TIME FOR US ALL TO ACT

The protracted election process is well behind us and it has blessed us with a new Government with a clear popular mandate to take the country to where it deserves to be. The people of the country are no longer content with incremental changes. They are willing to settle for no less than accelerated growth driven by a new wave of reforms that ushers in a New India, which is vibrant and is in the league of world’s top economies.

The election process saw the rise of a more united India, which broke ranks from traditional loyalties to religion, caste, gender and linguistic groups and voted for what was good for the nation. 88% young voters forming the part of aspirational India voted in favour of a party who they believed would deliver their dreams….The new Federal Government with absolute majority is firmly in place and must get down to work with unprecedented speed.

The next five years could be a defining moment for India’s economic destiny. If it desires to emerge as an economic superpower, India would have to unshackle itself from the past and find new, more innovative ways of addressing social and economic issues. There is very little time (five years is a blink in a nation’s history) and a huge mountain to be climbed. The challenge is massive but by no means impossible given that our fundamentals are sound: inflation at 3% is at an all-time low and at US $ 400 billion our Forex reserves are at an all-time high. The economy barring the last few months has been motoring along at more than seven percent, the power situation has improved considerably and power tariffs are quite stable. All around us and across sectors there are humungous opportunities for growth.

But the agenda of achieving social equality is far from finished. Unemployment has touched ominous levels and deserves the highest priority. We must work towards a social churn that pulls the illiterate and the deprived into the mainstream. They need to see that ‘A New India’ means a new bright future for them. Wealth generation and its distribution across society must go hand-in-hand. India needs to carry all its citizens along. Nobody should feel ignored or marginalised

However, while the government must take the lead, building a new India is a herculean task and can be achieved only if every one of us contributes whole heartedly to the process in every way we can. We can start by trying to be good citizens: compliant, responsible and productive. Instead of being spectators we need to become a part of the process of governance. There is enough room provided by our constitution to help us engage ourselves in self-governance.

All of us expect elected governments to do wonders but often forget that we too need to contribute. The previous government did carry out multiple administrative reforms and strengthened institutions through new policy frameworks. Still, much remains to be done and a lot more remains to be implemented. Voluntary acceptance and efficient implementation of new policies can make the Government’s task easier and allow it more time to implement further reforms.

Industry needs to be more productive and efficient. The collapse of several large companies/institutions over the last five years, which has seriously damaged our financial and banking systems, is a grim reminder of the poor management of our large business enterprises. While the Government has taken multiple steps to encourage entrepreneurship, the entrepreneurs too must act responsibly and not abuse their privileges. India’s growing infrastructure has opened unparalleled opportunities for the manufacturing and construction industry, creating huge opportunities for a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Traditionally, millions of young Indians graduating from schools and universities looked for jobs in state and Government sectors but often faced disappointment as the opportunities were limited. There is now a great opportunity for them to start their own micro/small enterprises and thereby create openings for others. The service sector in today’s context presents an unprecedented range of opportunities. The entry barriers in this sector are relatively low. Agriculture is yet another sector, which has remained unexplored for the new bounty of opportunities…A closer study of this sector can highlight all that it can offer.

The biggest challenge for all of us is to move away from traditional paradigms. The new tools made available by the confluence of ICE technologies has made our task much easier. No market or supply source is too far and inaccessible anymore. Physical distances have lost their relevance. Only ideas and innovation matter. We are over a billion people with 70% of them are young minds bubbling with new ideas. We need to capitalise and cash in on this energy and its potential for innovation. Let us all work together to make them our invaluable assets and not a liability. Let us be proud of what we have achieved so far but constantly remind ourselves of the huge unfinished development agenda that looms ahead. Let us work to build a new nation as if there was no tomorrow

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