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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A pledge for Republic Day

🔴 Tanya Dubash writes: Let us strive to create an India that is innovation-driven, empathetic, and happy

Written by Tanya Dubash |
Updated: January 26, 2022 10:29:48 pm
Security personnel stand guard at India Gate for the rehearsals of Republic Day 2022 parade. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

A 72nd anniversary is a reasonably short time in a republic’s lifespan. Still, it is not just a moment for celebration but equally for unbiased introspection. There are pockets of excellence that we should be proud of, but there are important basics that we need to improve as well.

Recuperating from the impact of two years of a pandemic isn’t easy. Some of our time-bound goals had to be extended as more pressing concerns engulfed our country. Despite the challenges, we have traversed a long journey — together as a nation, industry, and individuals. We now need to make a renewed effort towards achieving the objectives and laying the ground for our larger ambitions. India has a history of leapfrogging through phases of change. The revolution in the telecommunication industry, space science, and even digital payments are a few examples of India outperforming the world’s expectations. I have no doubt that we will do so again.

The country’s democracy and its demography are its significant strengths. While marching towards the goal of becoming a $5 trillion economy, being a stable democracy in the region, having a huge market and consumer aspiration, and an immense demographic dividend are great benefits. We need to strengthen “Brand India” through transitions across social, political and economic spheres. There are aspects within each of these spheres that we can be proud of, even as we acknowledge that there are others we must try to change.

The demographic dividend alone will be insufficient if enough attention isn’t paid to both education and skill development. Over the years, the government and India Inc. have played critical roles in this. A certain level of education and imbibing a culture of skill learning are indispensable for attaining the sustained economic growth objectives of the future. Strengthening public-private partnerships to improve employability through policy interventions and supportive ecosystem development is critical. Moreover, policy measures must be initiated to arrest the declining female labour force participation rate, at a larger scale than at present.

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For India to strengthen its position as a key global player, it is important to improve the ease of doing business here by measures such as liberalising policy to attract domestic capital investment and foreign investment and fast-paced but sustainable infrastructure growth.

Whilst the agricultural sector contributes close to 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, it continues to employ most of the country’s population. To double farmers’ incomes and increase productivity, strong attempts must be made to develop a culture of agriprenuership. Working in tandem with industry, farmers and academia, the government needs to create the right interventions that will both boost farmers’ morale and improve their productivity and per capita income. While policy is one part of the solution-seeking process, a combination of geospatial, technological and agricultural science can chart the path for innovative and sustainable solutions for several issues plaguing the sector.

The pandemic has also brought to light the need to provide universal access to basic healthcare. On a positive note, it also showcased the underlying capabilities and benefits of the PPP model in creating a robust mechanism to achieve this objective. There are definite learnings that can be collectively put into practice to improve the ecosystem over time.

Lastly, there is no denying that the pandemic made us all pause and think about what really matters. Historically, such moments have often triggered a change in people’s mindsets. One key takeaway that must always be held close to our hearts is building an empathetic nation. During this tumultuous time, there were myriad positive rays of hope with people standing by each other, supporting each other, and increasingly becoming more sensitive to the idea of sustainability. Going forward, this is one lesson from the past two challenging years that we must carry with us.

We will be celebrating our 75th Republic Day in a few years and what I wish to see most then is an innovation-driven, empathetic, and happy India.

This column first appeared in the print edition on January 26, 2022 under the title ‘Going forward, with empathy’. The writer is executive director and chief brand officer, Godrej

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