A miniscule percentage of Indians amassed wealth in the past two decades of globalization when the majority was suffering amid a maze of statistics produced by political economists about economic growth.
According to the Global Strategic Consultant Gallup, the average suffering in India has more than doubled between 2006-2008 and 2010-2012. In 2012, a full quarter of India was suffering. People’s suffering was the main reason UPA was routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. In an attempt to improve the quality of life, the NDA government has launched a record number of programs: Digital India, Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachata Abhiyaan, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Skill India, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Read India, Make in India and Housing for all by 2018 etc. In fact, the social sector programs and relief packages can only give temporary relief to people. But, for long term solution, the educational institutions have to necessarily create hardworking, honest, disciplined and sensitive youth with a sense of belongingness to the nation. Without inculcating finer human virtues namely love, compassion, courage, pity and valor in the minds of people, no nation can remove human suffering.
The 2015 summer heat in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana has already killed more than 2200 innocent people. Cutting down of millions of trees from both sides of roads in a rowdy approach to infrastructure development, disappearance of lakes, ponds, water bodies and potable water attribute to the death of innocent people across the country. Every year thousands of people die in heat or cold wave. In order to reduce the impact of summer heat, the NDA government should make replantation of old trees compulsory on both sides of the newly constructed roads. The state governments can plant neem, bel, tamarind and mango trees on both sides of the newly constructed roads for revenue generation.
There are hundreds of minor forest products namely honey, cane, bamboo, precious wood, lac, fruits, edible herbs, gums, medicinal plants and horns etc which can fetch good income for tribal community if followed by transparent supply chains. Indian forest sector can easily meet the basic needs of millions of tribal. In the recent past, forest brigand Veerapan had killed 20000 elephants and smuggled out ivory and sandal wood worth thousands of crores of rupees from Karnataka and Tamil Nadu forest in connivance with politicians. There are many Veerapans still roaming in the Indian forest. To counter this problem, a well thought out forest development policy backed by dedicated monitoring of its implementation will generate employment and dissolve the Naxal ideology.
India is a treasure trove of export quality farm products. Large size areca nut and oil rich coconut of Andaman Nicobar islands, Cashewnut of Berhampur, fine indigenous variety of Basmati rice of Odisha and Jammu region, a wide range of horticulture products of Maharashtra, dry fruits and the rare white honey of Kashmir, the pine apple of Meghalaya and a wide range of fruits and food grains from different regions can make Indian farmers rich. There is need for a well thought out policy to protect and preserve the rare indigenous species of food crops from extinction.
Muskbudit, Kamath, Zag rice varieties and Ambar apple of Kashmir, indigenous variety of basmati rice of Odisha and many other crops from different regions have become extinct. There has been huge bio diversity loss due to monocropping( an agricultural practice in which the same crop is planted year after year), unscientific agriculture practices, poor input management, mindless farm mechanisation and gene corruption etc. During British rule, famines happened mainly due to commercial plantation of tea, tobacco, indigo and cotton. Even after independence Indians have continued the practice of mono which has led to huge bio diversity loss.
Vidarbha farmers’ crisis is mainly due to cotton crop which has spilled over to 70 % of the total crop area. Farmer suicide in Odisha is rare because the villagers still get many kinds of edible herbs, shrubs, local fruits and vegetables from the surroundings.
Bio diversity loss is one of the reasons for the hunger and malnutrition in India.
As per the recent Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) report India has an estimated 194.6 million undernourished people – the highest in the world. There is need for dedicated research and documentation of biodiversity which could help preserve large number of indigenous food grains, fruits, vegetables, edible herbs and shrubs. There is no dearth of agriculture scientists, agriculture graduates and planners in the country, but there is lack of commitment in implementing sustainable agriculture practices.
In a major HR initiative, the government has introduced discipline, moral science, indigenous sports, art, craft, music and lessons on patriotism in schools with the objective of building a few generations of committed, morally and physically strong people who can overcome the conflict of interest situation and serve the national interest.
Practical experience is the most precious input for planning and development. For example, if a leader practically experiences the problems faced by millions of rail passengers daily, he can only strike the right chord. Rail travel gives an opportunity to political representatives to understand the common man’s problems. There are multiple ways for the public representatives to establish link with common man in order to build trust. If political leaders travel in their constituencies and interact with all sections of people they could make substantial contribution to growth.
Mahatma Gandhi after returning from South Africa travelled the length and breadth of the country for about five years. He discovered the villagers’ huge potential in making the finest quality of handloom, handicraft and other cottage industry products which were ruthlessly destroyed by the British government. Gandhiji’s Swadeshi movement saved some of the indigenous skill from extinction. Today the handicraft export still grows at 10% per annum. In the mythology, Lord Ram and the Pandavas wandered in villages, towns, hills and forest for years together to know the condition of their countrymen which helped them establish good governance. While cautiously treading through global traps and opportunities, its time Indians should make an attempt to rediscover their potential to be on the growth path.
Sudhansu R Das