It has been a year since Blitz India has been publishing, and it has brought in a new era of positive developmental stories. If India has to grow at higher rates of 9%-10% year after year, for three decades or more, to be able to lift a very young population above the poverty line, then transformational work has to be done. And this has to be supported by the media.
Rather than sensationalising a number of issues, it is important to understand that in the last seven to eight years, we have seen India getting transformed in many ways.
During the period 2014 to 2017 almost 480 million new bank accounts were opened in India, which is almost 55% of the total bank accounts opened across the world. That is, every second bank account opened in the world was opened in India. We were then able to link it up with Aadhar and also the mobile and that has enabled a vast number of Indians living in tier 2, tier 3 cities in rural India to make their payments digitally. Mobile phones have become banks.
Therefore, India does 11X digital payments than what United States and Europe do; and 4X more than what China does. And this has been a technological leapfrogging of India in many ways. We have really polevaulted digitally.
If you look at the infrastructure story, India in the last seven-eight years has built about 55,000 km of roads, which is 1.5 times the entire diameter of the Earth. Therefore, if you travel from Delhi to different parts of India or if you travel from different cities, you will see a huge amount of transformation in road infrastructure.
More important than that, India in the last eight years has provided almost three crore houses for its citizens and these are stories which are not talked about. That’s why I thought I’ll mention it. Three crores houses is actually equivalent to making a house for every single Australian. And therefore, in terms of houses, we’ve made one full Australia in the last eight years. We provided drinking water to about 8.1 crore households. If you consider every household as having three family members, then that’s about 25 crore families and that is like providing water to the entire Germany.
In terms of toilets, we’ve made about 10.9 crore toilets, which is like providing toilets to entire Brazil. That is the size and scale of what India has achieved in the last eight years.
Pharmacy of world
During Covid period, while the rest of the world was not able to provide vaccines, we became the pharmacy of the world, the vaccine capital of the world. We provided about 2.2 crore vaccines and it was all digital, all paperless, cashless, whereas the rest of the world, including the United States, all provided vaccines through paperwork.
Therefore, India demonstrated to the world that digitally we were very advanced and could provide vaccines. We became the vaccine capital of the world and we provided vaccines to 144 countries of the world.
We provided health insurance to 50 crore people through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana which is like providing health insurance to the entire population of the United States and Europe together.
So in terms of size and scale, what we’ve achieved is just mind boggling and totally phenomenal. But these are not stories because the normal media wants to sensationalise issues and has to find readership by creating sensation. The development part of India is not talked about.
But it is very important to do this because if India has to grow at rapid rates and transform the life of Indian citizens, then there has to be a very young, confident, very self-confident India which has to march ahead.
It’s not that we are the fifth-largest economy of the world, but we have to become the third-largest economy of the world in the next few years. And when we are the G20 President and the Prime Minister is holding the leadership as the President of G20, we have to really guide the destiny of the world.
And, therefore, there has to be a selfconfident India which needs to talk about the paradigm shift that we have made at the grassroots.
I was doing the aspirational district programme at Niti Aayog where we were transforming 150 of the most backward districts of India. We have transformed them in terms of learning outcomes, in terms of health outcomes, in terms of digitization and many other ways in the infrastructure story of India.
But these are stories which are just not talked about and, therefore, there has to be a huge focus on them and we have to keep reiterating them again and again. So that everybody becomes confident of the vast transformation that India has been through.
I really appreciate the great work that Blitz India is doing. It is setting out a new path of developmental journalism which is very important. This will herald a new era of constructive and positive journalism. I congratulate the Blitz India team and wish it the best for a great future.