Some birthdays are not forgettable. Among them is the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that comes on December 25th. Remembering the good deeds of a person on his birthday is a good way to pay tribute. Perhaps, it is much better if we check whether we are following the footsteps of the person and remember ourselves about the person’s commitments. To remember and pay tribute to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday, let’s recall some of his major initiatives and examine whether we are building further momentum on the same.
Education for All
Atal Example: Atal Bihari Vajpayee is fondly remembered for the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan during his prime ministership. This scheme, launched in 2001, to provide universal access to free elementary education for children aged 6-14 years, led to a drop in the number of out-of-school children by 60 per cent within four years.
Further Momentum: Universal access to free elementary education could be fully realised when the girls are not forced to drop out from schools in the absence of separate toilets. Recognising this crucial element, Modi government ensured that all the government schools have separate toilets for girls.
The New Education Policy that the Modi government has now set into motion the process of preparing children to face new challenges. An education system that emphasises on skills rather than marks, the system where the kid can learn both music and physics if they want, is being created.
Atal Example: Remember Vajpayee and you will recall the ambitious Golden Quadrilateral.
Further Momentum: By 2019, Modi government created a record in highways construction at 30 km roads per day. Post-2014, many bridges, tunnels, border roads which were long-due got completed. Atal tunnel at Rohtang can be cited as an example. National Waterways have been kickstarted in a big way. National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) for 2019-25 that outlines ₹100 lakh crore investment into infrastructure is underway.
Atal Example: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term is known for India’s telecom revolution. The Vajpayee government introduced a new telecom policy by replacing fixed license fees for telecom firms with a revenue-sharing arrangement. It is his government that decided to slash call rates and thereby bring in more competition in the telecom industry.
Further Momentum: The Modi government is known for bringing transparency and easing lives through Digital India. Connecting every village through optic fibre cable network within three years is the commitment given to nation by PM Modi on August 15, 2020.
India As Military Power
Atal Example: Though committed to peace, Vajpayee secured India’s defence by undertaking a nuclear test in Pokhran. The US and many other countries imposed sanctions on India but Vajpayee didn’t bow to international pressure. The same resolve of political leadership was displayed during yhr Kargil War.
Further Momentum: The new assertive India under PM Modi is known for surgical strikes, Balakot airstrike and the massive capacity building in the defence domain. Further, learning lessons from various episodes over the years, steps like indigenization of defence production and pursuing the long pending NATGRID project have seen the light of day.
Atal Example: Vajpayee set up a separate ministry for development of north-eastern region, and earmarked 10% of funds from each ministry for the region.
Further Momentum: Under the Modi government, the North-east region have seen a remarkable transformation in terms of infrastructure and reduction of violence. On the one hand one can see the realisation of development in the example of Bogibeel bridge, Sikkim airport etc, on the other hand, the fruitful Bodo accord, Bru-Reang settlements have ended decades-old conflicts and violence in the region. Further, steps like import embargos on bamboo and promotion of specialised organic farming has seen economic dividends for the region.
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