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India: Vision 2020 Executive Summary
India Vision 2020
Our vision of India's future should be both comprehensive and harmonious. It must encompass all the myriad aspects that constitute the life of the country and its people. It must balance and synthesize all the divergent views and forces that combine, compete and unite in their pursuit of self-fulfillment. It must be based on an objective assessment of facts and a realistic appraisal of possibilities, yet it must rise beyond the limitation of past trends, immediate preoccupations and pressing challenges to perceive the emerging opportunities and discover the concealed potentials. Our vision should serve as a signpost alerting us to unresolved and impending problems that demand our attention as well as to the range of options and critical choices we have to make in order to maximize our future accomplishments.
Most of all, the vision of India's future should serve to awaken in all of us a greater awareness of the essential cultural and spiritual strengths which are the bedrock of our past achievements and the foundations of our future accomplishments. The forms of tradition must change, but knowledge of its essence is our greatest endowment. The vision should awaken in us an unswerving confidence in ourselves, a stanch reliance on our own capacities as a nation and an unshakeable determination to realize our full potential. A true vision cannot be a static written statement. It must be born and emerge as a living and dynamic reality in the minds and hearts of the people and their leaders -- ever constant and persistent, yet ever adaptive and responsive to rapidly changing conditions.
This vision statement of India 2020 does not purport to fulfill these stringent criteria, but it can serve as a useful starting point and foundation for pondering our future possibilities and greater destiny as a nation. It is the product of several years of thought, discussion and debate among a wide range of thinkers and experts representing different viewpoints and fields of experience. It seeks to identify both the unaddressed problems and the unrealized potentials and indicate the broad lines of policy and strategy by which India can emerge as a far stronger, more prosperous and more equitable nation in the coming years. This document is a concise summary of issues, ideas and proposals contained in more than thirty background papers presented to the Committee over the last two years. The vast scope and complexity of the issues prevents us from doing full justice to them in a summary document.
The issues dealt with are complex and highly interrelated. This interconnectedness has discouraged us from trying to create separate chapters for each important topic, such as the exciting potentials of Information Technology or the serious challenges posed by regional inequalities. Readers will find these and many other important topics addressed at multiple points in the text where they relate to the broader headings discussed under different chapters. IT, for example, is discussed in the sections on Knowledge Resources, Employment, Education, Vocational Training, Science & Technology, and Governance. Rural development is addressed under multiple sections including employment, education, health, infrastructure, and energy.
This vision statement is neither a prediction of what will actually occur, nor simply a wish list of desirable but unattainable ends. Rather it is a statement of what we believe is possible for our nation to achieve, provided we are able to fully mobilise all the available resources-human, organizational, technological and financial-generate the requisite will and make the required effort.
An essential requirement for envisioning India's future is to recognize that the equations which determine national development have changed in recent years, opening up greater possibilities than ever before. A powerful current of catalytic forces is hastening the speed of social change throughout the world. These trends include a rapid rise in levels of education, accelerating rates of technological innovation and application, ever faster and cheaper communication that dissolves physical and social barriers both within countries and internationally, greater availability and easier access to information, and the further opening up of global markets. These trends are representative of a relative shift in the engines that drive development from manufacturing to service industries and from capital resources to human and knowledge resources. Technology, organization, information, education and productive skills will play a critically decisive role in governing the future course of development.
The growing influence of these factors acting on the foundation of India's increasingly dynamic and vibrant economic base lend credence to the view that India can achieve and sustain higher than historical rates of economic growth in the coming decades. The compounded effect of achieving the targeted annual GDP growth rate of 8.5 to 9 percent over the next 20 years would result in a quadrupling of real per capita income and a 50% decline in the percentage of Indians living below the poverty line. This is a very real possibility for us to seize upon and realise.
