Amitabh Kant en Wed Nov 02 10:52:39 IST 2022 shaping-liveable-cities <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India’s urban landscape has undergone significant transformation since gaining independence. Urbanisation has emerged as a crucial driver of economic growth, necessitating a reimagining and reshaping of Indian cities to ensure their sustainability and liveability. With the projected population reaching 1.5 billion by 2036, and an estimated 50 per cent of Indians residing in cities by 2050, addressing the complexities and challenges of urbanisation is paramount. Diving into the realm of urban planning, management and finance, there arises a pressing demand for all-encompassing reforms that can give rise to cities capable of nurturing economic growth, safeguarding the environment and elevating the overall well-being of their residents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Urbanisation plays a pivotal role in India’s economic growth, with cities contributing over 70 per cent of the country’s GDP, despite occupying a mere three per cent of its land. However, the focus on urban functionality and liveability has been insufficient until recent years. Initiatives such as the provision of basic amenities like water supply and sanitation, implementation of technology-driven solutions and ensuring housing for all have been introduced. However, the impact of these interventions depends on effective grassroots planning for the coming decades.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The rapid urbanisation in India has brought forth a myriad of complexities and challenges, starting with the ambiguous distinction between urban and rural areas. Nearly half of the 7,933 designated urban towns in India were classified as census towns in 2021 and continue to be governed as rural entities. This problem persists, and has led to unplanned urbanisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, approximately 52 per cent of statutory towns lack proper master plans, with most developmental focus directed towards metropolitan cities and class I towns. Smaller and medium-sized towns, collectively constituting 26 per cent of the population and contributing over 44.2 per cent to the urban area, require equal attention from the states. Interestingly, class V and VI towns experienced significant population growth during 2001-2011, serving as intermediaries in the rural-urban continuum. Due to capacity deficits, these towns often lack sufficient attention, resulting in potential higher expenditure for infrastructure provision and corrective measures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is imperative to streamline the categorisation of urban areas and align their governance accordingly. Comprehensive master plans should be prepared for all towns, including census towns, taking into account their unique needs and growth potential. This would ensure balanced and sustainable urban development throughout the country. In my years of service, I have been fortunate to play a key role in driving urban development initiatives in India, and my experiences have reaffirmed the belief that strategic and planned urbanisation is crucial for the country’s sustainable growth. Throughout my career, I have witnessed the transformative power of well-designed urban policies and initiatives. As the CEO of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation (DMICDC), I spearheaded the ambitious project that aims to create globally competitive industrial hubs and smart cities along the Delhi-Mumbai corridor. The Aurangabad Industrial City (AURIC), India’s first greenfield industrial smart city as part of the DMIC, exemplifies the immense potential of planned urbanisation.My time as CEO of NITI Aayog further reinforced my faith in citizen-centric urban development. During this period, we launched transformative initiatives that aimed to empower cities to become more liveable, sustainable, and technologically advanced.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India’s G20 presidency is driving a transformative agenda for sustainable and inclusive urban infrastructure development through focused multilateral deliberations. Recognising the critical role of cities in global economic growth and sustainable development, India’s presidency has championed initiatives that prioritise the advancement of resilient and future-ready cities of tomorrow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By embracing sustainable urban planning, strengthening governance structures, and addressing the complexities associated with urban growth, cities in India and other developing countries can become vibrant, inclusive, and environmentally conscious hubs that enhance the quality of life for their residents. The journey towards creating sustainable and liveable cities requires collective efforts from all stakeholders—the government, urban planners, citizens and private sector entities. Through collaboration, innovative solutions and a long-term vision, India can shape its urban landscape to be a shining example of sustainable development in the 21st century.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kant is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Sep 09 11:22:39 IST 2023 sustainable-blue-economy-is-important-for-india-and-world <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Oceans play a pivotal role in sustaining life on earth and are of immense importance to humanity. Covering over 70 per cent of the planet’s surface, oceans provide a critical source of food, with an estimated three billion people relying on marine resources as their primary protein source. Furthermore, oceans regulate global climate patterns by absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through photosynthesis, contributing to the overall balance of the earth’s atmosphere. Oceans also serve as a major driver of the global economy, with ocean-related industries raking in trillions of dollars annually, and seas providing 80 per cent of economic pathways for world trade. Moreover, coastal areas, heavily influenced by oceans, are