PwDs to meet the requirements of the private sector.
- Integrate initiatives of various ministries to provide skill training, soft loans and entrepreneurship opportunities to PwDs.
- Institutional strengthening
- Upgrade NIs into centres of excellence.
- Establish 50 CRCs in states having a population of more than 6 crores.
- Provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to 50 lakh PwDs through the NIs and CRCs.
- Enrol 17,000 rehabilitation personnel in various long-term courses offered by NIs and CRCs every year.
- Accessibility and inclusivity
- Make the Accessible India Campaign a mass movement with the involvement of citizens and civil society.
- Conduct awareness programmes in collaborations with DDRCs, CRCs and Vocational Rehabilitation Centres (VRCs).
- Incorporate universal design and accessibility standards in engineering, architecture, and computer science studies.
- Introduce the requirement of an accessibility certificate for all future commercial enterprises above a specified size in order to be awarded a completion certificate.
- Extend the DDRC schemes to all districts.
- Construct residential homes for disabled adults whose parents are no longer alive.
- Adopt a life-cycle approach for community-based rehabilitation in mission mode.