“A nation’s strength ultimately consists in what it can do on its own, and not in what it can borrow from others.” – Indira Gandhi
Atmanirbhar Bharat, as proposed by our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is synonymous with the Swadeshi Movement started by Mahatma Gandhi. In both these cases, our leaders wanted Indians to be self-reliant. So, the advocates of self-reliance must note that in the year 2020, this concept did not crash on Earth all of a sudden. India also stressed self-reliance as a prime strategy to ensure self-respect for India during its planning period, particularly in the Fifth Five Year Plan period. It focused on employment and poverty alleviation. To provide research and training initiatives to help human capital, an impressive number of higher educational institutions have been set up. To answer whether or not Atmanirbhar Bharat is a sustainable proposition for India, we need to look at the pros and cons of the same.
Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative has five pillars: Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography, and Demand. These have been chosen to boost the economy. Sustainable infrastructure and proper systems in place ensure that the aggregate supply of the economy moves towards the potential output. Thriving aggregate demand is imperative for economic growth and increase of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). India has a high proportion of youth in its population which indicates a huge amount of prospective demographic dividends. There has been a special economic and comprehensive package of Rs 20 lakh crores which accounts for approximately 10% of India’s Gross Domestic Product. Through this package, the government wants to uplift segments of the society like MSMEs, the middle class, industries among others. India has long struggled with the problem of inequitable distribution of income. Focus on these segments will help the economy grow more comprehensively and reduce the inequalities that exist within the economy.
However, one imperative aspect that must be paid heed to is the fact that Aatmanirbhar Bharat wants India to move towards self-reliance, not a self-centered system. Trade has always been an important part of the economy. Not only does it help in improving competitiveness, widens access to more goods and services to satisfy demand in the domestic market as well as allows enterprises to prosper in the form of a broader consumer base. The idea of self-reliance is the prosperity of the economy through less dependence on imports. However, it does not mean that India won’t indulge in imports at all. Trade is important to maintain foreign relations in a qualitative as well as quantitative fashion. This is in alignment with the “Theory of Comparative Advantage” by David Ricardo which demonstrates how the production possibilities increase in the countries that are indulging in trade.
The initiative has really helped the economy develop an entrepreneurial spirit. The current coronavirus pandemic has led to job losses all across the country and a fall in the Gross Domestic Product. As part of a big economic relief package, Atmanirbhar policy has come to ameliorate India’s economic predicament in the midst of the pandemic. It is time to become vocal about local products and make them global as highlighted by Narendra Modi. With the rise in the number of start-ups and self-production, not only will it create job opportunities but also boost India’s economy.
In terms of sustainability, Aatmanirbhar Bharat is here to stay and thrive. However, it is extremely important to be cognizant of the meaning and interpretation of what this initiative stands for.
Written By : Akansha Khaitan (Class of 2020-2022 )