Friday, May 4, 2007

Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, A Success Story

The Daily Tribune, March 10, 2007.

Poverty and Human Rights issues in Rural and Urban Areas in India: A Grassroot View of the Current and Future Scenario

The efforts by the United Nations in itself is going to globally strengthen both the vertical and horizontal integration of developmental initiatives on the one hand and to respond to the challenges offered by the market economic forces on the other.

The first part of this presentation focuses on the experiences gained by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) from research studies linked with action programmes on this internationally vital theme from the grassroot to national and international levels. The second part of the presentation brings out the measures taken by the government through various schemes/programmes during the past some years to fight battle against poverty, hunger, social justice, inequality and generally to improve the quality of life both in the rural as well as urban areas.

CRRID, a non-governmental autonomous Institute of ‘National Status’ having ‘Special Consultative Status’ with the ECOSOC, has been engaged since 1980 in contributing to the process of strengthening the efforts in this vast field of human development.

Recently, the UNESCO honoured CRRID in selecting its study from among 400 such presentations and indicated its replication elsewhere globally. This is one of the latest studies carried out by CRRID, which had the honour of receiving the attention of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India and also of the media (See Annexure I and II).

This area of activities is one of the priority concern to which CRRID has devoted considerable human and financial resources through the support of private and public partnership backed by community, which is the major beneficiary of the outcome of such efforts made by CRRID for the past two decades.

CRRID has also been engaged in capacity building and mobilization of community to facilitate the Institutions within and outside the government in their efforts to alleviate poverty. India has succeeded in bringing down the poverty level from 40 to nearly 26 percent. According to the Planning Commission of India, poverty can no longer be defined uni-dimensionally as has traditionally been done. The character of poverty is multi-dimensional which is a fact known to all of us and much more to the United Nations and its concerned agencies. “Poverty is the non-fulfillment of the human right to a range of basic capabilities, such as nourishment, shelter, education, security, justice and earning a livelihood”. Before highlighting the national efforts made by the Federal Government and its agencies, it is pertinent to further inform the readers that CRRID continues to undertake the projects such as ‘National Strategy for Urban Poor’, sponsored by the UNDP under the aegis of Government of India in the over populated areas with sizeable population living in slums in northern India and elsewhere. CRRID has undertaken this challenging task to spell out the specific strategy and also concrete line of action which would ensure improvement in the social and living conditions of urban as well as rural poor by capacity building programmes.

Indeed, over the years CRRID has carried out scores of evaluation studies and conducted hundred of training progammes both for the elected members governing the Institutions of local self government for the urban areas and Panchayats (Village Assemblies) for the rural areas.

The field based studies linked with the action programme simultaneously identifying the specific approaches and input for the policy makers such as the United Nations, UNICEF, UNDP, ILO and recently the UNESCO have lent distinctive support to sustain these efforts for the benefit of the deprived section of the society living under the persistent conditions of poverty particularly in the slum areas.

CRRID has been engaged in multidisciplinary social science research which has simultaneously been examining the consequences of persistent poverty that have manifested in societal disorder and violence besides rising crimes, mafiaziation and weakening of the system in some areas of India. Though the Government and Institutions outside the government have been conscious and concerned about such manifestations yet the widening gap between the rich and the poor for a variety of reasons continue to threaten the process of peace and development.

The Prime Minister of India and an eminent economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh while delivering the Inaugural address at CRRID to the participants from 25 countries emphasized “there cannot be peace without development and development without peace”. Hence the need to make constant efforts through the various programmes has to be focused in minimizing the gap between the rich and the poor. It seems easier said, as has been the experience of many countries including India, than done.

Conclusively, CRRID has expanded the network through its field-based studies linked with action programmes both vertically and horizontally in India and recently to South and Central Asian countries. It is heartening to record that there has been meaningful response and support, it has received both from the International and national agencies particularly of the United Nations. The individuals as well as Institutions in and outside the government have cooperated to sustain on continuing basis efforts made in this area of human activities which has a beginning but not immediate end.

It is in this context that the initiative taken by the United Nations through the Department of Economic and Social Affairs shall go a long way to help in motivating, mobilizing and activising the individuals and institutions in and outside the state structure to eradicate poverty, hunger, dearth, squalor and widening gap between the rich and the poor. There is no option except in committing ourselves to this gigantic task failing which the peace loving communities all the world over are going to face the brunt of disorder – India is not excluded.

Indian scenario and the practical efforts made to put up a strong fight for eradication of poverty, human rights and hunger on a sustained basis.

India took a historically important decision to strengthen the Institutions of local self government for the urban governance and Panchayati Raj (Village Assembly) for the management of the rural society by amending its Constitution in 1991-92 (Articles 74th-73rd respectively). This made the third tier of the democracy mandatory. This historical decision brought in three million elected representatives including 30 percent women to manage 2,35,000 Panchayats (Village assemblies) elected by approximately 400 million adults in the rural areas thereby transferring 29 subjects (see Annexure-III) for planning and implementation by the Panchayats (Village assemblies). Similarly the 74th Amendment made the urban governance through the strengthening of Institutions of local-self government mandatory. The planning and management of the urban affairs here before administered by the bureaucracy, were taken over by elected representatives in 556 districts of India having several thousands elected representatives to plan and implement the urban affairs. This historical amendment has substantially contributed in bringing down the poverty level and is moving forward to minimize the gap between the rich and the poor through the capacity building of the elected representatives to manage the urban affairs. The process of devolution of powers to these elected rural and urban Institutions is though slow yet the pressure generated by the community in making the decentralization a practical reality has been mounting up on the rural as well as urban elite. This very measure is being perceived as a irreplaceable and irreversible initiative to fight out the battle in alleviating the poverty and minimizing the disparities.

