They talk of rural India. We listen!
This government is seen progressively as groping in the dark for policies. To tackle several important segment of issues. one is rural India.
Agriculture and rural India’s development are interlinked. So too, the many new institutions, Panchayat Raj in particular for rural India’s transformation. So, what have we got in the first 100 days or the Mahmohan Singh Government? Pretty little!
Mr. P. Chidambaram, Mani Sankar Iyer are two rather, if we can say so, ambitious (or follhardy?) over-taking these days. Mr. P. Chidambaram is given to talk so much on so many times. This time in Chennai, releasing a book, India Untouched: The Forgotten face of Rural Poverty by Dr. Abraham George, based in Bangalore, Chidambaram says rural poverty is because of the 30 years of Independence governance model! Not to go further we like to dismiss this sort of language as born out of either ignorance or the audacity of being in a government office.
So, too Iyer who is panchayat raj minister along with petroleum. Two important portfolios but Iyer is earning attention for the wrong things. Savarkar or such topics. It is a bad on the government to have allotted the two critical portfolios firstly to one person.
Unfortunately Iyer is jealously keeping the Panchayat raj as if it was his idea Rajiv Gandhi implemented!
The Finance Ministry, the RBI and Nabard are yet to come up with ideas to think of models to take the funds to the needy at the grass roots.
The funds, as we have seen in AP and in other states, when disbursed carelessly as sometimes banks do, the funds reach the pockets of politicians and their contractor friends in rural areas. All panchayat funds, even the ones given by the international agencies like the world bank got diverted in AP and that is why we could see so many new Sumos and other flashy vehicles that were displayed during the Naidu regime’s elections and other mobilizations.
In TN this is quite a perfected art of looting the government funds. No State is an exception.
Before we proceed we like to clarify that men like Chidambaram or Iyer are rather clever time servers. Knowing their proximity to Sonia Gandhi they have become a bit bolder and think fit they can air their views as they like. Mr. P.C is a persuasive speaker and all we like to remind the readers is what Shankar Dayal Sharma said to him when he expounded the Constitution before you were born’. “So, this time Mr. P. C needs to be reminded: “You are too small a person to question the wisdom of Pandit Nehru’s vision for a self-reliant and self-sufficient India. The Five Year Plans were the only alternative then when the USA / UK wanted to see India dependent upon them. It was Soviet Russia that helped India to build the heavy industry, as envisaged in the 2nd Five Year Plan, even exploration for oil was undertaken by Russian experts, the US refused help. It is a great and heroic story and Mr. P.C should know his limitations. PC seems stranger to the value system, modesty. Unlike his boss the PM, very epitome of modesty! Sometimes, some politicians don’t learn anything!
Even the current panchayat raj institutions can be traced back to Nehru’s Community Dev. Projects. Now, coming to the current scenario, we like to tell this government that the basic approach to a new rural India policy is to think big, thick in terms of on-going projects. Infrastructure is the key. A survey of 32 road projects by standard & poor’s found 28 cases were under utilized. Infrastructure, be it power or roads or even telecom (optic fibre cables laying) are found to be less than moderately profitable.
We say: just take up one or two really big all India projects. Say, river linking project is an ambitious project worthy of any government’s idea of firing the imagination of the people. So too the National Highways project. If these two key infrastructure and partial or fully privatized airports expansion projects are taken up by this Government, the people would get motivated. International funding, both public and private could be tied up. FDI is not such a critical component any development strategy, there is no reason why the Left allies can be brought into the consensus building exercise. After all rural Bengal is critically short of roads and telecom and power.
One more project that could be straightaway taken up is the integrated townships where 100 percent FDI is allowed.
IT parks is another critical infrastructure that could release the energies of the people, the educated sections would be fully engaged. The government must have imagination, long term vision. Wisdom doesn’t come easy. It doesn’t surely come to ministers, it seems! Even senior politicians in this country don’t seem to get wisdom! What a pity, India, the land of Mahatma Gandhi!