- I am happy to share my views with the very attentive audience on the subject 'Transformation of India' through this lecture organized by Akashwani in the memory of the first President of Independent India.
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad devoted lifelong for the prosperous Independent India. The Journey from a student activist to Independent India's first President, is a great saga of his indomitable capacity, his resolution and commitment towards the country and society. It also reflects the democratic values vested in Indian politics, where a student activist became the first President of Independent India due to his strong determination and eagerness to do the service.
- India has changed in the past seventy years and it is transforming every moment.
- Friends, the picture of this transformation cannot be reflected merely by the comparative data. Transformation in the society is not only quantitative but also qualitative and it is necessary to recognize it.
- After the first Lok Sabha election in May 1952, while addressing the newly elected MPs for the first time, Rajendra Babu expressed deep concern over the country's foodgrain problem. India's gross National Income at that time was only Rs.03 lakh crore and the country was importing foodgrains on high prices. From that situation, today we have become self-reliant in agricultural foodgrains. After the success of the Green Revolution, today, through the White Revolution, India is the largest producer of milk throughout the world. Fishery is being promoted by the Blue Revolution. Nation is also moving towards self-sufficiency in the production of pulses and oilseeds. With the productivity of food grains today we are developing food processing sector. Today our country's gross national income has reached upto 120 lakh crores.
- In the earlier five year plans the emphasis was on industrialization and to establish public undertakings. Earlier, the economy of the country was limited and was cut off from the world market. For the purpose of achieving industrial self-sufficiency, the option of import was emphasized. Today, under "Make in India" scheme we are inviting overseas manufacturers to set up their industries in the country and we are using foreign capital for accelerated development of the country.
- We have increased the limit of FDI to 100% in many sectors. Today India is playing a key role in the global economy. We have more than US $ 370 billion foreign currency reserve. India's economy today is known as the 'power engine' of the world economy. After liberalization of the country's economy in 1991, we have worked to connect our economy with the world economy. This was a big challenge for us.
- We are today equal stakeholder in the WTO. For protection of our interests, we raise strong voice in the WTO negotiations. We urge developed countries to open their economy for our country. We are using our traditional knowledge, crafts and artistry as intellectual property, so that traditional groups and the society can get the benefit of this intellectual property. Similarly, on international agreements regarding environment and climate change, we are expanding our renewable energy by fulfilling our responsibility. As a result, today under the leadership of India, the International Solar Organization was constituted and its headquarters were established in India.
- Our achievements in the field of space science make founders of our country proud. Today we are not only launching satellites of our own country but also of developed countries. Record of launching highest number of 104 satellites in one go is a commendable achievement of ISRO.
- We have inherited sacraments of world peace, from generations. Every generation has preserved this heritage. In the parochial religious, political world, India has been constantly spreading the message of peace. Peace, harmony and recognising the world as a family are the basic pillars of our eternal culture. Following the basic principles of peaceful coexistence, we have always contributed to the peacekeeping efforts of United Nations. It is a matter of pride for us that India has participated in about 50 missions, out of 71 Nations peacekeeping missions. Only a few listeners will know that India was the first country which sent women's group in the peace squad of the United Nations. After that other countries followed us.
- I would like to mention a recent important event in this context. Representative of our country, Justice Shri Dalbir Bhandari has been re-elected in the International Court of Justice. For the first time in the history of 71 years of the International Court, there is no representative from Britain. This achievement of India is being seen as changing equations in world politics, in which India is emerging as a responsible and economically and strategically powerful nation. What would be a biggest example of transformation that today the colonial rulers of India are giving thrust on cordiality with India.
- Rajendra Babu and the politicians of that time started the yajna against colonialism, and that yajna is getting success. India is emerging todat as a major economic power at the international level. As a result of its economic super power, the status of India is like a big brother in south Asian countries and that is why it is playing an important role in the development of south Asian countries by reconstruction of South Asian countries, especially Afghanistan, resolving the problem of water sharing between Indo-Bangladesh and by promoting economic cooperation between India-Nepal.
- For the last few years, we have taken legal steps to make liberalization faster and more responsive based on previous experiences. Old laws are being revoked and new laws and policies are introduced. New policies are being effectively reviewed. Effective steps are being taken to make democratic rule in good governance. I wish the benefit and happiness of Swarajya reach to all Indians. We are making many efforts to strengthen the good governance through this ambition.
- Dear countrymen, In the process of transforming India, the role of information technology remained very important in the last about three decades. This revolution of information technology is being used by the Centre and various State Governments to facilitate and simplify the lives of general public at large scale. Various services being provided by the governments to the citizens are being constantly brought under the purview of e-governance. I hope that the efforts of Central and State Governments to provide e-Governance will be helpful in providing good governance to the citizens.
