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Tribute To Economic Vision Of Beloved Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Competition among private companies led to a significant drop in tariffs and a drastic improvement in the quality of services offered. In fact, Telecom is one of the success stories of private sector in India.

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Atal Bihari Vajpayee a name that still need no introduction, the space occupied by him in the heart of Indians will be reserved for him forever. He was the Prime Minister of India thrice, during which he proved that even coalition governments in the country can be run successfully.

It could be said that Vajpayee's vision and skill, depicted the BJP in mind of general public in such a way that after almost a decade, the Bharatiya Janata Party came into power with unprecedented thumping majority.

The remarkable schemes launched by Atalji to strengthen the Indian economy operates as precursor for today’s economic development. When he left office, GDP was 8.4 per cent, inflation was below 4 per cent and foreign exchange reserves were also quite good. Needless to say, that UPA-I got the benefit of good economic conditions in the coming years. 

Like the lines of fate, roads are the road to progress, whether it is 'Bharat' (rural area) or 'India' (urban area), the country has witnessed massive infrastructure development. The Golden Quadrilateral project connecting the four metropolitan cities- Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata helped India attract foreign direct investment and will always remain a major pride of NDA-I. The project was modelled on the lines of the US National Highway System. Vajpayee firmly believed that development of construction and infrastructure would act as a harbinger of economic growth. The project revived the demand for steel and cement and gave impetus to the commerce and real estate sectors. Another contribution by Vajpayee in developing the country's dying infrastructure is the launch of a rural road scheme called Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). The objective of this project was to provide all-weather connectivity to the villages till then unconnected.

This allowed small and marginal farmers to find a better market for their produce; Due to lack of holding capacity, they were earlier forced to sell it locally at low prices. This allowed agricultural laborers to move beyond their villages and get better wages. The Delhi Metro was also inaugurated during Vajpayee's time. 

Under Vajpayee's leadership, the Government of India announced the New Telecom Policy on 3 March 1999, opening up the sector to the private sector. This was necessary to reduce the role of government in running business and industry. Telecommunications, which had become a stagnant and sluggish industry, was promoted. It was Vajpayee's policy that made India the second largest smartphone market and is set to overtake China in the coming years. The new telecom policy ended the hegemony of state-owned telecommunications companies and catalysed the participation of private companies that started the telecom revolution. Competition among private companies led to a significant drop in tariffs and a drastic improvement in the quality of services offered. In fact, Telecom is one of the success stories of private sector in India.

One of Vajpayee's key policy decisions was the introduction of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act of 2003, which focused on discipline in government spending and fiscal correctness, allowing the public sector to save -0.8 per cent of GDP in FY2000. In comparison, in the financial year 2005, it had increased to 2.3 percent. His government initiated the establishment of special export processing zones, information technology and industrial parks to boost industrial production and exports, and led the foundation of truly Make in India. 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first Prime Minister of the country to have a separate Disinvestment Ministry. It was Vajpayee who took the courageous decision of privatization of public sector companies as part of the "strategic sale". Vajpayee's tenure saw disinvestment of companies such as Bharat Aluminum Company Limited (BALCO), Hindustan Zinc Limited and Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited. Due to the vision of Atal ji, today India's economy is being counted among the fastest growing economies of the world. 

Under Vajpayee's leadership, the immediate government took a politically bold and difficult decision to reduce interest rates. The Vajpayee government brought in Asset Reconstruction Companies (ARCs), the first step to help banks deal with their bad loans, and credit bureaus. The Electricity Act of 2003 reformed the power sector, promoting private participation and competition in the sector. 

Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime with its bold reforms left an everlasting mark on the Indian economy and ushered in a new era of infrastructure development. Vajpayee's regime re-established India's economic aspirations and laid the foundation for strong economic growth for years to come. Even though Atal Bihari Vajpayee's 'India Shining' campaign failed in 2004 but it works as precourser for next regime of NDA Government and the result of it is visible to one and all in terms of drastic development in all sphere be it Economy, Infrastructure, FDI, Education etc. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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atal bihari vajpayee magazine 27 Sep 2021

Dr Brajesh Kumar Tiwari

The author is Associate Professor at Atal Bihar Vajpayee School of Management and Entrepreneurship; Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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