From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 3- How Atmanirbhar Bharat policies can help in post-covid recovery
The article highlights how Atmanirbhar Bharat policies can play important role in India’s post-pandemic recovery.
Decline of trade-led catch-up growth
- The Asian Development Bank identifies India as an outlier, with the country’s GDP growth likely to range between eight and 10 per cent — as against 7.7 per cent for China and seven per cent for the Asian region.
- The convergence between the rich and poor countries in the 1990s and 2000s was founded on high relative growth rates driven by globalisation and export-led growth.
- The World Bank and many international think tanks are now projecting a process of de-globalisation, reduction in exports, and reduced service exports from the tourism, travel and hospitality sector in response to COVID.
- So, the phenomenon of trade-led catch-up growth is declining.
How Atmanirbhar Bharat is different from past strategies
- India’s import substituting growth strategy of the 1960s did not succeed because the high protective customs barriers led to the growth of non-competitive industries.
- The current Atmanirbhar Bharat project is different because tariffs are low and public investment is focused on non-tradable infrastructure rather than commodity production.
1) Atmanirbhar in heath: Atmirbhar Swasth Bharat
- Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat is a domestic non-trade dependent initiative which will invest over Rs 64,000 crore in setting up 17,800 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres and 602 critical care hospitals in the country’s districts.
- Today India has 29 health workers per 10,000 population, while we need 60 such professionals per 10,000 people, as per WHO norms.
- Creating such a cadre will mean nearly four million new jobs, which can be self-paying.
- China and emerging markets like Russia and Brazil have a fairly advanced transport and energy infrastructure.
- India has a huge potential to renew its railways and highways and shift to solar energy from its current dependence on coal.
- In fact, the country’s long-neglected fourth largest rail network in the world is undergoing rapid transformation.
- While rail track coverage expanded by 5,000 km during 2010 to 2014-15, nearly 7,000 km of tracks were added between 2015 and 2020.
- The Railways now aim to lay 9.5 km of track daily and have raised adequate capital for the same by leveraging domestic insurance funds.
- Railways are also aiming for 100 per cent electrification and zero carbon footprint by 2024.
- Electrified track has doubled from 20,000 km in 2012/13 to nearly 40,000 km in 2020.
- The Centre’s decision to invest heavily in urban mass transit systems since 2014 has led to the rapid expansion of such services.
- The resolution of financial problems of blocked PPP projects and smooth land acquisition process has increased the pace of construction of national highways.
- Pace of construction of the national highway increased from 3,330 km per year during 2009-20014 to nearly 9,450 km in 2020-21.
3) Renewable energy
- Today over 55 per cent of India’s energy comes from coal but the share of renewable has been steadly increasing.
- Starting with only 10 MW of solar power in 2010, India has installed nearly 35 GW of solar power by 2020.
- This has been propelled by economic reforms which drove solar power prices down from Rs 17 per unit in 2010 to Rs 2.44 per unit in 2020.
- The target of reaching 100 GW by 2022 can drive growth further.
- Currently nearly 25 per cent of India’s electricity is used for pumping underground water for irrigation.
- Providing irrigation energy from decentralised solar grids — solar power can be generated at the points on consumption.
- This will reduce huge transmission losses and the associated carbon footprint of non-renewable energy sources.
4) Privatising public sector outfits
- The Centre’s shift towards privatising public sector outfits including banks, insurance companies and other PSUs can fund the growth of rail, road and energy infrastructure.
- This will also foster efficiency in India’s credit system.
- China achieved supernormal growth in infrastructure without access to international financing in the initial decades.
- Recent studies have revealed that China’s financial decentralisation and commercial exploitation of state-owned lands was critical for the success.
- In India, too, regional development authorities like the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation have financed the metro, trans-harbour links and industrial infrastructure through a similar commercial land allocation model.
- This model can be extended throughout the country to finance infrastructure expansion.
Consider the question “How Atmanirbhar Bharat policies differ from the past import-substituting growth strategy? Examine the role Atmanirbhar Bharat can play in the post-pandemic recovery?”
In such a way, Atmanirbharta with its various facets will pave the road of post-pandemic recovery.