As we mourn the loss of a great leader son of India here is a look at the foundation the great visionary leader laid for the country. In the political arena talks with Pakistan were a Vajpayee and Brajesh Mishra (National Security Advisor) initiative prior to this there was no clear policy on how India would deal with Pakistan and what peace would mean to the progress of India. Getting India in the nuclear club so as to get nuclear power besides weapons were clearly what Vajpayee had worked with US President George Bush Senior.
It is worth looking at the economic vision this great man had to make India the Asian Tiger that it is called today. When Vajpayee took over as the Prime Minister he knew very well that he had to strengthen the vision PV Narsimha Rao had laid for India by liberalising the economy. Vajpayee knew two things that will strengthen India- capital and infrastructure, so he began with Public Private Partnership (PPP) in key areas- allowing private players to construct highways, allowing private power projects, opening up ports to private players, modernization of Mumbai Delhi airports to name a few. Allowing farmers to sell their produce to private companies directly and to export their produce was unshackling of the farm sector by Vajpayee.
In order to remove bottlenecks of moving goods to another market the vision of Golden quadrilateral Highway project was mooted it connected major cities for farmers as much as for industries to enable them to move their produce and products, this was the first time highway connectivity across the country was envisioned.
Indian economy could not do well without cheap and efficient power supplies this meant competitiveness for Indian industry and cold storage facility for farm produce, in order to give India this competitive advantage Vajpayee mooted Ultra Mega Power Projects (UMPP) which meant producing cheap and efficient electricity which state run power projects were unable to do. Allowing foreign capital to be invested in Indian companies as also allowing Indian companies to invest abroad was a way of allowing capital flows in Indian corporate sector. Allowing oil prices to be paid at par with the international prices at petrol pumps which is today termed as deregulation of oil prices was also a Vajpayee idea.
Prime Minister Vajpayee was clear that if India has to compete in international arena its economy has to be strong for which he had studied the Chinese success stories as also the pitfalls of Asian economic miracle armed with these ideas he prepared the foundation for India which included peace with neighbours at the borders so (talks with Pakistan) that India can progress to become the Asian Tiger. Today if Indian economy is mentioned and is valued in the world as a fastest growing economy much of this credit and vision goes to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
(By Bhagyashree Pande, views expressed are personal)