Are we inching towards New India?
New India is a golden buzz word that’s gone viral these days. But, what is this New India exactly? Some say it is the strength and skills of 125 crore Indians, some describe it is the strength of the poor, the young and women, while some call it the India that fulfills the Indian dream of young people and some others say it’s a dream to make in India.
India has an unrivaled youth demographic: 65% of its population is 35 or under, and half the country’s population of 1.25 billion people is under 25 years of age and comprises of 14% of eligible voters. We witnessed a new record of 66.4% of voting in 2014 for the first time in the country, which was likely due to large participation by young voters.
Taking a holistic view one can elucidate that New India is the Young India aspiring to live a dignified and corruption-free life by transforming India into a land of opportunities and inclusiveness using their own strength and skills. Young India is also unclouded of the fact that they can only metamorphose the country by changing their attitudes on their own along with some support from the Government.
This aspiration of young people to live a dignified and corruption-free life is unlike a conventional Indian mind set. They want to stand on their own feet to create jobs not seek jobs and want to become entrepreneurs who can employ many more like them. Already, a silent entrepreneurial revolution has been sweeping the country for many years and many young Indians with great ideas have been writing their success stories by launching digital, agricultural, industrial and other products and services. Now their expectations have gone a notch above with government schemes like Skill India, Start up India, Digital India and Clean India that complement the mood and inclination of Young Indians.
About 10 million youth enters into job market every year and mostly poor, who cannot afford higher education and do not have enough money to get professional training to get a job or start any business of their own. Skill India aspires to skill and train 40 crores of Indians in different skills by 2022 through financial and hand holding support. Under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana already 18 lakh people have been trained. For e.g. Some 60,000 in leather sector, 1.37 lakh in agriculture sector, 1.28 lakh in beauty and wellness sector. Most of the people trained are absorbed by the industry facing shortage of skilled people. SBI and other banks offer loans up to Rs.1.5 lakhs for adding skills.
As per data 6003 skill accounts were opened in various banks and Rs.38.663 crore was sanctioned. Oracle has enhanced the number of students in its training facility in India to train them in digital skills. Japan’s private companies are also investing in training institutions for Japan style manufacturing in rural areas in some states like Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is quite clear that young poor Indians are taking support from these government schemes. However the biggest challenge will be to provide jobs after skill training by placing them in domestic and global manpower needs. Recently, 500 startups were recognized by the government. It gave tax exemptions to some of them, handhold support and funds to others. Under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana more than 7.45 crore entrepreneurs received collateral loans of 3.17lakh crore to establish their own set ups.
New India deserve new, simple, stricter, less time consuming, transparent and implementable laws. GST, will make one tax law with a common national market and reduced tax burdens on young and new entrepreneurs. Another positive action through new wage amendment law will be that a large section of poor youth working in IT, Health and other unorganized sectors shall be paid wage in a transparent manner and not face any unwarranted cuts by their employers. For the young mothers who want to become entrepreneurs or get absorbed in the industry the new maternity law will really benefit and empower them to balance their work life with the taking care of their new born babies. New York Times recently reported that new insolvency and bankruptcy law is already working well in India to check the enormous bad debts, making it easier to dissolve a company and recover money, thus, becoming attractive to even international investors.
Digital India is transforming India especially the youth into digitally empowered society. In its recent report on internet use in rural India New York Times stated that despite lack of basic infrastructural facilities in villages mobile users have increased in leaps and bounds. Young rural people are accepting the positive use of the new technology of internet. Now, the very challenging task is to digitize the rural areas. Till now, optical fiber connectivity which was only for 59 Gram Panchayats in 2014 has reached to 90,996 Gram Panchayats in last three years. 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats will have common service centers for internet use. 1,50,000 post offices are also proposed to be used as common points for digital services.
Youth are getting involved in collaborating, influencing and sharing government policies at www.India.gov.in and around 42 lakh people use this website to put forth their views. Further, there are 4.55 Million data downloads from this site. Digital transactions have increased 3-folds in last 6 months from 96 lakh per day to 3.5 crores per day in March 2017. There are 2 crore downloads of the BHIM app which proves Young people are comfortable with dealing in cashless transactions. E-governance is able to deliver services to the citizens in particular youth in a transparent, convenient and efficient way. Around 114 crore population have Aadhaar which provides digital and biometric identity to all citizens to deliver government services and subsidies to poor without any middleman in between. By digitally linking PAN and Aadhaar terror financing and circulation of black money is aimed to be curbed.
The most important transformation youth want to see is clean surroundings. The general mind set is to clean one’s own house and throw garbage on the road, rivers or any public place in the country. Young people who work in western countries love to talk about the clean surroundings and how they also contribute to keep the surroundings clean and hygienic, but when it comes to India they put their head in shame. A report was published in The Washington Post in 2009 that Indian girls refuse to marry if there was no toilet in groom’s house. For several years Social Media has been used by the young people to create awareness in cleaning public places by displaying their pictures to inspire many more.
Many youth voluntarily participated in cleaning the public places. This youth endeavor became one of the inspiration for Swacch Bharat mission to make cleanliness everyone’s business. Separate Toilets for girls in schools have got constructed to a large extent in last few years ensuring dignity and safety of women. This has increased enrollment of girls in school. Open defecation has come down from 550million villages to350 million villages. Some 1, 90,000 villages, 130 districts and 3 states have declared themselves open defecation free, sanitation in our villages has gone up from 42% to 63%. A lot of challenge still remains in keeping the country clean on permanent basis by changing the mind sets and also vigorous involvement of local government.
The above examination provides a simpler but, more perspicuous understanding that the Young India is positively and fully inching towards New India. The scene is very constructive and vivid. The various missions that complement youth aspirations have lot of challenges to overcome and their progress has to match the youth fervor. Along with these schemes and implementation of new and strict laws government will also have to lessen its controls and create a system where the cost of being corrupt and dishonest is so high that every citizen aspires to do right and live an honest life. That can be a gift of a new Indian Dream to New India.
Tripti Mathur Mehra is a civil servant and serves as FA&CAO in Indian Railways.