India’s power 5: Big announcements from the world’s second most populous country on its Independence Day


On the celebration of India’s 72nd Independence Day, the country’s prime minister addressed the nation making a few key announcements about future projects. One of the more significant developments was the promise of a manned space mission by 2022. But closer home, the Ayushman Bharat Healthcare Scheme is set to launch on 25 September.

Here are the highlights from Modi’s Independence Day address:



1. Gaganyaan to take off in 2022

The preparations for the India’s first manned space mission have already been in the news for a while but the PM has officially set a launch deadline for 2022.

Currently, project ‘Gaganyaan’, an initiative of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is in its initial stages having successfully tested the Crew Escape System.

That being said, while ambitious with its intentions, ISRO has had trouble meeting past deadlines. Most recently, the Chandrayaan-2 mission set to launch in April and then in October, is now looking at a 2019 launch date. But, the chairman of ISRO also warned that the launch maybe delayed to March if the changes aren’t made to the spacecraft in time.

2. Ayushman Bharat Healthcare scheme to launch on 25 September

Also called the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, the prime minister claims that it will benefit nearly 500 million citizens of the country. The scheme aims to give ₹500,000 ($7,123) cover per year for a whole family.

Inclusive of nearly 1,354 packages within the scheme, the measure covers 100 million vulnerable families. That’s over 40% of the Indian population.

The initiative, though necessarily for a country like India where statistics indicate that 67% of health expenditure is out-of-pocket, has ruffled a few feathers. There are questions over whether using third party administrators is the best idea and how easy it would be to exploit the loopholes in the scheme.

3. Permanent commissioning of women in the armed forces

It’s not that women weren’t allowed in the Indian armed forces before, but with permanent commissioning, they can now be a part of the direct combat arms like the infantry, armoured corps and artillery.

The current 3,700 women employed in the armed forces are restricted to officer posts. This initiative opens up a myriad of career choice where they can now apply for subordinate posts to achieve the ranks of colonels, brigadiers, major generals and lieutenant generals.

4. New agricultural export policy soon

In a mission to double farmer incomes in India by 2022, the prime minister has stated that a new agricultural export policy will be rolled out soon that will boost their compensation. Using the ‘Beej se Bazaar tak’ (from planting seeds to accessing the market) approach, Modi expressed the importance of value addition.

While no other details were revealed during the Independence Day address, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry did publish a Draft Agricultural Export Policy back in March that was aimed at doubling India’s agricultural exports and integrating agricultural commodities in to the global value chain.

5. Panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir

It’s been seven years since the last panchayat polls in the volatile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The polls that were supposed to take place in 2016 were, first, postponed due to the unrest that followed the death of Burhan Wani and then, eventually cancelled due to ‘security concerns’.

Even the local body elections haven’t been conducted in over eight years now. According to the state’s Governor, NN Vohra, the local body election will happen first over the course of September and October followed by the panchayat polls from October to December.

Reviewing the country’s progress over the past couple of years, Modi made it a point to assert how his government has pulled pending initiatives through without directly pointing the finger at the Opposition. That being said, a fact-checking report by The Quint calls those claims into question.

Which is why though these announcements may bring a ray of hope to many, expectations should be adjusted keeping past performances in mind.



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