Aatmanirbhar Bharat : Achievements and the Way Forward
‘When India speaks of becoming self-reliant, it does not advocate a self-centred system. In India’s self-reliance, there is a concern for the whole world’s happiness, cooperation and peace’.
—Prime Minister Narendra Modi
On May 12, 2020, in his address to the nation, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi announced the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ with a mega special economic package of 20 lakh crores rupees to achieve it and fight corona pandemic in India. Therefore the package was also otherwise called Atmanirbhar Bharat Stimulus Package. The Prime Minister said that the economic package would play an important role in making India Atmanirbhar and it would benefit labourers, farmers, honest tax payers, MSMEs and the cottage industry. He also said that making the country Atmanirbhar was the only way to make 21st century belong to India. To achieve that, it is to be made a movement or campaign which is called Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Hardly two months down the line, on May 12, 2021, the country will celebrate the first anniversary of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. A review of one years’ report card would certainly bring into surface what has been achieved and what is the way forward for the success of this Abhiyan.
Before the review, it is pertinent here to understand the meaning of Atmanirbhar. Atmanirbhar is a combination of two words—Atma means Self and Nirbhar means ‘Reliant’ and the combination of the two means Self-Reliant. It means also not to depend on others. Therefore, Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan means, Self-Reliance India Movement or Campaign. The aim of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan is to make the country and its citizens independent and self-reliant in all senses. That could be achieved, in the words of Prime Minister, through ‘vocal for local’ approach.
The Prime Minister also outlined 5 pillars of Atmanirbhar Bharat—-Economy, Infrastructure, System, Demography and Demand. It means India will achieve the economic progress not with incremental changes but with quantum jumps; an infrastructure that truly represent modern India; the system being modern technology driven; utilising the vibrant Indian democracy and full utilization of power of demand and supply. The five tranches of Atmanirbhar Bharat are:
In his Man Ki Baat programme in All India Radio on 28th February 2021, the Prime Minister asserted that there is a lot of contribution of the power of science in the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign and hence there is a need to make science more popular and that science cannot be limited to physics-chemistry and labs. He called for expanding science with a mantra of ‘lab to land’. Prime Minister also said that that Atmanirbhar Bharat is not just a government policy but also a national spirit, and the mantra of self-reliant India is reaching villages of the country. One of the best examples of Atmanirbhar Abhiyan reaching out to villages is the Statue of Unity at Kevadia, Gujarat. Before the construction of the Statue of Unity, the area was totally underdeveloped and now the site is being visited by largest number of tourists, boosting the local and national economy and thereby making that area Atmanirbhar.
In the field of defence sector also, not only India is increasingly becoming Atmanirbhar but also increased manifold the export of military equipments to different countries. A report of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) says that India has taken a lot of measures to cut dependence on imported military hardware. The report also says that due to government’s Make in India’ push and reduced dependence on Russian arms, the dependence on the country’s imported military hardware decreased by 33%. According to Sipri, India accounted for 0.2% of the share of global arms exports during 2016-20, making the country the world’s 24th largest exporter of major arms. This represents an increase of 228% over India’s export share of 0.1 % during the previous five-year period of 2011-15. The latest import data is a clear indicator that the country’s drive towards Atmanirbhar Bharat is showing results.
The New National Education Policy 2020 is also oriented towards Atmanirbhar Bharat with its emphasis on skill and training and prioritization of vernacular language not only at primary level but also in higher education as well. The New Education Policy will bring out trained professionals making them Atmanirbhar rather than educated unemployed youth which earlier Education Policies produced. It will also open up the education sector for facilitating greater global exposure for Indian students.
Agriculture sector has also been revamped with the ethos of Atmanirbhar Bharat. With a motive to transform the Agriculture into a Sustainable Enterprise, Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare has recently taken a host of historical pro-agriculture landmark initiatives towards the development of Aatmanirbhar Krishi for the benefit of farming community in India. The important measures towards Atmanirbhar Krishi are: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020; The Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.
These landmark ordinances in its pursuit to agriculture market reforms, provide farmers with greater freedom and regarded as another giant leap towards liberalization and free market regime. These reforms call for resonance from the states and other stakeholders in terms of gearing up to deliver the purpose of these reforms right up to the farm gate level. The Ordinance will further motivate APMCs to be more effective and efficient in providing cost effective services to farmers for efficient marketing of their produce towards improving their income.
Another move towards Atmanirbhar Krishi is the flagship scheme of Government of India i.e National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), which is an innovative initiative in agricultural marketing to enhance farmers accessibility digitally to multiple number of markets and buyers and bring transparency in price discovery mechanism and price realization based on quality of produce.
With the aim to reach the last mile farmer and transform the way they sell their agri. produce, e-NAM had expanded to 1000 mandis of 18 States and 03 UTs. Under the new Farmers Producers Organizations (FPO) trade Module, FPOs are doing trade from their collection centers through e-NAM platform. This online market aims at reducing transaction costs, bridge information asymmetries, and help in expanding market access for farmers.
Aiming towards “One Nation One Market” for agricultural commodities in India, e-NAM has made revolutionary change to the traditional agri-business in the country emerged as a ready solution to farmers & other stakeholders to conduct their business. With its value-added services, e-NAM has emerged as much more advanced and robust platform.
Government has announced a new scheme for Formation & promotion of 10,000 FPO’s. Collectivization of small and marginal farmer to form their organization as Farmer Produce Organization has been another major initiative by Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare for making Krishi Atmanibhar. This will prove to be the most effective and appropriate institutional mechanisms to reduce the cost of production, increase productivity and facilitate better marketing linkages to enhance their net income. This will not only help to augment the income of farmers but will bring a paradigm shift at grass-root level towards Atmanibhar Bharat.
In the health sector also India is marching swiftly towards Atmanirbhar Bharat. In the Union Budget, the outlay for the health sector is 2,83,846 crore a 135% increase over the previous year. Rupees 64,180 crores also have been allocated for Atmanirbhar bharat Swastha Bharat Yojana to develop primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare system in addition to the National Health Mission to make medical care much more accessible to all in the country. Research and Development of indigenous vaccines and rolling out of the same not only in India but also throughout the world is appreciated by the head of states and the World Health Organization as well.
Apart from these major sectors, in almost all the sectors, attempts have been made to make India Atmanirbhar and the Abhiyan is gaining momentum and will certainly be successful in the coming days.
(the writer is Chairperson, Centre for Diaspora Studies, Director, IQAC, Central University of Gujarat)