What will India be like 20 years from now? In some areas we can estimate quantitatively with a fair degree of confidence. In some others we know the broad direction but are unable to reasonably put numbers to the country's likely accomplishment. In still others we cannot even say with confidence the direction that future trends will take. We can only indicate what would be most desirable and point out both the opportunities and obstacles that will arise along the way.
By 2020, the people of India will be more numerous, better educated, healthier and more prosperous than at any time in our long history. Total population will exceed 1300 million. In spite of declining fertility rates, falling infant mortality and increasing life expectancy will spur an increase of at least 300 million people. A marked slowdown in birth rates will leave the under 15 year old population at roughly the same size as it is today. This means that pressure for expansion of the educational system will come only from increasing enrollment and efforts to reduce drop-out rates. The population over 60 years of age will double from 60 to 120 million people, necessitating special measures to support this vulnerable group, which includes a high percentage of illiterates and is especially susceptible to both malnutrition and health-related problems. Unequal rates of population and economic growth are likely to further aggravate regional disparities within the country.
Well before 2020, India will have the capacity to produce more than sufficient quantities of food to provide a healthy diet to its entire population and become a major food exporter. Even by maintaining the moderate rates of productivity growth achieved during the 1990s, the country will be able to meet projected demand in all major food categories and generate a substantial surplus of food grains and dairy products. Rising productivity and rapid diversification into value-added crops could spur another Green Revolution in Indian agriculture.
Production of surplus food will not, however, ensure the eradication of under-nutrition. In spite of enormous progress in the food production, nearly half the country's population still suffers from chronic under-nutrition and malnutrition. The most vulnerable are children, women and the elderly among the lower income groups. Eradication of this scourge will require generation of sufficient employment opportunities so that all households have the purchasing power needed for assured economic access to food. Employment or livelihood security is an essential and inseparable element of a comprehensive strategy for national food security. Conversely, food security is an essential requirement for raising the productivity of India's work force to international levels.
As population growth slows to replacement levels over the next two decades, India's greatest challenge will be to provide employment opportunities for all job-seekers. The working age population will expand by about 45%, spurring rapid growth of the labour force and the [GJ1] number of job-seekers. Major changes in economic policy and strategy will be needed to eliminate the current backlog of 27 million unemployed job-seekers and assure employment opportunities for all. India needs to generate on the order of 200 million additional employment opportunities over the next 20 years. At the same time, the total proportion of the workforce involved in agriculture is likely to decline from 56 percent to 40 percent or even lower, thus increasing the pressure for rapid multiplication of non-farm employment opportunities.
Access to remunerative employment is an essential condition for citizens to exercise their economic rights in a market democracy. The capacity to pay is the economic equivalent of the right to vote. India's vision for 2020 must be founded on the premise of Jobs for All. Employment must be considered a constitutional right of every citizen backed by the full commitment of the Government. Granted that the requisite political will is forthcoming, the goal of full employment is certainly achievable. This will require a reorientation of national priorities, technology policy and government action. Formerly separate lines of sectoral planning need to be integrated around a central vision and set of goals, of which full employment must be one.
How and in which fields will these additional jobs be created? There are abundant opportunities and ample means available to the nation to achieve this objective. The public organised sector has been and will continue to shed jobs. Although the growth of the private organized sector will contribute significantly to the growth of the economy, its contribution to employment generation will be quite modest, since total employment in this sector represents only 2.5 percent of all jobs. The largest number of new jobs will be created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which contribute the vast majority of private sector jobs in more advanced economies such as USA, Japan and Korea. International experience confirms that SMEs are better isolated from the pressures, more resistant to the stresses, and more responsive to the demands of fast-changing technology adoption and entrepreneurial development. Employment in India's small sector has nearly tripled over the past 20 years. A repetition of this performance would generate an additional 36 million jobs by 2020. A comprehensive package of venture capital, credit, liberalization of controls, technology, training, marketing and management measures is needed to ensure continuous expansion of this sector.
