Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen and Jean M. Derge have rightly called Indiaâ€™s economic expansion, the story of growth without development. So while, on one hand, there is an industrialized, modern India post the IT sector boom, visible in the gleam of towering skyscrapers in metros, there is yet another face of the country reeling under low human development indices such as low female literacy, high infant mortality rate, millions reeling below poverty line deprived even of basic amenities such as food, shelter and clothing. Our growth is unbalanced and unsustainable. The politician-bureaucrat menus at the top of public welfare schemes moving down to the lower levels of distribution donâ€™t let the gains amassed by a high growth rate trickle down to the needy. Slack introduction and poor implementation of government schemes of the government is another road block to development. For equitable distribution of wealth, eliminating corruption, ensuring transparency in public welfare schemes is a must. The leaky and ineffective Public Distribution System has to be remodeled. A positive step in this direction is the cash transfer of subsidies. Such models have successfully been tried by many governments such as Brazil to directly transfer cash into bank accounts of recipients so that it can curb waste and pilferage of the distributed product and eliminate leaking gains to middlemen., Based on this, my suggestion is to hand over the cash subsidy to the main member of the family to ensure its productive uses. Monitoring of government schemes like Swarnajayant, Gram Swarozgar Yojana, NREGS and MNREGA by independent NGOs to ensure effective implementation is required. Promoting small scale industries such as handicrafts, agro based enterprises, bee keeping and sericulture with initial investment from the government to supplement income of rural households would also serve as a boost to the riddling rural sector. Development of infrastructure like pucca roads and bridges in villages is needed. Training for occupations allied to agriculture can be provided to landless laborers and daily wage workers by Krishi Vigyan Kendras. Investments in rural infrastructure, medical facilities and literacy campaigns in villages can uplift the rural poor. For the urban poor, skill based training and diploma programme for unemployed youth of the family with assured employment for 1-2 years can be provided. Female members can be encouraged to take up work suitable according to their expertise like knitting, sewing to enhance income. The example of our own state Punjab stands as a testimony to the above statement where female members have become predominantly active contributors to their household incomes through such household works. The approach to lift the poor must not just involve handing them subsidies but making them self reliant. We all know clearly that education to our poor brethren can go a long
way in making them aware of their rights and fully exploit the benefits they are entitled to. Mass awareness campaigns through electronic media, can help promote the ill effects of alcoholism, drug abuse, rigid caste and communal divides, importance of health and sanitation etc. The role of gram panchayats in villages as local bodies representing urban poor is critical, thus they should be held accountable, with people having right to complain if unsatisfied. A government body to review the decisions of the Gram panchayats in order to ensure that no decision is being taken which affects the community as a whole can play a crucial role in addressing the problem of exploitation of the poor lower classes in the rural areas. Even poor countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lank have better human indices than India. It is time our policy makers wake up or else itâ€™ll be too late.
Published on Mar 4, 2013
India has always witnessed a wide gap between the rich and the poor. This disparity has only increased over the years. The rich have become...