Since independence, there have only been a few ‘transformative’ points in India’s history which promised to change the fundamentals of our society. Some notable ones include – the green revolution, 1971 war, nuclear tests, 1991 liberalisation reforms.
Although such events have been important in their own right, they didn’t fully solve issues that the country was facing. Green revolution was great for the short term but farmers today still aren’t self sufficient; the 1971 war made Pakistan weak but it was still able to bleed India for decades post that; India showed a steely resolve during nuclear tests but that didn’t mean an independent and strong foreign policy; 1991 opened the country for global trade but only the bare minimum reforms were done to keep the economy afloat. People tried to bask in the glory of these events for bit too long without realizing that more was needed. Nation building can’t be limited to one time events. For a nation with second highest population to become a world leader, plent more effort was required.
Which is why some developments after 2014 are significant. Many changes brought recently can be termed transformative than tactical. More specifically, there are three major low hanging fruits which have been plucked in the last seven years –
First, the negativity around being an Indian has dropped.
People who are frustrated as Indians are far overnumbered by the people who have new found aspirations. Imagine a cricket team which has been told they can only play for participation and shouldn’t worry about winning – that was a good way to define Indians esp. during peak sadboi period of the 2004 – 2013 UPA rule.
According to a 2021 IPSOS survey, more than 70% of urban Indians (compared to only 29% in 2014*) thought their country was making the right moves versus the global average of 34%.
And this effect is not only contained to urban areas. Tangible changes in rural India show how a shift from frustration to aspiration is quietly taking place. Under the MUDRA scheme which was kicked off in 2015 for providing loans to setup small businesses, a whooping ₹80,000 crore were sanctioned during 2019-20 as loan in east India alone, to roughly 2 crore people. Contrast this to MGNREGS which caters to low skill jobs and was tauted as one of the biggest achievements during the decade preceding 2014. The total national budget for the scheme stands only at ₹71,000 crore for the comparable period.
Read full MUDRA 2019-20 report here; MGNREGS budget here.
India is finding the long lost self confidence absolutely essential if you are gearing to win as a team and not just end up being a participant on the global stage.
Second, it is no longer a tabboo to identify yourself as a nationalist.
The first point of this article revolved around individual character, which is closely associated to having a common social character. There needed to be a web of social cohesion connecting each Indian together. In a democratic nation setup, the best way to do so is by encouraging nationalism. More than ever, people are ready to look at the broad vision of taking the society as a whole to a better place in global order.
A staggering 96% Indians today identify themselves as proud Indians according to a 2021 Pew survey.
What’s more interesting is the increase in will to participate in democratic processes more actively than limited to being a once in 5 years voter.
There are very susbstantial examples of how a whole of country approach like this acts as a catalyst to sustainable growth including USA starting 1860s, Japan post 1945 or Singapore post independence.
Being a nationalist also insulates one from the inferiority complexes which sprouted as a result of long periods of rules by foreigners. It gives a confidence boost in the short term to be able to neglect short term distrations.
Third, actual physical infrastructure is being finally built like never before
Mass infrastructure is the physical manisfestation of the stage for India’s rise itself. The central government has shied away from giving short term doles wherever possible to focus on gains across digital, financial, logistical infrastructure.
India is leading the global fintech race by unleashing its tech potential on a population which has leapfrogged from not having bank accounts to making QR based payments on the go!
The country aims to produce 5 million tonnes^ of green hydrogen by 2030 – something that many even in the developed world would not have heard about. This would cut down imports of petrol and diesel while making India a net exporter in an entirely new category of the power sector.
Expressways, highways, high speed rail, metros, airports in small cities are the talk of town. Schemes focussed to provide all citizens with housing, water, electricity, kitchen fuel and healthcare are some other pivotal milestones on a resurgent India’s roadmap.
How these changes have happened over the past 7 years is a study in itself, so is the fact that although these were the necessary conditions for India to set stage for propulsion, they are in no way sufficient.