Planning, Public Issues

Issues of today’s India

This is an article by our guest strater – Sasmita Patnaik – a student from XIM , Bhubaneshwar. We thank her for her thoughts and hope she would continue writing on!

Today we often talk of concepts like Globalization and World Economy. While we reinforce these ideas again and again, what we tend to ignore is the reach and impact of these concepts. Do we ever think of what these mean to a man in a village in rural India where more than half of Indian population lives or to an illiterate housewife. They say India engulfs an America and an Africa in her. On one hand while Delhi is looking forward to launch the Common wealth games hoping it would bring great publicity, exposure and opportunity to the nation, there is another part of India that is struggling to locate itself even on local maps of District Authorities. The question here is not if we should stop focusing on events like the Commonwealth Games and Olympics that India aspires to host in 2020 but if the focus is balanced. As much as we need to work at increasing opportunities, it is equally important to ensure that these opportunities created are accessible to all sections. Can we look at alternative modes of passing on the benefits of the Globalization to the ones who are indirectly an integral part of world economy? No one may recognize the individual farmer who cultivates crops, but he definitely is a part of our nation’s export economy. Recently the finance minister of our country came up with this idea o having cluster meetings with banks once in 3 months instead of annual meetings. This was done to ensure that smaller banks have a say in the meetings and are able to express their opinions more openly. If the government is looking at making the meetings more Participative, why can’t we come up with similar models of ensuring participation at grass roots. We have tried to integrate villages with nearby town economies. Why not look at a village – village integration, where the villages are interdependent for raw materials or markets. There are several small villages which cannot become self sustainable unless they are provided with adequate infrastructure and employment opportunities. It becomes too expensive for the government to develop infrastructure for smaller villages and settlements. So, the government could look at integrating smaller villages with larger ones and bring in cost effectiveness.

In a recent edition of The Hindu they talked of the recent HDR report 2009 making a strong case for removing barriers to migration within and across borders, arguing that human movement had brought about all round benefits and could potentially improve the lives of millions of poor and low skilled people.

This era is actually challenging age old beliefs that we thought were the ultimate way of doing things. The entire perspective of looking at migration as Brain Drain is being challenged today. The HDR report says majority of migration happens not between the developed and developing nations but within the country. 1 billion i.e. One out of seven people the world over are migrants. Internal migrants are four times as many as those who have moved internationally (740 million). 70 million have moved from developing to developed countries but 200 million actually between developing or developed countries.1 Migration has led to increase in income levels, better access to health and education and improved prospects for their children. Research in United States found that a 1.3% increase in share of migrant university graduates increased the number of patents by 15%. Mobility brought new ideas, knowledge and resources besides job opportunities.

It is a time to rethink our approach. Instead of suggesting a new model every time completely shunning the existing system, there by incurring additional costs of setting up new infrastructure and institutions. For example, instead of completely discarding the idea of Seasonal Employment and trying to provide the community with some occupation they haven’t even heard of, could we think of some similar set of seasonal occupations which could provide the community livelihood for the entire year? Sometimes one seasonal engagement could provide you more money than an all year job. Moreover, the community inculcates a habit of saving which is a positive development. Again, this saving may go into investments increasing our GDP ultimately.

Many scholars in their great works have talked of societies making a choice for themselves. But is it the fact? Most of the times it is the influential people, a few opinion leaders who decide for the people at large. The case is the same for rural and urban scenario. Therefore, the true opinion never comes affront. Therefore instead of looking at issues individually; we should look at them in a holistic manner. Before passing a judgment about something currently in practice being good or bad, it is very important that we evaluate the pros and cons very carefully and not just shut our minds completely.

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2 thoughts on “Issues of today’s India

  1. kaushik says:

    Sasmita, good thoughts. Your topic can be a prequel to an earlier article on “Eradication of Urban slums”. Having said that, and the fact that your article is well written, it happens to be a bit very simplistic.

    India in recent years have suffered to to the very force that allows us to express our thoughts – democracy. Mishandling and misconstruing the tenets of democracy has meant misuse of many of our resources – both natural and manpower.

    An absolute crook can be elected by engineering the electorate, and he can, through his manipulations – lead to many of the problems you stated above. I can mention migration in this regard. Hope you get my point. Also how NREGS schemes are mishandled, the treasuries of the rural banks are misapproportioned by these people. Thus the benefit never gets to the grass-roots, the process never becomes participative.

  2. I just don’t get the point of such posts. I always end up with a So?

    We’ve too many armchair experts expounding their views, reviews and reports. I am sorry – I had the same grouse with ‘Imagining India’ too. You can ask any grocery store shopkeeper/pan dabbawaala/govt. employee/grandfather …almost anyone who has some free time and they can tell you 1001 ways to improve India.

    Personally, I would prefer someone who has already done atleast an iota to improve India at grassroots level and then come back to tell about their experiences and how they can improve India. Till then, it is just talking the talk.

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