ADDRESS AT HIMACHAL PRADESH LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
23-12-2004 : Shimla
Himachal Pradesh: Missions for Prosperity
I am delighted to be in the beautiful environment of Shimla and to get this opportunity to address the Honourable Members of the Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh. As you all know, the Assembly is an institution that gives vision for the state, evolves the legal frame-work for the policies and programmes of the states and gives directions to the lives of the people of this beautiful state, 90% of whom live in rural areas.
The political history and economic growth of Himachal Pradesh is seen to be rhythmic and closely interwoven with that of our nation as a whole. Legislative Assembly of Himachal Pradesh has witnessed and wisely guided several important phases of the State?s growth since its formation in the year 1948 integrating 31 big and small hilly principalities. In the face of many challenges from its terrain and climate various governments have placed Himachal Pradesh on a high-growth track.
I have had the occasion to address the honourable members of the legislatures of other states. As I was preparing for this visit I was thinking what I should discuss with you that is relevant to Himachal Pradesh, which has plenty of natural resources, a historical cultural heritage and hard working people. I have chosen the topic for discussion ?Himachal Pradesh : Missions for Prosperity?.
Himachal is blessed with bounty of the Himalayas, five perennial rivers, string of lakes, snow peaks, ancient shrines and brave people. Himachal is also a home to many a rare species of birds, animals and plants. We have to collectively see how we can utilize these blessings of nature for the betterment of the lives of the people of Himachal and co-live.
Our National Mission ? Challenges
Our nation is going through a major challenge of uplifting of 260 million people who are below the poverty line. They need habitat, they need food, they need health care, and they need education and employment finally resulting in a good life. Our GDP is growing at more than 6% per annum. Whereas, the economists suggest that to uplift the people below poverty line, our economy has to grow at the rate of 10% per annum consistently, for over a decade.
Integrated Action for Development
To meet the needs of one billion people whose number will further increase, we have a mission of transforming India into a developed nation. We have identified five areas where India has core competencies for integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Reliable and Quality Electric power, Surface transport and Infrastructure for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare (4) Information and Communication Technology (5) Strategic sectors. These five areas are closely inter-related and when effectively addressed, would lead to food, economic, energy and national security.
Engines for Growth
Emphasis should be on full utilization of natural and human resources of the region to meet the demands of the modern society. We should also remember that about 50% of our population is young people, with aspirations for a better life.
Value addition to Agriculture, Manufacturing and Service sectors of the economy, building on the regions? core competencies and technologies, will lead to high income growth rate and employment potential. The engines for growth will be launching of the five national missions viz. water, energy, education and skills, infrastructure and employment generation, which will enable achievement of 10% GDP growth rate per annum, sustainable for a minimum period of ten years. Developed States result in developed India. Himachal Pradesh is in the ascending phase of India?s development trajectory.
Himachal is a unique state located in altitude ranging from 450 meters to 6500 mtrs above sea level. It is veiled from the plains of Shivalik range of mountains. There is a general increase in elevation from west to east and south to north. The shivaliks consists of lower hills, these hills are composed of highly unconsolidated deposits, which causes a high rate of erosion and deforestation. Himachal has 49 cities and towns including Shimla and the urban population are less than 10% of the total population of the State. This is a unique situation, which needs the programme like PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas) for integrated development.
Goals & Strategies for Himachal Pradesh
Considering the core competence, the missions for Himachal Pradesh are: literacy, employment opportunities and affordable health-care for all, and providing comprehensive physical, electronic and knowledge connectivity. This will lead to prosperity for all by doubling the per capita income within the next five years through the use of Himachal?s core strengths, and formulation of progressive agricultural, horticultural and industrial policies towards a well developed productive environment.
Integrated Missions for Economic Development of Himachal Pradesh
Dear Members, to realize these goals, I would now like to propose nine missions for Himachal Pradesh. These are Literacy, Skills, Education and Health Care, Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas (PURA), Medicinal, Floriculture and Aromatic Plants, Intensive horticulture, Integrated Water Resource Management, hydro power generation, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), Tourism, and Value-added Garment Industry. I would like to discuss these missions in some detail with you.