home to more than 40 per cent of the global population, and oceans provide numerous recreational and tourism opportunities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, the past few decades have witnessed a rapid decline in the health of our oceans, with critical challenges such as indiscriminate marine pollution, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and the impacts of climate change posing far-reaching consequences for our planet. Developing countries and small island developing states bear a disproportionate burden of these challenges. In this context, it is vital that we prioritise sustainable practices and collective action to preserve the oceans for current and future generations, ensuring the continued well-being and prosperity of humanity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Therefore, redirecting both national and international efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which focuses on life below water, is crucial. By doing so, we can tap into the economic opportunities offered by our oceans while prioritising their conservation. This necessitates enhancing the sustainability of the “blue economy” through collaborative efforts involving multiple stakeholders. India, with its extensive coastline and rich maritime resources, has a unique opportunity to lead the way in promoting a sustainable blue economy. By embracing innovative solutions and policies, India can foster economic growth while ensuring the long-term health of its oceans.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During my tenure as tourism secretary to Kerala, I witnessed the symbiotic relationship between coastal ecology and culture first-hand, understanding that people are more likely to protect what they have a direct stake in. In Kerala, we were able to transform the lives of traditional fishermen by building capacity, utilising real-time data, and collaborating with multiple stakeholders to drive sustainable change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our mission was clear: uplift their livelihoods and ensure fair returns for their daily catch. Months of relentless effort and navigating bureaucratic hurdles led to the formation of self-help groups, leveraging technology to open their bank accounts and securing higher returns. In fact, India can harness the power of renewable energy from the ocean to meet its energy needs while reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Investing in research and development for offshore wind, tidal, and wave energy technologies can drive innovation and contribute to a cleaner energy future. This transition to renewable energy will not only mitigate climate change but also provide economic opportunities and energy security.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Addressing global challenges requires collective action, and India stands ready to collaborate with other nations. Through the G20 platform and other international forums, we can foster cooperation, knowledge sharing, technology transfers, and capacity building to ensure a sustainable blue economy. Developed nations can help bridge the knowledge gap and ensure inclusive participation in the blue economy by providing technical assistance, training, and financial support. India is leading the effort to implement a blue economic policy, which envisions the optimal utilisation of all maritime domain sectors (living, non-living resources, tourism, and ocean energy) for sustainable coastal development. India is also implementing the deep ocean mission, which includes six thematic areas to support these blue economy initiatives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Thus, a sustainable blue economy holds immense importance for India and the world. By harnessing India’s maritime potential and developing a collective roadmap with other nations, we can achieve inclusive growth, environmental conservation, and climate resilience. Together, we can embrace the transformative power of the blue economy, changing our role from mere inhabitants to custodians of this shared planet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kant is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Aug 12 16:20:01 IST 2023 addressing-our-water-challenges <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As we navigate the complex challenges posed by climate change and strive to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one critical issue takes centre stage: water. In 2023, the global discourse surrounding water management has intensified, highlighting its inseparable connection to environmental sustainability, economic growth, and the well-being of communities worldwide. The UN World Water Development Report 2023 warns of an imminent global water crisis that will worsen in the coming decades if international cooperation is not mobilised to address the issue.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As countries grapple with water scarcity, pollution, and unequal access to clean water, it becomes imperative to examine the current state of water resources, explore innovative approaches to conservation, and foster collective action to ensure a water-secure future. In this context, India stands as a vivid example, where the urgency to address water-related issues is paramount. With a mere four per cent share of the world’s fresh water resources and a staggering 17.7 per cent of the global population, India faces an urgent need to address its water crisis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India’s water scarcity crisis is evident in alarming statistics. As per a recent report, approximately three out of four rural homes do not have piped water, with the situation being exacerbated by climate change, population growth, and inefficient water management practices. With the annual per capita water availability dipping to 1,486 cubic metres, India’s commitment to water conservation remains more steadfast than ever.Already, around 600 million people in the country are facing severe water shortages, leading to dire consequences for livelihoods, agriculture, and overall socio-economic development. Recognising the enormity of the water challenge, community engagement has emerged as a crucial strategy for achieving water security in India. Efforts range from state-led initiatives to grassroots community-driven projects. Throughout my professional career, I have been deeply committed to the cause of water conservation. During my time as CEO of NITI Aayog, I have had the privilege of leading transformative initiatives such as the development of the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI), which evaluates states’ water management performance based on 28 indicators and highlights the crucial role of civic involvement. I have seen the impact of engaging communities first-hand, with people-led initiatives showing promising results in water conservation, restoration of water bodies, and the adoption of sustainable water practices in the long-term.