The Vision document identifies a number of high employment potential sectors, including commercial agriculture, agro-industry and agri-business; forestation for pulp, fuel and power; retail and wholesale trade; tourism, housing and construction; IT & IT-enabled services; transport and communications; education, health and financial services. While all these sectors are already expanding, a wide range of strategies and policies are available to stimulate more rapid development. Induction of advanced crop technology will reduce production costs and expand the market for important commercial crops. Linkages to down-stream agro-industries can dramatically reduce waste and spoilage of perishable commodities, while broadening the range of marketable products. Adoption of an agriculture-based energy policy focusing on production of fuel oil and biomass power could generate millions of additional on-farm jobs and lucrative alternative markets for farm produce while reducing the country's dependence on imported fuels. Tourism-related occupations presently employ only 5.6 percent of the Indian workforce compared to 10.8 percent globally. Development of India's tourism infrastructure combined with modifications in air transport, hotel rates and tax policies could generate an additional 25 million employment opportunities in this sector. Outsourcing of services by OECD countries will fuel a rapid expansion of IT and IT-enabled services, generating millions of jobs within the country. The country will also require millions of additional teachers and medical professionals to meet the surging demand for education and health services.
While it is difficult to project unemployment rates 20 years into the future, rising levels of education and growth of the over 60 year age group will mitigate to some extent growth of the labour force. Combined with the enormous opportunities for creation of new employment opportunities, the incidence of unemployment could be almost eliminated by 2020.
Successful education policy forms the bedrock of all fields of national development-political, economic, technical, scientific, social and environmental. Education is the foundation for a vibrant democracy, growth of productivity, incomes and employment opportunities. Literacy must be considered the minimum right and requirement of every Indian citizen. Presently the country has about 300 million illiterate adults. The Government's goal is to achieve 75 percent literacy within the next five years. A 100 percent literate India is paramount to realize any greater vision for 2020.
Literacy is an indispensable minimum condition for development, but it is far from sufficient. In this increasingly complex and technologically sophisticated world, 10 years of school education must also be considered an essential prerequisite for citizens to adapt and succeed economically, avail of social opportunities and develop their individual potentials. The current enrolment rate for primary education is around 77 percent and for secondary education about 60 percent. Achieving 100 percent enrolment of all children in the 6 to 14 year age group is an ambitious but achievable goal for 2020 that should be pursued as a top priority.
Increasing enrollment to cover the entire school-age population needs to be coupled with efforts to increase the quality and relevance of school curriculum to equip students with not only academic knowledge, but also values and life-knowledge. A qualitative shift is needed from rote memorization to development of children's capacity for critical thinking and from methods that emphasize teaching and passive learning to those that foster active interest and the ability of children to learn on their own.
Concentrated efforts are needed to tap the potentials of alternative methods of knowledge delivery for both school going and non-school children and adults, including television, computerized self-learning and internet-based courses. Given the huge numbers of young students that will quest for all levels of higher education, the severe shortage of qualified instructors, and India's outstanding expertise in the IT industry, the country should embark on a massive program to convert the entire higher educational curriculum into a multi-media, web-based format and to establish accredited standards for recognition of distance educational courseware.
Our vision of India in 2020 is predicated on the belief that human resources are the most important determinant of overall development. A doubling of investment in education from the current level of 3.4 percent of GNP is the soundest policy for doubling the country's GDP.
The knowledge and skill of our work force will be a major determinant of India's future rate of economic growth as well as the type and number of jobs we create. Currently only five percent of the country's labour force in the 20-24 age category have undergone formal vocational training, compared to levels ranging from 28 percent in Mexico to 96 percent in Korea. A comprehensive strategy is needed to enhance the nation's employable skills, including a cataloging of the entire range of vocational skills required to support development, expansion of the nation's system of vocational training institutes, widening of the range of vocational skills taught, and active involvement of the private sector in skill delivery. A national network of 50,000 or more computerized vocational centres run by private self-employed businesses, similar to the STD booths and Internet cafes, can deliver low cost, high quality training to 10 million workers every year-more than five times the total number covered by existing programmes. A parallel effort is required to upgrade the skills of Indian farmers, who represent 56 percent of the total workforce. The existing system of 300 Krishi Vignan Kendras needs to be expanded and supplemented by a national network consisting of thousands of Farm Schools offering practical demonstration and training on lands leased from farmers in the local community.
