Since 1947, a multitude of leading western observers doubted the ability of India—a multicultural and poly-linguistic democracy—to survive. However, not only did we defy our sceptics in standing united and democratic to our core, but we also emerged as a global leader across aspects of multilateralism, science, technology, medicine and combating climate change. Today, it gives me immense pleasure to pen down my vision for India as we march towards our 100 years of Independence, in this Amrit Kaal.
In the next 25 years leading to 100 years of independent India, it is my strong belief that we stand at the cusp of making a greater impact at a global stage. It will be in the way the country does business with the world, or by working towards becoming a powerhouse for technological innovations. In the coming time, ensuring quality healthcare and education to all its citizens will also be a key factor in boosting India’s socio-economic development.
During the COP26 deliberations in 2021, India emerged as a crusader in adopting net-zero fossil fuel emission targets. We expect to cut down carbon emissions drastically over the next few years and become one of the handful of countries approaching net-zero emissions over the next 25 years.
Another area of rapid advancement for India is in biotechnology. We are global leaders in manufacturing vaccines combating numerous diseases like Diphtheria Pertussis Tetanus (DPT), measles as well as Covid-19. Today, India has the world’s highest number of US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA)-approved manufacturing plants outside the US. The title of ‘pharma capital of the world’ can be sustained only by fuelling indigenous innovation and encouraging research and development in the sector.
In addition, adequate emphasis needs to be given to develop sustainable practices in agriculture. Food sufficiency is key to ensure it doesn’t stymie the country’s progress.
India saw phenomenal growth in the last 30 years, backed by major reforms and a keen interest among global investors to be a part of the India story. Back in 1990, we accounted for only 3 per cent of the global GDP, which more than doubled to 7 per cent by 2021. I hope the next 25 years will significantly elevate India’s economic activity, thereby fostering large-scale development in sync with that of a high-income advanced nation. India’s economy in 25 years will be characterised by high living standards, per capita income on a par with high income nations, and we will be performing well on the Human Development Index (HDI), portraying our achievements in significantly uplifting levels of health, education and literacy for the entire Indian population. This would be achieved through a plethora of inclusive government schemes encompassing the current focus on infrastructure, skill development and manufacturing, efforts by the social sector to impact lives at the last mile, and technologies that are making inroads into remote geographies. A significantly high level of financial inclusion of the population in remote locations will be a major enabler towards these goals.
As we enter the Amrit Kaal towards India@100, we, however, need to look hard at the poverty-struck population, which constitutes about 25.01 per cent of the total, that could slow down the transformative change the country is undergoing. This section of the population, unfortunately, is subject to some of the most intractable problems, including inter-generational cycles of poverty, lack of access to quality education and healthcare, and inadequate participation of women in the economy.
The real transformation of India into a top economic superpower is only possible if we are able to keep this section of our population at the centre of all solutions and include it in the country’s growth journey.
It is high time to invoke Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology on Trusteeship, of which I am an ardent follower. The path to Sabka Vikas (development for all) is to reaffirm our commitment to Sabka Saath, Sabka Prayas (with everyone and with everyone’s efforts). So, how do we achieve that?
Hyperlocal collaboration: Because ours is a very vast and diverse nation with unique populations and locale-specific challenges, the nation has to be built by its own people, with solutions that emerge through local collaborators at the grassroots.
Strengthening public systems: For transformation to be propelled by our government, developing a cadre of leaders inspired to drive this change is of critical importance. Additionally, leveraging and optimising technology will ensure that millions of our fellow citizens can access and benefit from the host of government schemes.
Youth as nation builders: I truly believe in the power of our youth that represent our tomorrow. India has one of the youngest populations globally, and what better way to secure a strong future than by tapping into the vast potential and passion of youth through deep dives and experiential learning programmes designed to let their leadership abilities and compassion emerge.
Proportionate representation of the vulnerable: A large percentage of our underserved population comprises women who do not have adequate agency. Ensuring proportionate representation for women on platforms that matter at the grassroots can go a long way in reversing marginalisation. Additionally, by investing in learning and knowledge, and honing the innate leadership skills of these groups, we can ensure that their voices are heard and also feature at the forefront. This will certainly prove to be a game changer.
I perceive India@100 as a land of same opportunities for all. An India that is a force to reckon with.
We have to shape a formidable India together. Let us pledge today that our collective goal and joint determination will be our driving strength, our big ideas the fuel, and the spirit of Sewa Bhaav (the spirit to serve) the wind beneath India’s wings on her flight to greater heights.
The writer is Chairman of the Piramal Group
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