In the year 2000 the United Nations Millennium Project formulated eight Millennium Development Goals to be accomplished by 2015.
The goals are namely to:
1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2) Achieve universal primary education 3) Promote gender equality and women’s empowerment by eliminating gender disparity in schools 4) Reduce the child mortality rate 5) Reduce the maternal mortality rate 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases 7) Ensure environment sustainability
8) Develop global partnership for development
India is poised to become a strong developed nation. It is the second largest growing economy in the world. It has its own challenges and limitations in its quest for development. However, this diverse country has very specific advantages over other developing nations which demands insight.
India emerged as a relatively young nation state in 1947. By gaining independence from the British there was an elixir in the air, a new promise of shaping up the India of dreams. Woefully that dream has still not been realized. Even after more than six decades of freedom, India still has mass abject poverty, people denied of the minimum conditions for human existence, largest number of illiterates, millions of children malnourished, subjugation and discrimination of women and religious and caste based oppression. The unforgivable fact remains that the democratic polity of India has been incapable of correcting the gross inequalities. But India has not lost hope for in the embodiment of Millennium Development Goals, it has the opportunity to set an example and lead the endeavor in shaping a new world.
Similar to the freedom struggle, India has now embarked on a development struggle to battle ills like poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease and casteism. To succeed in this quest for development it is imperative to have sound governance, and for this the government and the civil society are working in tandem.
India has two significant advantages in particular. The first being India’s strong democracy and the other is that a large share of its population is young.
The firm democratic set up of the country becomes the foundation for good governance and participation of civil society in the process of development of the country. The potential of India’s youth has immense significance in charting the territory of development. Young men claiming to be fathers of tomorrow, should be the salt of the nation were the words of Mahatma Gandhi. Youth is the spring of life. It is the age of discovery and dreams. When they dream, they dream not only for the good future of themselves but also for the good future for the nation and entire humanity. In any section of the society in the country, young are agents of change. Patriotism comes naturally to young people and they have an eagerness to face challenges and a penchant for opportunities to conquer them.
India has realized that it cannot afford to lose out on the opportunity to tap into the zeal and energy of its youth. The active involvement of youth in decision making and in the implementation of development programs is critical. Youth are potential problem solvers. Take for instance the case of unemployment where youth can become entrepreneurs and generate employment and new opportunities. Moreover youth are strong forces in social movements and their contribution in bringing a positive change in the society is essential. The youth have awakened and are coming forward and donning the role of educators, legislators, health professionals, civil servants and entrepreneurs for the full utilization of their talents and to become the torchbearers of transforming India.
Developmental outcomes rely heavily to a great extent on governance pursued by the government. Achieving development requires not only embracing governmental institutions but it must subsume informal, non-governmental mechanisms as well. The possibilities on drawing on society’s alternative collective problem solving fora has been recognized and being opened up and a network of multiple agencies and organizations are being set up rather than establishing a strictly fixed government agency or department. The government is making an effort that the civil society has its say in policy making. By this way, the government would be in tune to the people’s needs and requirements and subsequently this would lead to better and targeted legislation. The government is also making sure that the development programmes are implemented in the most efficient and optimal manner. It is being ensured that accountability in the implementation of development programmes is not compromised at any cost. For this proper monitoring, checks and audits are being resorted by the government.
Eradication of poverty and hunger, education, health, empowerment of women and promoting gender equality, environment sustainability and developing global partnerships which constitute the MDGs, chiefly come under the purview of the government. So the government recognizes that it has to be the main driver of the development vehicle. But until now, this had not been so. The different political parties which governed India had not been focusing on the development of the majority of the population which constitute poor people who do not have access to basic human needs and rights like food, education, health, etc.
Great pride and a sense of achievement is taken by the government by projecting a high GDP growth rate. But the benefits of this growth had not been distributed evenly. But now the primary focus is on inclusive growth. The framing of an epoch making legislation like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act which guarantees employment for unemployed poor people residing in villages is a step in this direction.The government is focused and making sure that there is equity, transparency, accountability, participation and effectiveness and efficiency in all its development endeavors.
But everything cannot be left to the government. The citizens, private sector, media and judiciary have important roles to play. The citizens know that they must have a strong sense of civic responsibility, which would enable them to be in a better position to hold the government accountable for its actions and in so doing can challenge what is questionable and ensure fair practice.
The private sector has lot to contribute to the development process. The maxim that industry is better than charity is a testimony to this. From creating jobs to sharing and incorporating industrial corporate practices in implementing development programmes it is playing a big role.
The role of media is indispensable in a democracy. It disseminates information, educates, creates awareness and acts like a watchdog against the malpractices of the government. Similarly, the importance of judiciary cannot be overemphasized. Apart from adjucating law and order it plays a vital role in influencing the various aspects of the administration and governance of the country. Like the media it also acts as a watchdog and many have come to recognize judiciary as the only forum available to checkmate the bureaucracy and the politicians in power.
Mahatma Gandhi termed India as the land which has everything that a human being with the highest possible aspirations can want. The future of India is bright. India realizes that it needs to keep a very open mind and explore new vistas in its pursuit for becoming a developed nation.