The health of a nation is a product of many factors and forces that combine and interact. Economic growth, per capita income, employment, literacy, education, age of marriage, birth rates, availability of information regarding health care and nutrition, access to safe drinking water, public and private health care infrastructure, access to preventive health and medical care, and health insurance are among the contributing factors. Measured in terms of infant mortality rates, maternal mortality, life expectancy and nutrition, the health of the Indian population has improved dramatically over the past 50 years. Yet despite these achievements, wide disparities exist between different income groups, between rural and urban communities, and between different states and even districts within states.
Communicable diseases remain the major causes of illness. During the next 5 to 10 years, existing programmes are likely to eliminate polio and leprosy and substantially reduce the prevalence of kalaazer and filariasis. However, TB, malaria and AIDs will remain major public health problems. Improved diagnostic services and treatment can reduce prevalence and incidence of TB by 2020. Restructuring the work force and strengthening health care infrastructure can reduce the incidence of malaria by 50 percent or more within a decade. Childhood diarrhea, another major cause of illness, can be largely prevented through community action and public education. Childhood under-nutrition can be addressed by targeting children of low birth weight and utilizing low cost screening procedures. Given the projected improvement in living standards, food security, educational levels and access to health care among all levels of the population, dramatic progress can be achieved in substantially reducing the prevalence of severe under nutrition in children by 2020. Although private expenditure on health care is expected to rise sharply, the level of public expenditure needs to rise about four-fold from present levels in order to support a more equitable and effective health care system providing universal access, fair distribution of financial costs, and special attention to vulnerable groups such as women, children, the aged and disabled. Health insurance can also play an invaluable role in improving the health care system.
Literacy and general education form the base of the knowledge pyramid that is essential for rapid and sustained development in the 21st Century. The continuous advancement of science and the application of improved technology form the middle rung. Social ideals and values form the apex. Technical education, both vocational and professional, constitutes the foundation for development of science and technology. A large number of the country's engineering colleges need to be upgraded to quality standards nearer to those of India's world-class IITs. India's expenditure on R&D, which is currently 1/60th that of Korea, needs to be dramatically enhanced. Another essential requirement is to improve the linkage between technology development and technology application by fostering close ties between basic research and business.
India's urban population is expected to rise from 28 percent to 40 percent of total population by 2020, placing increasing strain on the country's urban infrastructure. Future growth is likely to concentrate in and around 50 to 60 large cities having a population of one million or more. [GJ2] Decentralization of municipal governance and greater reliance on institutional financing and capital markets for resource mobilization are likely to increase the disparity between the larger and smaller urban centres. A satisfying outcome will depend on formulation of effective public policy to accelerate all-around development of smaller urban centres and to refashion the role of the state as an effective facilitator to compensate for the deficiencies of market mechanisms in the delivery of public goods.
Simultaneous efforts are needed to strengthen the rural infrastructure relating to education, health care, transport, telecom, power and water. Unless bold steps are taken to promote a more geographically dispersed and geographically equitable development paradigm, widening disparities between rural and urban centres will accelerate the migration to cities and the rapid expansion of urban slum areas. One promising alternative approach is to link clusters of villages together by high speed circular highways, thereby bringing 100,000 or more people into a circular community that can be crossed within 30 minutes travel time and promoting a balanced and distributed development of urban services along the periphery of the ring road.
