June 18, 2021 8:29:55 pm
History, they say, chronicles our evolution. Evolution, they say, perfects our lives. And life, they say, is what we make of it. In this continuous march of history, evolution and life, ever so often, some events trigger unprecedented changes. History had an event added in the summer of 2014, when a new government, which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary, came to power. The seven years of Modi sarkar is the story of evolution — the evolution of a new India, atma nirbharta, antyodaya, “minimum government, maximum governance”. In the much-feted slogans of this government, one can find the template of its governance priorities. Narrating its many successes will take much more space than stipulated so, for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on one central aspect of its work — accelerated evolution.
What better concept than “accelerated evolution” can explain the pace at which tapped water is being provided to households? In the last 70 years, only three-and-half-crore households were covered by tapped water but in the last 21 months, more than four-and-half-crore households have been given tap water connections. This government inherited a $1.85-trillion economy in 2014, a feat that took 55 years to actualise, but the Modi government added $1 trillion in just five years. The country provided bank accounts to 42 crore hitherto-unbanked people under Jan Dhan Yojana, the fundamental structure on which Rs 15.47 lakh crore have been transferred directly to beneficiaries’ bank accounts since 2014. The country had 38.7 per cent sanitation coverage, which went to 100 per cent in five years. Through 8 crore LPG connections, the government freed women from the damnation of inhaling smoke. At 25.5 billion transactions, the government’s Digital India scheme has hauled India to the pole position in the digital payment ecosystem in the world. The number of houses built under the PM Awas Yojana (Grameen) is 1.94 crore and the number of Ayushman Bharat cards issued is 15.9 crore, with 1.8 crore people already availing the benefits under the scheme.
While the list of this government’s achievements is extensive, one question that invokes an answer is what fundamentally changed in India? The bureaucracy is the same, the people are the same, our constitutional responsibilities and obligations remain the same, then what changed in the country? The answer is that this government, unlike its predecessors, is not a status quo absolutist. For example, no one had stopped the previous governments from simplifying the cumbersome labour laws that had 44 Acts and 1,458 subsections, yet it was because of their love for the status quo that the task of simplifying it to four codes with 480 sections was left for this government to accomplish. This government intensely detests the “chalta hai” attitude that had plagued India for long. For example, a base rank of 142 in Ease of Doing Business wasn’t considered an eyesore and neither was a polluted Ganga. Coupled with the rejection of the “chalta hai” attitude, an air of assured self-confidence along with clear intentions is what is propelling it forward. The people of India know that “Modi hai to mumkin hai”. This is what assured self-confidence is all about. The people know that this government has their best interests at heart: “saaf niyat, sahi vikas”.
It is this assured confidence that this country was missing, be it in startups or in national security. The government went for the jugular and revoked Article 370, finally bringing peace to the region, an aspect that was strengthened by the recently concluded DDC elections. India is now the startup hotspot in the world. It is this self-confidence that pervades every sphere of India. We have stopped being a victim of circumstance and are now wielders of our own destiny. Even in the trying times of Covid, we refused to succumb to circumstances. Not only did India make domestic vaccines but, as a positive aberration from the past, rolled out its vaccine strategy in time as, to date we have administered 26 crore doses, and aim to cover the whole population by December. This will be a landmark of sorts for the country. We grew our testing labs from 1 to 2,463, supplied more than 15,000 MT of oxygen till May 23, 2021, manufactured 50,000 ventilators and increased ICU beds from 2,168 to 81,000. The country may have been beleaguered but refused to bow down.
Anthropologists opine that cognitive evolution led to the exponential growth of mankind. It transcended our physical shortcomings and made us the rulers of the physical world. Along with its welfare measures, this seven-year-old government has accelerated the cultural and cognitive evolution of this country, a feat for which it will be remembered and for which it is being celebrated.
The writer is Union Jal Shakti minister