It would be fair enough to call Atal Bihari Vajpayee a true mass leader. His efforts to push development to the rural level along with his vision to make India a global leader made the far-sighted Vajpayee an iconic national leader.
He had the courage to take bold decisions. As the nation mourns Vajpayee's loss, let's looks at the reasons why the country should be thankful to the poet prime minister.
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was started with the motto of providing education to all. It provided free elementary education to children aged 6-14 years. New schools were opened and existing ones were renovated. It is believed that within four years of its launch, the number of out-of-school children dropped by 60 per cent. The literacy rate of India also increased from 64.8 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011.
Made India a nuclear state
The story of Pokhran is the story of Vajpayee's courage. India conducted a series of nuclear bomb explosions at Pokhran in May 1998. It consisted of five detonations of which one was fusion bomb and four were fission bombs. Post this, India became a full fledged nuclear state. More than anything, it revealed to the world the strength of India. He was well aware of the consequences of the tests and global condemnation it would invite, but he went ahead and carried out the mission.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation of golden quadrilateral on 6 January 1999 that connects India's four main cities - Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. This was done with the ambition of providing an impetus to smoother movement of products and people within India and enabling industrial and job development in smaller towns through access to markets. He wanted the villages to grow parallel with the cities. He therefore initiated the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on 25 December, 2000.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee is considered as the architect of telecommunication sector in India. He brought a revolution by bringing a revenue sharing agreement in place of fixed license fees.
During this time, the country saw a reduction in the service fee leading to a drop in call costs that enabled even middle-class India to afford a cell phone. It is believed that nearly 32 million handsets were sold in India.
Vajpayee was in favor of reducing government's role in running businesses to boost rapid growth. For this purpose, he introduced a separate Disinvestment Ministry. Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and VSNLwere amongst the few famous disinvestments. Disinvestment Ministry is now renamed as Department of Investment and Public Asset Management. This was a very futuristic step keeping in mind that the resources with government were limited. It created new opportunities for private enterprises.
Science and Research
Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed the Chandrayan-1 project on India's 56th Independence Day. This gave a major thrust to Indian space mission. Atalji said, "Our country is now ready to fly high in the field of science. I am pleased to announce that India will send her own spacecraft to the moon by 2008. It is being named Chandrayaan."
Peace building efforts
In spite of Pakistan's continuous efforts to de-stabilise Kashmir, Vajpayee wanted peace with our neighbor. He was of the view that violence will bring loss of man and money on both the sides. He invited Pervez Musharraf for peace talks to Delhi and Agra. Delhi-Lahore bus service, which started in 1999, is seen as one of the biggest steps in building mutual trust with Pakistan.
Besides all such initiatives, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was respected even by his political rivals. Atal Bihari Vajpayee served thrice as the prime minister of India. He was the first non-Congress prime minister to serve a full-five year term.
Edited By Rahul Bhargave