Mission #1: Literacy, Skills, Education and Health Care.
I am happy to note that the literacy of Himachal Pradesh is 77% as against the all India average of 65%. This momentum should encourage and facilitate each of the approximately 50,000 college students and 4,00,000 high school students to reach out to train and educate the people who cannot read and write. Then, we shall witness a unique experiment where nearly 4.5 lakh educated population reaching out to around 14 lakh people who today do not know how to read and write. Each student will have to provide literacy to only 4 persons during a year. This will be complementary to the other adult literacy programmes. I assure you that the results will be miraculous to set the tone and start a new wave of literacy, prosperity and happiness in Himachal Pradesh.
While literacy and numeracy are essential for a citizen, they are insufficient to acquire gainful employment. Having the right and economically relevant skills, becomes critical for those who only have education upto the levels of 8th std/10th std/12th std pass. A large percentage of our young people belong to this category. They need to be trained to get into an employment or self employment. Skills can be in construction, repair, hotel work, hospital related paramedical work or retailing or as electrician or carpenter. There are several kinds of work. Modern competitive economy demands correct and quality skills. It is our duty to empower the citizen with such skills.
Value based creative Education:
Our aim is to develop human resources with value system and entrepreneurial focus, leading to arrest the tendency of school dropouts and the generation of enlightened citizens. It can be achieved through incorporation of two models of education practiced in different parts of the country. I have come across Prof. MR Raju model at Peddamiram, Beemavaram District of Andhra Pradesh, where character building commences in the age between three to five. The child learns to become creative through love and affection, hygienic practice and nutrition. In the second model, practiced by the Azim Premji Foundation, literacy improvement is achieved through accelerated learning with the help of computer-based creative content for 1st to 8th standard. Children learn by themselves using computers. Teachers, parents, School Committee members become accountable for ensuring prevention of dropouts. With the improvement in tele-education technology, it is possible to enable quality teaching to reach remote villages through a tele-education delivery system. Such a system developed indigenously has been implemented in Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the President?s Virtual Institute of Knowledge (PREVIK). Particularly, Himachal Pradesh should be interconnected with our recently launched geosynchronous EDUSAT in orbit. Also there is a need to promote education through virtual university and creation of village Panchayat knowledge centers since the people are located in hilly terrain with limited surface communication and roads.
I suggest a unique insurance model for Himachal Pradesh, where health care will be available within a short distance for each and every citizen. For providing comprehensive quality health care, we suggest citizen?s make a contribution of about Rs. 5/- per month and a matching Government contribution of about Rs. 5/-, which will lead to a Consolidated Health Fund of Rs. 72 crore per annum for the Himachal Pradesh citizens. The Government contribution is only Rs. 36 crore. Currently Himachal Pradesh Government is spending around Rs. 300 per person per month on health care. This insurance system will pave the way for every citizen of Himachal Pradesh to avail the services of any high tech hospital for treatment, which is within the purview of this insurance scheme. This unique Health Insurance Model will include an Information Communications Technology assisted Medical Advisory System and Health Awareness Education over and above quality medical and surgical treatment and services to all the people. Such a model is already in operation in the Karnataka for the 17 lakhs people. I would also recommend Himachal Pradesh to invite corporate hospitals to set up their super specialty hospital in this State supported by tele-medicine and mobile clinics so that they can, not only provide quality healthcare to Himachal Pradesh residents but also promote world class medical tourism. For mobile diagnostic clinic operating in a hilly terrain one could refer to the working of TIFAC supported Uttaranchal initiative functioning for more than a year now.
Mission #2: Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA)
I have studied about Himachal Pradesh?s terrain and the number of districts and towns. Himachal Pradesh and its regions require a unique PURA concept due to its terrain. I would recommend creation of a total of 50 PURA units. This will provide four critical connectivities between villages located in different altitudes enabling accelerated economic growth: physical, electronic and knowledge connectivity, leading to economic connectivity. I shall describe these in some detail.
