A proud country celebrates seven decades of resilience and hope
Indians from India will mark the 71st anniversary of their homeland becoming a Sovereign Democratic Republic with prayers, speeches and entertainment throughout the country on January 26, 2021.
On that day, at 930 am, Indian High Commissioner Muktesh Pardeshi will hoist the Indian Flag and read out the speech of India’s President Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony to be heled at his official residence located at 128 Knights Road in Lower Hutt.
The Programme will include patriotic songs and exchange of greetings.
A number of New Zealand Government officials and members of the community will be present at the function.
Several Indian associations in major cities across the country are also organising programmes, most of them over weekends to enable better community participation.
The Indian National Flag symbolises strength, courage, truth, fertility, growth and auspiciousness
The Indian Republic Day is one of the most memorable occasions in the country’s history, reminding its teeming millions of their sovereignty and independence.
The Republic Day Parade held in New Delhi on January 26 is perhaps the most impressive and colourful events on the world’s calendar, as the planet’s largest democracy showcases to humanity at large its achievements in a variety of fields, including science and technology. World leaders consider it a singular honour to be invited as the chief guest at the Parade, watched by more than 800 million people on television. Several million more observe the day with pride and passion not only in India but also in other parts of the globe.
However, Covid-19 restrictions will not allow such a spectacle this year, although the Indian government will present the Programme online and broadcast the speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi through his Office and other channels.
Indians in India and their compatriots elsewhere would recall with gratification the strides that the country has taken since it became independent in 1947 and became a planned economy in 1951, a year after it became a Republic.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi: Addressing challenges (PMO Photo)
As mentioned in our past issues, people of Indian origin from many parts of the world do not often understand the difference between Independence Day and Republic Day.
While India gained political freedom on August 15, 1947, it was not until almost three years later (on January 26, 1950) that it severed its connection as a State under the British Crown, adopted its own written constitution and declared that the Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Defence Force will be the President, elected by the Indian people.
Like the rest of the world, the Indian economy is experiencing the adverse effects of Covid-19 which has led to closure of borders, restriction of movement of people and the resultant loss in income. Based on findings of the Economic Survey of India 2019-2020, economic growth rate was projected at 6% to 6.4% in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, with industrial and agricultural growth estimated respectively at 2.9% and 2.8%.
The Report said that India is progressing on its holistic approach to Climate Change and that it is on track to achieving its Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement in accordance with the principles Common but Differentiated Responsibilities.
Based on the core theme of ‘Aspirational India, Economic Development and a Caring Society,’ structural reforms undertaken by the Narendra Modi government since 2014 and the tax reliefs that has been given to common people in India have improved prospects for growth.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: Achieving fiscal goals (PIB)
Robust growth expected
Nomura, a global financial group, has a different take on the Indian economy since its Global Survey was published last week. It turned positive on the cyclical outlook for the Indian economy after two years of being negative.
The latest Nomura predication says that despite structural balance sheet issues and growth hiccups in the first half, it expects the following for the Indian economy: easy financial conditions, a synchronised global recovery and vaccinations to support an above-consensus GDP growth outturn of 9.9% in 2021.
“Inflation should moderate but remain above the Reserve Bank of India target of 4%, prompting a gradual policy normalisation, starting with liquidity during the first half of 2021 and rate hikes in early 2022. While we remained rather negative on India’s outlook since the end of 2018, things have taken a positive turn on its cyclical outlook in 2021 due to easy financial conditions. We look to pencil in an above-consensus GDP growth rebound to 9.9% year-on-year, the pick-up of which in the second half of 2020 continues to reflect normalisation of activity following the stringent lockdowns.”
But the Report has warned that in the absence of Covid-19 Vaccines, the growth path is likely to face occasional hiccups due to virus infections resurging during the first six months.
Improvements are however seen in the second half of 2021.
Rise in FDI
India is the fifth largest economy in the world. Foreign Direct Investment got elevated to the level of US$ 284 billion during 2014-2019 from US$ 190 billion that came in during the years 2009-2014. The Central Government debt that has been the bane of our economy got reduced in March 2019 to 48.7% of GDP from a level of 52.2% in March 2014.
There exists a case for maximising the benefits of three separately developing economic activities: (1) the upcoming economic corridors (2) revitalisation of manufacturing activities and (3) Technology and the demands of aspirational classes.
India must benefit from their convergence. Hence, the government has proposed to develop five new smart cities in collaboration with States in PPP mode. Such sites would be chosen that offer the best choices in terms of aforementioned principles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in his Independence Day Speech on August 15, 2019 that his government would invest Rs 100 lakh crore ($210 billion) over the next five years.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman launched the National Infrastructure Pipeline at an estimated cost of Rs 103 lakh crore (about $216 billion).
“It consists of more than 6500 projects across sectors and are classified as per their size and stage of development. These new projects will include housing, safe drinking water, access to clean and affordable energy, healthcare for all, world-class educational institutes, modern railway stations, airports, bus terminals, metro and railway transportation, logistics and warehousing, irrigation and projects. The National Infrastructure Pipeline envisions improving the ease of living for each individual citizen in the country. It’s also will bring in generic and sectoral reforms in development, operation and maintenance of these infrastructure projects,” she said.
The government’s holistic vision of healthcare would include expansion of the ‘Indradhanush’ Scheme to cover 12 diseases, focus on water safety, comprehensive sanitation, more hospitals under the PPP formula and other programmes.
By 2030, India will house the largest working-age population in the world. They will need literacy, job and life skills. We await the government’s New Education Policy for analysis and review. But like most Indians, we remain hopeful.
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