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‘Sabka vikas’ all the way: Progress in the new socio-economic milieu

In adroitly battling the relentless pandemic, India – balancing lives and livelihoods – has laid thrust on cushioning the vulnerable segments of society as well as administering a coherent response to the health consequences of the pandemic (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)(PTI02_01_2021_000024B) (PTI)Premium
In adroitly battling the relentless pandemic, India – balancing lives and livelihoods – has laid thrust on cushioning the vulnerable segments of society as well as administering a coherent response to the health consequences of the pandemic (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)(PTI02_01_2021_000024B) (PTI)

  • The salubrious trends in social sector chronicle the success of Atmanirbhar Bharat Mission 

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To give effect to the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the underlying economic philosophy was of focusing on growth at the macro level and improving efficiency of government programmes at the micro level. The distinguishably recurring theme – of ‘process reforms’ – of the Economic Survey 2021-22 and the social welfare programmes discussed in chapter 10 thereby narrate the saga of India’s pioneering initiatives in this direction. The twin-pronged approach aims at enabling the economic growth necessary to generate resources for welfare programmes while reducing inequality in society – by means of well-targeted welfare schemes as well as a robust social infrastructure.

In adroitly battling the relentless pandemic, India – balancing lives and livelihoods – has laid thrust on cushioning the vulnerable segments of society as well as administering a coherent response to the health consequences of the pandemic. With vaccination coverage of the adult population now near comprehensive with regard to first dose and about 70% with the second, India continues to be on war-footing against the pandemic while charting impressive socio-economic track record through jan bhagidari. Akin to the economic stimuli injected under the umbrella of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Budget 2021-22, nitro-boosts to healthcare sector in India were also provided through creation of massive infrastructure for isolation beds, dedicated intensive care unit beds, supply of medical oxygen and production of COVID vaccines.

The salubrious trends in the social sector chronicle the wholesome success of the Atmanirbhar Bharat vision. First, creation of formal jobs has been a key policy priority for the government, and evidence about this aspiration coming to fruition abounds. Whereas only 61.1 lakh net enrolments in the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) – which manages social security funds of workers in organised/semi organised sector in India – were observed in 2018-19, the number rose to 77.1 lakh in 2020-21. This year, till November 2021, net addition to payroll has already crossed 82.4 lakh.

Second, regarding status of jobs formalization in 2019-20 compared to 2011-12, as per PLFS and NSSO-EUS reports, there is decline in prevalence of casual labour in rural (7.6 percentage points) and urban (1.2 percentage points) areas and increase in share of regular-wage/salaried employees in both, by 4.6 and 5.7 percentage points respectively. Additionally, in the galaxy of self-employed workers, there is higher prevalence of own account worker and employee – showcasing the robust start-up ecosystem that has taken root in India.

Third, in sectoral distribution of workforce, agriculture’s share has come down from 49% to 45.6% between 2011-12 and 2019-20, the share of services has risen from 24% to 25.1% and that of industry ascended from 27% to 29.3%. Economic transition from agriculture to industry and services is discernible. Fourth, continued thrust on ‘skilling at scale’ has raised the share of persons in 15-59 years ages receiving vocational training from 8.1% (2017-18) to 13.9% (2019-20).

Further, there has been no let-up in budgetary priority to the social sector. As per Union Budget documents, the share of social services in total expenditure of the Central government spiked from 3.7 percent in 2014-15 to 5.0 percent in 2015-16 and thereafter rose to 5.7 percent in 2019-20. Budget 2021-22 increased the share of the social sector to the highest-ever level of 6.3 percent. Findings from NFHS 5 – juxtaposed with those from NFHS 4 – illustrate the outcomes of the increased allocations.

In a robust testimony to the success of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, sex ratio at birth for children born in last five years grew from 919 females per 1000 males in 2015-16 to 929 in 2019-21. That population living in households with an improved sanitation facility rising from 48.5% in 2015-16 to 70.2% in 2019-21 corroborates the success of Swachh Bharat Mission. Ujjwala Scheme – focusing on improving access of households to clean cooking fuel – has catalyzed its use by covering 58.6% of households in 2019-21, up from 43.8% in 2015-16.

The intense monitoring and Convergence Action Plan-based National Nutrition Mission enabled lowering of stunted, wasted and underweight children by 2%, 2 % and 4%, respectively, between 2015-16 and 2019-21. Survey’s tenth chapter further explores the happy tidings witnessed with regard to drinking water, rural housing and roads and health infrastructure while also chronicling the progress achieved in education , employment and wide-casting of social safety-nets. It’s sabka vikaas all the way!

The author is assistant director, economic division, department of economic affairs, ministry of finance. The views are personal.

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