The Poet, the Prime Minister, the Statesman, Atal Bihari Vajppayee’s death has triggered an outpouring of grief amongst all Indians. PM Narendra Modi described his death as “end of an era”.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee can be called as a true mass leader. Vajpayee’s loss means a lot not only to the BJP but to the entire nation. His efforts in development of the rural level along with his vision to make India a global leader made Atal Bihari Vajpayee an iconic national leader.
Here are few of the reasons for which the entire nation would ever be grateful to Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Vajpayee is the man who made India a Nuclear Power. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited the nuclear test site in Pokhran. India conducted a series of nuclear bomb explosions at Pokhran in May 1998. It consisted of five detonations of which one was fusion bomb and four were fission bombs. Post this, India became a full fledged nuclear state. More than anything, it revealed to the world the strength of India. He was well aware of the consequences of the tests and global condemnation it would invite, but he went ahead and carried out the mission. “We will not use these weapons against anybody. But to defend ourselves, if the need arises, we will not hesitate,” Mr. Vajpayee said in a speech to his supporters at the time.
One of the most memorable achievement of Vajpayee is road revolution. Atal Bihari Vajpayee launched the Golden Quadrilateral on 6 January 1999 that connects India’s four main cities – Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. This was done with the ambition of providing an impetus to smoother movement of products and people within India and enabling industrial and job development in smaller towns through access to markets. He also initiated the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana on 25 December, 2000 to develop roads for unconnected villages across India. These projects has contributed to the India’s economic growth.
Vajpayee’s contribution towards education sector is remarkable. In 2000-2001, former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then NDA government launched Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to provide free and compulsory elementary education to children aged 6-14 years. New schools were opened and existing ones were renovated. It is believed that within four years of its launch, the number of out-of-school children dropped by 60 per cent. The literacy rate of India also increased from 64.8 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee brought a revolution in telecommunication sector by replacing fixed license fees with revenue sharing agreement. He is considered as the architect of telecommunication sector in India.
During this time, the country saw a reduction in the service fee leading to a drop in call costs that enabled even middle-class India to afford a cell phone. The number of mobile phone connections, under 10 million then, doubled every year after that for the next five to six years.
Vajpayee introduced a separate Disinvestment Ministry to reduce government’s role in running businesses and industry. Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and VSNL were amongst the few famous disinvestments. This was a very futuristic step keeping in mind that the resources with government were limited. It created new opportunities for private enterprises.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee passed the Chandrayan-1 project on India’s 56th Independence Day. This gave a major thrust to Indian space mission. Atalji 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.”
Vajpayee always believed in peace with the neighbors. He believed that violence brings loss of man and money on both the sides. That is why,in spite of Pakistan’s continuous efforts to de-stabilise Kashmir, Vajpayee wanted peace with them. He also invited Pervez Musharraf for peace talks to Delhi and Agra. Delhi-Lahore bus service, which started in 1999, is seen as one of the biggest steps in building mutual trust with Pakistan.
Veteran politician, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s economic legacy will be evaluated by persons of differing political-ideological persuasions. India’s economic history would be significantly poor if it does not include an objective analysis of the Vajpayee years.