Proud India, Confident BJP Set The Poll Ball Rolling
By R. Balashankar
It is rarely in history that a government'srhetoric matches the public aspiration. The success of the NDA government is that at the end of 4 years, nay, six plus years, it retains more popularity than it enjoyed when it assumed office. Indeed Vajpayee is seeking a vote for incumbency.
We have taken giant strides in these years. The achievement of the past six years more than matches the totality of the 50-year Congress rule. It is a promise of a new India that this government is fulfilling.
Over 11 km of highway a day. Compare this with an average of 11 km per year, when the Congress ruled the country (556 km in 50 years against 24,000 km in the last five years).
We were familiar with the long queues in front of the ration shops for rice, sugar and kerosene, long waiting lists, sometimes running to decades for a phone connection, or an LPG connection or even a ration card. Today, we are exporting over 14 metric tonnes of food grains. India is now the second largest exporter of rice and the eighth largest exporter of wheat. Still, we have a mounting stock of food grains in the FCI godowns.
India is fast emerging a booming market, a vibrant economy and a nation of plenty. We have a $ 100-billion in foreign exchange reserve and a favourable balance of trade. World over the talk is that India is the emerging super power of tomorrow. It is not only the latest fashion and fad that has come to the Indian market place. We are also planning a journey to the moon and a non-stop, world-class highway from Kanyakumari to Srinagar and Porbundar to Silchar. We have really taken a gigabite march.
Surely, NDA is a saga of a quivering heroism and a tenacious endeavour. The performance has made it one of the most gripping success stories in nation building. One can catch the fragrance of Vajpayee'sdream, which stirs with feelings of accomplishment and sends delicious shivers of delight.
In fact, what the incumbent government has achieved is to lay the foundations of ?param vaibhav? for the nation, a prayer that millions of RSS Swayamsevaks have chanted for nearly 80 years in thousands of daily ?shakas.?
How did Vajpayee achieve this miracle? That the incumbency becomes the best bet for re-election? In a way, the biggest achievement for any government is its ability to sell a dream and deliver a hope for tomorrow to its people. The NDA came to power amidst social chaos, communal distrust, political instability and economic stagnation. Today, India'svoice is heard at the world forums with respect. India is an emerging investment destination. It is a harbinger of peace. This is the country which was not long ago described as the world'sbasket case or that India lived in the backyard of the West.
But we have our own problems. We are already on to a second green revolution. The Vajpayee government has taken up sector-specific issues like the problems of the farmer, national policy for the youth, urban street vendors and unorganized labour.
India today produces nearly 213 million tonnes of food grains. In fruits and vegetables, with 145 million tonnes India is the second largest producer in the world. We produce nearly 60 lakh tonnes of fish and the production of milk at 81 million tonnes (figures 2000-2001) places India among the top producers of the world.
These macro level successes however should not conceal the fact that the 55th round of National Sample Survey showed gnawing gaps in the standard of living between the rich and the poor. Over 193 million rural people did not have adequate income to have access to the consumption basket, which in other words define the huge rural poverty. There are intimidating regional disparities and between 30 and 50 per cent of Indian agricultural households in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, southern Rajasthan, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Himalayan regions of West Bengal and coastal northern Tamil Nadu live below poverty line. Due to low wages, and inadequate employment opportunities, over 60 per cent of agriculture labour in these regions lack purchasing power and command over means of consumption. It is only by spreading an ocean of plenty and prosperity that these islands of suffering and poverty can be submerged. This is the task that awaits the next government and it is to reach this destination that NDA is seeking its second term.
The 1999 election manifesto of the NDA was titled “For A Proud, Prosperous India”. The NDA has really made India proud and hopeful and prosperous India is not a too distant goal.