5 ways how Rajiv Gandhi changed India forever
Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi, at 40, was the youngest prime minister of India. In his five years of rule from 1984 to 1989, the young leader made some sincere efforts to take the country to the 21st century.
Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation of a modern India. He left an imprint of modernity.
Rajiv Gandhi is hailed as the 'Father of Information Technology and Telecom Revolution of India'. He is rightfully known as the architect of digital India.
It was under his rule that Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT) was established in August 1984 to develop state-of-the-art telecommunication technology and meet the needs of the Indian telecommunication network.
C-DOT revolutionised the communication network in the towns and even villages of India. Because of Rajiv Gandhi's efforts, the PCO (public call office) revolution took place. PCO booth connected even the rural areas to the world outside.
In 1986, MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited) was established which helped in the spread of telephone network. With Sam Pitroda as an advisor to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, six technology missions related to telecommunications, water, literacy, immunisation, dairy and oil seeds were established.
Rajiv Gandhi promoted science and technology and associated industries. One of the ways was to reduce import quotas, taxes and tariffs on such industries, especially computers, airlines, defence and telecommunications. The Indian Railways was modernised after introduction of computerised railway tickets.
As he was a youth himself, Rajiv Gandhi sought to give empower the youths. Towards that end, the 61st Amendment Act of the Constitution was passed in 1989, lowering the voting age from 21 years to 18 years. This move allowed the youths to have a say in choosing Lok Sabha MPs and MLAs in the states.
Rajiv Gandhi is credited with laying the foundation of Panchayati Raj institutions in order to take democracy to the grassroots level. Though Panchayati Raj was created by the 73rd and the 74th Amendments to the Constitution in 1992, a year after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, the background was prepared during the Congress government led by him.
Rajiv Gandhi as prime minister announced National Policy on Education (NPE) in 1986 to modernise and expand higher education programmes across the country. With NPE in place, residential schools called Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, under the central government, were set up to bring out the best of rural talent. These schools provide free residential education from grades six to twelve to the rural population.
Rajiv Gandhi died on May 21, 1991 at the young age of 46 years. However, in a short span of life, he left an indelible mark on Indian society and politics. These initiatives remind the countrymen of him on his 74th birth anniversary today.