Former PM, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, greeting his partymen. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died at 93 on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at AIIMS in New Delhi.
Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari said, “Empowering the individual means empowering the nation. And empowerment is best served through rapid economic growth with rapid social change.”
Indeed, these words reflected in his contribution towards the country. He not only improved the economy of India but also introduced social reforms to uplift the unprivileged section of the society.
Here’s a look at eight remarkable steps taken by Atal Bihari Vajpayee in his tenure:
1. Raising India’s GDP
- He took India to the new heights by introducing economic reforms. Under his tenure from 1998 to 2004, India maintained a GDP rate of eight per cent, the inflation level came down to four per cent and foreign exchange reserves were flourishing
- Although India faced catastrophic events during his tenure, including earthquake (2001), two cyclones (1999 and 2000), a horrible drought (2002-2003), oil crises (2003), the Kargil conflict (1999), and a Parliament attack, yet he maintained a stable economy
Former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee, at an international event in France. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
2. Introduction to Fiscal Responsibility Act
Besides raising India’s GDP to eight per cent in his tenure, he further introduced the Fiscal Responsibility Act which aimed to reduce the fiscal deficit and boost public-sector savings.
- Among the several milestones in his brief period of the ruling, privatisation was also appreciated
- Giving rise to private business in India, it reduced the government’s involvement in the industry
- Further, he formed a separate disinvestment ministry. The most important disinvestments were Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) and Hindustan Zinc, Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and VSNL
4. The rise of the Indian telecom industry
- His government introduced a revenue-sharing model under New Telecom Policy which helped telecom firms to get away with fixed license fees
- Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd was separately created to head over the services and policies
- To further enhance the telecom sector, he created Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal
- International telephone service Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd was ended
5. Education policy
- It was for the first time in India that elementary education became free for children aged 6-14 years
- It was launched in 2001 and brought a drastic change in the number of dropouts by 60 per cent
6. Strengthened global ties
- Under his reign, India improved its trade and reduced territorial disputes with the People’s Republic of China
- In 2000, he invited former US President Bill Clinton, improving the bilateral ties after the Cold War
Former US President Clinton and First Lady Hillary with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at a White House state dinner September 17, 2000, in Washington, DC. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
- He invited the then President Pervez Musharraf to India for a two-day Agra summit meeting from July 14-16, 2001, in order to discuss cross-border terrorism and Kashmir
- Moreover, Vajpayee gave a green signal to road connectivity between India and Pakistan with the inauguration of historic Delhi-Lahore Bus on February 19, 1999
7. Science and Research
- Vajpayee passed the Chandrayan-1 project
On India’s 56th Independence Day, he said, “Our country is now ready to fly high in the field of science. I am pleased to announce that India will send her own spacecraft to the moon by 2008. It is being named Chandrayaan.
- He made India a nuclear weapon state. In 1998, India conducted five nuclear tests in one week
“We have the capacity for a big bomb now. Ours will never be weapons of aggression,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. (Photo courtesy: Getty Images)
- The most ambitious road projects in India were launched by him, including the Golden Quadrilateral and the Pradhanmantri Gramin Sadak Yojna
- The Golden Quadrilateral made transportation easy, connecting metropolitan cities — Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai — through a network of highways
- Pradhanmantri Gramin Sadak Yojna connected distant villages across the country with a network of all-weather roads.
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