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India’s biggest problem: Underutilization of resources


This was the top award winning essay, written by me in 2003 for a competition which was part of Brainwaves 2003. Brainwaves is an annual national level festival of talent, organized by Finolex Academy of Management and Technology, Ratnagiri.


India’s biggest problem: 
Underutilization of resource


One striking difference between the developed and least developed countries is that while many things may divide us like political differences, economic competitiveness, ethnic divisiveness etc. in the particular area we have shared common concerns that is we all need resource development. Resources are both means and end of the economic development. When we talked about means of development in economics we often meant investment capital. And yet resource capital, which made critical difference, was measured neither qualitatively nor quantitatively, nor received the kind of attention that it deserved. If we need to elaborate this India’s biggest problem it can be as follows:

  • Unviewed importance of local governance (Gram Sabha):
Deliverance comes not from electoral forms but informed franchise, not from the mystic authority of franchise but from the enlightened participation of the populance in the public affairs” – Justice Krishna Ayyar.

The belief of the government is that active participation of the people through the institution of Gram Sabha would ensure transparency and accountability of the system and there fore the “Gram Sabha” should be strengthened. The studies have attributed ineffective functioning of Gram Sabha:

1. Lack of awareness among rural people about the functioning of sabha.
2. Dominances of sarpanches and absence of proper understanding of village Panchayats and gram sabha.
3. Lack of commitment on the part of the officials to educate the members of the Gram Sabha as to their functions and responsibilities.
4. Gram sabha should have full powers for determining the priorities for various programmes in the village and approval of budget.

The 73rd constitution Amendment Act, 1993 for the first time created a statutory imperative for the establishment of legally empowered Gram Sabha or village assemblies in India. Almost all the state governments have provided for the Gram Sabha but its functions and authorities have not been spelt out in detail. Consequently, these institutions continue to function ineffectively. The absence of women folk in the meetings of Gram Sabha has become a common feature. The participation of people belonging to weaker sections is also minimal. The entire exercise thus becomes formal and incapable of yielding the expected results. Thus it is needed to

1. Recognize Gram Sabha as the heart and soul of Panchayati Raj system
2. Developed as an institution where common people can get an opportunity to participate plan and implement their basic needs.
3. Encourage to exercise its authority for taking up any development program at village level.
4. Allowed to evoke its own procedures within the legal limits for conducting its business.
5. Motivated to absorb the philosophy of grass root democracy.

  • Underpowered rural women
Our rural women have a very great part to play in the progress of our country, as the mental and physical contact of women with life is much more lasting and comprehensive than that of men. For nothing was it said that ‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’. In the apron string of the woman is hidden the revolutionary energy which can establish paradise on the earth” Dr. Rajendra Prasad

The term empowerment is often used to describe the process where by the powerless peoples gain a greater share of control of resources and decision making. The term ‘employment’ is rooted in the theories of Paulo Freire who put forward the notion of ‘conscientisation’ as a process by which the poor could challenge the structures of power and take the control of their lives. By expanding this analysis and giving gender an integral place; feminists put forward the concept of women’s empowerment. It is the process is one where women find time and space of their own, being to reexamine their lives critically and collectively, enable women to look at there old problems in new ways, analyze their strength and situation, recognize their strength, alter their self image, access to new knowledge etc.

Indian scenario says that access of information is the key for economic, social and political empowerment of women. Reforms should poses new forms of learning, education, health services, livelihood options, governance mechanisms and commerce which would lead to the ultimate goal. This Un-empowerment becomes part of India’s biggest problem as although the rural woman population is 30% of the total, this hidden energy is not utilized yet. There were fewer efforts to empower them through reservations in elections, access to loans, participation in local level banking, creation of credit societies.

  • Ignorance towards agricultural reforms
Agriculture is no doubt a leading sector which provides major part of employment needed. But no government yet has made a significant reform after the green revolution. “Every country can revolt once against bad government but every farmer should make revolt against the less crop production every year.” When drastically increasing population is considered the only way to provide them food is a new revolution not only for Wheat but also in case of rice, cotton, cereals etc. 

