Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Few pages further I saw one full page advertisement by UP government (with tax payers money) detailing what all her government has done for minorities during her 4 tenures as Chief Minister of UP. The advertisement which detailed Crores of rupees spent on Haj, Madarsas, grants for daughter’s marriage and many such schemes which I found were noble but only transactional in nature, designed for short term gratification and favours. Similar advertisements were routinely published before elections by previous SP government headed by Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav in the past years.
There was no mention of any long term and sustainable scheme or project which will result in transformational change. There was no scheme to impart quality education which would result in job opportunities for minority students nor was there any mention of setting-up of any industry in a minority dominated area which will provide them with jobs. Ironically, another news pf the day on the same page is that Mrs Mayawati has withdrawn the land allocated to Rail Coach Factory which could have provided jobs, in a minority dominated area, to settle score with Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
No wonder, despite all these tall claims and Crores down the drain, minority community in UP is among the poorest in the country. Off late UP has also been designated as the nerve centre of most terror attacks in the country. Militants and anti-social elements prey on illiteracy, poverty and insecurity of minority communities.
I found the photo opportunity perfectly alright from a politicians view point, who has mastered the art of playing with minority sensibilities for electoral gains, but was wondering as to how community leaders and clergy fall for these tricks time and again.
Minorities in post independence India have become an easy target of political parties who manipulate them as puppets for their electoral gains without a scant regard or concern for their well being. It makes me wonder if minority community will ever take note of such political manipulation and get out of the stranglehold of such pseudo secular political parties to devise their own socioeconomic development agenda.
This article tries to analyze this aspect and how it can be achieved -
The minority mind is suffering from triple whammy - anxiety, fear and denial.
Given the spate of terror attacks across the world resulting in a perceived fundamentalist tag, minority community is in the grip of anxiety and fear.
Minority youth is anxious about him being seen with suspicion by his friends and colleagues. On the way back from one of my college campus talks in Bangalore, one MBA student accompanying me hesitatingly asked whether society and industry will judge him on his merits and qualification or he will face the fundamentalist tag and discrimination. This was a rude shock to me. I felt sad for this young boy. I could imagine the state of his mind and anxiety he is living with.
I tried to counsel him by inquiring if he had ever faced any such discrimination at college or during job interviews, to which he said no. But to my surprise he mentioned that this was the prevalent feeling among minority community youth. He also mentioned that this was widely held view, not-refuted by community elders and religious leaders.
Another incident was narrated by a friend where he tried to refute some provocative and unsubstantiated statements by the clergy during a discourse at a place of worship. He was counseled by his colleagues and friends to keep quiet or else he may be harmed. He changed his place of worship after this incident.
This is a worrying situation. Educated youth living in anxiety and fear are an easy target for fundamentalist forces.
Minorities anywhere in the world are concerned about their identity and security and tend to stay together. They feel security in numbers. It is human nature. Hence, it is the responsibility of majority community to take minority community into confidence and give them a sense of security and belonging.
Another worrying fact is a state of suspicion & denial among the minority community.
It might be entirely true that none of the recently arrested youth are terrorists and we must not label them as terrorists till proven guilty.
At the same time when a mother, whose son has not visited the family for six years claims on national television flanked by her lawyer and clergy, that her son can not be a terrorist, it may not be true either. As a mother she genuinely believes in her son’s innocence but what message is being conveyed to the minority community and nation at large by huge presence of clergy who have no knowledge and interest in her son and are not even invited as per the lawyer. What are they trying to prove by their presence?
How about the incident where country’s most respected clergy showed-up to claim the bodies of two slain boys (let’s not call them terrorists till proven guilty) who were killed in an encounter at Jamia Nagar. Usually it is the family members and relatives who claim the bodies. This was followed by the offer of legal help from the university where these boys studied. Indian constitution does provide for legal help to those who can not afford it. What is university trying to prove by this offer of help?
There are conspiracy theories doing rounds already. Given the above, minority community has got the stamp of approval and is compelled to believe that it was a fake encounter with religious undercurrents and they can not get a fair trial.
Now, even the most transparent investigation and subsequent trial, if it results in conviction of these boys, will make the minority community feel that it has been wronged. The result, many more youth will be motivated to join fundamentalist forces. Where will this end?
