It will be worth it to start my essay with the quote of sitting INC MP Shashi Tharoor
“India shaped my mind, anchored my identity, influenced my beliefs, and made me who I am. India matters to me and I would like to matter to India.”
The reason I am writing this article is because of the situation we all are going through. Some divisive forces are trying to alter the basic structure of the Constitution of India. There are protests, not only in India but in the whole world; fighting to sustain the democratic setup of our country.
The people can no longer accept the hatred and autocratic system, which does not hear the voices of its citizens, and tries to suppress dissent. This article is going to articulate the past, present and future of India.
If the youth won’t take charge of leading the nation now, I doubt we’ll get this chance again in the future.
When we became independent from the British rule, the important task for the leaders was to give a path of progress to its citizens, through the constitution, and through the political, social and economic reforms. It was not a win-win situation for the newly born country, as she had to tackle the mass riots of religious fanatics, mass poverty, and at the same time, face a war-like situation in Kashmir.
The leaders of our country kept on handling all these tasks bravely, and systematically, without getting diverted by those tough scenarios. It is because of these efforts that our democracy is in its 70’s.
Unfortunately, we lack that quality of leaders today. To keep democracy ‘ON’, we have to elect leaders who convoke and succeed with integrity. We want leaders who will have the guts to accept failures. We want leaders who understand the altered global landscape, leaders who know how to harness the energy of creative and innovative youth.
The leaders who will invoke a positive ad progressive, political culture and will reject the divisive and exploitative politics. We have seen, recently in Kashmir, that political leaders have been made detainees under the draconian PSA act. We have seen at the time of emergency, when the democratic setup was turned into a dictatorship, overnight. We want leaders who have a clear determination of the nation’s overall aim.
The country needs a leader who can classify the attainable, sustainable and suitable goals to achieve that aim; through intelligent deliberation. We want the government, be it of any party or coalition, to accept different views and opinions. We want a parliament where the ruling party and opposition should function in cooperation when there are matters of urgent public importance.
The gap between people aspirations and the government machinery has to be bridged. Leaders should keep their ears close to the earth to hear the voices of common people. We want an inclusive parliament where the youth from different sections of the society are adequately represented. Governance which connects people: Digital India is indeed a good step towards good governance, but at the same time, we also have to identify the areas where we are lacking, to expand digitally.
The policymakers are certainly aware of the rapidly changing world. This is the age of acceleration, where if you have to yield results, the technological advancement should actively interact with the socio-political systems.
In this decade, our GDP is at a new low in many quarters. The stakeholders should connect with the global economy, to boost India’s economy, and to gain value-added progress. Structural reforms in the government machinery and management systems are the need of the hour.
While spreading our export net in global seas, we also have to concentrate on how to make a strong regional reach, for the beneficial growth of all sections of the society. We cannot remain isolated in the 21st century.
The government has to keep the youth in the loop of development, as they are the foot soldiers of progress. More reforms are needed, such as the one nation – one ration card scheme. The falling water table is a crucial problem in India, and it is going to become more problematic, eventually.
We have recently seen Chennai come out on the streets for water. It’s good to see that the government is now working to provide piped water to all. At the same time, the local administration should ensure that the piped water is safe for drinking.
We have seen hazards in Punjab and Haryana due to polluted groundwater, and a lack of security in various sectors.
Food Security: For instance, there is a lack of reform in food security to tackle daily life challenges. The bad monsoons have added oil to the fire. Our economy is not completely agriculture-based today as compared to the past decades. The farmers are facing challenges due to the lack of accessibility to technology. Those who are using techno-innovations in farming are faring much better than those who don’t.
So what we need, is to provide maximum technological access, to all the farmers, and to motivate them in their struggle for livelihood. Many will think is a farce, but it is actually needed because many farmers in India resort to suicide due to the stress of loans.
At the same time, we have to look for alternate options, to tackle food security like looking for agri-imports, controlling the population, etc.
Energy Security: India is still a fossil fuel-dependent country, in terms of generation of energy. India is a topper among the oil importers in the world. We are an oil-based economy. There should be a multi-pronged approach to deal with energy security. India has to look for cheaper oil imports. Currently, India is purchasing oil at higher rates from the USA, Iran and southeast nations.
The policymakers should see the viability of electric vehicles and encourage their manufacture and use. The setting up of an International Solar Alliance is a giant step in the energy sector, to turn the growing population of the country towards solar energy. We have to generate social conscience in people to use the resources wisely and properly.
National Security: The government is taking efficient steps in dealing with cross border terrorism like BOLD-QIT (Border Electronically Dominated QRT Interception Technique) under CIBMS (Comprehensive Integrated Border Management system) on the India-Bangladesh border. The implementation of this project is not only helping BSF to curb all type of cross border crimes, but also provides respite to the troops from round the clock human surveillance.
The government is using Space technology for border management. The new government has an opportunity to play a better game. So, build up the Quad and the India-Japan-US trilateral. Keep up the opposition to Belt, Road and CPEC (China-Pakistan- Economic Corridor). Keep Pakistan on its toes regarding support to terrorism, both diplomatically, and through the multilateral route, like IMF (International Monetary Fund) and FATF (Financial Action Task Force).
One big security issue is the frequent presence of ISIS in Kerala. So far, the NIA (National Investigation Agency) and other security agencies have succeeded in capturing them but we should be very alert and not give Terror organisations another opportunity to surprise us, like 26/11.
Space Security: All the three, i.e, Maritime Space, Outer Space and Cyberspace, should be equipped with defensive, as well as offensive capabilities, to tackle the tech-revolution, which is both, a boon and curse.
Recently, we have seen the successful test of ASAT ( Anti-Satellite) which can destroy the spy satellites, roaming in space, posing threats to our security apparatus, and development infrastructure.
Think tanks should have a collaborative approach to deal with all the security challenges. Shared perceptions across states should be encouraged, to create a safer and more secure India. There is a lot to be done in the education sector and local administration reforms are needed.
Education: We have to focus on primary education more than secondary education. The schools need creative teachers, creative syllabus and creative classrooms. There are many schools in India where we don’t have basic facilities like drinking water, hygienic conditions, etc. We recently saw in UP, that the students were served salt and chapatis in the MDM program.
We have to inculcate the habit of reading for the overall development of students. We have to redefine education, energy and health care. Ayushman Bharat, ATAL Tinkering Labs and Atal Innovative Mission are some of the steps taken by Government to ensure health for all, boosting creativity and innovation respectively.
We want an India where there will be no more child deaths due to lack of facilities, infrastructure and money. It is true that the unemployment rate is at an all-time high in India at present, but the policymakers should also concentrate on the productivity of employed people. I strongly felt there was a lot to be done in reforming the police ecosystem when I saw the brutal handling of civilian protests.
It is true that the way of showing dissent should be non-violent, but at the same time, the government should accept the dissent non-violently.
The role of citizens in nation-building: The modern democracy should deal with deep diversity cautiously, as we have many religions, languages, ethnicities, cultures and traditions. The country should not see diversity as a handicap or a problem. Instead, we have to foreground its diversity.
Sharing of power is very essential to accommodate diversity. The people have to keep the fanatics, divisive, intolerant and extremist people out of power, because the democratic diversity can’t sustain in hate and violence.
We have to celebrate diversity to sustain India’s culture. The citizens must acquire knowledge of how government machinery functions, they must understand the basic problems of society.
We desperately need an alert, awake, aware and vigilant Indian electorate, and fair application of power, by those who gain it, through the democratic process. Remember, India exists due to its diversity.
References: PIB India, NITI AAYOG, Economic Times, Times Of India.