By: Dr. J. S. Yadav
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation emphasized on ‘self-reliance’ that meant at different times different things to different thinkers and politicians. It is increasingly becoming evident that we have to live with coronavirus, lockdown and social/physical distancing.With this, the economy is adversely affected and the labour force that run big industries, small and medium factories and household services in cities and town have become the worst sufferers. Prime Minister’s vision of resurrecting economy and saving lives through self-reliance, confidence and pride through self-reliance, and the packages announced by the Finance Minister provide some hope of light at the end of the tunnel.
This would necessitate easing of the restrictions imposed during lockdown periods, building of health infrastructure / facilities and opening of public transport system gradually especially in the corona ‘green’ and ‘orange’ districts/ areas/ sectors. We will witness soon in metros and buses alternate seats marked as vacant, no-standing passengers and cashless payment of the fares ensuring social distance. Covid-19 is necessitating also speeding up the modernization and making more efficient the supply chains to meet the growing demand of home delivery of goods and services. Many companies dealing in FMGS have already stitched tie ups /partnerships with companies handling supply chains and logistics to meet the challenges of covid-19. This is likely to create a large number of jobs of marketing and logistic professionals and ‘delivery boys and girls’. Digital transformation of supply chains would also help farmers to link directly to consumers and sell their produce bypassing many a middlemen in the process, and hopefully better returns to farmers for their agro-products.
Self-reliance in simple terms means absence of dependence on others, in the national context on other countries. In the globalized world, India is dependent upon many other countries for different needs. Dependence for defence requirement is well known and has been subject of controversy, corruptions and politics. The country of our size (population and area) can ill afford this. Energy requirement is another area of dependence on oil producing countries as India has very limited oil resources of its own. With covid-19 mobility is restricted and Information Technologies are responding to some of these challenges by way of providing more efficient supply chains as discussed above.
We can further strengthen self-reliance by consuming less energy by living and working in ‘Growth Centres’ which ensure basic human needs of food security, shelter and water (roti, kapda aur makan), especially of the poor and marginalized, and provide them quality education, health and banking services.This would involve clustering of village communities and dispersal of urban settlements where travelling for services and work is minimized and thus conserving energy use in transportation and travel.Production of goods using local talent, skills, and resources, and marketing these to meet the needs of the countrymen /women should be the priority and not just for export creating export dependence of the economy. Travel long distances to cities in search of earning livelihood would not be necessary. Of course travel for religious tourism, pleasure and exploring India’s diversity and its beauty would increase and further strengthen self – reliance of Modi’s vision.
Dr. J. S. Yadav is former Director of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and is Founder Chairman of International Media Institute, Gurugram, Haryana NCR & Consulting Editor-ICN Group