This is not to say that fake encounters do not happen or police is fair and transparent, but proclaiming judgment by community and clergy even before trial is no solution either.
No solution to a problem can be found till we accept that there is a problem. Community leaders and clergy need to shoulder this responsibility and educate youth.Community leaders need to push political parties for better education and job opportunities for youth rather than electoral goodies of grants and sanctions.
Minorities need to evolve their own socioeconomic development agenda without political parties
No political party in India seems to be genuinely concerned about minority welfare and development. They all pay lip service and are guided by electoral calculations. No political party or leader has formulated a long term transformational agenda for minority development. Sooner minorities realize this, it is better for them.
Recently Congress made a big deal about Sacchar Committee report, but forgot to note that findings of the report are the result of its own policies and prejudices as it has governed the country for most of its post independence years.
As far as specific development policies and measures targeted towards minorities, no populist measures or appeasement policies from political parties will help as they will be scrapped or changed by the next government.
In an era of coalition politics where political parties make tall promises just to come to power, minorities themselves need to evolve their socio-economic development agenda which must be arrived after national debate and consensus. This should be a development agenda and not a religious agenda, which should be presented to all political parties and implemented in a bi-partisan fashion for its sustainability and effectiveness.
Another important aspect which minorities need to focus on is leadership.
As long as minorities continue to vote based on political rhetoric and pseudo-secular promises, their lot will not improve, as has been proven in the past 60 years. Like everyone else, they should vote on the development agenda of the political parties as over all development is going to benefit all. All political parties are opportunists and care only for votes. It’s the case across the world.
Minorities need to develop their own leadership. It should be popular leadership not religious or political leadership. It should be developmental leadership not divisive leadership. No political party in India has minority leadership of national stature and significance. Some are mere show-pieces and some are political opportunists.
A popular minority leadership focused on development is the best guarantee for minority welfare and development.
A confident majority is the best custodian of minorities’ interests
Minorities can not feel secure in a nation where majority feels deprived and is unsure of continuity of its majority status. History has taught us this lesson in pre-war Germany. A confident majority is the best custodian of minority interests.
Majority too needs to introspect.
India has a long history of peaceful coexistence of majority and minority communities. We have history of benevolent Mogul Emperors, not only preserved but also promoted religion and rituals of majority community. Any form of exclusive ideologies and religious supremacy leads to chaos and disaster in society.
We are a big and diverse nation, with a large poor and hungry population, which deserves a dignified quality of life. At the same time we are surging ahead with high economic growth to claim our rightful place on the high table in the community of nations.
We all need to work towards this national goal rather than burning places of worship, inducing religious conversions and planting bombs to kill innocent citizens in the name of religion. No religion can pardon such atrocities and those who indulge in such acts do not understand the religion.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Jamia Millia Islamia and Times Foundation Initiative
Excerpts from speech by R K Misra on 12th August, 2008
Creating Opportunities for Inclusive Growth –A case Study in Integrated Rural Development
R. K. Misra began his talk by asking the audience to define the term “Rural”. Some members defined it as being synonymous with poverty. Mr. Misra agreed that majority of the people in Indian villages are living in poverty. So, the question that needs to be tackled is, what is that one factor in our rural economy that leads to our rural population remaining poor throughout their lives? The plausible answer is: all of them are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood .There is a close correlation between rural areas, agriculture and poverty.
Mr. Misra explained how the rural population in India is by and large dependent on agriculture as a result of which the majority of people living in rural areas are poor. He pointed out that in the year 1947 the population of India was around 345 million and stands at around 1.1 billion now. In 1947, approximately 80% of the population lived in the villages, whereas around 60% of the population still lives in our villages.
Mr. Misra continued to note the contradictions persisting in the Indian economy. He said that the agricultural land which used to support 275 million people in 1947 is supporting 660 million now, which is a 2.5 fold increase. Even after factoring in the productivity gains, economic dependence of rural population on agriculture is excessive. While the Indian economy has made impressive gains, the share of agriculture in our GDP in 2006-07 has come down to less than 20% from approximately 80% in 1947. This means that recent economic growth and resulting job opportunities have only been created in the non-agricultural sectors of the economy, primarily the industries and off late the services sector. Unfortunately, these new job opportunities are not available to rural population due to their lack of education and the required skills.
