Ambassador V.B.Soni was the Guest of Honour at a glittering award giving function at the "Asia-Pacific Achiever's Summit" held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on 15th June, 2014. About 100 guests attended at which Chief Guest was Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan H.E. Sarma. Awards were presented to those who have excelled in their respective fields of activity and for their contributions to the society.
In his speech Ambassador Soni referred to the recently held general elections which saw smooth transition of power ushering in a new Government under the leadership of Mr. NarendraModi. Expectations of the people have been raised about delivering on the promises made. He has self-belief. The country is waiting for good governance.
The challenges for the Government are immense particularly in the field of development, poverty and caste inequalities, violence against girl child and women and fending off terrorism.
Listing the economic and development challenges in 2014 Ambassador Soni laid emphasis on sustainable inclusive economic growth together with low-carbon development initiatives including ways to improve food and water security. The galloping inflation needs to be checked immediately.
He said that much more needs to be done to improve the quality of education, standards of teaching, methods of examination, development of skills, vocational programmes, etc. India should look to develop public-private partnerships and social entrepreneurship programmes that can ensure livelihoods for its young population.
Coming next to rural-urban divide Ambassador Soni said that to reap the economic advantages of urbanisation, the Indian government must develop better policies to meet urban infrastructure needs through sustainable means and address growing urban poverty and inequality. The centre needs to do more to facilitate state-to-state interaction and the states should also be proactive in sharing of knowledge of best practices among themselves. The central government should also seek to do more to balance the uneven growth between states.
Socio-economic development measured through indicators, such as GDP, life expectancy, literacy and levels of employment needs to keep in to consideration such issues as personal dignity and safety, freedom of association, freedom from fear of physical harm particularly to the women and extent of participation by civil society.
Finally the big challenge for the Modi Government will be how to utilize the bureaucracy which was responsible for the policy paralysis in UPA II. Decisions were not taken because of lack of clarity and introduction of bureaucratic procedures reminding of the days of the Licence-Permit Raj of the 1950s and 60s.
Mr. Modi seems to have started on the right note by revamping the bureaucratic process and encouraging decisions to be taken in a time bound manner without the fear of victimsation. His motto is 'less government, more governance'. He seems to be a man of action. He has initiated new work culture. Let's hope that the future of India is bright with the economy developing at least at 9 to 10% rate.