Lucknow. Atal Bihari Vajpayee remains in a critical condition at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. As the nation prays for his health, here is a look at some of the reasons why he is loved so much. During his term as prime minister, he took several decisions that changed India. Here are 10 decisions of Vajpayee that make him the statesman he is.
Nuclear tests within three months of becoming PM
The year was 1998. The Atal government was not even three months old. Yet, he took the decision to go ahead with nuclear tests. India was under the watch of US intelligence agency CIA. Unmindful and under intense secrecy, India carried out nuclear tests on 11 May and 13 May. These tests, carried out under the supervision of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, were successful and had been timed carefully to avoid the US eyes in the skies – the satellites that were keeping a close watch on the goings on in Pokhran.
It was in Vajpayee's term as prime minister that the decision to connect the four big cities of India by road was taken. This was the Golden Quadrilateral – a project of world-class highways connecting Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata. The project was launched in 1999 and the target for completion was 2006. However, it finally finished in 2012. The project saw the construction of 5,846 kilometers of road.
India's Moon Mission
On 15 August 2003, Vajpayee had announced from the ramparts of Red Fort in his Independence Day address that India was planning a Moon Mission. This came true on 22 October 2008 when Chandrayan I was launched from Sriharikota with the aim of gathering information from the moon.
Free education for all till the age of 14
Vajpayee's government worked towards ensuring free education for all under the age of 14. The Sarv Shikha Abhiyan – Education for All – was launched to ensure that all children between six and 14 were provided free education. He made Right to Education a fundamental right.
Propounder of Privatisation
Vajpayee was always in favour of privatization, believing that the role of government in business should be minimal. He created a disinvestment minister in his government. Arun Jaitley was the first Disinvestment Minister. Major decisions he took were the disinvestment of Bharat Aluminium Company, Hindustan Zinc and India Petrochemicals Corporation Limited.
Delhi-Lahore Bus Service
Vajpayee was a statesman with a vision to see cordial relations between India and Pakistan. He had first launched the Lahore Bus Sevice as Foreign Minister in the Morarji government. Later as Prime Minister, he launched the Delhi-Lahore Bus Service and travelled to Lahore in the bus.
Efforts to reduce fiscal deficit
To reduce fiscal deficit, his government announced steps to reduce government expenditure. To bring in accountability, he brought in the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act. This brought in an increase in the level of public sector savings. Due to these measures, the 2000 GDP of minus 0.8 percent recorded an improvement and in 2005 it was 2.3 percent.
The credit for bringing about the Communications Revolution in India goes to the Vajpayee government. He revolutionized telecom policies and changed the system of fixed license fee to a revenue sharing model. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited came into being on 15 December 2000.
Delhi Metro Rail
The pride of Delhi, its Metro, was inaugurated by Vajpayee. It was during his term that the first Metro train rolled out in 2003. It opened a new, modern mode of public transportation to the people of Delhi. Today, it is the lifeline of the city.
Improved foreign relations
It was in Vajpayee's term as prime minister that India's relations with China improved and several trade-related agreements came into being. He also established military and strategic partnerships with Israel. He invited Gen Pervez Musharraf, then President of Pakistan to India for the Agra Summit. Vajpayee's stature as a statesman grew immensely during his term as prime minister