Mr. Misra pointed out that the “Trickle Down” economic theory will not work for India’s rural poor as they do not have required skills to benefit from country’s economic resurgence which is driven primarily by growth in industry and service sectors.
Getting uneducated & unskilled rural folks to migrate and work in urban growth centres (where employment opportunities are available) is not a solution as most of them do not have required skills and end-up doing manual labour which earns them meagre amounts. This amount may be enough for two square meals but it certainly can’t afford them any urban comforts and amenities i.e. shelter, sanitation and potable water. They end-up becoming slum dwellers. In villages at least they have roof over their head and clean air/water.
Public policy experts have been trying their best to increase the income of the people in the rural areas by providing subsidies for agriculture and related inputs. However, irrespective of money spent on these efforts, rural poverty will remain as agriculture income alone can not sustain rural population even with much higher productivity levels given meagre land holdings of farmers in most of the states. Various efforts such as khadi and cottage industries have not been successful due to lack of forward integration, such as branding and marketing.
So how does one make the rural economy self sustaining?
Mr. Misra pointed out that there is a need to find non-agriculture based alternate income generation opportunities in and around villages where these people reside. There is a need to look at local skills, if any, and devise various projects based on these skills to supplement agricultural income without rural population having to leave their villages. Local skill development could be undertaken in the areas of handlooms, handicrafts, community dairy, poultry farming, bee-keeping, fishery, piggery, food processing, community farming of cash crops and through other related income supplementing opportunities.
Financial inclusion by way of micro-finance or bank loans is an integral part of this strategy as it provides the rural population a credit history and removes them from the clutches of local money lenders and brokers who siphon-off a majority of their entitlement from various government schemes and loans.
Mr. Misra elaborated by highlighting one such Integrated Rural Development Project of “Community Dairy Farm” which he calls the Rs. 1 Crore model. This is a 2 year pilot project being conducted in Sitapur District of Uttar Pradesh. The aim of this project is to make this village Panchayat (comprising of 9 villages) economically self-reliant by supplementing their current agricultural income.
The pilot Dairy will have high-yielding cows/buffalos owned by individual farmers but managed collectively at a common “Dairy Farm” to ensure quality feed, cattle health care & insurance, calf rearing and breed management. As farmers get comfortable and learn dairy business, they will have the option of managing their cattle on their own as per prescribed norms.
Mr. Misra said that funding for the project is being provided by way of micro-finance while specialized training to farmers will be imparted by the state government’s dairy department. This project is a Public Private Partnership project with the full support and involvement of the state government. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has approved this ‘Dairy Farm Project’ and has launched a ‘Dairy Farm Scheme’ with the necessary budgetary support for any farmer who wants to start this business anywhere in the state.
Apart from dairy, fishery, piggery and bee-keeping, Jathropa (bio-Diesel) plantation on fallow land and community farming of cash crops with assured purchase agreements with food processing companies are also part of this project. Private sector companies are being approached to provide water and sanitation, solar lighting and many other facilities as part of their CSR initiatives.
Apart from providing alternate income generation for farmers of these villages, the pilot project has also looked into the issues of youth unemployment. Every Quarter 10 youth (18-25 years) from these 9 villages, who have no or very little education are being given vocational training with assured employment in retail, hospitality and BPO industries earning anywhere between Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 12,000 per month. Their lives have changed. They are spreading the word and attracting other youth to this initiative. Please visit http://www.unnatiblr.org/
Coming to children & students, Mid May Meal Scheme and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan has increased enrolment in government schools but quality of education has not improved. Efforts to improve quality of education in the Government schools in these villages are being made by way of training and motivating teachers and providing hostel facilities for the students so that they have conducive and hygienic environment to study to effectively compete with their urban counterparts. Hostel facility with dedicated teaching staff and warden is necessitated as children of illiterate parents do not have family support or help with their education, which is most vital. Please Visit http://www.aimforseva.org/
We hope to have a ‘Model Village’ which is economically self-sustained in 2 years time. The model is simple and replicable and is being executed in a ‘Public Private Partnership’ Mode. We will keep you all updated on the progress.
Friday, February 29, 2008
I have been very concerned with the repeated failure of governance mechanisms and inefficient delivery systems under successive governments both in the states and at the center. This results in anguish & frustration of populace, manifesting itself in so called anti-incumbency factor every 5 years during general elections which results in removal of incumbent government.