Rapid flow of information is a catalyst for social development. Vision 2020 conceives of India evolving into an information society and knowledge economy built on the edifice of information and communication technology (ICT), of which telecommunications is the springboard. Rapid expansion and extension of the country's fixed and mobile telecom infrastructure is essential for stimulating growth of both the ICT sector and the economy as a whole. The number of fixed telephone line services will multiply another seven-fold in the next 18 years. As the fixed line market matures, more and more users will cross over to mobile communications as well, spurring a mobile revolution in India. Mobile telecommunications and the Internet will set the contours of technological progress over the next two decades. Third Generation mobile devices with access to mobile data and voice should be within reach of wide sections of the population by 2020.
Development involves a continuous increase in the number of physical transactions and the speed with which they occur, both of which are highly dependent on the size and quality of the nation's transport system. Efforts to achieve higher GDP growth rates in future years cannot be sustained without correspondingly greater efforts to strengthen the nation's transport system. Based on projected GDP growth of 8 percent per annum, total freight traffic is likely to reach five times the level in year 2000. Passenger traffic is expected to increase more than four-fold over the next 20 years.
Increasing population combined with continued urbanisation will fuel the explosive growth of personal vehicle movement in cities, which can only be curtailed by massive investment in public transport services. Specific plans need to be formulated by each urban authority, starting with the provision of bus services, developing intermediate public transport and identifying corridors for future growth, including reserving land for such activity. In the long term, rail-based mass transport systems appear to be the only viable solution to the problems of urban transport in India's major metropolitan areas.
A key component of rural development is the provision of roads for connectivity, access being essential for social and economic well-being. Families residing along side roads benefit from better health, greater educational opportunities, smaller sized families and higher ownership of assets, compared to those families living in remote villages. Based on current plans, all villages with more than 500 inhabitants will be connected by all-weather roads within the next decade.
Our vision of India 2020 is of a country with a well-developed network of roads and railways with adequate capacity to handle the growth in transport demand. Road traffic volume will multiply about five-fold, carried on a 70,000 kms network of National Highways. State Highways with at least two way lanes will link most districts.[GJ3] Rural roads will provide access to the furthest outlying villages. Technological progress will generate vehicles that are pollution free and fuel efficient. An efficient public transport system will lead to a reduction in the population of two-wheelers in major urban areas. We also envisage that connection of major rivers through a network of interlinking canals will provide impetus to rapid growth of low cost, inland water transport.
Total investment requirements to meet these needs will increase to levels three to four times higher than present levels in real terms. While the government will continue to be a major source of funds for infrastructure, internal generation of resources by the transport services will have to increase, supported by more realistic pricing of transport services, reduction in operating costs, and active involvement of the private sector in the development and operation of transport systems.
Economic growth is driven by energy that powers the nation's industries, vehicles, homes and offices. For future growth to be both rapid and sustainable, it needs to be as resource-efficient and environmentally benign as possible. Total demand for power is expected to increase by another 3.5 times or more in the next two decades, which will necessitate a tripling of installed generation capacity from 101,000 to 292,000 MW by 2020. This will result in a spiralling cost for imported fuels and a surge in emission of environmental pollutants.
The overall growth in demand for all forms of fuel will mirror the growth in the power sector. Total coal demand will nearly double, and both oil and gas demand will triple. Expanding domestic production capacity will require substantial investments, while increasing dependence on imported forms of energy will increase vulnerability to fluctuations in global energy prices. Surging demand will also place increased burden on the physical and social environment. Enhanced exploration by the public and private sector, adoption of best-practices and environmentally-friendly technologies, more efficient use of energy, promoting private sector investment, and greater efforts to protect the environment will be required to cope effectively with the nation's growing energy appetite.
Greater reliance on renewable energy sources offers enormous economic, social and environmental benefits. India is already the world's fifth largest producer of wind power, with more than 95 percent of the investment coming from the private sector. Other renewable energy technologies, including solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, small hydro, biomass power and bio-fuels are also spreading. A concerted effort to implement a more visionary approach to alternative energy generation could significantly reduce India's dependence on imported fuels while also reducing the strain on the environment. Biomass power production, ethanol motor fuel and jatropa fuel oil can generate millions of rural employment opportunities and contribute to higher rural incomes, while reducing the outflow of foreign exchange. Tapping this potential will require conducive national policies and programmes designed to attract the strong participation from the private sector.
India possesses 16 percent of the world's population but just 4 percent of its water resources. At the national level, current water resources are more than sufficient to meet demand, but future studies project that the supply situation could become difficult over the next half century. Total water consumption is expected to rise by 20-40 percent over the next 20 years. India is not poor in water resources. What it lacks is the ability to efficiently capture and effectively utilize the available resources for maximum benefit. Government policy needs to be revised to provide incentives for efficient use of water, including appropriate water pricing and more effective institutional mechanisms for water management. Enormous potential exists for increasing the productivity of water in agriculture by methods to raise crop productivity combined with better water management. Both urban and rural water resources can be substantially enhanced by widespread adoption of rain-water harvesting techniques designed to capture run-off water during the monsoon season and channel it to recharge both surface water and underground aquifers. These methods need to be applied throughout the country on a massive scale, both in rural and urban areas.
Proposals to link the major rivers together could channel surpluses from flood-prone areas into drought-prone regions, create millions of hectares of additional irrigated land, provide an inexpensive system of inland water transport, and generate millions of additional employment opportunities in construction, agriculture, trade and industrial development. Despite the high cost of such a system, the potential benefits to the nation are so vast that pragmatic proposals demand serious consideration. Given the vision and political will, India can convert the present water problem into a huge opportunity.
India's wide range of agro-climatic regions, vast extent of land and forest, and rich variety of biodiversity rank it among the most naturally endowed nations of the world, but its huge and still expanding human and animal populations and its urge for industrialization tax these resources to the limit. The potential exists for dramatically reversing the pattern of degradation that has taken place in recent decades by a systematic effort to halt soil erosion, restore precious nutrients and organic material to crop lands, recharge groundwater tables, and re-establish depleted forest lands. A combination of measures would make it possible to increase the land under forest and tree cover from the current level of 71 million hectares to 83 million hectares.
India's progress over the next 20 years will be intimately linked to events within the region and around the world. The World Bank estimates that India will possess the fourth largest economy in the world by 2020. Liberalization of trade will open up new opportunities for export of goods, while increasing pressures on domestic industry to cope with competition from imports. The global market for textiles, clothing and agricultural products will expand dramatically, but India's ability to export will depend on its capacity to keep pace with rising international standards of price, quality, productivity, and service.
The emerging global scenario will open up greater opportunities for countries with a surplus of well-educated, highly skilled labour that can provide an attractive commercial environment for the outsourcing of manufacturing and service businesses from high and even middle income countries. Export of services is a field in which India can excel. India's recent boom in outsourcing of IT services is only the tip of a rich vein of economic opportunity that could extend to a wide range of manufacturing and service businesses.
Computerization coupled with low cost global telecommunications are generating rapid growth of trade in service businesses, such as software and IT enabled services. This trend will accelerate, opening up vast opportunities for countries with the capacity to deliver low cost, high quality service. At the same time, the pressure for export of the highly educated and highly skilled individuals will also increase, so that a significant migration of scientific, engineering and medical talent is likely to continue.
Growth in the size of the international capital market will open up increasing opportunities for India to attract foreign direct and institutional investment, but improvements in infrastructure and elimination of bureaucratic barriers will be major determinants of India's success in attracting a greater share of FDI flows. Mobilisation of India's expatriate population could have momentous impact on the inflow of FDI in 2020.
India's technology policy needs to be reformulated in the light of the emerging international economic environment to capitalise on the accelerated global development and diffusion of technologies and keep pace with more demanding international standards for cost, quality and productivity. We will need to be far more aggressive in acquiring and applying advanced technologies in a wide range of fields, including agriculture, information technology, energy, health and education. At the same time, we can also aspire to become an important contributor to the expansion of global frontiers of technology by building upon and leveraging our already significant achievements in fields such as pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, software, space and energy.
