Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 93, was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi on Monday, with PM Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and BJP chief Amit Shah visiting him at the hospital.
AIIMS said the former PM has been diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was under “investigation and evaluation”.
Vajpayee was the first non-Congress prime minister to complete the full term of five years. But that was not his only achievement, despite more than a dozen unruly and demanding coalition partners.
His bigger achievements were on the economic front. He carried on the spirit of economic reforms introduced by the PV Narasimha Rao government in 1991. When Manmohan Singh took over from Vajpayee in 2004, the economy was in a great shape—the GDP rate was above 8 per cent, inflation was below 4 per cent and foreign exchange reserves were overflowing.
The steps Vajpayee took on the economic front not only gave his party, the BJP, the image of a true economic right-wing hitherto viewed as a nativist party not comfortable with modern trends, but also put India on the road to later economic progress.
- Fast-tracking Bharat:- Vajpayee’s most memorable achievement was the ambitious roads projects he launched—the Golden Quadrilateral and the Pradhanmantri Gramin Sadak Yojna. The Golden Quadrilateral connected Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai through a network of highways while the Pradhanmantri Gramin Sadak Yojna was planned as a network of all-weather roads for unconnected villages across India. Both the projects proved to be an immense success and contributed to India’s economic growth majorly.
- Privatisation:- Vajpayee’s commitment to reducing the government role in running businesses and industry was reflected in the formation of a separate disinvestment ministry. The most important disinvestments were Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) and Hindustan Zinc, Indian Petrochemicals Corporation Limited and VSNL. These initiatives of the Vajpayee government, not free from controversies, set the tone for the government’s role in future.
- Reining in the fiscal profligacy:- The Vajpayee government made another beginning by introducing the Fiscal Responsibility Act that aimed to bring down fiscal deficit. It boosted public-sector savings which rose from -0.8% of GDP in FY 2000, to 2.3% in FY 2005.
- Telecom revolution: –The Vajpayee government’s New Telecom Policy unleashed the telecom revolution in India by replacing fixed license fees for telecom firms with a revenue-sharing arrangement. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd was created to separate policy formulation and provision of service. The creation of the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal also separated the government’s regulatory and dispute settlement roles. The government ended the monopoly of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd’s on international telephony.
- Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan:-It was a social scheme to provide universal access to free elementary education for children aged 6-14 years. Within four years of its launch in 2001, the number of out-of-school children dropped by 60 per cent.
- NATIONAL SECURITY
- Kargil War
In 1999, two months after the bilateral summit in Lahore, India discovered that Pakistani army disguised as terrorists had infiltrated through the Line of Control (LoC) into the state of Jammu and Kashmir with active Pakistani assistance and participation. In response, the Indian armed forces launched Operation Vijay to evict the infiltrators. By July 1999 Indian forces had reclaimed territories on its side of the LoC. The Vajpayee government also established the Defence Intelligence Agency to provide better military intelligence and monitor India’s border with Pakistan.
- Pokhran-II nuclear tests
In May 1998 India conducted five underground nuclear tests – Pokhran-II, following the Pokhran-I test of 1974. These tests established India as a nuclear weapons power, although it also resulted in the imposition of limited sanctions by the U.S., UK, Canada and other nations. By 2001, most of these sanctions had been lifted.
The terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament building on 13 December 2001, conducted by Lashkar-e-Taibaand Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists
led to the death of a dozen people (5 terrorists, 6 police and 1 civilian)
and the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan standoff. In response to these attacks and an escalation in terrorist attacks in other parts of India, the NDA government promulgated the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Although a tougher anti-terrorism law than TADA (1995), POTA was criticised as compromising civil liberties and encouraging profiling of the Indian Muslim community.
As the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament was controlled by opposition parties, the Vajpayee government called a historic joint session of both houses of the Indian Parliament in order to enact POTA into law.