The hopes are raised time and again with each new government promising clean and efficient administration but the story repeats every five years or earlier during mid-term election.
Something is fundamentally wrong. No government or political party can be so naive to knowingly plan and work towards its removal at the end of its 5 year term. So it may be argued that despite good intentions and best efforts (exceptions notwithstanding), governments in India repeatedly fail to deliver on their promises.
Could there be systemic problems and inefficiencies which are so entrenched that a complete new thinking and approach is needed to bring efficiency, transparency and accountability in our governance and delivery systems. I BELIEVE SO!!
My discussions with the top leadership of our national parties have also confirmed this view. During our discussions we agreed that a NEW THINKING & APPROACH is needed.
We also agreed that our youth, educated working professionals and middle class is disillusioned with the political establishment and is extremely frustrated with the repeated failure of governance and delivery mechanisms. They have lost faith and as a mark of protest they have disassociated themselves from political process and have even stopped exercising their franchise. This number is around 20 crores and growing. Of total 67 Crore registered voters, only 38 Crore voted in the last general election in 2004.
Last general election saw one national party getting just 23% and other 26% of polled votes. Imagine if even 30% of the above disillusioned voters had voted for any of the above parties, they could have been in majority and formed the government on their own.
As nations produces more and more educated, affluent and working professionals, voting population reduces. Political parties are concerned about this fact as their vote bank is shrinking and they can not afford to let this growing population move away from democratic process. But they do not know as to how to engage and motivate this growing population. Hence they tend to ignore this section of our population as we are vocal, have opinion and ask questions.
This is also the section of society which got excited about Lead India and its potential. Lead India has raised their hopes and expectations.
Our nation is at an inflection point of long term growth and prosperity and we need to put appropriate policies, delivery systems & monitoring processes in place to make sure that we reform our political and governance systems and do everything right to achieve this long term growth resulting in prosperity for all.
As an outcome of our discussions and brainstorming we conceived an organization which not only has PAN-INDIA REACH and APPEAL, but also has grass root input and support in identifying, taking-up and solving issues. This will have a cascading effect and we will have a potent and powerful organization in due course. Given our brand and access, we will find acceptance and recognition from common man, educated working professional, government authorities and political leadership. In the process we will make a difference and hopefully transform the nation.
How do we reach this 20 Crore students, working professionals and middle class families, who have desire but no means to collectively voice their views, opinions and concerns and take-up “Social Entrepreneurship and Political Change Initiatives”. They are groping with “HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE' & “Where to Start” kind of questions.
Given the proliferation of information technology, most of them are connected by one common thread - Internet & Mobile. These tools are very important to reach, connect, enroll and convey our message to them, numbering 200 million and growing.
We have created a scalable and dynamic Web & Mobile SPACE - called CHANGE INDIA (www.changeindia.in), where these people will -
ONE - Be the Change AGENTs
1. Register, opine, discuss, debate and analyze various issues of local/national interest
2. Take 3 most pressing issues/projects in each city/District and show time bound results/resolutions by working in close cooperation and partnership with all stake holders in a PPP model
3. Identify and borrow best practices of Governance and Delivery across district/states and work with local authorities to implement them
TWO- Bring Together DOERS
We will provide space for various social entrepreneurs, activists, NGOs and advocacy groups to host, promote, seek funds and popularize their ideas, concepts, projects and organizations on www.changeindia.in . This will give our members a ready shelf of ideas, projects and social entrepreneurship avenues.
THREE- Make a Policy Impact
1. Conduct surveys, polls on topical issues and policies and publish these in major media - print and electronic and become an advocacy group for what our members feel should be the right choice/course/issues.
2. We will interact with and involve our national leadership, subject matter experts and media to discuss and endorse these views and issues. This will keep us current & relevant in influencing policy matters.
FOUR - Create Self Sustaining Eco-System
We will have individual supporters, corporate affiliates and institutional support groups for this movement as many of them find our initiative very apt and exciting and in-line with their Social/national responsibility objective. Huge interest has already been generated and continues to grow.
FIVE- I Will Make A Difference
The above brings us to our most important objective, empowering individuals through collective voice and making them count in the democratic process.
