Friday, April 19, 2024

As India’s citizens come together to honour the nation and celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, it is time to take a relook at the past that has defined this country since its Independence. As the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru said 75 years ago, “Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny; and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or fully, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” And in the seven and a half decades since that day, India has manifested itself into a land of 1 billion plus, filled with culture, diversity and progress across sectors like business, technology and tourism, among others.

As we celebrate this momentous occasion and prepare to step into India’s Amrit Kaal, let us look at the events and aspects that have shaped India into the global powerhouse it is today.

Business Through the Decades

As India makes its inexorable way to the $5 trillion club, the way is paved with major lessons from history. When the country started post-Independence, it was plagued by the steady deindustrialization prompted by Britain. Rule, with fewer than a sixth of the populace literate. Reports state that India’s share in global GDP had shrunk from 22.6% in 1700 to 3.8% in 1952. However, the country did not give in to the dismal scenario, with the Industrial Policy Resolution of 1948 proposing a mixed economy with robust government and private sector stimulus.

The first Union budget was tabled in Parliament on 26 November 1947 with a focus on accelerating growth. The Planning Commission was incepted in 1950, overseeing resource allocation, implementation and appraisal of all subsequent five-year plans. The first of these plans, unveiled in 1951, focused on agriculture and irrigation, and it was a landmark success. From then on, India moved through major scams like the Mundhra scandal and the onset of economic turmoil following the demise of Nehru. Then came Pt. Lal Bahadur Shastri, who prompted the Green Revolution and empowered the dairy sector, followed Indira Gandhi, who spearheaded several policies to trigger economic growth while adhering to her socialist beliefs.

We know of Demonetisation 2.0, which occurred in 2016, but the first such move was launched by PM Morarji Desai in 1977, when he withdrew the legal-tender status of ₹1,000, ₹5,000 and ₹10,000 bills, in an attempt to weed out illegal wealth. Following this, the country saw Rajiv Gandhi undertaking economic reform with the 1985-86 budget reducing direct taxes for companies and raising tax exemption limits to prompt prosperity. Gandhi is still popular for bringing the IT and telecom revolution to India. Then, as India moved into the era of high potential, the fledgling stock market was rocked by the Harshad Mehta scandal of 1992, which acted as a cautionary tale for land living beyond its means. India’s journey ahead was propelled by Yashwant Sinha’s 1999-2000 budget, which sowed the seeds for disinvestment in public sector enterprises and the downsizing of the government. And in the last decade, we have experienced everything from the global financial crisis, to Demonetisation 2.0, to the pandemic, with the Sensex still managing to touch 39K, attesting to the country’s economic strength. Today we are in a phase of sustained growth, with a focus on startups and unicorns powering Digital India onwards.

Technological and Scientific Advances

Technology and Research & Development have been major pillars of India’s progress over the last 75 years, with the first five-year plan focusing on scientific research. Technological advancements enabled the Green Revolution while facilitating the launch of Aryabhata, India’s first satellite, in 1975. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was established in 1969 and has since acted as India’s national space agency. The progress since has included AGNI, India’s strategic missile, successfully tested in 1989, DNA testing in 1988, and the Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. 2008 witnessed the launch of Chandrayaan-I, India’s first-ever mission to the moon, and we have never looked back. India’s science and technology have enabled the Magalyaan mission by 2013 and a polio-free India by 2014. Technology has been the bastion of India’s progress, with the countless startups allowing the economy across sectors like Healthcare, Finance, and Agriculture. Going ahead, with 5G almost at our doorsteps, the sky is the limit for India’s digital and technological advances.

Travel and Tourism in India

India was known as a beautiful and exotic land since much before British occupancy and the subsequent Independence, prompting foreigners to travel to Indian shores from lands far and wide. Post-independence, India’s travel and tourism sectors have seen a strong uptick, focusing on traditional and medical tourism. With miles of railway tracks and airports in or near all major tourist destinations, India is a preferred tourist spot for foreigners and domestic travellers. India boasts of several tourist hotspots like Kerala, God’s Own Country, and Goa, the party destination of the country, in addition to Devbhoomi Himachal Pradesh and the alluring North East. While the pandemic wreaked havoc on the successful travel and tourism industry, mass vaccination and open borders have brought the lustre back to Indian tourism.

As we celebrate the 75th Independence Day, the progress across major sectors like business, technology and tourism indicates that India is on track to achieve its vision of a $ 5 trillion economy while also becoming a global heavyweight with a major role in the world’s progress.   

Varsha Thomas

Freelance Journalist

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