India is the midst of transforming a weak agrarian economy into a modern multi-dimensional economic enterprise and a traditional stratified society into an equalitarian society, while simultaneously fashioning and transforming itself into a modern democracy through consultative politics. It is inevitable that such a rapid social, economic, technological and political development of one billion people should generate turbulence. Yet it is essential that this turbulence be managed and confined within limits that preserve the social fabric and permit the nation's transformation to continue.
Underlying all our plans and hopes for a better future, underpinning all our efforts to evolve into a harmonious and prosperous democratic nation is the shared aspiration of all India people for peace. Peace is not merely the absence or avoidance of conflict. It is the essential foundation for all human and social development, the fertile ground on which we can strive to elevate are minds in knowledge, hone our productive skills, strengthen our physical infrastructure, and fashion our multitudinous communities into a strong, united and harmonious nation.
The challenges to peace are numerous and they come from all directions-from outside our borders as well as within our borders and within our minds. Our capacity to preserve and build a lasting peace for all Indians will depend on the strength of our military to defend our borders, the strength of our economy to generate increasing employment and income opportunities for our citizens, the strength of our educational system to cultivate the knowledge and skills of our youth, the strength of our legal and judicial system to safeguard the rights of individuals and communities, the strength of our scientists and engineers to both develop and harness technologies for the benefit of the people, as well as the wisdom and determination of our political leaders to remove injustices and to direct the collective energies of the nation for greater achievement in every field of endeavour.
Development tends to reduce the extent of these disparities in some ways while aggravating them in others. Economic disparities aggravate perceptions of difference between sub-national, linguistic and communal groups, fostering ethnicity and communalism. A positive strategy for national security must reinforce the secular and democratic values of the Indian nation which derive their strength from our culture, civilisation and freedom struggle.
External security depends on national power. It requires a continuous enhancement of the country's capacity to use its tangible and intangible resources in such a manner as to affect the behaviour of other nations. While power is often conceived in narrow terms as military power, in the world that is emerging it must be much more broadly conceived to include political, economic, technological, social and intellectual dimensions. A vibrant economy and leading role in international affairs may be as important as a strong military to the preservation and development of national power. Internationally, we must gravitate from a state-centered, egocentric and competitive security paradigm to a co-operative security paradigm that enhances the security of each nation by reducing potential threats to all nations. Human development in all its dimensions is and will remain our highest strategic priority.
India's economic and technological transition will be accompanied by a multifaceted political transformation that will have profound impact on the functioning of government. This transformation will foster decentralization and devolution of power to local bodies, including financial devolution and financial responsibility; increasingly direct participation of people in setting priorities for distribution of resources and managing local projects; and greater efficiency, transparency, and accountability in government agencies at all levels. E-governance has the potential, if fully harnessed and rightly utilized, to radically improve the speed, convenience, quality and transparency of public administrative services, while enhancing the ability of individual citizens to express and exercise their democratic rights.
Our vision of India in 2020 is of a nation bustling with energy, entrepreneurship and innovation. The country's people will be better fed, dressed and housed, taller and healthier, more educated and longer living than any generation in the country's long history. India will be much more integrated with the global economy and will be a major player in terms of trade, technology and investment. Rising levels of education, employment and incomes will help stabilise India's internal security and social environment. A united and prosperous India will be far less vulnerable to external security threats. A more prosperous India in 2020 will be characterised by a better-educated electorate and more transparent, accountable, efficient and decentralised government.
Fulfilment of this vision will depend on many things, but most importantly on our self-confidence, self-reliance and self-determination to make it a reality. For that, we need first of all to abandon the sense of dependence and the urge to imitate other nations. We need to rediscover the well-springs of our own native strength, the rich endowments of our shared culture and spiritual tradition. We must reawaken the dormant Spirit of India.