Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the eve of Independence Day on Tuesday was a reflection on India of his dream, an India which is free from the shackles of unemployment, poverty and corruption, three major ailments, plaguing our country today. These ailments are also a major stumbling block in achieving the goal of New India as is envisioned by Prime Minister Modi. The agenda of inclusive growth is a top priority of the NDA government for which there is a need to increase spending on health and education sector. In order to totally revamp these two critical sectors, the minimum spending should not be less than 10 per cent of
the national gross domestic product (GDP). Over the years, India’s health and education sectors have suffered like anything on account of their systemic negligence by successive government. Since Prime Minister Modi aspires to ‘take the country ahead with the determination of creating a New India’ the entire health and education infrastructure needs to be upgraded, expanded and made more responsive for which huge funds are required. For want of adequate teachers, doctors and other supporting staff, India’s health-education sector is on the verge of collapse.
Deficient health-education services do not only increase the sense of alienation among subalterns but also leave behind a battalion of semi-educated, unskilled and ailing people, who are not found to be fit for gainful employment. The Prime Minister is absolutely right when he says that ‘in our nation, there is no one big or small.
Everybody is equal. Together we can bring a positive change in the nation….We have to move forward for making a New India with the collective strength of 125 crore people without any discrimination of small and big people.’ Unfortunately, a vast population will not be able to associate themselves with such a view if they are not mainstreamed into the country’s socio-economic and political advancement. Under Jan Dhan Yojana, the mission of financial inclusion has got a big boost with the opening of a record 29 crore accounts in the banks. There is a need to ensure that when we send our children to government schools, their education is well taken care of. When we go to hospitals or health centres in urban or rural areas, doctors, medicines and other staff welcome us, which is not the case today. What happened in Gorakhpur hospital is a chilling pointer to the state of affairs in our country’s public health sector and more debilitating indeed to know that the death of children during August to September has always been high in Gorakhpur and other neighbouring districts.
No doubt that ‘the country has changed, is changing and can change. We have to move forward with this belief and commitment.’ Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi, the country has seen many positive things happening in the past three years. After the recent passage of the Benami Act, within a short span of time, the government agencies have confiscated Benami property worth Rs 800 crore. Goods and Services Tax (GST) has shown the spirit of cooperative federalism. It is going to have long-term positive impact on the country’s economy. It is a great move towards one-nation, one tax, an exercise which has unified India economically and the nation has come together to support the GST regime. Similarly, demonetisation has had a debilitating impact on the black money economy. It was heartening indeed to see Prime Minister Modi reiterating his resolve against the menace of corruption and black money. Post demonetisation, black money worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore has been unearthed, while over 1.75 lakh fake companies have been shut down.
The creation of more jobs for the youth is another challenge for the government. The Centre is keen to nurture our youngsters to be job creators and not job seekers. For this to happen, youth must get quality education—both in the field of skill development and entrepreneurship, which will be possible only if we have highly upgraded industrial training institutes (ITIs). These are in a bad shape today. The culture of outsourcing has to be frustrated. For want of proper training and exposure, youth will continue to be job seekers, and not job providers, thus making the task of ‘taking the nation on a new track of development’ more challenging. 45. More than 8 crore youth have received loans without any guarantee. India has the world’s largest youth population and we need to provide all
opportunities to them to fulfill their dreams. They need to be taught how to catch the fishes. Prime Minister Modi is really in a position to build the foundation of ‘Ek Bharat, Sarvshresth Bharat.’ He is in the absolute command of his government and his party—the BJP—is solidly behind him as is the nation. He must take the risk of taking
more bold measures to create the world class health and education infrastructure in the public sector.
(The writer is Director, Centre for Economic Policy Research. Views are his personal)