Once they realize that their views and opinions have a logical destination and are reaching policy makers, they will be encouraged to register as voters and potentially exercise their franchise.
If so, this becomes the most important aspect of our movement, where we bring Our Target Audience in the mainstream of democratic process and try to make a difference.
R K Misra
Saturday, January 26, 2008
India overtook Japan this year in the number of billionaires, with 36 billionaires worth a total $191 billion while Japan's 24 billionaires were worth $64 billion. This is good news!!
But please also note that majority of our population lives at less than Rs. 20 per day, mostly in rural India. Benefits of growth and prosperity are not reaching rural India.
Majority of our rural population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood, however share of agriculture in India’s GDP has declined from 59% in 1950-51 to 20% in 2005-2006. Agriculture can no longer provide sustainable livelihood for our rural population.
We need to provide non-agricultural jobs in rural areas.
Local skills based self employment in cottage industries should be encouraged through PPP using Microfinance. With high economic growth and proliferation of service industries (Telecom, Retail, Finance, Security and other support services), our cities are starved of trained man-power in skilled and semi-skilled categories, while our rural youth is unemployed and frustrated. We need to fill this demad-supply gap.
Vocational training to educated and semi-educated rural youth in collaboration with industry with reasonable assurance of job opportunity will bridge this gap.
We have embarked upon one such initiative in Rajasthan under Rajasthan Mission on Livelihood using PPP involving local industries. This initiative has shown a good promise and needs to be replicated.
Institutional Micro credit to marginal farmers in rural areas needs urgent attention.
Farmer suicides have been linked to repeated failure of crops coupled with burden of high interest loan from local lenders. Micro finance schemes have shown great promise and need to be encouraged.
Agricultural productivity should be improved and more land should be brought under cultivation by implementing sustainable irrigation projects urgently.
Farmer must get fair price for his produce through Input Cost based Procurement Price (ICPP) in place of current MSP.
Easy credit facilities and crop insurance schemes should be effectively administered.
Honest & efficient implementation of various rural welfare & employment generation schemes such as Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), National Rural Employment Generation Program (NREGP). 74th amendment should be implemented in its true spirit.
Please read and give your comments..Rural India is in need of urgent attention..
Friday, January 18, 2008
I was very young, 11 years. My parents were shifting from one small town to another small town in UP and I had to change my school, mid-session. I spent summer vacation at my paternal village, in Sitapur district and went to local village school till my admission in town school got finalized. It was around 15 months, when I got to see the REAL VILLAGE school. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Our Pundit ji and Munshi ji (we had 2 teachers) used to come from nearby villages and were usually late by 1-2 hrs as they used to finish their morning agriculture/cattle chores before they started for the school. Old cycles used to be the culprits at times. Nearest puncture fixing shop was 1.5 Kms away. Many-a-times, one of us would go to the shop to get the puncture fixed and we really enjoyed this task as it gave us the day off from the school. We scheduled to reach school just before closing time, which was usually decided based on the shadows or someone going to our house and check our old clock, we did not have many in our village.
We hardly had 3-4 hrs of study during which we (one of the students) was made to read a chapter from the book, some math sums and finally national anthem before we left for our homes. We wrote on TAKHTIs (black wooden writing pads) which were made to shine with soot (from Dibiya – Kerosin lamp) mixed with oil rubbed on TAKHTI with DAWAAT (bottle) which had KHADIYA (chalk solution).
Well, it may sound like a nostalgic story from early 20th century, but this was 1975. I am not that old J.
Recently I visited my village and there was a lot of change. We had brick school building, paper note books, pens, pencils and kids looked happy as in good old days. Master jis (still only 2, though sanctioned strength is 4) were coming on motorcycles and had mobile phones. I was also told that there is a concept of mid-day meal but is not a regular affair. No one knew much about it and was not keen to talk about ‘Prdhan ji’ for fear of some future problems.
However what had not changed was the number of hours spent on teaching kids – just 4-5 hrs. Quality and means of education hadn’t changed a bit. Did someone say PC’s in the class room? No where near that. This bothered me a lot.
How can we think of competing with the best in the world when most of India is still primitive in imparting the basic education. Government takes solace in the enrolment numbers and money spent on mid-may meal schemes, but do we have any measure of qualitative improvement in our primary education.
