India @75; What It Attains And Standstills in 75 Years

India is commemorating it’s 75th Independence Day, and entire nation is doing its bit by taking part in ‘Har Ghar Tiranga’ as announced by the government. Almost houses, offices private and government across the nation is full of ‘Tiranga’ on this occasion. It is just to show the solidarity with its boarder defenders. Since India’s first independence on August 15, 1947, to now at its 75th birthday, the country has progressed a lot, however, there is much to be done at all facades i.e., Social-Inclusiveness, Defense, Economic, Judiciary, Women Empowerment, Polity etc.

Courts performed very poorly on accessibility as well as only 27% of court complexes were found to be fully accessible through ramps and/or lifts, only 11% had designated washrooms for persons with disabilities and only 2% had built-in visual aid features.

At 75, the official celebrations mustn’t be limited to its usual hosting flag and traditional decorum, and it cannot be evading the truth and reality that we still have; by and large we still find disparity in each section of democratic setups, executive, legislative and judiciary and the media as well.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that political power is the only factor that can help. Without it, a people remain voiceless. Look at these numbers: The Constituent Assembly, which was convened before Independence to draft the Constitution, had 389 members, of which 11 were women. The present Parliament has 785 members, with 78 women among them.

Over the last seven decades, the Indian economy has seen several ups and downs. The country has gone from having a GDP of just Rs 3 lakh crore in 1947 to now sitting close to Rs 200 lakh crore. Once said a “third world’s largest economy”, India is now among the biggest economies of the world. India’s economic history has been marked by several critical milestones amongst which are the crisis years of 1966, 1981 and 1991, and India’s emergence from the economic crisis as the world’s fastest growing major economy in 2022.

India’s economic policy after independence was influenced by the colonial experience. Independent India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru expected the nation’s growth to flourish as an outcome from the strategy that involved rapid development of heavy industry by both public and private sectors. The Industrial Policy Resolution of 1948 proposed a mixed economy.

His Bombay Plan, proposed by eight influential industrialists including JRD Tata and GD Birla, envisaged a substantial public sector with state interventions and regulations to protect indigenous industries.

The quest to quickly industrialise the nation caused a large reallocation of funds away from the farm sector. As a result, food shortages worsened, and inflation spiked in the country. In 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri became Prime Minister after Nehru’s demise. Besides the persisting inflation, food shortages, the war with China had exposed more of India’s economic weakness. Shastri thought that India needed to move away from centralised planning and price controls and he renewed focus on agriculture to boost our rural economy.

Shastri’s focus on food security arose from the fact that in the 1960s, India was on the verge of a mass famine, and food aid imports from the US were beginning to hit India’s foreign policy autonomy. This led to geneticist MS Swaminathan, along with Norman Borlaug and other scientists, stepping in with high-yield variety seeds of wheat, setting off what is now known as the Green Revolution.

From 50s to 91, several industries, companies were nationalised by the government. Under the Air Corporations Act that came into force on 28 May 1953, Parliament voted to nationalise nine airlines—Air India, Air Services of India, Airways (India), Bharat Airways, Deccan Airways, Himalayan Aviation, Indian National Airways, Kalinga Airlines, and the Air India International —and replaced them with Indian Airlines and Air India International.

It further goes to have the political success of consolidating private sector wealth; the government’s attitude towards the private sector and set the pace for the nationalisation of several other sectors, notably banking, life insurance, general insurance and mining. The next prominent nationalisation happened in 1969 when Indira Gandhi announced nationalisation of 14 leading banks late on July 19. The move was aimed to encourage businesses in order to serve better the needs of the country’s economy.

In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was India’s major trading partner, and the Gulf War, which caused a spike in oil prices, resulted in a major balance-of-payments crisis for India, which found itself facing the prospect of defaulting on its loans. India had asked for a $1.8 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which demanded de-regulation in return.

The Narasimha Rao government initiated economic reforms in 1991. These reforms aimed to liberalise the economy by doing away with the Licence Raj. They also reduced tariffs and interest rates and ended many public monopolies, allowing automatic approval of foreign direct investment in many sectors.

In 2008 recession it seems evident that India would not emerge unscathed from the cascading impact of the Lehman collapse, the government announced three stimulus packages in the space of three months between December 2008 and February 2009, totalling Rs 1,86,000 crore or 3.5% of the GDP. India’s fiscal deficit touched 6% of the GDP in 2008-09, from being just 2.7% in the previous year.

Over seven months between October 2008 and April 2009, the RBI eased monetary conditions dramatically and the government continued with the stimulus in 2009-10 too which led to fiscal deficit touching 6.4% of the GDP. The economy staged an impressive rebound. However, the government failed to close the tap and the fiscal stimulus was never withdrawn. To this day, India’s fiscal deficit continues to hover around 6% of the GDP.

The government brings Demonetisation and Good & Services Tax (GST). On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on national television and said all Rs 500, Rs 1,000 high value notes will turn invalid by midnight. The move was aimed at flushing out black money hidden from the taxman. This announcement led to nearly 86 percent of the currency in circulation becoming invalid by midnight. Close on its heels, the GST regime was introduced in 2017.

After the GST Council approved The CGST Bill 2017, The IGST Bill 2017, The UTGST Bill 2017, The Compensation Bill 2017, these bills were passed by the Lok Sabha on 29 March 2017 and Rajya Sabha on 6 April 2017 and were then enacted as Acts on 12 April 2017. Thereafter, State Legislatures of different states passed respective State Goods and Services Tax Bills. After the enactment of various GST laws, GST was launched all over India with effect from 1 July 2017.

The two of economic events in the 21st century are at most most talked. It is also believed that Demonetisation was one of the worst steps that the government has taken as it has a reversed impacts on India’s overall economy as a result we have still not come out from its adversary as yet.

If we go back to the history again, In 1966, the country was in a dire situation as the wars had left the economy severely weakened and the vital monsoon rains had also failed, worsening food shortages and causing a sharp spike in inflation. The constant need to import food grains or seek foreign aid also posed a serious risk to India’s political economy.

Indira Gandhi piloted a number of policies in an attempt to trigger economic growth. In an attempt to come out of the crisis, Indira Gandhi on 6 June 1966 devalued the Indian rupee from Rs 4.76 to Rs 7.50 to a dollar in one swoop.

In 1950s, the Planning Commission was set up to oversee the entire range of planning, including resource allocation, implementation and appraisal of five-year plans. The five-year plans were centralised economic and social growth programmes modelled after those prevalent in the United Socialist Soviet Republic (USSR) at that time.

The first five-year plan, launched in 1951, focused on agriculture and irrigation to boost farm output as India was losing foreign reserves on foodgrain imports. The second five-year plan launched in 1956 laid the foundation for economic modernization to better serve India’s long-term growth imperatives. It advocated rapid industrialization with a focus on heavy industries and capital goods.

The ‘Mundhra Scandal 1957’, which was independent India’s first big financial scam. It was raised by Feroze Gandhi – Indira Gandhi’s husband. He had found evidence that Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) had bought fraudulent stock worth Rs 1.24 crore in six companies owned by Kolkata-based Haridas Mundhra, without mandatory consultation with its investment committee that further led the resignation of then finance minister T T Krishnamachari.