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While community engagement is pivotal, the corporate sector also holds significant potential for contributing to water management. One notable example is ITC’s integrated water management approach, which extends to large-scale river basin regeneration projects across multiple states in India. ITC’s initiatives have positively impacted over three lakh people and generated employment opportunities, reducing distress migration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Innovative policy reforms are necessary to create an enabling environment for sustainable water management practices. One crucial aspect is the regulation of groundwater extraction, as exemplified by Maharashtra’s legislation controlling well registration and construction. By implementing similar measures nationwide, India can effectively manage its groundwater resources and prevent excessive depletion.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India’s G20 presidency is playing a crucial role in highlighting the pressing need to address environmental degradation and combat climate change. Through multilateral deliberations on integrated water resource management, promoting a sustainable and climate-resilient blue economy, as well as creating sustainable patterns of production and consumption, the presidency is driving international cooperation and fostering collective action towards a greener, bluer, and more sustainable future for all.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India, and the world, stand at a critical juncture in its water management journey. By prioritising community engagement, leveraging corporate social responsibility, boosting international cooperation, and implementing effective water management strategies, we can overcome our water challenges, drive economic growth, and improve the well-being of all citizens. The time to act is now, and success hinges on the synergy of efforts from the state, corporations, and the community. Together, we can secure India’s water resources and pave the way for a water-secure India for generations to come.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Kant is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Jul 15 15:40:47 IST 2023 how-india-is-empowering-women-and-promoting-their-leadership <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India’s G20 presidency highlights the critical theme of gender equality and the empowerment of women in domestic and global contexts. Recognising the significance of women’s education, financial inclusion, and equal opportunities, India aims to build a robust and inclusive digital public infrastructure (DPI) to advance women’s economic empowerment. Through various initiatives and innovative approaches, the government seeks to bridge the gender gap, create sustainable finance options, and promote women’s leadership at all levels of decision-making.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A crucial aspect for the advancement and empowerment of women is ensuring their financial inclusion. Globally, almost half (42 per cent) of women and girls remain outside the formal financial system, with a persistent 7 per cent gender gap. However, India has made remarkable progress in this area. Today, nearly 81 per cent of urban women and 77.4 per cent of rural women in India own a bank account, which they operate themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To foster sustainable development through gender equality and women empowerment, it is imperative to enhance women’s capacities and provide equal opportunities. Education plays a vital role in this regard, yet gender parity remains a challenge. Women, still, account for almost two-thirds of all adults unable to read, and with 54 per cent of the total 78.2 million out-of-school children being girls, a concerted and coordinated effort will be required to move the needle. India is committed to making progress in this area. In tandem, the pervasive issue of malnutrition and food insecurity must be addressed at its roots. During my tenure as CEO of NITI Aayog, I had the fortune of driving the GoI’s Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP)—the world’s largest outcome-based governance project, focused on improving the socio-economic indicators of the 112 most backward districts of India. I saw the impact of combining the strengths of local governance structures with multi-stakeholder partnerships first-hand. By setting up model anganwadi centres, standardising data-collection methods, and creating an enabling environment for innovative solutions, we were able to improve markers for health, well-being, and overall development significantly. For example, in Ranchi, Jharkhand, a remarkable initiative called the Poshan app revolutionised the way malnourishment was addressed in the district. This app utilised real-time data analytics to monitor crucial aspects such as bed occupancy, child-growth charts, and inventory levels at malnourishment treatment centres. The impact was astounding, with bed occupancy levels at health care centres witnessing an increase of over 90 per cent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By bridging the