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Vision of India in 2050
Commonomics

Vision of India in 2050

Narendra M Apte

We will be celebrating the first day of the New Year on coming Wednesday. On the eve of the New Year, it is natural for many of us to look back on happenings during the past twelve months, take stock of the current situation and then make plans for the future. Of course, as we all know in today’s uncertain times, it is not easy to make long term plans. With many uncertainties, ranging from the impact of climate change to economic slowdown, the wiser among us will perhaps prefer to make short term plans only.

However, in the national context, making plans for the future and then taking steps to execute those plans can be considered a regular and essential exercise. This kind of exercise began with the launch of our First Five Year Plan.

When one discusses plans for India’s future, the most talked about vision document is “India Vision 2020” which was initially a document prepared by the Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) by the Department of Science and Technology under the chairmanship of  Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and a team of 500 experts. This plan is further detailed in the book “India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium”, which Dr. Kalam co authored with Dr. Y. S. Rajan

India will be celebrating 70 years of India as a sovereign Republic on 26th January, 2020. In 2047 India will celebrate 100 years of its Independence. Hence, I think today is the right time to think of India in 2050, the 100th year of our Republic.

In connection with discussion on India in 2050, I think a mention of basic thrust areas of 'Vision 2020’ narrated by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and his co-author Dr. Y S Rajan would be quite appropriate. They are:

(a) Agriculture and food processing: aimed at doubling the present production of agriculture and food processing industry.

(b) Infrastructure with reliable electric power: providing urban amenities to rural areas, and increasing solar power operations.

(c) Education and Healthcare: directed towards literacy, social security, and overall health of the population.

(d) Information and Communication Technology: for increased e-governance to promote education in remote areas, telecommunications, and telemedicine.

(e) Critical technologies and strategic industries: the growth of nuclear technology, space technology and defence technology.

(f) Decreasing rate of poverty and illiteracy.

Though we have made economic progress after 1998, when Dr Kalam and Dr Rajan first wrote about their Vision 2020, it must be admitted that we are still far away from what both of them envisioned. However, in the seventieth year of Republic, we should not shy away from the task of planning for India in the hundredth year, that is, in 2050.

Vision 2050 goals will have to be based on a critical assessment of the current strengths of our economy, and to do such an assessment, we must undertake a study of India’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities (a SWOT study).

Needless to say, for determining Vision 2050 goals, Vision 2020 plan discussed by Dr Kalam and Dr Rajan will be of immense utility.

To achieve a specific economic objective, like to be among the top five economies of the world by 2050, and to achieve social objectives like say 100% literacy, and to be among the top 30 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) by 2050, Vision 2050 document will have to divide goals to be achieved by 2050 in three sets, first to be pursued during ten years 2020 to 2030, second to be pursued from 2031 to 2040, and the third and last to be pursued from 2040 to 2050.

In this connection it would be interesting to note highlights of a plan of action suggested by the Union government’s think tank, NITI Aayog, for achieving growth objectives by the seventy fifth year of Independence, by 2022-23.

  1. For achieving higher economic growth, increase in investment rate;
  2. In agriculture, (i) creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth and (ii) strong push would be given to ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ (ZBNF), a technique, which is tested method for putting environment carbon back into the land.
  3. To ensure maximum employment creation, codification of labour laws must be completed and a massive effort must be made to upscale apprenticeships.
  4. Expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA): RDA will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the railways. Investment in railways will be ramped up, including by monetizing existing railway assets.
  5. The share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways will be doubled. Initially, viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. An Information Technology enabled platform would be developed for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitized mobility.
  6. With the completion of the Bharat Net programme (originally planned for completion in 2019), all 2,50,000 gram panchayats will be digitally connected. In the next phase the last mile connectivity to the individual villages will be completed.

In a way, executing plan of action for achieving objective of making India a vibrant and equitable society by 2050 is a process of reinventing India. I also believe that sustainable development model will have to be the foundation for executing plan of action for a developed India in 2050.

I think the plan of action proposed by NITI Aayog for achieving goals by 75th year of Independence was a very ambitious plan. If the same plan is successfully implemented, during the next two decades, India would certainly move fast towards becoming a developed economy even before 2050.

(Narendra M Apte, a qualified Chartered Accountant, is a freelancer)