Leap of faith

It is double celebration time, today. As we welcome the New Year, we have stepped into the first day of the 21st Century’s second decade. We, as a nation, might have been weighed down a bit on confidence count by past year’s unending stories of the global economic downturn and the excruciatingly slow pace of recovery. India, though, has fared better than most during the testing times of the past one year. One year is too short in the life of a nation. That is why it is relevant for us to have a decadal perspective of what the first decade of this century has meant to us as we look to the future.

Ten years ago, the world acknowledged that the 21st Century would belong to India and China. This prognosis may not be erroneous. For one, India’s image in the comity of nations has changed in the first decade of the century. There is no more the talk of that ‘Hindu growth rate’ of India — a euphemism for slow economic and high population growth rates. If the economy grew by an average of about six per cent in the first half of the decade, it gained momentum to record an average of 8.5 per cent in the next five years. There is near-consensus at home and abroad about sustaining this growth story in the decades to come. It is also recognition of the need to translate this growth rate into better standards of living for all sections, in particular to bridge the urban-rural divide. While it might be early to draw any definitive conclusion about their effectiveness, mega schemes like the national rural employment programme have been launched to ensure that the rural poor join India’s growth story. But it is by now accepted that the last decade of the national coalition polity has significantly strengthened the democratic polity’s participatory essence.

Yet, there are serious and fundamental challenges that act as obstacles: lack of political and bureaucratic accountability, pervasive corruption, myriad socio-economic tensions, etc. A galloping India has not only drawn the world’s attention, it has also attracted the underworld, what with organised international terrorist groups making the country their target. We have to demonstrate far more commitment to combat the menace, particularly since the country’s immediate neighbourhood is the epicentre of global terrorism. As our national quest for peaceful development will have to surmount these roadblocks, we have a responsibility that we cannot duck: to avert an environmental disaster while seeking economic growth and development.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry