This article is written by Chandana Pradeep, from the School of Law, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun. This article analyzes how India is progressing towards being ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and how the economy can regain stability after the pandemic.
A self-reliant country is one that has limited dependence on any other country. Economist Theotonio Dos Santos had said that – ‘to be self-reliant the growth process of an economy should not become dominated or dependent on another economy’. It is very beneficial in today’s circumstances as being self-reliant has a lot of plus sides and it helps to create a strong economy which is the ultimate goal for a nation, as this shows that the nation is prospering and the people in these countries are content.
Even though another country and its relationship with the other countries should not affect it from reaching self-reliance, it should be a balanced approach, and sufficient help should be taken from other countries as no country can function independently and there is a high need for interdependence.
‘The efficient man is the man who thinks for himself’ – by Charles W. Elliot is the thought which is adopted by the Indian Government as a way to bounce the economy back after this pandemic and they have come up with the theme of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’, which is a self-reliant India and the pandemic has helped India realise this.
A brief background on Atma Nirbhar Bharat
The phrase ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ left the nation baffled after it was used by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ speech in May, 2020. However, this is not the first time where this idea was used, even though the names had been different over the years, the idea has been the same to be self-reliant, that is for India to his plan is said to benefit all sectors of the society from farmers to businessmen and it aims to see India gradually grow its economy with time.
Atma Nirbhar Bharat was earlier known as ‘Swadeshi’ and this concept was first talked about by Dadabhai Navroji in 1905, though it has been recognised even during the pre-independence era, and ever since that there has been a gradual desire to make India self-reliant. Other important personalities who have focused on the same are Pandit Jawarhal Lal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, etc., but none of these saw the desired effect.
Following that, every Five Year Plan that was drafted by the government had the objective to make India self-sufficient and self-reliant and to do this, it was to ensure that the dependence of India with other countries would not increase and should only be dependent in places where it was necessary to do so, the aim was to increase exports and to reduce imports to reach the goal but this never really pushed through due to different circumstances.
But this time around, there is a popular belief that India can make itself atma nirbhar as its approach will be different.
Why India needs it?
Due to the current pandemic that has been going on, for almost about a year now, different countries have been affected by it and India is no different. The pandemic has caused millions of people from all job sectors to lose their jobs and because of this, the working class has been most impacted by it, as they cannot easily manage to find new jobs and the pandemic does not make it any easier.
Due to the owing tension between China and other countries, there has been a decline in the manufacturing industry in China, as a majority of them are pulling out of China and finding other countries, and India makes it into the top five countries which could be an alternative for China. This is the need of the hour for India, as the dire situation of the people due to Covid-19 among other reasons calls for this. ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ is India’s way to bounce back and revive the economy easily after the pandemic.
As due to Atma Nirbhar Bharat there will be a lot of job opportunities for the working class that will be created because of the fact that there will be a lot of manufacturing hubs that will be created in India and as India will strive to be self-reliant and this will boost the economy of the country as well and make India, the hub of the manufacturing industry within a few years.
Success depends on how India negotiate terms with the US
The success of Atma Nirbhar depends on how it negotiates terms with major players such as the US as this is going to help India achieve its goal towards being a self-reliant country as this will provide a path for new opportunities in India which can be of benefit. But for any idea to work, there should be an effective plan that has to be drafted and the approach that should be adhered to should be different from what it was in the past years. Countries such as the United States, is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and they are a pure example of a free market economy and this can be seen throughout history, and if the negotiations between India and the United States go well, there are chances for the theme of ‘Atma Nirbhar’ to be a success as the US has a lot of Industries and Companies who can invest and this can be a game-changer for India.
This is so because if key players such as in a country like India for manufacturing products, etc., then the other countries will follow. For all of this to take place, India must stand out from other countries by making trading and international relations more flexible but at the same time not deviating from the main goal of making India ‘Atma Nirbhar’. India has to be a step ahead of what China was and cater to the needs of the other countries which it is seeking to ally with, and for this India has to develop certain areas such as technology, research and trade to make it easy for other countries to enter into agreements with India. Other methods include to support small scale businesses, the agriculture industry should focus on sustainability, etc. Even though it has been predicted that this economic recession is, even more, deadlier than the Great Depression, it can still bounce back, if it has a proper and efficient plan to execute.