In addition to this the Federal Government in India has effectively introduced the following poverty alleviation schemes and programmes in the urban as well as rural areas.


Swarana Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)
National Slum Development Programme (NSDP)
Environmental Improvement of Urban Slums (EIUS)
Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY)
Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP)
Public Distribution System (PDS): BPL and AAY benefits


Swarnjayanti Gram Swrojgar Yojana (SGSJ)
Swarnjayanti Gramin Rojgar Yojana (SGRY)
Indira Awas Yojana (IAY)
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
Drought prone Area Development Programme (DADP)
Desert Area Development Programme (DADP)
Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC)
Accelerated Water Supply Programme (AWSP)
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NRGA)
National Rural Health Mission (NRHM)

The governmental agencies as well as individuals and institutions in the non-government sectors have got activised to ensure the speedy monitoring and implementation of these schemes and programmes which are designed to benefit the deprived sections of the Indian Society. No government irrespective of its divergent political philosophy can afford to delay or resist the pressure generated by the beneficiaries numbering in millions. It has been systematically analyzed by the experts including the team of CRRID engaged in these programmes that in next ten years time India shall be able to further bring down the present percentage of deprived sections of the Society. The failure here and there is going to manifest into a disorder, which no political party in and outside the power can afford to ignore.

The recent policy of setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) on the borders of village boundaries and outside the urban areas is a major programme to improve the skill and also provide employment through the setting up of manufacturing and other productive activities in the specified Economic zones.

In the words of the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, spoken in the Indian Parliament, “There is a vast un-cultivated field of talent lying fallow in rural areas, it is that fallow field which India is now seeding through various programmes initiated in rural areas”

Recently, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, addressing the Chief Executive Officers of the Public Sector Undertakings said, “We must recognize that today skilled labour as well as capital is internationally fully mobile. Therefore, our system of incentives has to be competitive enough to attract more capital both domestic and foreign.”

These two statements are a clear indication that underlines the resolve of leadership to strengthen the efforts which are going to be sustained with the community participation being the beneficiary of the schemes and programmes on the one hand and opening of the opportunities by the global networking being strengthened by the United Nations and its Institutions on the other.

The Government has placed huge amount of funds annually at the disposal of the State Governments and non-governmental Institutions to sustain these programmes of poverty alleviation, employment generation, infrastructure development and social security.

Furthermore, the human capital in rural areas is going to fast develop with the implementation of the following programmes.

Vocational and Universalization of Elementary Education (Education for All) (VUEE) introduced in the Nineties aimed to achieve the goal of VUEE. The Tenth Five Year Plan (India is shortly commencing the Eleventh Five Year Plan) of the Government of India emphasized on universal access, enrollment, retention and achieving high quality in education.

Second nationally important programme pertains to setting up of 10 million Information and Communication Technology (ICT) service centers across rural India. This programme has already begun. This programme is a part of the national programme for bringing information and services to the doorstep of the citizens by providing access to information backed with relevant infrastructure and services. It shall not only provide rural villagers to improve their quality of life, but also support and supplement their existing income in a sustainable way. The goal of the Common Service Centres (CSC) programme is to empower the rural community and catalyze social change through modern technologies. With a large and heterogeneous geographical area, the private and civil society sectors are expected to play an active role in development and implementation of the ICT enabled CSC across rural areas. The successful implementation of this scheme will offer economical and instantaneous access to key information and services to rural villagers across India. The information shall be available in the form of agricultural inputs, weather, commodity prices, health, tele-medicine, bill payments and bookings, data entry, digital pictures, entertainment, education and e-learning and micro-finance. (This is only illustrative list). It has been established through the launching of pilot projects that the successful implementation of this programme shall be contributing substantially in improving the quality of life in rural and urban society. These programmes are going to be and also being run by the highly educated, skilled and trained human resource who are being imparted the training through the vast network of industrial training, technological engineering and management institutions spread all over India.

The implementation of some of the programmes and schemes mentioned above is bound to reverse the process of migration of highly skilled and semi-skilled workforce back to rural India to meet its growing need.

CRRID has been engaged in research education and training of elected representatives, officials, trainers and professionals from public and private sectors who are being imparted the multi-disciplinary research education and training programmes to meet the growing need of rural as well as urban society. The research education and training progrmmes carried out by CRRID have of late been recognized and sponsored by the European Commission, UNESCO, UNDP and private donor thereby providing the opportunity for close interaction and sharing of information, knowledge and experiences between the CRRID and well-established Institutions in European Union, South and Central Asian countries. CRRID has so far trained 36800 participants and exposed them to the changing environment at home and abroad.

The 29 Subjects transferred under the 73rd Amendements to the Indian to the Indian Constitution

Letter to CRRID from Indian Prime Minister, March 16, 2007

No comments: