Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

The White Paper on Indian Economy: A Reflection of Viksit Bharat

The Vajpayee-led NDA Government demitted office in 2004, after having laid the foundations for a high growth path and steady economic development. But the prospects of economic stability were crippled by the policy paralysis of the UPA era from 2004 to 2014. The White Paper of the Indian economy released by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, demonstrates how the world had lost confidence in India’s economic potential and dynamism in the UPA era.

In contrast, with the Modi Government, there is not just economic stability and growth prospects in India, but also political and policy stability

This is necessary to spearhead and steer bold decisions to transform India into a developed country by 2047. The country has just stepped into Amrit Kaal, taking on the dreams and ambitions of a billion plus Indians. There is also a clarion call given by the Government to head towards Kartavya Kaal (Era of Duties).  The dream of Viksit Bharat would be certainly fulfilled with the assertiveness with which the Modi Government is reforming the Indian economy.  Although this White Paper captures the domestic changes in the Indian Economy, there is also a vital message for the players in the global arena, as it showcases the strength of India, as one of the most promising economies of the world. It will be emerging as a major powerhouse only next to the USA and China in the next decade.

Economic Nationalism: The Essence of “Aatmanirbarta”

One has witnessed how India was described as part of the ‘Fragile Five’ economies in 2013, due to which foreign investments and global confidence in the Indian market witnessed a downslide in the UPA era. The scams in the realm of 2G licence auction, Commonwealth Games, Coal Block Allocation, etc. had marred India’s image globally.

From the twin balance sheet problem to double-digit inflation, and sporadic development to the foreign exchange crisis, the country had been crippled with the vicious cycle of economic blunders. When the Modi Government took charge in 2014, the control room of India’s political economy and policy command, appeared like a burnt short-circuited room, with a chaotic motherboard.  But the political will of the Government, under its able commander PM Narendra Modi, there was a paradigm shift from an era of creepy policy paralysis towards a phase of robust decision-making. This helped the concept of Viksit Bharat to take shape, through the assertive mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’ which not only boosted the confidence of self-reliance (Athmanirbharta) but also ensured that India emerged amongst the top five global economies.

Several aspects spoken about in the White Paper, such as economic self-reliance, the wheels of a virtuous cycle of ‘Investment, Growth, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Savings’, and inclusive support for empowerment, have lit the fire of the aspirational India towards an eternal transformation.

With this White Paper, one can certainly ascertain that there has been a sense of pride associated with India’s growth story. The pride to celebrate the success of a thriving economy emerges from the potential to become the world’s most influential geopolitical and geo-economic hub in the next two decades. From the perspective of PM Modi, even the poorest person must be able to experience the Shashaktihikaran of Aatmanirbharta (the empowerment of self-reliance). With schemes like Jhan Dan Yojana, Direct Benefit Transfer, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana etc, the poorest of the poor have already experienced the power of effective delivery mechanisms through which they now essentially have a sense of being part of India’s growth story.

The youth and women have also developed a sense of bolstering confidence to integrate, elevate and accelerate their contribution towards nation-building. They take pride in being a Bharatiya, both in spirit and essence. Most significantly, the aspirational youth are today planning to stay back in the country and contribute towards India’s growth story. They have realised clearly that with bold leadership at the top, there is a positive approach towards overall inclusive development leading to a robust nation-building process. They are willing to work towards this cause, with utmost dedication as the realisation of living in the Kartavya Kaal has had a positive impact on them.

The stigma attached to India because of systemic corruption, nepotism, policy paralysis and jobless growth has been laid to the obituary by PM Modi’s cohesive decision-making, administrative and governance acumen. The White Paper mentions that “public life is about winning hearts and minds of the people and instilling in them the confidence about their future and that of their children through commitment, dedication, and demonstration of action”, which is a testimony to the fact that this Government’s agenda has always been to empower and embolden the citizen, who in the past was crippled with low self-esteem and hysterical attitude towards the country. The realisation that economic nationalism and pride can embolden the citizenry towards a brighter future, happens to be the underlying message of the White Paper. Today, the world is not just encountering a resurgent Indian state, but it also witnessing the empowered and self-confident Indians who take pride in their cultural and civilizational past. The disease of inferiority inflicted by White Colonisers of Indians is now an episode of the past. Indians neither feel inferior nor do feel the need to seek the validation of the West and the quintessential ‘White Man’.