If we study latest general budget for the year 2003-04, it proves to be meaningless for the productive agriculture. Even the finance minister said that “Farming is most important but we are using fewer resources in the farming”, lessen the subsidies over fertilizers, levied Cess over cash crops. The most interesting thing is that out of 4,38,795 crores Rs. only 50 crores are reserved for the irrigative fertilizers, crop diversity, biotechnology, precise farming, in all. Even after fifty years of independence insurance policies for agriculture sector is not strong so that a poor farmer can rely on. No proper schemes are provided to lend the money to farmers and its recovery, development of wastelands, processing and storage etc. Not about this budget, but all the budgets after India has decided for strengthening its privatization and Globalization policies budgets are going away from agricultural reforms. It looks such that all theses budgets asks common farmer should turn towards business of construction.

  • Improper technology transfer
There is need to organize the rural artisans and provide them improved technology based on the existing tools and skills. The development and usage can vary. The best technology is that the poor should be able to handle it. For better and efficient utilization of technologies at various levels of industrialization, an ideal organizational structure which can take care of linkages between production, marketing, processing, materials etc. The focus of appropriate technology should concentrate on:

1. R & D which has to play a vital role in providing right kind of technology.
2. It should deal with upgrading of skills and productivity and optimal utilization.
3. Technology should not be only confined to mere expansion of traditional technology but also cover large scale industries.
4. Should be profitable.
5. Search of suitable technologies with major objectives of increasing employment, output and reducing capital requirement and saving foreign exchange.

In the present rural industrial structure there seems to be deficiency of all the above things discussed. The transfer is following ‘Trickling theory’, i.e. appropriate technology is not being transferred to the farmers although it is invented in the various Laboratories. This is also because of the less number of agricultural related institutes actually interested in field studies and imparting education in agriculture. For example in Maharashtra there are 47 engineering colleges, 25 medical and uncountable art and commerce colleges, but only four agricultural colleges. This imbalance has lead to improper and inappropriate technology transfer.
  • Inability to grab the advantage of IT sector
Government has declared year 2002-03 as IT year. It decides to take every advantage of IT sector to empower the e-governance, e-commerce, e-medicine basic communication network. Certainly taking the initiative, states like Karnataka, Andhra, and Tamil Nadu had started projects for such reforms. But this digital fever is not throughout the country. North-Eastern states, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar etc. are far behind where IT is badly required. Our country has got many IT experts, next generation is favoring digital reforms, will to fill up digital divide is also present. But schemes are still on the paper. If these reforms are taking place then the local governance can be made strong removing barriers of literacy, jugglery due to red band, and frauds.
  • Lack of "energetic" initiatives
In rural areas electricity supply is erratic in terms of availability and poor in terms of voltage regulation. Still rural people are dependent on the fuel wood and biomass available locally. This destroys man hour to meet energy needs, poses serious health risks due to smoke. Installed capacity in the country increased from 1300 MW at the time of independence to about 102,000 MW as December. The studies by Central electricity Authority (CEA), December 2002, show that natural resources are underutilized. The following table shows potential and installations of renewable energy technologies:

Sources
Units
Potential
Installed
Wind Power
MW
45,000
1,507
Small Hydro power
MW
15,000
1,406
Biomass power
MW
19,500
358
Solar PV
MW/sq. Km.
20
7
Solar power heating
Mn. Sq. m
30
0.59
Biogas plants
Million
12
3.26
Improved cook stoves
Million
120
34.3

If these resources will be used at optimum basis, stress of increasing load over power system will get reduced; Power to the local user will be provide locally, Industry will get uninterrupted and required power. This requires energetic initiative by power ministry.

  • Conclusion
These measures are suggestive. India can make its functioning effective by using its extensive human resources, agricultural richness, and vast natural resources. To enhance utilization functioning and central role Gram Sabha in local planning, services of NGO, empowerment of women, technology transfer, research organizations and use of IT for faster access to knowledge. Then only the legislative imperative becomes a reality, otherwise the ideas of real democracy and powerful nation remains on paper. Ultimately,

It is perfectly said that
that Government is best which governs least
It is equally true that
that government is best which provides most
- Walter Lippmann



7 comments:

  1. Indeed this essay surely deserve to win,The Points covered here holds so very true and one can't deny a bit...But then Again living in a country like India where the Government is so irresponsible in taking Initiative to uplift the status of Underdeveloped and make India shine..

    Very Well Written Paresh... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. India has huge potential, we are not tapping it. Thats the reason why APJ sas India will become a superpower. Thanks :-)

      Delete
  2. Sad state of affairs :(...an amazing and thoughtful essay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kiran. Its indeed a sad part no to utilize resources to optimum.

      Delete
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