These are: physical connectivity of village clusters through quality roads and transport wherever possible keeping in view the terrain condition; difficult places may have to be connected through innovative rope ways. In the long run this will become economically viable. It is essential to build in safety features even if they increase initial and operational cost. Electronic connectivity through tele-communication with high bandwidth fiber optic cables reaching the rural areas from cities and through internet kiosks; Knowledge connectivity through education, skills training for farmers, artisans and craftsmen and entrepreneurship programmes. These three connectives will lead to Economic connectivity through starting of new enterprises with the help of banks, micro credits and marketing of the products. The integrated method envisages a mission mode empowered management structure with executive powers at the local implementation levels and by reducing the transactional costs through simplification of procedures of governance.
Creating such village clusters through PURA depending upon the region and population will cost between Rs 100 to 200 crores per cluster. A single PURA will have the potential to provide employment for 2000 to 3000 people directly and nearly 6,000 people indirectly. This has to be done by creating new market driven enterprises brought in by investors. If the industrial areas particularly agro processing, special hill specific natural products (with value addition) and high value artisanal products and corporate hospitals are marketed well, they can attract investors and thus lead to local wealth generation. Corporate hospitals can also help tourism and added employment to local people. I would suggest each PURA to become a tourist centre keeping in view the special tourist attraction of the place in mind. Also each PURA can have at least one state-of-the-art corporate hospital providing complementary support to health tourism. Such value addition will also generate high value employment in tourism and medical sectors. In addition, we need to promote entrepreneurship in the rural areas and equip people with skills for their own self-employment, meeting the needs of modern economy and society. Some of these persons may also turn out to be innovators and employment generators.
Mission # 3 : Medicinal, Floriculture and Aromatic Plants:
Scented rose, Geranium, Ephedera, Podophyllum and Seabuckthorn are some of the medicinal and aromatic plants which grow abundantly and effortlessly in the Himachal environment. What we need is, we have to provide value addition to the end product through use of improved seeds/ planting material facilitating timely harvesting and preservation before despatching to the market. Also, there is a need to have centralized quality assurance laboratory services through mobile systems at remote sites so that the farmer can know the qualitative and quantitative value of his product and get the best price. A mechanism is required for making central storage and testing facilities for the farmers in the key locations so that they can export their product directly instead of handing over to middlemen at an uneconomic price.
Like horticulture, special cold area flowers can be grown and marketed for Indian metros. This would enable high value addition creating wealth for the local people.
Mission # 4: Horticulture
I would like to share my experience of one of the Units of DRDO laboratory with you located in Jhakri, Puh and Sumdo. DRDO had taken up a project on the development of horticulture involving off-season vegetable cultivation, green house vegetable cultivation, establishment of apple and almond orchards. The agricultural scientists of the laboratories imparted training to the local villagers and army Jawans (for resettlement purposes) on the cultivation of all these crops. The technological inputs provided to the farmers included improved seeds having tolerance to biotic and abiotic stress, true potato seeds, enriching the soil with organic manure, harvesting, and preservation and processing technologies. Sumdo region (cold desert) has been found suitable for cultivation of variety of vegetable crops having high productivity during off season. With improved hybrid seeds, vegetables yielded 80 tons per hectare in comparison to 20 tons with traditional seeds and conventional technology.
Another important wealth generator for Himachal is the multiplication of seeds of temperate vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, knolkhol, radish, turnip, beetroot, brussel?s sprouts, carrot etc.). Large quantity of these seeds is being imported in the country. Emphasis is to be given on hybrid seed production. Farmers who are producing the seeds are getting very remunerative prices in the national and international market. Hence, I consider that there is substantial scope for production of these seeds by many more farmers in the state. Hybrid seed production of horticultural crops can be taken on mission mode by the Himachal Pradesh Government.
I understand that Chilgoza (Pinus gerardiana) is sold in Delhi market for over Rs.600/kg, whereas if you go into interior inaccessible/inhospitable environment of high altitude of Himachal Pradesh you will get it almost free. The marketability and remuneration can reach the farmers, if only we attend to the dire need of connectivity and mobility, which is vital to the economic prosperity of the region. Also I would recommend suitable maintenance of the existing/planned roads so that they are always open for movement in the environment of landslides and avalanches. Today modern tools are available for forecasting the avalanche adequately in advance. This service is being provided by one of the DRDO laboratories located in Manali to the civil authorities on a continuous basis.
The apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh are very old and their productivity is low. There is a need for us to introduce the best variety of apple meeting the international standards in taste, appearance, preservation and long shelf life. Our apple is probably tasty, whereas it lacks colour and shape in matching the international standards. The Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Solan and ICAR Units based in Himachal Pradesh should address the problem and provide technological support to the farmers to rejuvenate their apple orchards to make them internationally competitive. This will be very essential in view of the impending enforcement of WTO regime in the New Year.
Himachal Pradesh has given the best variety of Potato to the country. The farmers are reluctant to grow these potatoes in inaccessible areas due to lack of transportation facilities.
Mushroom cultivation and processing :
Himachal Pradesh offers ideal condition for growing the export quality mushroom (Agaricus bisporus). The technology for production and processing of the button mushroom has been demonstrated at Jhakri, Pooh and Sumdo (in the tribal belt). Many of the farmers are producing the mushroom in their farms, however, they find difficulty in transporting due to the non-availability of temperature controlled containers. Also there is inadequate provision for cold storage at the airports for this perishable commodity. The problem is further aggravated due to cancellation of flights owing to inclement weather. A cooperative system supported by banking finance should enable provision of temperature controlled containers for movement and storage till dispatch to consumer market. This is applicable not only to mushroom but also to all perishable vegetables and fruits. Alternatively, we should harvest, process and package the product to international standards in the villages itself which could form part of the PURA complex. This will reduce the storage cost and increase the shelf-life of the value added products and reduce the transportation cost of wasteful element.
In summary for enhancing the quality and quantity of the horticultural products in Himachal Pradesh and enabling remunerative price to the farmers, it is essential to inject technological inputs to the farm by horticultural scientists through extension services. Innovative co-operative system of temperature controlled storage and transportation to the market, provision of agro based industries right at the production centre to reduce the cost of wasteful transportation and providing the good physical connectivity through remote areas are essential. There can be private sector partnership as well.
Mission 5: Water harvesting and Recycling
Water harvesting and water recycling should become mandatory for all villages in Himachal Pradesh. To improve water availability at various heights we should make water reservoir at multiple levels and store the water during rainy season. This will enable availability of water to all the farmers during summer months. Also it will ensure prevention of soil erosion, checking rapid rush of water to the low lying areas and creating flash floods during heavy monsoon.
Mineral Water Mission:
Himachal Pradesh can provide plenty of mineral water to other States by running a pipe line from snow line. Capturing of water, processing, transporting and packaging can generate employment for the people and generate substantial income to the State. It will also remove the scarcity of potable water in drought prone areas. This process can be done through the use of simple technology.
Mission # 6: Hydro Power Generation
India?s power generating capacity is one-lakh megawatts. For meeting the development targets till 2020 our generating capacity has to increase to three lakh megawatts. This additional power has to come from nuclear energy, hydroelectric systems, renewable energy and thermal energy. Himachal Pradesh has five rivers viz. Chenab, Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and the Yamuna flowing through it and is a rich resource of hydel power. The total estimated hydro potential is approximately 20,000 mega watts. Out of this the State is getting only less than 6,000 megawatts. I understand schemes for generating approximately additional 3000 mega watts are in various stages of execution. I would recommend commissioning of 10,000 mega watts of hydro power stations in the State. The surplus power generated can be wealth generator in addition to providing employment to technical personnel. Urgent measures are needed to reduce the distribution loss to less than 5% from the existing 25%.
Power through Municipal Waste:
Increased urbanization has led to a serious problem of accumulation of municipal solid waste in many towns and cities. Efficient and environmentally clean disposal of garbage has always been a major technological challenge. While being a threat to the environment, mounting garbage is also a rich source of energy. The potential for converting this waste into useable energy, which will eliminate a major source of urban pollution, was realized by one of our innovative organizations- Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) of DST, which helped in developing a completely indigenous solution for the processing of waste into a source of fuel. This fuel could, in turn, be used for generation of electricity through mini-plants. Already in our country two plants, which generate 6.5 megawatt electric power using municipal waste bricks, are in operation. India needs thousands of mini power plants using municipal waste. This can be replicated in Himachal Pradesh especially in city / town areas.
