By- Rachit Seth
A decade of growth and rights based social revolution- This is what the Dr Manmohan Singh era represents for me
The post liberalization era India has witnessed unprecedented growth. Dr Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister is credited for initiating and scripting India’s growth story since 1991. On 24th July 1991, India’s finance minister Dr Manmohan Singh wound up his historic Union budget speech with Victor Hugo’s famous words “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come. I suggest to this august House that the emergence of India as a major economic power in the world happens to be one such idea.” This was his idea of India.
In the 10 years of UPA – the Prime Minister Dr Singh has lived up to his words. India is on the verge of becoming a super power in the world. It has become the third largest economy in the world. It is important to note that India was on 10th position in 2005, when Dr Singh took over.
The efforts of our humble ,soft spoken and hardworking economist Prime Minister has helped India become an economic power house
He has assured India’s place at the high table of the G 20 economies of the world.
Under the Congress-led UPA government’s stewardship over the last 10 years, India has not only become a nearly two trillion-dollar economy, achieving the fastest pace of growth in our history, we have also seen the benefits of growth percolate deeper to the Aam Aadmi.
The period when the UPA government has been in power has seen the highest growth rate in our history as India grew at an average rate of 8.2% between 2004-05 and 2011-12. In the last 10 years, India grew at an average of 7.7% Even as the world went through economic downturns due to the financial crisis of 2007-08, India continued to grow, thrive and prosper under the wise leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh, widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost economists.
Our macroeconomic fundamentals remained strong despite global economic crises of 2008-09. When most developed nations faced recession, India is was growing at more than 8% Under the NDA government the Indian economy grew from USD 416 billion in 1998 to USD 600 billion in 2004 (a jump of 44%), and claimed that India was “shining”. In nine years of UPA rule, the country has moved from USD 617.6 Billion to USD 1.84 Trillion, up by three times. It is clear that if there has been a growth take-off in India, it has been under the UPA government. (Source: http://bit.ly/k4xE1y)
At constant prices (2004-05 levels), which would help us look at the size of the economy discounting the impact of inflation, the Indian growth story looks even more amazing. The total GDP of the country stood at Rs 27,77,813 crore in 2003-2004, up 33% from the 1998-99 figures of Rs 20,87,828 crore and the NDA went into the 2004 Lok Sabha elections with ‘India Shining.’
If we read Dr Manmohan Singh’s budget speech of 1991-92 again and quote.
He said “In highlighting the significance of reform, my purpose is not to give a fillip to mindless and heartless consumerism we have borrowed from the affluent societies of the West. My objection to the consumerist phenomenon is two-fold. First, we cannot afford it. In a society where we lack drinking water, education, health, shelter and other basic necessities, it would be tragic if our productive resources were to be devoted largely to the satisfaction of the needs of a small minority”
The UPA Government under his leadership has kept these words in mind. UPA has introduced a series of Right based laws which legally guarantee – Right to Work (NREGA), Right to Information (RTI), Right to Tribals (Forest Rights Act), Right to Education and now Right to Food. These inclusive measures have ensured that the wealth created by the growth figures reach the last man in the queue- The Aam Aadmi.
India’s social indicators have improved. Immunization programmes on Polio have been successful. Health infrastructure has improved with the help of 108 Ambulances services in each state.
During UPA, lakhs of km of Rural roads under PMGSY have been built. UPA has built 3 times more National Highways than the previous government.
One important aspect which is often being missed, while taking in record Dr Singh’s government, is the fight against corruption and stress on institutional reforms to curb corruption. Critics have been harsh on it. The biggest step is the AADHAAR- cash transfer-using e-governance to stop leakages. Just yesterday, the President of India gave assent to Whistleblowers Protection Act. There have been several other acts and bills which have been initiated in his term.
- UPA is the Only Government in Modern India to pass the Historic Right to Information Act, 2005 to usher in transparency in governance through citizen participation.
- RTI Act has empowered lakhs of individuals and have made the state responsible
- The Lokpal and the Lokayukta Bill has been passed by the Parliament.
- Aadhaar- Direct Benefits Transfer- Institutional architecture to facilitate a shift to a system in which benefits from the government would get transferred directly to the bank accounts of individual beneficiaries of various social sector schemes.
- India ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in May, 2011.
- The Public Procurement Bill, 2012 already introduced in Parliament
- Grievances Redressal Bill already introduced in Parliament
- Foreign Bribery Bill already introduced in Parliament
- Judicial Accountability Bill already introduced in Parliament
- The Whistle Blowers Protection Act passed by the Parliament
- The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2011 already introduced in Parliament
- The Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Act passed by UPA
- The Electronic Delivery of Services Bill already introduced in Parliament
- Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Bill 2011 introduced in Parliament. The Bill elaborately covers definition of ‘benami’ property and transaction, and prohibits benami transactions.
- UPA is the only Government to present a White Paper on Black Money
It is no joke that UPA is building one of the biggest Infrastructure project in the world- The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor,Amritsar- Kolkata Industrial Corridor and the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor. These would be the corridors of growth and would be our manufacturing spines of future, giving millions of jobs. That is the vision of our Dr Manmohan Singh, the man of impeccable integrity, a man who would be rightly judged by the history- as a man who took India forward.
Rachit Seth is an Architect working in Delhi, Follow him on Twitter at @rachitseth