India was under dark clouds of scams under the UPA regime. Scams like Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Housing Society, 2G spectrum license rocked the nation. Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India pegged the loss to the nation 1.76 lakh crore in granting licences to telecom companies at throwaway prices. Further, Niira Radiatapes revealed how the oligarchy of politicians, journalists, industrialists, bureaucrats was controlling appointments in the key positions of the government. Industrialist Ratan Tata warned India was sliding into a banana republic.
Consequent to the scams, people of India raised their voice against corruption deeply rotting the systems in the country. Anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare began his hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi as then prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh rejected his demands for tougher anti-corruption measures. People across India showed solidarity and support through massive protest rallies notably at Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Bharat Swabhiman Andolan by Baba Ramdev was aimed at repatriation of black money from Swiss and other foreign banks. The peaceful protests were brutally crushed by Police raiding the protests at night.
‘Coalgate’ scandal, the coal allocation scam, came as a big blow to the clean image of the PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh. The CAG argued that private entities enjoyed windfall gains with a huge loss to public exchequer. Final report of the CAG tabled in the parliament put the presumptive loss figure at 1.86 lakh crore. Former Coal Secretary P. C. Parakh, charged by CBI for the scam, later hit out at Dr. Manmohan Singh for overruling his call for auctions and continuing arbitrary allotments of coal blocks (142) during PM’s tenure as coal minister. Mysteriously in 2013, the crucial evidence, files related to the scam, went missing. The files had minutes of the screening committee meetings, allocation records and so on.
While the governance was suffering from ‘policy paralysis’ and the UPA ministers were busy in scams, social and economic situation in India was drastically deteriorating.
Shamli and Muzaffarnagar communal riots broke. In Jolly canal incident sophisticated weapons like AK-47 were used to massacre villagers returning from Mahapanchayat. Although exact numbers are debated, over 50,000 villagers were displaced due to riots.
On the other hand, policies of the UPA government put Indian economy in the ‘Fragile Five’. Twin deficits – fiscal deficit and current account deficit – rendered Indian economy vulnerable. During that time, inflation raged in double digit.
People of India were eagerly waiting to express their frustration against the corruption laden, de-facto dynasty led government. In general elections of 2014, voters silently toppled the UPA government posing faith in the CM of Gujarat Narendra Modi to lead the nation. It was a vote for aspirations and hope.
In the very first Independence Day speech, PM Modi announced Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana as the National Mission on Financial Inclusion for providing universal access to banking facilities. On 2nd October 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission was launched throughout length and breadth of the country as a national movement.
Furthering efforts to make India as manufacturing hub, ‘Make in India’ program was launched.
The year witnessed rise of ‘Brand India’. PM Modi’s idea to UN General Assembly for International Yoga Day got realised with UN declaring 21st June as International Day of Yoga. In the same year he became first PM to visit Israel. US President Barack Obama became the first US head of the state to attend India’s Republic Day parade.
Showing determination and courage to take decisive action against black money Modi government took the decision of Demonetization. It provided way to bring all cash in the tax net enabling tax authorities take actions against black money generation. Further, the move accelerated the digital monetary transactions which has brought greater transparency. It was a surgical strike within the borders of India.
Similarly, India crossed Line of Control against the Pakistani terror launchpads dismantling various terror camps and military bunkers supporting them. It was a paradigm shift in the way India dealt with Pakistan sponsored terrorism.
Furthering the agenda of bold economic reforms with spirit of cooperative federalism, Modi government rolled out Goods and Service Tax (GST). It replaced the multiplicity of complex fragmented indirect taxes with ‘good and simple tax’. With GST it became difficult to evade tax and thus curbed black money generation. One nation, one tax, one market became reality.
Moreover, apart from PSU banks recapitalization Modi government also implemented long pending dynamic fuel pricing regime. Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code came into effect in the same year. Indian markets were no more in the league of ‘Fragile Five’.
Building of New India can be realised by empowering women and giving equal social and economic opportunities. Positive effect of various women centred schemed such as Ujjwala, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Swachch Bharat was becoming visible. Over 70% of the beneficiaries of Mudra scheme were women. Efforts were made to pass the Triple Talaq Bill to end the unjust practice of instant triple talaq. Ordinance was passed with provision of death penalty for the rape of a girl child under 12 years.
Further, Indian Army allowed women to join Military Police, smashing the glass ceiling. PM Modi in his independence day speech declared that women officers appointed through short service commission (SSC) in armed forces will get permanent commission.
In a landmark decision, Modi government gave reservations to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) irrespective of caste or religion.
After the Pulwama attack, Indian Air Force struck against the terror launchpads in Balakot in Pakistan. The airstrikes called Pakistan nuclear bluff. Entire world agreed with India’s right to launch preemptive retaliatory counter-terrorist strikes. India’s diplomatic heft ensured return of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman from Pakistani custody.
In general elections 2019, India showed support to strong leadership of PM Modi by re-electing him as a PM of India. India won again.
With the decisive leadership at the centre, India could firmly and peacefully resolve issues such as abrogation of Article 370, Ram Temple, Citizenship to religiously persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan hanging since generations.
The decade gone by will be remembered for rise of leadership for New India, which is aspirational, assertive and claiming its position as leading power in the 21st century. The decade gone by will be undoubtedly termed as watershed in the history of post-Independence India.