Mission # 7: Information & Communication Technologies
Department of Information Technology of Himachal Pradesh has the objective of
� Encouraging investments in the IT sector industries in the State.
� Facilitating the establishment of IT institutes and improving the quality of IT education in the State. and
� Using IT tools to ensure a SMART (Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent) Government.
� Also make HP a sought after outsourcing BPO destination for big companies in India and abroad.
A major mission for Himachal Pradesh could be collaborative development and production of many high technology, high value-added products like cell phones, mobile devices, handheld computers, convergent multi-media PC?s, smart cards for telephones, ID cards etc. The time is now ripe for Himachal Pradesh to enter into this growing Services sector of the national economy. This will again become a reality only if the physical connectivity of the State is reinforced.
Mission # 8: Tourism
Tourism is a major mission and has a tremendous potential for growth in this beautiful territory. The unique contribution that Himachal Pradesh has made to tourism is the preservation of pilgrim centres, architectural and civilizational heritage. The website of Himachal Pradesh Government gives some basic information about hotels and trekking routes etc, but it still does not exploit the visual power of the web. I would request the IT Savvy engineers from Himachal Pradesh to create several walk through for the best Tourist spots in Himachal Pradesh and also for the hotels and guest houses. An audio visual aid can be freely distributed for the visitors so that they can also enjoy the tours in their own privacy. What is required now is to implement the new tourism policy, a stress on product diversification and dispersal of tourism activities in far-flung areas. Additionally, health tourism can also be a part of the tourism package.
Himachal Pradesh with its unique ?tourist selling propositions? can well afford to set an ambitious target of doubling its Indian tourist inflow to 10 million per year and enhancing foreign tourist inflow to 1 million per year. This would demand thrust and additional infrastructure, and high level of training to handle the higher volume of tourism. The unique selling propositions are Global Cultural linkages, Heritage Architecture, Varieties of Indian food, Spiritual solace, Festival Celebration, Tribal Culture, Environment and Handicrafts.
India is a preferred destination for health care from many countries, because of cost-effective treatment and human touch. Himachal Pradesh should aim to emerge as a preferred destination for Health Tourism. Health centers, infrastructure and effective management structure has to be evolved through the co-operation of corporate hospitals for creating state-of-the-art facilities in the State. State Government can provide land on long lease or at concessional rates and may provide tax holidays.
Mission # 9: Value-added Garment Industry
Himachal Pradesh has an established woolen textile industry, primarily in the cottage sector. We need innovative strategies and policies for growing this sector further. The climatic condition of Himachal is most suited for the growth of Angora rabbit and Pashmina goat. Though these wool producing animals are reared in a modest way we need to provide technological inputs emerging out of local universities and institutions. For example, I understand that the inbreeding tendency in Angora has brought down the productivity of wool substantially. Same is the case with Pashmina goat. Improved male animals are required to be inducted to improve the productivity of wool. Also, there is a need to upgrade the cottage industry into small and medium scale woolen textile industry. These industries will need financial support from the banking institutions, technological support from the University and entrepreneurial support from the Corporate. To realize maximum value from the products it may be useful to consider production of woolen garments instead of selling woolen cloth or yarn.
Employment Generation through Entrepreneurship
There has been substantial growth in the Himachal Pradesh?s higher educational system and we are generating over 25,000 graduates every year, and also after 10th class and Ten-Plus-Two nearly 1,00,000 youth seek employment. However our employment generation system is not able to meet this need in full. There is a mismatch between the skills required for the modern economy and the education imparted to most of these students. In addition, economic growth and investments have not kept pace with the availability of human resources. This situation will lead to instability in the social structure. We need higher education focused on and oriented towards high value and productive employment opportunities. A three-pronged strategy is needed. The first is to make education more attractive. The second, make it skill imparting finally create employment potential ? how do we do that?