gap in access to digital technologies, promoting women’s education, and ensuring their health and livelihood, we can accelerate their economic empowerment globally. Global leaders must collaborate to dismantle long-term structural barriers that hinder women’s progress across these critical pillars. The increasing participation of women in any economy not only fosters growth but also has a positive impact on the overall socio-economic development of the nation. I firmly believe that women’s empowerment is not just a cause, but a transformative force that can drive sustainable development and inclusive growth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India recognises the importance of women’s representation at all levels, from administrative offices to grassroots institutions. By bringing women’s unique perspectives and experiences to the table, we cultivate more inclusive and effective decision-making. The sustainability of outcomes and progress towards gender equality rely on the availability of quality gender-disaggregated data. By investing in data collection and sharing, and converting it into digital intelligence, we can develop targeted interventions and monitor the impact of our efforts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Advancing gender equality is essential for creating a more equitable and inclusive society. By focusing on women’s financial inclusion, strengthening their capacities, enabling their leadership, and prioritising their health, and the collection of gender-disaggregated data, we can create a better future. By building a robust digital public infrastructure and implementing initiatives that bridge the gender gap, India aims to empower women and promote their leadership at all levels. It is through these concerted efforts that we can create a more prosperous future, where women’s economic empowerment and gender equality are at the forefront of our collective endeavours.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The author is G20 Sherpa, government of India, and former CEO, NITI Aayog. All views expressed are personal.</b></p> Fri Jun 16 15:16:48 IST 2023 industrialise-yes-carbonise-no <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The enablers of economic growth in one era are not necessarily applicable to another. The industrialisation of today’s developed world was built on the back of burning fossil fuels. Not just in power generation, but also in industrial and long-distance transport, hydrocarbons have fuelled growth in the past centuries.</p> <p>Cumulatively, the developed countries of today have accounted for close to two-thirds of all emissions since 1750. In the 1.5° C warming scenario, only 14 per cent of the total carbon space remains, with 2,400 gigatonnes (Gt) of the available 2,800 Gt space already emitted. Since pre-industrial times, India has utilised 1.5 per cent of the total carbon space.</p> <p>With the earth getting close to the 1.5° C warming target, countries today cannot grow through burning fossil fuels anymore. Growth cannot come at the expense of sustainability anymore. The challenge that lies in front of the developing nations is to decarbonise electricity generation, industrial operations and transport.</p> <p>Recognising this challenge, India has emerged as a leader in the energy transition and the fight against climate change. First, much has been done to decarbonise electricity generation in India. The installed capacity of renewable energy now stands at 172 gigawatts (GW). We achieved the targets for 2030 set out in our first nationally determined contribution (NDC), nine years ahead of schedule. India’s updated NDC included a statement on propagating a healthy and sustainable lifestyle (LiFE), with the premise that the fight against climate change is a collective fight, rooted in individual and community behavioural change.</p> <p>By 2030, half our electric installed capacity would be fed by renewables, and carbon intensity of our GDP would be reduced by 45 per cent over 2005 levels. The challenge with renewable energy is its inherent nature and its need to be bundled with storage to provide Round the Clock Renewable (RE-RTC) or On demand Carbon Free Energy (CFE) to the Indian grid. Energy storage is key for our energy transition into a low or zero carbon future. Energy storage will enable the grid to absorb more and more renewable energy and reduce overall carbon intensity of the Indian grid.</p> <p>Power generation is not the only source of emissions. Industrial applications and transport are two other large producers of emissions. One solution to vehicular emissions is electric vehicles (EVs), which have gained substantial traction owing to government initiatives such as FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid &amp; Electric Vehicles). Together with production linked incentive (PLI) schemes for batteries and automobiles, the ecosystem for EVs in India needs a vigorous push. This would require:</p> <p>♦ At least one million fast chargers in the country to adopt EVs in the next five years. Instead of importing, we need to push localisation content in manufacturing, with megawatt hour charging (Tesla has opened its charger’s IP) for buses and commercial vehicles.</p> <p>♦ Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) battery storage is critical world over—the capacity is surpassing 500GW. Only 30GW has been allotted under PLI. This needs to be expanded and localisation should happen on a large scale. In its absence India will become the assembly house of finished products for cell manufacturing.</p> <p>♦ Repurposing and recycling of ACC batteries:</p> <p>Lithium-based batteries need a disposal policy. We need to repurpose and recycle them on giga scale.</p> <p>Industrial emissions and long-distance transport are two areas where decarbonisation strategies need to be accelerated. So, too, shipping and aviation. These have been characterised as ‘hard-to-abate’ sectors. This is where green hydrogen (GH2) comes into the picture. It can play a crucial role in decarbonising these hard-to-abate sectors. Recognising the importance of GH2, the National Green Hydrogen Mission has been announced. It aims to make India a global hub for production and export of GH2. Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable energy to crack water through electrolysers.</p> <p>National competitiveness now will not just be a function of labour, capital and technology, but also a function of sustainability. Export markets will increasingly be conscious of carbon footprints. India must become the first country to industrialise without the need to carbonise.</p> <p><b>The author is G20 Sherpa, government of India, and former CEO, NITI Aayog. All views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat May 20 15:53:00 IST 2023 why-indians-should-be-fighting-fit <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India has a major demographic dividend for the next several decades, and, for us to maximise her potential, we must have a healthy, active, and productive population. India has become the world’s most populous country, and will also become the largest contributor to the global workforce with over 95 crore individuals. India’s population is expected to peak by 2064, and, over time, this will likely require more involved measures by key stakeholders to veer ourselves towards a preventive health care framework as lifespans increase. Adequate physical activity (PA) at the population level is a critical need for India leading into 2047 and beyond, primarily as a preventive health care intervention. The gains of consistent PA have been shown to be available to all age groups, genders and socio-economic classes, and its cumulative economic impact is globally estimated at $1.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion between 2020 and 2030.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are said to cause 71 per cent of worldwide deaths each year—including more than 15 million premature deaths for those aged from 30 to 69—and are projected to result in an estimated $47 trillion loss to the global economy between 2010 and 2030. The significant health and productivity benefits from increased PA provide tangible returns on government initiatives and investments. A recent report on the levels of physical inactivity in India (as reported by the World Health Organization) shows inactivity levels of over 70 per cent for adolescents, coupled with a 66 per cent mortality rate due to non-communicable diseases across the population.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Current global estimates show one in four adults and 81 per cent of adolescents do not undertake enough PA, and as countries develop economically, levels of inactivity increase and can be as high as 70 per cent, due to a variety of factors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are three key components to PA and sports that make them the most important contributing factors to a healthier society. The first is that PA is a necessary component of preventive health care for all ages and is a low-cost intervention that, with minimal tweaks and planning, can be accessible for all. The second is the importance of children playing sport and learning about the importance of PA through their lives, including yoga, and walking in the absence of any other PA option. Research has shown that health-related behaviours and disease risk factors are embedded at a young age and continue from childhood to adults, therefore necessitating PA early on. Every child should have the opportunity to play a sport in India, at least at a participation level. The third is the positive impact on mental health. There is extensive literature now that has established how PA can improve mental health significantly. The CDC has also asserted how PA has positive effects on brain health with regular PA reducing anxiety, improving deep sleep, and components of executive function. Other studies have shown how regular PA promotes growth and development and has multiple benefits for physical, mental, cognitive, and psychosocial health that undoubtedly contribute to learning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The urgency for India to become an active and fit nation is imminent. First, it will help ease the burden on our health care system, and also help the economy. It is estimated that the elimination of physical inactivity in India by 2047 could increase India’s GDP by up to $50 billion annually. This number represents the sum of all potential benefits of universal adult PA to the economy—including improved health and wellbeing, productivity, cognitive development, life skills, livelihood, and social cohesion. The health impact will be driven mostly by reduced expenditure on NCDs like cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, anxiety, depression, hypertension and dementia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To help India become physically fit, awareness across the board must be amplified, and mindset shifts achieved. An active society, which understands the benefits of exercise and acts on it, will surely help India steer major economic growth and productivity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Author is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Apr 22 15:25:05 IST 2023 it-is-spring-season-for-startups-in-india <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Will Indian startups and investors face severe headwinds, and find it difficult to grow and prosper? 2023 has seen lay-offs, crashing valuations and a huge drop in funding from close to $40 billion in 2021 to $25 billion in 2022.