Amrit Kal: Dawn of a New Era for Aatmanirbhar India@75

It is the time of action, and not for analysis led paralysis

By Yaduvendra Mathur

Against the backdrop of a gloomy and uncertain world economic outlook, over 200 million Indians proudly hoisted the national flag ‘Tiranga’ on August 15 this year to celebrate the 75th year of independence. To hoist the flag- even virtually – at a national website ( and post selfies with the flag is in a way transformation of relationship with the national symbol – from a formal and institutional level – to an act of personal connection and commitment to nation-building – is simply awe-inspiring.

Aazadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Celebration of the Journey so far  

In 1947, an average ‘free’ Indian’s per capita income was a paltry Rs27 per month, and life expectancy at birth was just 27 years. It was feared that famine and pestilence would ravage the independent young sub-continent. If this gloomy prediction had happened, none of India’s midnight children would be alive today. Moreover, India@75 is truly well set to ‘create its own future’ for the next 25 years and beyond, using ‘tools and techniques of the future’ not extrapolations of the past.

Clearly, India has done well.

The Growth Unbound

India’s real GDP growth averaged 6.7 percent from 2011 to 2018, before moderating to 3.7 percent in 2019 prior to the Covid-19 crisis. As the world’s fastest-growing large economy, India is expected to grow at 7.4 percent in 2022-23. The risks to the global outlook are overwhelmingly tilted to the downside, as per IMF and global growth may slip to 2.0 percent during 2023. What would it mean for India?

Having set for itself a medium-term target for consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 4 percent within a band of +/- 2 percent, while supporting growth, the rules of the game in India are well set.

As the global economy grapples with much higher multi-decadal inflation levels, slowing growth, persisting geopolitical tensions, sanctions, and elevated prices of crude oil and other prices, India’s monetary policy is rightly calibrated to tame inflation around the upper end of the tolerance level of 6 percent. Growth would suffer with loose fiscal policies and only if the deficit widens.

If addressed upfront without financial skullduggery, Indian growth would not suffer as the macro-prudential fundamentals are robust. India has strong regulatory institutions and well-intentioned leadership at the helm, to see that growth does not slip due to populism.

India’s credit offtake is picking up well and new jobs are being filled up as new capacity is created in sunrise sectors of the economy. Retail consumer demand is coming back with fair monsoons and robust agricultural growth. Moreover, India’s output of core industries was up 8 percent in June 2022 from the pre-pandemic level of June 2019.

Delivery of quality disaster resilient infrastructure services is now being ensured under the PM Gati-Shakti – the GIS-based digital project and program management architecture that stitches together projects across 16 Central Ministries and State Governments under a common platform.

Digital India

With robust macro-prudential fundamentals in place, India is leading the way in digital payment innovations. The Digital Payment Index in India (base in March 2018 set at 100) rose to 350 by March 2022 reflecting the rapid adoption of digital payments in the country.

In FY22, the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) processed 46 billion transactions amounting to $1 trillion, a meteoric rise in the adoption of digital payments in India. There is much that India can share with other countries, especially with smaller economies in the African continent, so that they also reap the benefits of technology.

IMPEX Growth

With merchandise exports growing robustly over the last 15 months, and foreign exchange reserves prudently managed, it is the volatility of India’s currency that would be closely watched. However, a gradual glide path of the Indian rupee to its real effective exchange rate would be inevitable. Foreign Direct Investments are at an all-time high. India is emerging as a stronger manufacturing nation.

Global Cooperation

As in the case of Sri Lanka, development aid from one country, cloaked in political gamesmanship, has failed many nations time and again. The way forward is to develop partnerships that build people-to-people connections using technology and innovations. This social capital of entrepreneurs and their start-ups is crucial for capital and trade flows.

India is well on track to forge development partnerships with African nations under its Lines of Credit and regional cooperation especially the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), an international organization of seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations.

India as President of G-20

India assumes the Presidency of G-20 in December 2022.  While India must prevent the G-20 from an over-expansion of its mandate, it has two clear paths – one is green transition and the other is digital transition.

Here, India has a unique opportunity to forge opportunities for partner countries to work together and take lead in developing global public goods like a worldwide digital platform for central bank digital currencies and new pieces of payment infrastructure, with clear rules.

India already hosts the International Solar Alliance which now has over 100 nations as members. PM Modi created this unique intergovernmental organization with the French President at COP-21 and gave it a concrete vision of delivering on ‘One Sun One World One Grid’. Technical studies have been completed and this vision of PM Modi is eagerly awaited to be operationalized.

As most developing countries are still grappling with digital governance issues, an International Financial Inclusion Organization can also be hosted by India, to share how India went about designing and delivering services starting with the unique JAM trinity – of Jan Dhan Bank Accounts – unique Aadhar numbers – Mobile phone numbers.

Start-Up Eco-System

India’s innovation and startup ecosystem is one of the largest in the world and geared to serve global markets. India is home to 105 unicorns with a total valuation of $340 billion. The US tops the list with 806.

As the ‘global teacher and educator,’ India now has actionable strategies to execute global businesses. India’s overall exports – merchandise and services combined – at $757 billion during 2021-22 and record levels of foreign exchange reserves at $634 billion as of Dec 31, 2021, puts India in a unique position of resilience to deal with external shocks.

This is the dawn of a new era – the ‘Amrit Kaal’ of an ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat,’ aptly demonstrated in the covid-19 pandemic management. Together we can achieve the miracles, but only by abiding by the mantra of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’.

(The writer is a 1986 batch IAS officer. He retired as Special Secretary, NITI Aayog. Mathur is a specialist in development finance and was CMD of the Export-Import Bank of India. He had been associated with the BRICS Development Bank, and represented India at the Board level of the African Development Bank.)


Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times 

Images courtesy of (Image Courtesy: Inc42), (Image Courtesy: Greenvissage) and Provided

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