• He started his address with a compliment to the Panjab University for providing him the honour, and first ever experience, of being welcomed by an all-woman dais. Leading Indian economist and vice chairman of the NITI Aayog Dr Rajiv Kumar, while delivering the 46th Panjab University Colloquim-cum-3rd Shenmar Memorial Oration on the topic “New India@2022” in a jam-packed Law Department audotorium, urged Young India to feel proud of their country for what it had achieved since its independence, and not harbour a pervasive feeling of inferiority, which earlier generations did.

“We have actually achieved a lot, from becoming self sufficient in our food requirements to becoming a leading country in space technology. By adopting our constitution in 1950 we became the only country in the world to begin the process of triple transformation – social, political and economic – simultaneously. Other major countries in the world, whether in North America, Europe, Russia, China or Japan, began the transformation sequentially, leading to massive loss of lives, he added. 

 Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

“We have nearly completed the simultaneous triple transformation,” he asserted adding that every citizen in this country has received a bouquet of rights, including the right to vote without any discrimination after a threshold age. The social transformation can be gauged from the fact that a ‘dalit’ woman leader became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh four times, once even completing her entire 5-year term. In comparison, UK women were given a conditional right to vote only in 1918 after the 1914 First World War, that too on completing 30 years of age. They subsequently won the right to vote at par with men at the age of 21 in 1928, Dr Rajiv Kumar pointed out.

Although the country has made strides in the economic sphere as well, “we still have to improve a lot as far as economics go. A very high percentage of inhuman poverty still stares us in the face. There is dualism in our economy. The urban-rural divide, the relative neglect of the farm sector as compared to other sectors of the economy have to be addressed head on, and are now being addressed. The recent focus on rural development and doubling farmers’ incomes is a step in the right direction,” he opined.

Dr Rajiv Kumar felt that the perception that economic development is an activity aimed at benefitting the elite has to go. Economic development has to be mass development. The fruits of development have to percolate down to the last man in the queue. It is here that NITI Aayog is playing a major role with its six guiding principles of Poverty Free India, Direct and Squalor Free India, Corruption Free India, Terrorism Free India, Casteism Free India and Communalism Free India, he said.

The NITI Aayog Vice Chairman felt that the market will not deliver to end poverty in the country. Direct intervention from the government is necessary to ensure that the basic issues concerning the common man, including health, education and per capita income, are addressed in the shortest possible time. “For this we need to grow our economy at a much faster rate than we are going now. We need to give a big push to research and development and innovation. As against around one percent at present, we need to quickly start spending doubt or three times that.”

“To encourage innovation, the NITI Aayog is focussing on implementing the Atal Innovation Mission under which among other things 500 Atal Tinkering Laboratories are being set up in schools across the country to foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds. Besides this, 50 Atal incubation centres are also being set up that would nurture innovative start-up businesses,” Dr Rajiv Kumar said.

“We also need to further improve our ranking in the ease of doing business,” he said adding that “we have improved from 140th to 100th rank. But we have to be up there in the top 50,” he said. The biggest breakthrough towards ushering the country into a higher growth path of 10 percent plus annual growth, he said will be the e-highway project being executed in the country. Under this project 1.5 lakh village panchayats are being connected with optical fibre network to provide information as a free tool to the rural masses.

The Niti Aayog vice chairman said there was no stopping the country from becoming a shining example for the rest of the world “if we can rid the system of corruption, shift focus from demographic benefit to democratic benefit, competitive populism to competitive good governance and from public-private partnership to public-private-personal partnership. People of this country need to shed the ‘mie baap sarkaar’ mindset towards the government and hold it responsible and accountable for delivery of good public services.”      

The 46th Panjab University Colloquim-cum-3rd Shenmar Memorial Oration was organized in collaboration with Department of Social Work, PU, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) and Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).

About Dr Rajiv Kumar

Dr. Rajiv Kumar took over as Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog on September 1, 2017. Prior to this he was:

  1. Founding Director of Pahle India Foundation (PIF), Delhi;
  2. Chancellor of the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune.

His earlier full time positions have been:

  1. Senior Fellow, Centre of Policy Research, Delhi (2013- 2017)
  2. Secretary General, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI, 2010-2012)
  3. Director & Chief Executive, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER, 2006-2010)
  4. Chief Economist, Confederation of India Industries (CII, 2004-2006)
  5. Principal Economist, Asian Development Bank, Manila (1995 to 2005)
  6. Economic Advisor, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, (1992 to 1995)
  7. Senior Consultant, Bureau of Costs and Prices, Ministry of Industry, Government of India (1989-1991)
  8. Professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi (1987-89)
  9. Senior Research Program Officer, ICRIER. Delhi, (1982 to 1987).

In the past he has served as Government of India nominee on the Boards of:

  1. Government of India nominated Director on Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India
  2. Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and Asia (ERIA) Jakarta
  3. Central Board of the State Bank of India, Mumbai
  4. Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi
  5. Part Time Member, National Security Advisory Board (2006-2008)
  6. Part Time Member, Economics, Telecom Regulatory Authority India (TRAI), New Delhi (2007-2010)

He has also served as:

  1. Member of the International Board of Management of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh, chaired by the Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy
  2. Member, Board of Directors, Indian Institute of Management, Vizag
  3. Member, Board of Directors, Institute of Human Development, Delhi
  4. Member, Board of Directors, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow
  5. Independent Director on the Board of DHFL (publicly listed housing finance company)
  6. Member, Indian Advisory Board, CISCO (the San Jose based US MNC)

He has published more than a dozen books. ‘Modi And His Challenges’ (Bloomsbury New Delhi, 2016) is his latest book.

Author of several research papers, he also is a noted economic columnist.

He has a D.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University (1982) and a Ph.D from Lucknow University, India (1978). 

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