G20 Success Story: A Testimony of Economic Self Reliance.

The success of an empowered and self-confident India was witnessed at the G20 Summit, 2023 held in New Delhi. In the year-long G20 Presidency held in more than 100 cities, a new synergy of diplomacy was witnessed. This can be significantly credited to the economic self confidence and geo-economic significance that India has achieved in the last ten years under the Modi Government’s persistent efforts. Realising the emerging geo-economic significance of India, the G20 Summit and the outcomes of the Delhi Declaration, were successful in laying the foundations towards a new and stabler world order. From the message of global peace and tranquillity to ensuring a sustainable greener future for the next generations, the aim of a greener, cleaner and brighter future was achieved.  The essence of a human being’s pristine quality of life had been focused on with conscious and consistent efforts in this summit, which was generally ignored in global summits in recent times. Moving ahead from the usual diplomatic and geopolitical arm-twisting, the summit laid real focus on serious policy matters in resolving long-drawn conflicts through consensus-based diplomacy. The White Paper mentions that ‘the G20 presidency in 2023 was showcasing India at its best in terms of content, consensus and logistics, providing acceptable solutions to the global problems’.

The Political Economy Delivers Effective Governance;

The White Paper also mentions how India’s decision-making in public policy was stuck in the clutches of inordinate delays. The concerns of slow decision-making and high-profile Government scandals, with heightened civil activism had become a global concern. Amidst this, the growing inflation rates were burning the prospects of both Indians and India’s growth story abroad. It also dissuaded the international players looking for potential investments in India. The key factors for investment slowdown such as rising policy uncertainty, delayed project approvals and supply bottlenecks had become major issues. As a result of this, the execution of new projects that were in the pipeline was becoming exceptionally thin.

However, due to the sturdy resilience of the Modi Government in the last ten years, this scenario has been transformed completely. The international agencies praised India for being on the bright spot of a darkening horizon of the world as India turned out to be the fastest-growing economy even during the challenging times. There is a mention of how India’s growth is underpinned by structural reforms such as inflation targeting monetary framework, the introduction of goods and services tax (GST), the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and liberalization of foreign investment inflow have augmented the economy. The reforms have helped in opening up the economy to foreign investors, like never before. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the reforms happens to be the focus on the supply side of the economy, through the large infrastructure investments.

Inheriting an unhealthy economy, with systemic fault lines, and steamrolling bold reforms to restore economic vitality is not an easy task. However, Modinomics has instilled the confidence to make India a developed nation by 2047. With this, India’s determination to emerge as a Vishwa Guru has become certain. There is now an emboldened confidence amongst the Indians that the country would not just become a spiritual and cultural superpower, but also an economic and political superpower.

Therefore, the White Paper on India’s economy shouldn’t just be viewed as a comparative analysis of the UPA and NDA’s economic performance. This is a Document that has reflected a global resonance of Bharat in its Amrit Kaal. The Modi Government, unlike its predecessor, has invested in the foundations of the economic structure, by ably building a sturdy superstructure. There is a sense of humility and satisfaction built within the Government about how successfully it overcame the challenges left behind by the previous Government.

Despite all the optimism exemplified, a laid-back approach of declaring early victory has been discouraged in the Document prepared by Modi Government. The Document says towards the end that, ‘there are miles to go and mountains to scale before we sleep’. This is a clear indication that much of the story of Viksit Bharat, is still a ‘work in progress’ and many more transformative changes are in the pipeline. The continuity of policy frameworks and willingness towards bold decision-making is a necessary condition to be fulfilled. Along with PM Modi, it is important for every Indian, to carry forward the same ambition and the mantra of ‘Reform, Perform and Transform’, to give the world a crucial message of 1.4 billion Indians. India has arrived at the global stage.

(Viswapramod is a Senior Research Associate at the Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee Research Foundation (SPMRF), New Delhi. Views expressed are the author’s own)

References :

  • White Paper on the Indian economy, Government of India, Ministry of Finance, New Delhi, 2nd February 2024.