Firstly, the educational system, in addition to the regular curriculum, should highlight the importance of entrepreneurship and prepare the students right from the college education to get oriented towards setting up of the enterprises which will provide them creativity, freedom and ability to generate wealth. Diversity of skills and perseverance in work makes an entrepreneur. It should be taught to all the students. In addition, college syllabi even for arts, science, and commerce courses should include topics and practicals where such entrepreneurship is made possible. Secondly, the banking system should provide venture-capital right from every village level to the prospective entrepreneurs for undertaking new enterprises. Banks have to be proactive to support the innovative products for enabling wealth generation by young entrepreneurs, by setting aside the ?conventional tangible asset syndrome?. Definitely this involves certain amount of calculated risks, which can be eliminated by making an analysis of successful venture capital enterprises. Thirdly, there has to be an economic pull for human resources; for example, generation of marketable products and enhancement of purchasing power among the people.
The missions which I have stated above have the potential to create employment for over one lakh people of Himachal Pradesh leading to the full utilization of the human resource and sustained GDP growth.
Nine Immediate Missions
Dear Members, may I now summarize the nine important missions for your consideration and implementation for sustained prosperity and empowerment of Himachal Pradesh.
1. 100% literacy, skills and Health Care for all through Medical Insurance.
2. Establishing 50 PURA clusters.
3. Medicinal, floriculture and aromatic plants.
4. Enhanced productivity and processing of horticultural crops (fruits, vegetables, flowers, mushrooms, herbs etc.)
5. Rain Water harvesting and laying of potable water pipeline based on snow-melt water.
6. Establishment of 10,000 mega watt additional hydel power stations, which will lead to an investment of 50,000 Crores. 50 units of six megawatt each - municipal waste based power plants.
7. Promotion of ICT business to generate revenue.
8. Thrust in infrastructure for doubling of domestic tourist arrival and increasing the foreign tourist visits by a factor of six.
9. Establishing value added woolen textile industry with an export target of Rs. 1000 crores.
I have so far, given an outline of nine missions, which can propel Himachal Pradesh in the forefront of Indian economy and also be globally noticed. That naturally will make the people of Himachal prosperous and happy. In order to consolidate it, it is also necessary to arm those who produce products and services within the state with a special commercial tool required in the modern competitive business. That is to have a ?BRAND? which can win in India and in the world. That is ?Brand Himachal?. Himalayas is in the minds of everybody in the world; youngest mountain; some of the tallest peaks; serenity; spiritual heights; wisdom of the ancients; unique beauty; Sutlej and Beas; spring waters and above all, the beautiful people. Capturing all these and the modern possibilities, the state along with some private partnership should have a creative campaign for ?Brand Himachal?. It requires deployment of funds with a commercial focus. That brand is to be used not just for government operations, but anybody, any investor who wants to make Himachal his/her habitat for production or services which makes substantial value addition within the state so that its people can get high income employment.
India, as a country has to aim to be a world leader. That means, India has to be global in outlook and operations.
Let us look at our states and union territories which are big and well endowed like many well developed countries in the world. So, our states have to aim to be globally competitive. When I addressed the Legislators in Pondicherry Legislative Assembly, I suggested they can aim to become Singapore. Similarly, Jharkhand can aim to become Malaysia. Himachal can aspire to become Switzerland in economic growth, environmental and infrastructural upgradation.
Nature has given Himachal Pradesh such a beautiful atmosphere, spiritual peace, amity, unity and above all a wonderful and bountiful land. Himachal Pradesh is a natural resource rich State. What is needed is innovative policies, creation of confidence, enthusiasm and motivation among people, provide essential infrastructure in the form of connectivities and sustained hard work to achieve the development missions. Thirty three lakh youth of Himachal Pradesh are the most powerful resource to transform these missions into reality. Himachal, it is time to have a developed Himachal by 2015 and this will assist India to become a ?Developed Nation?.
My best wishes to all of you for success in these missions.
May God bless you.