This year, Deepavali was special. While India was preparing to celebrate the festival of lights, India’s development journey, too, was witnessing four landmark events unfold. India jumped 23 places in just one year in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) 2018 rankings, climbing to 77 among nearly 190 countries. India is the only country to rank among the top 10 improvers for the second consecutive year. Effectively, in four years of the NDA government, India’s ranking has improved 65 places.
Reforms come first and rankings are just an indicator of reforms. This sharp rise in the EODB rankings is evidence of the success of a number of reforms brought in by the Modi government. For example, the rankings indicate that dealing with construction permits has become much easier. Always languishing in the 180s on this parameter, India came up to the 52nd position — an unprecedented jump. The success of GST, too, is partly captured by the reference period of the report and its impact will be seen in the next edition as well. From starting businesses to getting electricity, from accessing credit to streamlining processes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ushering in ease of doing business for entrepreneurs has taken off. This means more economic growth, more investment and more jobs.
The speed and scale with which the government works was shown in a related reform. A big bang announcement of facilitating loans of up to Rs 1 crore in just 59 minutes for MSMEs was announced, a move that shows the government’s priorities. Modi announced the 12-point Support and Outreach Initiative for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises on November 2, 2018. A web portal launched by the government to enable this is all set to revolutionise the way MSMEs get loans and is well on the way to setting new benchmarks in credit availability. This should get the engines of an already rapidly growing economy whirring even harder, given that MSMEs are a big contributor to jobs and economic activity in India.
Credit to MSMEs had already received a shot in the arm with the MUDRA scheme that ensures collateral-free bank loans to small entrepreneurs. The scale of success of this programme is astounding: Over 14 crore entrepreneurs — out of which roughly 70 per cent are women, have received more than Rs 6 lakh crore worth of loans.
If there was cheer for India on the economic front, there was pride to be felt in the ability of our engineers. Last fortnight also saw the unveiling of the mammoth Statue of Unity, of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, by PM Modi. The tallest statue in the world, standing at the height of 182 meters, it is almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US.
This is an India that not only thinks big but also achieves within aggressive timelines. Sardar Patel’s statue is already attracting numerous tourists and the State of Unity also marks the fact that India is now recognising its true heroes.
When governance, reforms and implementation are the focus of the government, the achievements come in from multiple fronts. Another historic first unfolded — the movement of the first cargo vessel on an inland waterway after Independence. With the launch of the first multi-modal terminal or inland waterway in Varanasi, India opened a new chapter in its history. PM Modi received the first container vessel in Varanasi which had sailed from Kolkata carrying cargo for PepsiCo India on the Ganga.
Promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport should always have been higher on India’s priorities and it is finally getting done under the Modi government, which aims to develop the Ganga River between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes.
To give you a perspective of its importance, India’s logistics costs are about twice that of the US, according to the shipping ministry. So, the creation of inland waterways is a significant addition to the infrastructure of our country. It will boost the economy by making the logistics much cheaper. The Varanasi terminal will enable cargo movement and develop an inland waterways corridor that can provide great impetus to the Eastern part of India.
In just one fortnight around Deepavali, India has given itself multiple reasons to celebrate — a New India is seen all around.
Each of these achievements have an unambiguous Narendra Modi stamp on them — the ability to dream and the ability to do.