All of us have a to-do list. And we must do our bit so that it takes our country further up on the road to progress. Things are going right for us as a country and we, citizens, as stakeholders should stay on course so that the progress is accelerated.
Urban development is the key challenge for India in the next few decades. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission has now been revived by Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. This mission enables the central government to work with state governments. Dr Singh is the first prime minister after the late Rajiv Gandhi to realise its importance. Rajiv Gandhi had set up the Urban Commission. Both Rajiv Gandhi and Dr Singh have understood that urbanisation is a challenge.
By 2025, 50 % of India will be living in the cities. However, we need to understand the urban systems. The problems in the urban areas are not about water, roads, et al. A village, for instance, is inhabited by one community. So the problems there are the same. A city is inhabited by people from different economic strata. Economically, we are doing well. Hence it is imperative that things get done at a fast pace.
All political parties must be taken into consideration. Democratic values stress that we do this on an urgent basis. The buoyant economy has come after centuries. We must take advantage of it. Now is the time to go about changing ourselves as a nation that depends on the government for everything to a nation that is self dependent.
As far as foreign policy is concerned, India is in a position where we enjoy cordial relations with all superpowers. We are able to demonstrate this because of our strong military capacity, economic powers, and politically, for we are the largest democracy. Of course, there are challenges like insurgencies, infiltration and terrorism. I believe in peace process among countries, but we must be militarily prepared.
India is the youngest country in the world with the largest youth population. Since we have the advantage of a large youth population, we need to empower it through health, education, vocational guidance and make it resilient, confident and prepared to face challenges.
As told to Sulekha Nair (Milind Deora is MP, Mumbai South.)