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Atmanirbhar Bharat: Beginning of a New Era

With global supply chains being disrupted because of the COVID-19 crisis and the country embroiled in a border standoff with China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a clarion call for “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. Prime Minister in his address stated that this financial package will be 10% of India's GDP. He further stated that this package includes announcements made by the government on Covid-19, decisions of RBI and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ package total of Rs 20 lakh Crore.


The five pillars of Atmanirbhar Bharat scheme will be Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography and Demand. These reforms are efforts to make the nation self-reliant and independent. Banning 59 Chinese apps including Tik-Tok and UC Browser can also be called a step towards Self-reliant India. 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' package will help India in reviving the economy focussed on land, labour, liquidity and laws and will benefit farmers, workers, taxpayers, MSMEs and cottage industry. The details of the package were announced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. To achieve self-reliance, the economic package focuses on land, labour, liquidity and laws.


The economic package will help cottage industries, home industry, small-scale industries, MSMEs, which are the means of livelihood for crores of people. This package is also for farmers, who toil in different weather conditions and for the middle class who pay their taxes on time. Prime Minister Modi urged the citizens to buy and promote local products and brands. He stated that global brands were once local too but when people started supporting them, the brands became global. He laid stress on becoming vocal for the local. The concept of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ is a sign of renaissance and how it will help India to curb its economy instability. We will also discuss in our blog about the different aspects on how we can achieve an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.


BACKGROUND

Talking about the pre and post COVID worlds, Prime Minister observed that in order to fulfill the dream of making the 21st century India’s way forward is through ensuring that the country becomes self-reliant. Talking about turning a crisis into an opportunity, he gave the example of PPE kits N-95 masks, whose production in India has gone up from almost being negligible to 2 lakh each, on a daily basis.


The Prime Minister remarked that the definition of self-reliance has undergone a change in the globalized world and clarified that when the country talks about self-reliance, it is different from being self-centered. He said that India’s culture considers the world as one family, and progress in India is part of, and also contributes to, progress in the whole world. He noted that the world trusts that India has a lot to contribute towards the development of the entire humanity.


WHY ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT:

Atmanirbhar Bharat is the vision of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make our India a self-reliant nation. Narendra Modi[i] said that “ India is fighting multiple challenges along with Covid-19, including floods, locust attack, earthquakes…we have to turn crisis into an opportunity for creating Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and take steps to insure that products which we import from elsewhere should be manufactured in India” he also elaborated that ‘goal of self-reliance has been paramount’ in the policy and emphasized that this was the time of bold investment and not conservative decisions. Atmanirbhar Bharat will be a step towards developing India and making it less dependent on others.


It will be a beginning of new era as in earlier times we were too much dependent on other countries for various products. Our import was way more than our export to other nations this resulted in trade deficit and also decreased the value of Indian Rupee in the global market. The industries of other nation flourished and the Indian industries were lacking behind which ultimately resulted in unemployment in India. The mission of Atmanirbhar Bharat will help India stand on its feet all over again with an independent spirit. Being self-reliant, India can achieve success in a long run which will prove to be fruitful for the entire nation. Being self-reliance, it may be noted, is not a new idea- this has been the dream from eternity for us. But this is the first time that the idea got the prime and center focus of the Prime Minister, has been backed with a concrete plan and project outlay.


PILLARS OF ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT

Atmanirbhar Bharat cited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to be based on five pillars [ii] namely Economy, Infrastructure, Technology driven system, Vibrant demography and Demand.


First Pillar: An economy that does not bring incremental change but makes quantum jumps.

Second Pillar: Infrastructure that should be world class and becomes the identity of India which is synonymous with a modern India.

Third Pillar: A system that is based on the technology-driven arrangements, fulfilling the dreams of the 21st century, not the policy of the past century.

Fourth Pillar: A vibrant demography which is the source of energy for self-reliant India.

Fifth Pillar: Demand, whereby the strength of our demand and supply chain should be utilized to full capacity. He underlined the importance of strengthening all stakeholders in the supply chain to increase, as well as fulfill, the demand.