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let us take a look back: since the launch of the startup movement in January 2016, India has seen a nine-time increase in the number of investors, a seven-time increase in the number of incubators and a 15-time increase in the total funding of startups. Almost 65,000 startups have been officially recognised, and a recent report has revealed that almost 26,000 tech startups have been founded between 2011 and 2021. In 2021, we added three to four new unicorns every month. India’s startup ecosystem is now the third largest in the world. A new internet user is being added every three seconds. Seventy-five crore people in India are accessing the internet every day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India’s startups are now solving some of the most pressing challenges faced by India. E-commerce may have driven the first wave, but now we see companies innovating in areas such as fin-tech, agri-tech, health-tech and ed-tech. Take the evolution of India’s fin-tech industry. As a result of JAM trinity (Jan-Dhan/Aadhaar/Mobile) most households in India now have access to basic banking services and are accessing fast payments through mobiles. Unified Payment Interface (UPI) has become a way of life for millions. Our digital public infrastructure has allowed the private sector to innovate on top of tracks built by public/government.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Right from BHIM, PhonePe, Google Pay, Paytm to Amazon Pay, numerous apps are facilitating payments with the click of a button. Innovations in the space have allowed new models of lending to come up that look at cash flows rather than assets. Lendingkart, Pine Labs and Mobikwik are some of the startups that have taken the lead in this sphere. With sufficient comfort with payments and lending, there has been a focus on personal finance, money management, trading and investments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In my view, startups with a good business model, revenue streams, good governance, and focus on accountability, transparency and profitability will continue to attract capital. To my mind, corporate governance is critical.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Second, startups must get into deep tech areas. Emerging technologies are disrupting manufacturing and services, and future growth will come from use of AI, machine learning, blockchain and big data. The telecom sector opening to 5G technologies will provide a new set of opportunities. There are also the sunrise areas of growth, electric mobility, battery storage, green hydrogen, mobile, electronic manufacturing, etc. The future is about going digital and going green.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Third, there have been major policy changes in emerging areas of growth—space, geospatial maps and drones. In the space sector, we have seen dynamic young entrepreneurs with startups like Dhruva, Agnikul, Cosmos, Skyroot Aerospace, Pixxel building rockets, engines and satellites. These are areas where India, because of its cost arbitrage, can take a giant leap forward.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fourth, we need to ensure that India’s resources flow into the startup movement in a big way. At present, almost 75 per cent of the funds flowing into Indian startups are coming from foreign investors. This needs to radically change. We need Indian insurance companies, pension funds and Indian family businesses to fund and support startups. If India has to become the leading startup nation with focus on innovation, she must give greater vigour and resources to her own innovators.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Last, to support sunrise areas of growth—climate, cyber security, AI, semiconductors, and digital health, we must create a fund of funds of around $500 billion. This will deploy resources into Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) who will put resources into dynamic startups in these areas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make India the startup capital of the world. We must seize the opportunity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Author is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Mar 25 11:52:01 IST 2023 indian-millets-are-claiming-rightful-global-recognition-amitabh-kant <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>When India proposed to the United Nations to declare 2023 as the international year of millets, it was met with overwhelming support of 72 other countries. Today, India is leading the world towards a revolution, which will boost global nutritional outcomes, promote sustainable eating habits, and, most importantly, address concerns around food security. The Indian superfood millets are now claiming rightful global recognition for their multifaceted benefits.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Millets are ecologically sustainable, require very little water and fertilisers, have a short cropping duration, improve soil health and can easily be grown in arid soil and hilly terrain. These features make millets extremely suitable for India’s diverse agro-climatic conditions. Millets require 25-30 per cent less rainfall than paddy and sugarcane, and can be considered extremely resilient agricultural ammunition to combat climate change. At the same time, millets are a nutritional powerhouse, making their addition to daily dietary patterns beneficial. As compared with commonly consumed cereals like wheat and rice, finger millet (ragi) has 10 times more calcium than wheat, and pearl millet (bajra) has six times more iron than rice and almost twice as much as wheat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Millets are also rich in essential macro- and micro-nutrients, such as protein, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and folic acid. These nutrients are required in optimum quantity for the growth and development of young children and for the maintenance of optimal health status among adults. The multi-pronged health benefits of millets include a boost to immunity, protection against diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer. Iron deficiency and anaemia among children and women of reproductive age is a major public health concern in our country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>An excellent source of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and amino acids, millets are essential weapons in the fight against malnutrition. The introduction of millets as a part of mid-day meals and Integrated Child Development Services is a significant step forward to tackle acute malnutrition rates, and will lead to a considerable improvement in nutritional outcomes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is estimated that the replacement of rice with indigenous alternate cereals like millets can reduce total irrigation water demand by 33 per cent and improve the production of protein, iron and zinc.