- Among these efforts, the Central Government's 'Digital India' scheme is remarkable. I am confident that in the coming days, India will emerge as a completely digital society and nation on the world screen. In this endeavour we have to pay special attention to our rural areas. As large part of our population lives in the villages, our dream of digital India can be realized only when we put our villages on our 'digital map' as soon as possible.
- To promote Digital Transaction and to make the Indian talent competitive in front of the world, we have to achieve the goal of literacy cent per cent. For a long time after independence, we maintained the bureaucracy and the same methodology which we got from the Britishers. With the changing needs, it was necessary to cut red tapism. Good governance was required to be assessed on the standard of competency, transparency and efficiency.. Digital India and e-Governance are being implemented extensively at every level. E-processes have been started in many areas such as banking, taxation, foreign trade, transport etc. Several government services and statistics have been digitized. This has reduced nexus between the government machinery and the public and good governance based on rules is being implemented by curtailing the scope of authority. Transparency and accountability have been ensured in the administration through the right to information.
- Democratic Government is expected to work on the ideals of Antyodaya. A democratic Government must be inclined with the day-today struggle of the common man. Who does not want cleanliness in their surroundings?As the women and girls are free from defecation in the open and they are secured due to this, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan of the Government has received widespread public support. 1300 cities have been declared free from defecation in the open. Over 4 lakh private toilets have been constructed in the cities. I am happy that this campaign is more successful in the villagesas compared to the cities. About 5.5 million private toilets have been constructed. About 2.75 lakh villages have been declared free from defecation in open. Even under 'Namami Gange', 4400 villages have been declared free from defecation in open which will help in cleansing the rivers.
- Sex ratio is a hindrance towards the development and empowerment of women. Today, female foeticide is a legal crime, but we have not been able to curb it fully. Today social attitude towards women has changed from a positive campaign like 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'.
- Today, a conducive environment towards women is being created by the joint efforts of the society and the government. In traditional society like Haryana, the sex ratio of females has risen to 900 for the first time in many years.
- Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Pandit Nehru had different views on certain issues including inauguration of the rebuilt Somnath Temple in Gujarat.
- Both Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Sardar Vallabhai Patel felt the reconstruction ought to be done quickly because it was a matter of ‘Rashtriya Swabhiman’, and with K.M. Munshi who also wanted to see Somnath Reconstructed swiftly. In that sense Sardar Patel, Rajendra Babu and Munshi thought alike because the dilapidated condition of the Somnath Mandir troubled them no end.
- President Rajendra Prasad participated in the ceremony to re-install the Somnath Lingam on May 11, 1951. At the inaugural ceremony, Rajendra Prasad said that although monuments can be destroyed, the bond that people have with their culture and faith can never be destroyed.
- India is a country of youth. Here 65 percent of the population is young. They have indomitable power and faith. In order to achieve the above goal, it is necessary for the youth to have faith in Bharat Bhoomi, Indian culture, society and values of Indian life. The role of youth is important for thedevelopment of India. This is our demographic dividend. To ensure their involvement in development, a framework for skill development has been prepared in order to emphasize on making these youth efficient. In addition, to increase self-employment, the women entrepreneurs and SC / ST entrepreneurs have been benefited from the Mudra Yojana.
- To encourage entrepreneurship among the youth to motivate them for self-employment in the country, the schemes like 'Start-up India' have been implemented. This scheme will prove to be effective in converting the idea to innovation and innovation to enterprises.
- The entrepreneurs of towns and villages are being included in the banking system under the Jan-dhana Yojana to provide them bank loans on easy terms. Under this, more than 30 crore new accounts have been opened so far, and about 68000 crore rupees have been deposited in these accounts. A large section of the population has been included in the banking system.
- It is a matter of happiness that this year we have reached 100th place in the list of 'Ease of doing Business' of the World Bank. Our aim is to reach among the world's first 50 economies. The problem of unemployment can be addressed by business and self-employment only.
- An important visionary transformation of Indian tax system is going on through GST. The dream of 'one country, one market' has come true with the implementation of GST in the country from 1st July, 2017. First time GST Council was established in a new system with States which will decide the GST rates. This system is a unique example of collaborative federalism. It is natural to have difficulties in implementing the new system - for both tax officials and tax payers. But it is in the interest of the countrymen and it can prove useful in strengthening the economic system of India.
- At the time of independence our economy was agriculture based economy. Even today, most of the population lives in villages. But in the past decades, urbanization has increased rapidly. Today the cities are being developed as 'Engine of Growth'. 2/3rd of GDP and 90% revenue of the country comes from cities. But with urbanization, there is a need to strengthen the urban infrastructure. Plans like Smart City, AMRIT, HRIDAY are the efforts in this direction.
- Providing connectivity to the rural areas and to bring them into the mainstream of the economy is the most important effort. Today we are providing electricity to 18000 villages. 685 mandis of the country are being digitally connected through E-NAM by which the farmers will get a wider market for their product. About 1.67 lakh residential areas are targeted to be connected under the Gramin Sadak Yojana.
- Today the country has a road network of 55 lakh km in which 1.14 lakh km are national highways, 1.61 lakh kilo metre are the state highways and about 4 lakh km are rural roads. 76000 villages have been connected with optical fiber connectivity. The financial inclusion of villages has been done extensively from the accounts opened under the Jan-Dhana Yojana. When more villages will be connected with the economy, the economy will expand and stability will come. Today there is no shortage of power supply in the country. By March 2019, the goal is to provide electricity at cheap rates to every household of every village and every city.
- Employment and Nutrition are being ensured among the weaker sections under MNREGA and Food Security Act. Undoubtedly, we are moving towards making a new India through the ideals of Antyodaya.
- It is a matter of pride for us that Today, India is the world's largest democracy. Today, in the world, India is being seen as an ideal democracy, which unites 1.25 billion people of different castes, religions, communities, languages; in one constitutional and democratic system. Panchayati Raj was established through the 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Constitution. By giving 33% reservation to women in Panchayati Raj Institutions were made the medium of political empowerment of women. This system should be considered for implementation in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies as well.
- Friends, the flow of evolution is sustainable; the challenges in it provide opportunities. There are also many challenges before us, for example:
Black Money and Corruption - In the absence of regulatory control and lack of legal control intended for free market, corruption has increased. Bringing new legislations in place of old laws and their constant review is necessary. Black money is hollowing our economy. After the demonetisation, an increase of 25% in income tax return filing and an increase of 41% in advance tax collection indicate the success of demonetization against black money. I urge the countrymen to move towards cash-less economy and to do business in digital mode.
The problem of agriculture and farmers - Although we have become self-reliant in foodgrains, even today agriculture is the high risk occupation. The farmer is still dependent on the weather and the government. It is necessary to increase investment in agriculture, reduce dependence of farmers on weather, develop irrigation facilities, farmers get market and value for their crops. Most landless and small farmers have to take loans from moneylenders and unauthorized sources. This situation needs to be changed. At the same time, by diversifying businesses and agriculture in the rural areas, the dependence on farming must be reduced. Food processing should also be paid more attention.
The divisive tendencies like Terrorism, Naxalism, Extremism - The country has been struggling against divisive trends such as cross border terrorism, naxalism and regionalism which are influencing the country for the last 40 years. Our security forces have overcome these challenges with indomitable courage and conscientiousness. Nevertheless, a global consensus and action plan is required to end cross-border terrorism. The venom of political violence is spreading in the country and it should be curbed immediately.
Development of infrastructure -- Though India reached the 36th position of the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index 2016, still if India has to maintain the rapid growth rate, then investment is required to be made in infrastructure development. It will require huge capital investment and technical knowledge.
Investment in social sector -- Our investment in social sector, including education, health, is only 7.4% of total GDP, in which 3.2% of GDP on education and only 1.5% on health is spent. This situation needs to be improved.
- I am confident that the elected democratic governments should be aware of these challenges and they will convert these challenges into opportunity of development. All Indians should face these challenges in an organized manner. We have to find solutions for complex problems.
- Friends, the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949 approved the constitution. In his presidential remarks on this occasion Dr. Rajendra Prasad thoroughly analysed the philosophy and constitutional beliefs behind the entire Constitution which is a guide for future policy-makers and jurists. He said :
Ultimately, any Constitution is a lifeless thing like a machine. It gets life through humans who control it, and implement it. Today India needs some honest people only for whom country's interest is paramount.
- The country will complete 75 years of independence in 2022. The journey of development is sustainable and eternal. It is necessary that our efforts be honest, effective and for public welfare. The commitment of the leadership of the democratic system towards these goals is very important.
- We all want to see a transformed India. Clean India, healthy India, literate India, capable India, strong India, Samras (Equal) India is our dream. This is the wish of all the Indians. If there is a strong resolution in the mind, good sense in heart and skill in the work, then this dream can be realized.
- Cooperative federalism as well as competitive federalism is also required. The aspiration to move towards development should be strong among the States. If the state compete to increase the pace of development, then the progress of the country will also be accelerated.
- Today, the idea at the centre of world is finance, science and politics. But the protection of humanity cannot be limited to these three viewpoints only. Apart from these there are many things that give stability to the life. For this it is necessary to create an understanding of Indian philosophy, culture, society and life values.
- The 21st century will be India's century. It can be achieved only on the basis of Indian philosophy, culture, values and the stable society.
- The occasion of the 133rd birth anniversary of Rajendra Babu on 3rd December, I hope that the Indian Parliament and the Government will work with greater faith and devotion in the coming years in the virtuous work of transforming the country as per his aspirations. I dedicate this lecture to the sacred memory of Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
Thanks! Jai Hind !