THE DECLINING ECONOMY AND ATMANIRBHAR BHARAT

A self-reliant India will stand on the five pillars one of which is Economy, which brings in quantum jump and not incremental change. Prime Minister announced a special economic package and gave a clarion call for Atmanirbhar Bharat. This package, taken together with earlier announcements by the government during COVID crisis and decisions taken by RBI, is to the tune of Rs 20 lakh crore, which is equivalent to almost 10% of India’s GDP. The package aims to provide a much needed boost towards achieving ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. The package will also focus on land, labor, liquidity and laws. It will cater to various sections including cottage industry, MSMEs, laborers, middle class, industries, among others.


Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (‘ANBA’) is aimed at enhancing liquidity in the hands of employers and employees to stem the difficulties arising out of the COVID-19 situation. It seeks to reduce total provident fund contribution towards an employee from 24% of Provident Fund (‘PF’) salary to 20% of PF salary. However, the PF contribution of public sector units would remain at 12% of PF salary from the employer’s side, but employees would be given an option to reduce contribution to 10% of PF salary. Atmanirbhar Bharat is estimated to bring relief to employers and employees by beneficially impacting liquidity to the tune of INR 6,500 crores (~USD 867 million), over the next three months.


WAY TO RENAISSANCE

It needs to be understood that the economic package announced by the PM and slew of measures announced by the Finance Minister[iii] are not mere short term quick fix patch solutions but focused time bound mission mode projects with necessary laws, liberalization and financial support to enable farmers, companies and producers to compete at global level and ultimately lead the global supply chain in the new world order post COVID-19. The tendency to start counting eggs even before the chickens are hatched needs to be curbed and allow necessary time for the package to fructify and make real the dream of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Brand India, because of its quality, world class certification and competitiveness, will first dominate the local market and thereafter be envy of others in global market.


China’s weakened global position is a God sent golden opportunity for India to attract more investment by providing environment for a new world factory. To begin with companies which already have some manufacturing in India may be interested to reduce stakes in China and scale up production in India. But that wouldn’t suffice. The market is wide open and there are other competitors as well. In order to beat the other competitors we will have to not only provide supply chain infrastructure like large ports and highways, top quality and cheap labor and sophisticated logistics but continuity, stability and sincerity in our policies and regulations. Make in India, Make for India, Make for World, the quintessential requirement of inclusivity is the key to provide global reach to the Vocal for Local programme-the spirit behind Atmanirbhar Bharat. PM’s economic package is just an enabler. It provides for laying a foundation of taking a quantum leap. Those who dare to seize opportunity will come out winners.


CONCLUSION

The aim of self-reliant India is not to drag India back to import substitution and isolation but the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat includes active participation in post COVID-19 global supply chains as well as the need to attract foreign direct investment[iv]. The strategy of Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan seems to give a strong supply-side push by boosting the availability of capital on easy terms and through supporting agriculture and business sectors. The additional allocation to MNREGA(Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) will help in productively employing returning migrants. Also it has major focus on Exports and reducing imports and increasing foreign direct investment in India. Atmanirbhar Bharat will also give lesson to our enemy countries and will help our country to develop in a long run. It will boost our economy and will increase the value of Indian currency in the global market.


ENDNOTES

[i] Narendra Modi is 14th and current Prime Minister of India, http://www.business-standard.com/about/what-is-atmanirbhar-bharat-mission

[ii] Times of India, http://m.timesofindia.com/india/pm-modi-list-5-pillars-of-self-reliant-india/amp_articleshow/75700425.cms

[iii] Nirmala Sitharaman is current and 38th Finance Minister of India, ‘To spur growth’: Nirmala Sitharaman on PM Modi’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan” Hindustan Times 13th May 2020

[iv] Sanjay Sanyal, Principal Economic advisor of India, http://www.financialexpress.com/economy/atmanirbhar-bharat-not-about-import-susbstitution-heres-what-the-modis-self-reliant-india-means/1983347/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This blog has been authored by Prakriti Parashar & Shivani Mundada, both 1st Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) students at ICFAI University, Dehradun & ILS Law College, Pune respectively.


[PUBLICATION NO. TLG_BLOG_20_4204]

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