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With an increasing global preference in favour of a nutrition rich diet, millets are poised to occupy higher relevance and market shares across the world. The once declining yield of millets is now a reversing trend with many agri-tech firms and even startups procuring the coarse grain and promoting its benefits. The fitness savvy outlook of customers today creates a huge prospect for the cultivation, production and marketing of millets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Worldwide, there is growing interest in the health and nutritional aspects of millets as they fit into some of the biggest global health food trends—low glycemic index, high fibre and likewise. A similar consumption preference is emerging in urban areas of India as well. India is the largest producer of millets globally with the market value projected to reach $15 billion by 2025. India is also among the top five exporters of millets in the world, exporting millets worth $64.28 million in 2021-22, against $59.75 million in 2020-21. It is the right time to tap global markets, ensure quality storage and transportation, and, ultimately, boost the global production and consumption of millets.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The international year of millets will be a novel opportunity for India to take the wholesome benefits of this superfood to the kitchens of the world. With 2023 also being the year of India’s G20 presidency, all eyes will be on us. We are leveraging this occasion to steer global attention towards the myriad advantages of this magical nutri-cereal in every single event.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India is at the forefront of a mission to bring back environmentally sustainable farming habits, food security, welfare of farmers, and, most importantly, restore nutritional balance to diets across India and the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Author is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Feb 25 12:36:12 IST 2023 amitabh-kant-aspirational-districts-programme <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Good governance is the bedrock of inclusive and equitable development. It is not progress if it does not percolate down to the grassroots or extend a helping hand to lift the last person up. It is about empowering people with the tools that will enable them to grow individually and as a community. This requires a capacious and humane public administration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Since its launch five years ago, the aspirational districts programme (ADP) has transformed the lives of the people in 112 of the most under-developed districts of the country. According to an independent appraisal report released by the UNDP in 2021, districts that were previously neglected, located in remote regions and affected by leftwing extremism ‘experienced more growth and development in the last three years than ever before’. The report credited the programme as ‘immensely successful in propelling development among the [under-development] districts’.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The report also acknowledged the remarkable commitment shown by the topmost political leadership of the country. In fact, earlier last year, in an interaction with district magistrates across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted that the aspirational districts were eliminating the barriers to progress of the country and becoming an accelerator instead of an obstacle. He said the next step would be for them to go from aspirational to inspirational and start breaching global benchmarks of development.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It has been extremely satisfying to witness the ADP’s remarkable journey so far. Not only have all the 112 aspirational districts registered improvement in key socioeconomic outcomes, in some cases they have even out-performed non-aspirational districts in respective states. The programme has successfully managed to improve the quality of life of the people in these districts through its 3Cs approach—‘convergence’ (of Central and state schemes), ‘collaboration’ (between Central- and state-level officers and district collectors), and ‘competition’ among districts through a system of monthly delta ranking—fuelled by a mass movement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The aspirational districts programme’s astute use of technology also proved to be a catalyst in producing the desired results. The ADP’s champions of change platform monitors in real-time the progress of the districts on the key performance indicators, which are grouped under five heads: health and nutrition, education, agriculture and water resources; financial inclusion and skill development, and basic infrastructure. Based on the improvements recorded from the baseline, the districts are ranked monthly, thereby stimulating competition between the districts to perform better.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Modi recently launched the aspirational blocks programme in 500 districts. This is the natural next step in the ADP journey—to focus on lagging blocks, as they form the core unit of development in Indian public administration. The aspirational blocks programme can prove to be a game-changer in spurring growth in the underdeveloped blocks of the country by replicating the ADP model. This could be achieved by empowering officials working on the ground who know the pulse of the masses and would involve improving the governance mechanisms at the level of block administration. The block is the touchpoint of services within the local community, and the most important node/unit for development planning and execution. The role of block-level officers must be duly recognised in this regard and they should be appropriately empowered to identify challenges, design suitable policy interventions and implement and monitor them.