"October 13, 1999. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as prime minister for the third time. Among the well-wishers was Nitin Gadkari, the ‘flyover minister’ who delivered India’s first expressway. Vajpayee asked Gadkari, half in jest, “Is there a flyover to connect Bharat with India?” Gadkari had connected 16,000 villages in Naxal-hit areas with roads and had no hesitation saying ‘yes we can’. Vajpayee set up the National Rural Road Development Committee with Gadkari as chief to design the Prime Minister’s rural roads programme. The PMGSY has since enabled over 5.5 lakh km of roads connecting Bharat.
The journey of Vajpayee’s ashes across India this week symbolises Vajpayeenomics. Connectivity was a theme song of Vajpayee. In politics it was connecting people with ideas, and in governance it was connecting people with access to services to prosper. The idea as a force multiplier for investments and employment was nurtured and propelled by Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh.
The national highways programme connecting east with west and south with north connected people and markets for economic growth. Many would recall the Rs 16 per minute mobile tariff days of 1998. Exorbitant costs detained telecom penetration and the licence fee regime had crippled telecom companies. Vajpayee enabled the migration of telecom companies from a high-licence fees regime to a revenue sharing model. By 2004, India was logging over 3 million subscribers per month."
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