Opinion | ‘One Nation, One Agenda’: India's Collective Path to Progress
Opinion | ‘One Nation, One Agenda’: India's Collective Path to Progress
India's progress hinges on unity. 'One nation, one agenda,' with development as its cornerstone, offers a compelling roadmap. By transcending political divides and embracing a systems-change approach, India can overcome complex challenges and build a brighter future for all

In the wake of the 2024 Indian general elections, the political landscape has seen a notable shift. This new political equilibrium brings opportunities, particularly in the realm of development—a critical area that transcends political affiliations. The Indian populace is more vocal than ever about its demand for tangible developmental progress. Now is the time to shine the spotlight on new development-led initiatives and policies.

The post-2024 election period presents a unique opportunity for India’s political class to rise above partisan politics and prioritise the nation’s development. The people’s clear message is that they seek progress and tangible improvements in their quality of life, irrespective of which party is in power. Both the ruling and Opposition coalitions must heed this call, ensuring that development-led initiatives remain at the core of their governance strategies. As India navigates this new political landscape, the focus on development will not only sustain the political entities involved but will also propel the nation towards a more prosperous and equitable future.

At the heart of the political mandate is the undeniable need for grassroots development. Both coalitions understand that to sustain their political viability and prove their worth to the populace, they must focus on concrete development at the ground level.

With the advent of Modi 3.0 and the strengthened NDA coalition, India is poised to embark on a transformative journey under the unifying banner of “one nation, one agenda: development.” This renewed mandate signals a robust commitment to propelling the nation towards unprecedented growth and modernisation. The focus on development transcends political divides, aiming to uplift every segment of society and bridge regional disparities. By prioritising infrastructure, digital innovation, and social welfare, the government will create a cohesive and prosperous India, where progress is not just a goal but a shared reality for all citizens. In this era of unified vision, development will be the cornerstone that defines the nation’s path forward, fostering economic resilience and global competitiveness.

NDA’s focus will likely be on highlighting gaps in governance and presenting a unified front on issues that matter to the common man, such as employment generation, infrastructure projects, healthcare improvements, educational reforms, grassroots development, environment, and economic policies aimed at uplifting the rural and urban poor. The ruling coalition will leverage its governance experience to push through key development projects swiftly. However, the coalition nature of the government means that consensus-building and accommodating diverse viewpoints within the coalition will be crucial.

The introduction of new policies should not only aim at short-term gains but also focus on sustainable and inclusive growth. Policies that drive rural development, enhance agricultural productivity, support technological transformations and digital infrastructure, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be essential for long-term prosperity.

Exploring India’s development within a “one nation, one agenda” framework requires a humanistic lens sensitive to the country’s multifaceted nature. This approach acknowledges that development is a broad and often elusive concept, encompassing diverse components and interpretations. In an ideal scenario, the NDA should begin by acknowledging the myriad challenges and complexities inherent in achieving holistic development. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for India’s diverse and dynamic issues. Instead, a tailored, multifaceted strategy is needed, acknowledging that different problems demand different solutions.

“One nation, one agenda” calls for collaborative and collective efforts, stressing the importance of empowering the entire ecosystem—from policymakers to grassroots organisations, and from urban planners to rural communities. It calls for the adoption of innovative policies and approaches that are inclusive and equitable, ensuring that no one is left behind in the nation’s pursuit of development. This concept also challenges traditional notions of development economics, proposing a new framework that is adaptable, empathetic, and responsive to the unique needs of different sectors and regions. It underscores the importance of rewriting development economics in a way that prioritises human well-being and sustainable progress.

According to a report titled ‘Systemic Impact Exemplars: Unique Approaches Towards Solving India’s Development Challenges’ by The Convergence Foundation, the Indian government spends about 18–19 per cent of GDP on social development. In 2022–23, the Central government and state governments together were budgeted to spend approximately Rs 48 lakh crore ($600 billion) on developmental projects.

Civil society has also made significant contributions, with organisations working primarily at two ends—grassroots NGOs deeply embedded in communities, delivering services and/or building the capacity of the community at one end and academic and research organisations contributing by generating evidence and providing policy recommendations on the other. Despite these combined efforts by the government and civil society, India remains far from achieving its SDG targets, ranking 112th out of 166 countries. While undeniable progress has been made, much work remains to be done.

There are many reasons for this gap—notably the size of the problem in relation to the resources deployed, the complexity and interconnectedness of the issues, the wide range of actors and stakeholders involved, and the need to contextualise solutions to local needs. Therefore, simple solutions or “silver bullets” are rare.

To achieve large-scale impact, India needs a systems-change approach that addresses root causes and fosters long-term solutions over quick fixes. This approach can be adopted by any social-purpose organization, regardless of its sector or domain. In an emerging economy like India, addressing issues sustainably and at scale is critical. Recognising that governments are the primary actors in tackling India’s growth and development challenges, these social-purpose organisations work closely with them to enhance their effectiveness and capacity. A systems-change approach is the path to achieving “one nation, one agenda”.

As India strives to position itself as a global leader and a truly developed nation, “one nation, one agenda” serves as a crucial guide and inspiration. It provides a roadmap for meaningful and holistic development, urging readers to rethink and reimagine the pathways to a better future for all. By embracing a humanistic approach, this concept offers a powerful vision of development that is not only about economic metrics but also about enhancing the quality of life and fostering a just and equitable society.

Sumit Kaushik, a PhD candidate at O.P. Jindal Global University and a Social Impact Consultant; Arunansh B. Goswami, Historian and Advocate, Supreme Court of India. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect News18’s views.

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