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The aspirational blocks programme must also leverage technology like the ADP to develop a robust data-monitoring and-evaluation system to identify critical gaps where policy intervention is needed to improve socio-economic outcomes, and instil a spirit of competition among the blocks, thereby incentivising them to course-correct and learn from each other’s best practices.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In its appraisal, the UNDP recommended replication of the ADP model, ‘a very successful model of local area development’, in other parts of the world ‘where regional disparities in development persist for many reasons’. The study found that the aspirational districts programme had acted as a catalyst for expediting development in these districts. By focusing on development that marries both economic growth and social progress, the aspirational districts programme has significantly improved the ease of living at the grassroots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Author is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Jan 28 16:55:23 IST 2023 the-essence-of-india-s-g20-presidency <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India is now returning to her rightful place in the global order. With the world grappling with multiple crises, India’s presidency of the G20 comes at a critical juncture. We were already amid a climate crisis, and the lack of progress on sustainable development goals (SDGs) was evident. Covid-19 compounded the distress. The impact of the pandemic has sent most developed economies hurtling towards recession in 2023.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the global economy stutters, India has emerged as a bright spot. Our model of development has rightfully come under the spotlight. Our digital public goods, combined with economic reforms, investments in physical and human capital, and efforts to decarbonise have resonated with the world. Moreover, the prime minister’s message that today’s era is not one of war resonated globally and was reflected in the final G20 declaration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India played a crucial role in the declaration at Bali in November. The negotiations were tough and complex, owing to a deadlock over a paragraph on geopolitics. India was key in bridging the gap between developing and developed nations in making the statement focused on economic growth and issues faced by developing countries. The final statement went out with consensus of all G20 nations, a major breakthrough. Our efforts in Bali were lauded globally and have set the stage for our presidency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The essence of India’s presidency—“One Earth, One Family, One Future”—will be reflected in our priorities. As spelt out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India’s presidency will be ambitious, inclusive, decisive and action-oriented. Inclusive growth and realisation of SDGs will be high on the agenda. Resilient, reliable, and diversified supply chains for food and energy will be brought into focus. Issues such as SDG finance, energy transition and climate finance, to which the developed world has committed $100 billion since 2009, will also be high on the agenda, along with aspects such as LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The power of digital development will be demonstrated. Globally, four billion people do not have digital identities and over two billion people do not have bank accounts; 130 countries do not have digital payment mechanisms. India’s successful digital public infrastructure model can hold valuable lessons for the world. Leveraging this infrastructure is India’s unique digital health model, which includes platforms such as CoWin. The National Digital Health Mission is another unique initiative.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These initiatives have been built on India’s strong manufacturing base in pharmaceuticals. Indian companies were able to quickly scale up and provide billions of doses of Covid vaccines. This only adds to India’s credentials as a leading manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, enabling access for the developing world. The power of women-led development will also be brought into focus during our presidency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Among India’s unique contribution to the G20 will be the constitution of a new working group on disaster, risk and resilience. A new engagement group has been constituted on startups. India has seen phenomenal success, with startups solving not just economic, but also social issues. Multilateral reform will also be brought to the table. Public finance will not be enough to bridge the investment gaps faced by developing countries in their green transitions. Private capital will have to be mobilised. However, that requires an enabling policy and regulatory environment. We will bring into focus the role of multilateral development banks. Debate and discussion around their role in risk mitigation and enabling blended and private finance flow to developing countries will be a priority.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The G20 presidency is an opportunity to solidify India’s position as a world leader. In an increasingly polarised world, building consensus seems like a tough order. However, through our intervention in Bali, we have demonstrated leadership, and emerged as consensus builders. The world is now looking to India to chart a new course of development and prosperity. New India stands ready to take up this mantle and lead the world on a path of sustainable and inclusive growth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Author is G20 Sherpa and former CEO, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.</b></p> Sat Dec 31 11:35:13 IST 2022