PM Modi's Independence Day Address Exhibits Hope for a Prosperous India

If, as he urged, we resolve to be a developed economy by 2047, we will reverse centuries of colonial exploitation.

4 min read
Hindi Female

Prime Minister’s Independence Day address highlighted two distinct features:

  • We are currently witnessing India’s most propitious moment in recent history, and that both domestic and global conditions have become favorable for the country to launch its drive to emerge as a developed economy by 2047

  • There is still a lot of work to do and that all of us, the 1.4 billion citizens of India have to pull together, work even harder, and with a firm resolve to make India one of the leading economies in the world

If, as the Prime Minister exhorted us, we resolve to achieve the goal of being a developed economy by 2047 and rebuild the national character around that resolve, we will successfully reverse two centuries of colonial exploitation.

India’s share in the global economy in 1850, prior to coming under British rule, was 18.5 percent of the global economy. By emerging as a developed economy in 2047, India will be well on its way to regaining its share, which will also be commensurate with the country’s share in the world population.


Youth Workforce and Women Empowerment

Already, as the Prime Minister pointed out, India has become the fifth-largest economy in the world and is well on its way to becoming the third-largest over the next five years. In this context, we will, however, do well to remember two caveats to this otherwise remarkable achievement.

One, even when we become the third largest economy in the world, our average per capita income will continue to remain around a fifth of the global average per capita income.

Secondly, the Chinese and the US economies will be perhaps five and seven times larger than us in 2029. Let’s remember that in 1990, the Chinese GDP was $396 billion and India was not too far behind with a GDP of $326 billion. Today China is six times larger than us. We will have to work with national resolve and zero complacency to ensure that this gap does not widen in the coming years.

The Prime Minister highlighted India’s biggest competitive advantage of having the largest young population in the world. This is the crux of our demographic dividend which will remain with us until 2047. Being digitally empowered, this young population is amenable to high-quality skilling and contributes to making Indian industry and services sectors globally competitive.

Bringing in a larger number of women workers into the workforce and equipping them with the latest technological equipment like drones will further enhance both the quantity and quality of our workforce in the coming years. This women-led development combined with a focus on balanced regional development and the firm resolve of our young working population to produce only the best in the world, will ensure India’s rapid, equitable, and sustainable growth. There are "no ifs and buts" to this prospect of India becoming the beacon of sustainable and equitable growth for the world community.

This prospect has energized the global community’s confidence in India’s development potential. At the same time, the Indian people have also now become ever more confident that the government is committed to their welfare. This dual confidence of the global community and of Indian citizens has meant that India has today emerged as the voice of the global South and its position on the high table of global governance in the G-20 is better entrenched than ever before. As the host of the next G-20 summit, India is pushing some major global reform agenda that is essential for reducing the carbon footprint and pushing forward with women empowerment.


Participation of the Common Citizen in India's Growth

This all-around confidence in India has come about as a result of the government’s ability to successfully execute its promise of reform, performance, and transformation. The Prime Minister emphatically pointed out that India of 2023 is vastly different from India of a decade ago. Infrastructure development, digital connectivity, electricity availability, and access to quality health and education have all improved manifold.

There is simply no denying that the common Indian sees her economic status as having greatly improved over the last ten years. This is amply reflected in more than 135 million people having been lifted out of multi-dimensional poverty. 80 million jobs have been generated with the help of Mudra loans and the large handouts to the farmers both as direct cash payments and in the form of Rs 10 lakh crore of subsidy for Urea have implied widespread welfare enhancement. The Prime Minister has therefore quite rightly taken credit for bringing about all such multi-dimensional improvement in peoples’ lives.

What of the future? The Prime Minister announced a few new schemes such as those for the traditional artisans under the Vishwakarma yojna; that for converting 20 million rural women intolakhpatis; further strengthening fiscal federalism after having increased the fiscal transfers to the states three-fold (from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 100 lakh over the last nine years).

All these will contribute to broad basing economic growth and making it more equitable. However, I was waiting to hear the measures that the government will take to ignite private investors’ animal spirits and remove the fear and uncertainty that today hangs over the investment climate. I suppose that will perhaps come as a part of the election manifesto, parts of which have surely been displayed in this speech.

For me, the most promising and optimistic feature of the speech was the Prime Minister’s repeated exhortation to the common citizen for becoming a full-fledged participant in the national resolve and effort to make India a developed economy by 2047. India’s development trajectory will inflect upward qualitatively and irrevocably once development becomes a public movement.

The promise to make governance as transparent and as accountable as possible and for rooting out corruption and rent-seeking from our economic processes will surely facilitate greater participation of the people in development. For these promises to be grounded and bring about real behavioral change, could be the real test in making India a developed economy by 2047.

(The author is the Chairman of Pahle India Foundation and former Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

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Topics:  Independence Day 

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