Atma Nirbhar – to rebuild the economy
Atma Nirbhar has been initiated once again by the government with the sole intention of rebuilding the economy after the Pandemic, as there has been a lot of things which has been impacted such as the people who work for different sectors, and because they are being affected, the economy is in turn affected by the same. During the pandemic, global trade has been affected and has quite literally come to a dead end with mere movements once in a while and for it to regain what it once was, Atma Nirbhar is an option which has been availed by the government. To rebuild the economy, the five pillars of Atma Nirbhar, which are the economy, infrastructure, technology-driven system, vibrant demography and demand have to all play in sync with each other to achieve the ultimate goal of being self-reliant as a country. There are five phases which this campaign focuses on which are businesses which include MSME’s, poor people, agriculture, new horizons of growth, government reforms.
India has to churn out new methods to achieve atma nirbhar and not rely on what other countries have as their approach. It is easy for India to be a key player in many industries as it already has the prerequisites, it is a free trade economy as well as being a democracy, it makes it all the more hassle-free for other countries to enter into agreements with India. Majority of the policies which have been enforced by India, were all influenced by other countries such as the Washington Consensus, where the ten key points stated by the consensus were adopted by the Indian Government when its foreign reserves became dangerously low.
Another breakthrough for India would be if the export capacity in India would increase, as this would help substantially increase foreign revenue and capital which can be used by the government for other purposes such as upskilling but at the same time, there must be import substitute policy which targets only limited areas, to create a balance between the two. Investment on infrastructures are also a great idea which will help regain the stability in the economy as this will involve focusing on renewable energy such as solar etc, increased number of electric vehicles, due to the pandemic there has been a lot of energy-saving, policies can be introduced to adopt the same even in the post-covid era.
Situations that prove India is heading towards Atma Nirbhar Bharat
There has been a lot of situations which prove that India is heading towards being self-reliant such as:
Vocal for Local
Due to the owing tension between India and China, India has initiated ‘Vocal For Local’, which is a process where only local products will be preferred, and as a result of that, a decision was made to ban all Chinese products. This movement is extremely different from the previous movements that were initiated because not only is India opting for vocal for local but also wants to trade more of their locally produced goods to export them so that it reaches various parts of the world and thereby increasing their demand
Introduction of fiscal packages
The government has introduced fiscal packages with the help of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) an amount of Rupees 20 Lakh Crore has been set aside to be Atma Nirbhar which would be used in parts for various purposes.
India being a hub for manufacturing
Due to the Chinese relations being rocky with a lot of countries, India has been their choice and because of this, a lot of manufacturing has been taking place in India, an example of this would be the production and export of PPE Kits and N-95 masks to various countries in the time of the pandemic, developing a vaccine for the pandemic etc.
Resolution framework for MSMEs
There would be a new resolution framework specifically for MSMEs in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.
Privatisation for Public Sector Utilities
There has been an amendment where there will be the privatisation of Public Sector Utilities except for the ones which the government specifies. There have been various amendments that are taking place according to the phases that were discussed for the Atma Nirbhar campaign.
The need to focus on skills during the pandemic
The pandemic has changed everyone and their life has turned 360 degrees, it has caused people to rethink crucial things such as career options. The pandemic has affected each sector of the economy and because of that, for the post covid era, a completely different set of skills will be needed. In the post-Covid era, more focus is likely to go towards soft skills, and each job has their soft skills which people have to perfect to do exemplary work in the area of expertise as these skills are the building blocks that perfect them. The pandemic has changed the thinking of everyone especially in fields such as corporate and business fields, there is more importance given to soft skills such as:
The new age calls for new technological advancements and people need to adapt to them.
Thinking and cognitive skills
This pandemic has made people realise the need for having problem-solving and decision-making ability, as this is a crucial skill that is necessary for all jobs.
Covid-19 has shown the importance of people skills and how to manage relations with potential clients even amid situations such as a pandemic.
In the present world, a country being self-reliant is the ultimate goal and India has taken its first step towards this process amid this pandemic. Atma Nirbhar Bharat, though hard to implement, is an initiative worth taking as this helps India to be self-reliant. Though there are some downsides to the same such as it being time taking to see the results of it being hard to negotiate with countries, it is a risk worth taking as the outcome of it, if followed to the said extent would bear fruits in the long run as India is not far from being the next manufacturing hub.
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