It is India’s biggest scare of 21st century. We are creating an army of unemployable youth which will see so much wealth around him. Will he sit quiet?
A country of one billion plus, growing at more than 9% does not even have basic educational aids and tools to educate its young. Teachers are unable to teach as they have not even been exposed to modern teaching methods. There are no mid-career training programs nor is there any monitoring. Absenteeism is rampant and most village schools are under-staffed.
Where will we get qualified professionals to run our factories, write our software, run our power plants, treat our patients and build our dams. This is alarming.
Money does not seem to be a problem. My discussions with the government officials and bureaucrats always point towards the deficiencies in the delivery systems and poor governance, not lack of funds.
We need grass root efforts and awareness to sensitize our rural population about the seriousness of the issue and ensure that local village folks with the help of authorities and NGOs try and improve the quality and delivery mechanisms.
I would like to hear the comments and suggestions.
Read on…"I have a Dream" Series..will continue..
Sunday, January 6, 2008
We all hear this on our daily life. Any meeting, party, casual chat or discussion about nation and society starts with the familiar cynical complaints about various issues and problems facing the nation and how come ‘NO-ONE’ is doing anything about it.
This got me thinking – Who are we talking about – this ‘NO ONE’...who is he? The politician, bureaucrat, judge, journalist, common man... you, ME... This article is trying to demystify this ‘NO ONE’ Character...
Many of my friends and colleagues often complain and look frustrated about so many things going wrong while nothing is being done to rectify and no one seems to be bothered. They also mention about the good experience they had when they lived or travelled outside India and how everyone followed the rules and did their bit of social and civic responsibility. Majority of them seem to have good intentions and some are even willing to do their bit but do not know where to begin. They feel so overwhelmed with the problems that they can not think of a starting point.
They think of ‘WHOLE SOLUTION’ and feel helpless without realizing that ‘WHOLE is made of PARTS’.
As we engage in the discussion and when I ask them as to what are they doing to solve these problems, most of them draw a blank. The common refrain is “WHAT CAN ONE MAN DO” or “I AM DOING MY PART BY PAYING MY TAXES”. I agree with both the statements and but they are only partially true.
Yes, it is true that one man can not solve all the problems – say removing corruption from society or educate every child or fix all broken roads, but ONE MAN can still do lots of SMALL THINGS and if each of this ONE MAN does these SMALL THINGS, the SUM-TOTAL will be very LARGE.
To understand as to ‘WHAT THIS ONE MAN CAN DO’, lets begin by asking some simple questions -
How often do we call our local municipality office to inform them about a leaking water pipe wasting precious drinking water?
Do we ask our maids as to if and where do their kids go to school?
Do we stop to take care of an accident victim and take him to the hospital or we just ignore for fear of being questioned by police?
Do we bother to interfere when we see an eve teasing incident or just ignore it for fear of confronting the offending party?
Have we ever advised a car owner whose kids throw empty chips packets on the road from a moving car?
Do we volunteer to clean our neighbourhood park or add to the mess by dumping our own garbage in the corner of the park?
The list can go on and on....
These are just some examples of our social and civic responsibilities which we encounter and mostly ignore in our everyday life?
Can we call ourselves responsible citizens if the answer to the above questions is 'NO'.
All of this and more can be done by this ‘ONE MAN’ –
I will illustrate this with one real life example -
Our local government school has implemented Mid Day Meal, which is mandatory as per central government directive. On a casual visit we noticed that 2 out of 3 teachers were involved in cooking the meals, where as some kids were helping them with cutting of vegetables etc. Further inquiry revealed that the cook who is paid only Rs. 600 by the government has refused to work for such a paltry sum and since it is mandatory to provide mid-day meal, teachers had no option but to cook meal which took more than 30% of their working hours. We called the cook and promised her extra Rs. 1,400 per month. We also hired one cleaning helper to make sure that teachers and students do not waste their time in cooking meals. All this was done from community donations and is working very well for past one year.
Now lets look at this ‘ONE MAN’, who is he??
It is ‘YOU’, it is ‘ME’, it is ‘US’... this is the power of this ‘ONE MAN’ which can change this nation.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want”.
Just imagine, if we all start doing these small acts of our responsibility towards our society, our nation, how nice things will look around us.
