In the wake of destruction spread across the world spearheaded by COVID-19, we have seen countries that were considered to be superpowers render powerless as their administrative, judicial, and financial systems fall apart. In the period of a few months, these countries have neared social and economical poverty. As global trade systems began closing down in the way of a worldwide lockdown, the need for every country to provide for itself in all the necessary aspects was strengthened. With a critical outlook regarding the economic crisis which India would face in this situation, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in his speech addressing the entire nation on 12th May, announced the beginning of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
Atmanirbhar means ‘self-reliant’. Reducing unemployment, poverty, and insolvency as well as increasing India’s per capita GDP were the main goals behind this initiative. Besides these, a secondary goal behind enforcing this ordeal was also to build up and strengthen the various sectors in India in such a way that we would be able to face any worldwide crisis such as the ongoing pandemic situation without incurring any or much loss to the various administrative, industrial and financial systems and hence, the nation.
During the announcement of this initiative, the Prime Minister also quoted the importance of self-reliance present in ancient texts such as the Isha Upanishad. Another line from the text of Mahabharata bearing similar reference was –
The translation of these lines encourages the acceptance of something of an inferior level which you earned on your own rather than accepting something better for which you had to depend on someone else.
Five Pillars of the Scheme
In the face of this pandemic situation, many countries including India received a hard blow to their economy. The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan was initiated in order to restore the damage caused, to give India a boost in the race of becoming one of the top global markets, and to make our systems self-reliant and hence, resilient to economic shocks in the future. For it is the reliance on self that induces resilience in self. The change in the economic situation is envisioned to be more like a quantum leap and not just an incremental change.
The shortcomings and needs in the field of infrastructure were highlighted in the lockdown period. Development of better infrastructure with detailed planning after taking these shortcomings into consideration is one of the objectives of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. This new framework will be the identity of modern India.
As the country steps into an age driven by innovation and technology, the key to its next step is an equally adaptive and advanced system. The administration, management, finance, judiciary, and all such systems will witness a change in their norms according to the objectives of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. These new norms will be developed with the ability to fulfill the 21st-century goals and dreams set by India.
Demography of a country is concerned with the population and all aspects surrounding it. India has a history full of diversity in unity. This being one of the main sources of energy for fulfilling the dream of a self-reliant India, its development should be supported critically. Vibrant demography is the goal we wish to achieve and uphold in the modern era through the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
The demand-supply chain in the Indian economy is one of our major strengths. Harnessing this strength to its full potential will be highly beneficial while walking towards our goals. For this to happen, every link in the chain must be empowered, as recognized by the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
What are the highlights of the Idea?
Special Economic Package
Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan campaign, a special economic package has been released by the government, which will benefit various sectors like the cottage industry, MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises), laborers, middle class, and industries, among others. The economic package that was announced by the Prime Minister during the lockdown period is around INR 20 lakh crore, which is about 10 percent of India’s GDP. It is expected to support and strengthen various sections of the country and give a renewed boost to the development of the country in the coming years. The Land, Labour, Liquidity, and Laws have also been emphasized in this package with a view of strengthening the grounds of a self-reliant India. The package is further divided into five tranches or sections according to the specific goals to be achieved.
As the citizens started facing discomfort due to the lockdown, they also realized the importance of self-reliance. Due to this, many citizens, both individually and in groups, have started supporting the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat by undertaking tasks and initiatives on smaller but significant scales. People have started turning to local goods rather than imported ones. Social media now buzzes with the chants of #VocalForLocal. This hashtag calls on the people to support upcoming small scale households to boost the Indian economy. Mass media advertisements of the same have proven successful in creating awareness among the citizens.
Benefits of Atmanirbhar Bharat
Modification of critical sectors in a globally competitive and attractive way.
A huge boost to the supply chain logistics industry.
Steady and incremental change in the e-Commerce industry.
Increased production and reach of medical supplies and food grains.
An expected increase in employment opportunities.
Direct cash transfers with increased liquidity to the accounts of daily wage earners and laborers to support their survival in this lockdown period.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan before Covid-19
Although the first official announcement regarding the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan was made during the lockdown on 12th May 2020, the seeds of this initiative had been sown years ago through different campaigns all paving the road towards a common destination. As announced by our Prime Minister, the various reforms and projects undertaken in the past 6 years were all supporting the same ideology and goal of a modern India.
The Make in India project was also one of these initiatives. Started in 2014, the basic aim behind this project was to locally manufacture and process the items which were generally imported. Increased support to robust local supply chains, reduced charges of taxes and facilities and other such investments proved to be a critical factor in setting this project into motion.
Another such project was Demonetization in 2016. The introduction of new denominations of currency, as well as retrieval of huge sums of black money which was being hoarded, was successfully accomplished. This certainly helped the economy in the walk towards a successful future.
Atmanirbhar Bharat in a Post-Pandemic World
Hence, we see that the dream of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Self-reliant India’ has been our goal for a long time. COVID-19 and the lockdown which followed were responsible for providing the required attention, seriousness, and atmosphere to build a strong foundation for this initiative. But the main part, the task of scaling a hypothetical mountain, now lies ahead of us.
To make India a reliable manufacturing hub, some immediate reforms will require undertaking as soon as the pandemic reaches an end. These reforms have certain objectives which are –
Raising the domestic competitiveness of our industries by assessing, managing, and eliminating the factors which make them uncompetitive with respect to foreign industries.
Boosting the export sector in a way that provides equal opportunities to Indian producers in the international market so that domestic taxes or duties are not exported.
Creating and developing entire value chains for domestic manufacturing of goods such that we are no longer dependent on other raw materials, semi-finished goods, or finished goods in respective sectors.
Expedition of schemes and reforms announced recently regarding both private and public sectors in order to receive a headstart in the post-pandemic stage.
These objectives will be our stairway to the main goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat which is to transform our economy into one which will be respected, renowned, and unparalleled on the global level.
The post-COVID-19 world is expected to be more focused on its internal affairs and hence, the immediate priority will be given to the domestic industry. The policies which will be declared in the future are also expected to be more reactive and vigilant to measures undertaken by different countries for managing their own economies. Thus, it is an ideal opportunity for India to transform into a manufacturing hub by identifying its own manufacturing capabilities and using this crisis as an opportunity to scale up the production process. This will bring the nation one step ahead as modern times approach.
The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan aims to embrace the future with massive development in the economy of India. The ongoing pandemic situation has provided an excellent opportunity for this campaign to gain momentum. The nation follows the clarion call given by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi – ‘आपदा को अवसर में बदलना है।’– which means that we must turn the disaster into an opportunity. India will soon develop an economy that is resilient to future threats. While being self-reliant in nature, India will also follow ‘Make in India, Make for the world’ in its manufacturing and trade policies.
The important phase of this initiative begins in the post-pandemic period. While the foundation is currently being laid, the part of seeing the initiative through to its end still remains. A boosted economy, technologically advanced sectors, and a self-reliant approach will lead India to the global peak. Thus, Atmanirbhar Bharat will result in the birth of modern India.
Editor’s Note The world is going through a tough time right now. In a time where several countries are fighting to bring their economies back up, India is moving towards more development. The people of this country are indeed supporting Make in India and the Atmanirbhar Bharat Movement. The article perfectly talks about how the country India has turned a disaster into an opportunity and is taking small steps towards a greater economy.