Her clarion over the dreaming earth
Shelley: Ode to the West Wind
PRADOSH C. MOHANTY
The Prime Minister’s call to make India a US$5 trillion economy in five years represents a very ambitious desire. To achieve this, the India’s GDP has to grow at 12% per annum.
Just consider our present position: We are the 19th poorest country in the world, with 70 million people in extreme poverty (as per the World Poverty Clock). Our per capita GDP is lower than that of Sri Lanka. We have ninth highest volume of renewable fresh water resources, but drinking water is a huge crisis all over the entire country. We have seven of the top 10 most polluted cities in the world, all around the national capital of New Delhi. Our life expectancy has decreased 2-5 years for this pollution, whereas the previous smog-bound cities of China reduced their pollution by 12% within a year, over the 2017-18 period.
We have made our cities unlivable.
Our population is 136 crores at present and we are all set to become the most populous country by 2025, growing by 1.43% annually in comparison to China’s 0.7%. Adding about 1.7 crores of people annually, we are creating the combined population of Switzerland and UAE every year. We suffer from heat waves, floods, famines and cyclones every year. Our unemployment rate is the highest in several decades. Over half of our population depends upon agriculture which contributes only 15% to our GDP. In education and healthy care, we are way behind the global average standard. Extreme paucity of doctors and absence of basic educational infrastructure – forget about quality – are our biggest drawbacks.
In spite of all these we aspire for a better world.
The recent election must be seen as a victory of hope over the politics of opportunism, breaking the barrier of caste, creed, language and region. If people want it when the political establishment must deliver. But to achieve this, things cannot be business as usual. If we grow at 7%, then a US$5 trillion economy will be 10 years away. Supporting market for land and labour, energy supply and infrastructure have to better.
We may fail, but we must try and try unitedly. There cannot be any other slogan for any political party. The government should therefore build consensus at the earliest on minimum development programme and go ahead with it. The opposition parties should rise above their combative positions. Eradicating poverty by 2030, provision of drinking water for all, universal education and health care can no more be empty slogans, because their absence can very well trigger massive unrest. Every day we are witnessing protests by farmers, teachers, doctors, traders, etc. This would be intensified in future if we fail to deliver the goods.
The central and state governments, the opposition parties, the corporate world and, above all, the people, must heed to this clarion call and must work together to alter India’s identity. Over the past 50 years, very little progress has been made. We cannot afford to spend the next five decades the same way. With increasing public awareness and participation, we must march ahead, single-mindedly, without admitting the improbability of our future.