Rural Indian can be saved, for sure!
Rural India needs a new focus
Institutional changes are called for
There is no room for any complacency about rural India.
There is much that needs to be done.
To reduce the number of people under poverty trap.
The National Commission on Enterprises in Unorganised Sector headed by the competent Dr.Arjun Sengupta could be a new starting point.
There are very many useful policy suggestions for action.
If a new minister is appointed. Even now, at this stage of this present government, everyone would applaud. Such is the crisis at the grass roots. The very shocking findings of the Commission that nearly 77 per cent of India’s population, close to840 million, unbelievable even for us engaged in the agri sector reforms, comes as a mild shock. Such a vast number, we are told, survive on less than Rs.20 a day. Is this believable? We wonder.
So, the number of hundry in the grassroots is huge. Yet, we read about the huge leakages of the ration rice and other materials in W.Bengal and TN. Why you make this possible, we ask the PM!
What is holding up this government that bemoans the huge subsidies that are not reaching the target groups?
What prevents the Prime Minister to appoint a new minister to look after the PDS?
Yes, there is no point in simply talking to every meeting that assembles in New Delhi, be it to the Chief Ministers of officials. What, we wonder, prevents the Central government to act?
A new minister to just monitor the PDS is a critical element that is missing now.
The UN millennium Development Goals also calculates the people living in hunger about 852 millions. Which figure is correct? The government could clarify?
Yes, we have to believe the government as to its numbers now defined as living below the poverty line, as at 28 per cent.
Yet, in all the speeches, as the PM’s at the NDC meeting we don’t hear what the government intend to do or what the Central government asked the states to do? To reach the subsidies to the poor?
We have the distinctive impression the Centre allocates the funds and the states once they get the funds go about distributing to reach their vote bank poltiicalends.
Are we not right in assuming this? Yes, we seem to be right. As the PM said at the very same NDC that the states don’t now spend more on some critical infrastructure projects, it is the Centre that spends more and more and even here how the resources are used is a big question. We found already in such schemes like rural employment generation, the states don’t show much enthusiasm, the schemes didn’t start off in many districts.
Rural India is not just poverty alone.
There is social distress and there is this naxalite violence.
In eight districts this violence has been identified as particularly going beyond control. Jail breaks are also making routine news. Then, there is this Nandigram type violence in which the CPI (M) cadres are found wanting. The W.Bengal government has to change its rural policies. The usefulness of the present type panchayat raj controlled politics is plainly outlived their usefulness.
Senior leaders like Jyoti Basu and others must give serious thought to the bogus revolutionary hype Mr.Prakash Karat and others are mouthing.
We need serious talk here.
Farmers must be seen as the critical mass in the rural change scenario. Farmers, and the farm families, the traditional farm families, the traditional rural families.
Why the emphasis on traditional rural families?
We can’t create an ideal rural equality in a day. Or, in one day or in one party’s rule!
Rural realities are what they have been for some time.
Rural society is a hierarchical society. Hierarchies would be there almost for ever!
Prof.Amartya Sen., the Harvard-based Nobel Laureate and a prominent Bengali face was in India recently. Another thinker, Prof.Tapan Raychoudhury, the Oxford historian, an economic historian at that, was in Bangalore recently. Sen had spoken at the CII-sponsored corporate responsibility in education. RayChudhury spoke at the Institute of economic and social change, founded by VKRV Rao and appropriate he was speaking at the newly created Ramakrishna Hegde Chair, a fine tribute to the late Karnataka leader who had ushered in the much-delayed panchayat raj decentralisation in a systematic way.
Rural education and panchayat raj, two themes tackled by two internationally-known academics seems quite appropriate for the times.
Now, rural education is much talked about. Sen himself runs an education trust in his home state. His home state itself is a backward one. He knows the issues there. So, this time Sen didn’t contribute much to the current debate except to urge more funds, more government “intervention” in these areas. This is a tired theme now, as for Sen as for others! But Sen knows the fundamental issues. He must have read his peers. Inclusive growth is a complex theme. But he didn’t choose to dwell on it. Perhaps, he couldn’t have wanted to offend his hosts, the CII!
As for Prof. Choudhury, he talked on the Hindu-Muslim relations, secularism etc. The learned professor noted that India is not a secularist country as yet, secularism is not in governance or in our lives and we are superstitious people yet.
Fine. The point here India has come a long way since independence. Elementary education has expanded very fast. also female literacy, though much remains to be done. So too healthcare.
So, what Sen said was nothing new nor gave any new ideas or insights.
So too Prof. Raychoudhury’s observations were not just relevant for India of today.
India is a deeply religious society we admit, so too our people are deeply superstitious.
But can we shut our eyes to the Indian reality: the Indian state is a strongly secular state. It is committed to that ideal. Our society is modernising and modernising in a more and more secular ways. Communal harmony is by and large an Indian reality. If any, it is the urban scene, this communalism phenomenon. Rural India is a strongly communally peaceful bastion of social harmony. This, we can claim, is our great Indian tradition. A Hindu-Muslim unity is still a basic reality, in spite of provocations, both domestic as well as external forces.
The point here is that our NRI intellectuals and others come here and give unsolicited advice that even a government likes that of Singh cant put to use!
But there are developments from within our own society.
Two examples. One, the political pressures from within parties. Shiv Sena, of all other organisations, has taken up the task of utilising the youth power to cultivate the stock market investor’s education to create new entrepreneurs. Wonderful! The party organised four workshops, so far. The local MLA in Mumbai has taken the initiative. The political agenda: to help Maharashtrians more prosperous!
The IT revolution. The IT industry is now moving into rural India, in AP, the Byraju foundation, a Satyam trust, is engaged in rural BPO work, also telemedicine. AP and TN are becoming rural BPO compatible, says Kiran Karnik, the Nasscom chairman. Rajasthan is setting up an Israeli-aided agro-industrial centre to train farmers in latest techniques in agriculture, horticulture, floriculture and marketing. There are so many small initiatives
We would only request the governments to take note of these small initiatives and come out with a policy to support and expand such networks.
We can save rural India, we are sure!