Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a former Prime Minister of India whose name will always be remembered for his contributions to the success of the democratic dispensation existing in India today.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was born on the 25 of December 1924. His father was a primary school teacher in the defunct State of Gwalior. Vajpayee is known to have attended the same class and shared the same room with his father during his days at DAC College as a student of Political Science.
He interests in politics emerged in the full glare when he started promoting and campaigning for the Quit India Movement from 1942 to 1945.
Fast-tracking into his late days, the nonagenarian had battled with diabetes and had survived with only one kidney. His condition worsened and was placed on life support at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Today, the Man Atal Bihari Vajpayee is no more.
Vajpayee initiated most of the economic reforms that is experienced in India today. He was the voice behind key governmental decisions that which has stood on the sands of time. Some of his major achievements economically are:
- Tax on Goods and Services: Vajpayee was the first PM to recommend a system of tax that covers both goods and services across India. A committee to determine a model for tax on goods and services was inaugurated by the Vajpayee regime in 2000. The implementation of the recommendations of this committee was unsuccessful because of the disagreements among party lines. However, in 2017, goods and services tax was established in India.
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan: This was a mission designed to ensure that every child in India between the age of 6 to 14 is in school. This was to increase the number of pupils in public schools. The project started in 2001 and came with a song which was written by Vajpayee in person. In 2005, the rate of school dropout had been reduced from 40% to 10%.
- Fiscal Responsibility Act: This Act was enacted by Vajpayee’s government as a measure to curb fiscal deficits and raise the volume of savings available to the public sector. It was called the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act 2003. Other amendments have been effected on the Act, but it was Vajpayee’s initial idea.
- Revolution in the Telecommunication sector: Reports has it that as of May 2018, the total number of active phone users in India is about 984 million. This success can be attributed to Vajpayee. It was his government that embarked on complete unbundling of entities like Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in 1999. A new policy was introduced which remodeled the revenue sharing system and mobile phones and call rates affordable.
- Privatization and Disinvestment: Prime Minister Vajpayee will always be given the credits for his efforts in divestments in public sector holdings. In 1999, he created a separate department that will oversee disinvestments in the public sectors. Large establishments like the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, Hindustan Zinc, BALCO were disinvested in 1999. The insurance sector was unbundled which paved for foreign investors to reconsider the potentials of the insurance business in India. In continuation of this policy, in 2015, the PM Narendra Modi’s government has signed the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Act to increase FDI holdings in the Insurance sector to 46%.
- Bharat: PM Vajpayee fast-tracked numerous road projects through the Golden Quadrilateral and the PGSY scheme. The Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai route was in the Golden Quadrilateral Scheme while the PSGY was a long-term plan of construction of roads across towns and villages in India. The two projects have been a success and is one of the reasons for the huge economic gains in India.
MAJOR EVENTS THAT SHAPED VAJPAYEE’S TENURE AS A PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee tenure in office from 1998 to 2004 reshaped the nature of governance and development at a time India was besieged by political instability, religion, and caste. He was loved by politicians and the populace alike and will forever be a political statesman who stood more on the grounds of truth and equity for the general development of his country in the eyes of his people.
Here are the major events that will always be traced to Vajpayee’s era as a Prime Minister;
- Foreign Policy: Vajpayee had increased India’s relationship with the United States during the Post-Cold war era which led to the epoch visit of the Bill Clinton in 2000. This was the first visit by a sitting American President to India since 1978 visit by Jimmy Carter. In addition to this, he promoted India’s bilateral relations with China which prompted the resolution of the long-standing border disputes.
- Peace with Pakistan: this is one of the greatest moves by Vajpayee that took him to Pakistan by a Delhi-Lahore bus service. It was a feat which attracted both criticisms and praise from both the local politicians and the international community respectively. In addition to increasing trade relations, this visit promoted peace and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
- Launching India into the world’s nuclear map: during Vajpayee’s reign, India had its first nuclear test which was Pokhran-II nuclear bomb which took place in May 1998. However, this brought sanctions from both the United States and the European Union; but it promoted India to the ranks of the world’s nuclear superpowers.
- Kargil War: The 1999 war between India and Pakistan which is known as the Kargil war characterized the Vajpayee’s regime. The defeat of the Pakistani forces was a major achievement of Vajpayee’s tenure as PM. The war lasted between May and July 1999 and was provoked after a coalition of Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants invaded India. The war ended following the intervention of the United States President Bill Clinton after which Pakistani troops were withdrawn.
- Kandahar plane hijack: this will forever remain the hearts of Indians and those yet unborn. It was a day of the test of wits. On the 24 of December 1999, the Indian flight from Kathmandu to New Delhi with over 200 persons on board was hijacked by a militia group based in Pakistan. They terrorist demanded the freedom of their members who were detained in Indian prisons. Fortunately, no harm came to the Indian hostages on the plane but the Prime Minister ordered for the freedom of the prisoners.
- Message for Narendra Modi and Gujarat riots: the reason for the Gujarat riots was the death of 59 pilgrims in Godhra. This led to the death of over 1000 people and subsequent displacement of about 1000. The bulk of the critic went to the Vajpayee led government for failing to take actions to stopp the killings on time. The government in Gujarat was under Narendra Modi which was a part of the BJP. However, Vajpayee ordered Modi to step into the crises and should end any form of discrimination based on religion, creed or caste.
- UN speech in Hindi: during the United Nations General Assembly held on the 13th of September 2002, Atal Bihari Vajpayee gave his address in Hindi which was heavily celebrated across India. He was very vocal against the use of terrorist by Pakistan governments and talked about possible negotiations on Kashmir when terrorist threats are stopped. Changes in violent activities in Kashmir was attributed to the PM’s speech.
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