I hope this article will get you thinking. I look forward to your comments.
Please visit this space again for more on this ‘ONE MAN’...to be continued...
NATIONAL PRIORITIES - Inclusive Growth (Urban-Rural Divide), Essential Services (Health & Education for Poor) & Growth (Infrastructure)
1. Inclusive Growth – Rural-Urban Divide
India’s GDP is growing at close to 9% and is expected to reach 10%. India overtook Japan this year in number of billionaires, with 36 billionaires worth a total $191 billion while Japans 24 billionaires were worth $64 billion. This is good news!! But please also note that 77% of our population (836 million people) lives at less than Rs. 20 per day, mostly in rural India. Benefits of growth and prosperity are not reaching the rural India.
Majority of our rural population is dependent on agriculture for its livelihood, however share of agriculture in India’s GDP has declined from 59% in 1950-51 to 20% in 2005-2006. Agriculture can no longer provide sustainable livelihood for our rural population.
We need to provide non-agricultural jobs in rural areas. Local skills based self employment in cottage industries should be encouraged through PPP. With high economic growth and proliferation of service industries (Telecom, Retail, Finance, Security and other support services), our cities are starved of trained man-power in skilled and semi-skilled categories, while our rural youth is unemployed and frustrated. We need to fill this demad-supply gap.
Vocational training to educated and semi-educated rural youth in collaboration with industry with reasonable assurance of job opportunity will bridge this gap. We have embarked upon one such initiative in Rajasthan under Rajasthan Mission on Livelihood using PPP involving local industries. This has shown a good promise.
Institutional Micro credit to marginal farmers in rural areas needs urgent attention. Farmer suicides have been linked to repeated failure of crops coupled with burden of high interest loan from local lenders. Micro finance schemes have shown great promise and need to be encouraged.
Agricultural productivity should be improved and more land should be brought under cultivation by implementing irrigation projects urgently. Farmer must get fair price for his produce through Input Cost based Procurement Price (ICPP) in place of current MSP.
Easy credit facilities and crop insurance schemes should be effectively administered. Honest & efficient implementation of various rural welfare & employment generation schemes. 74th amendment should be implemented in its true spirit.
2. Essential Public Services for the Poor - Education & Health
Educated & Healthy population is a prerequisite to sustain high growth rate of any economy. Given our high economic growth rate, with share of services and industry in our GDP reaching 80%, we have a historic opportunity to provide gainful employment and respectable livelihood to each of our employable adult.
Unfortunately, majority of our population is UNEMPLOYABLE, because they are not suitably educated and lack required skills.
70% of our population is rural, dependent on agriculture. Education will provide them with an alternate means of employment. Sadly education is accorded a low priority in rural India due to the need for helping hands with daily chores of agriculture. Lack of infrastructure and poor quality of teachers has compounded the problem.
Efficient implementation of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan & Mid Day Meal Scheme with effective monitoring using DISE (District Information System for Education) should improve the situation.
Quality and affordable health care for poor should be made a national priority. We spend just 1.2% of our GDP on health care. Our Public Health System is inefficient and has lost its credibility. This is in urgent need of revival and resurrection. Our poor can not afford private healthcare.
Subsidized Universal Health Insurance for poor should be accorded high priority.
3. Infrastructure is Essential for Virtuous Growth Cycle – PPP is the way to go
Rapid economic growth must be an essential part of our national strategy since it is only in a rapidly growing economy that we can expect to raise the incomes of the masses sufficiently to bring about a general improvement in living conditions. With sustained economic growth rate of 8-9% and population growing at 1.5% per year, the real income of the average Indian would double in ten years.
Infrastructure has become a major constrain and is threatening to impede our economic growth. The matter has acquired extreme urgency and calls for a substantial increase in the allocation of public resources for infrastructure sector. However, public resources alone may not be sufficient.
The private sector has a critical role to play in achieving the objective of faster and more inclusive growth. This sector accounts for 70% of the total investment in the economy. Given the huge investment requirement in infrastructure sector, private participation is critical and must be encouraged.
Government should device appropriate policy framework, dispute resolution mechanisms and MCAs (Model Concession Agreements) which would encourage private investment in infrastructure. Success of private participation in Telecom and National Highways should strengthen the case for a mutually beneficial Public Private Partnership Model in infrastructure.