ADDRESS AT THE SAIFAI MAHOTSAV
24-12-2003 : Saifai, Etawah Dist., UP
Celebrating the Progress of Villages
I am indeed delighted to participate in this inaugural function of Saifai Mahotsav. My greetings to the distinguished guests, the organisers and all the members of village community participating in this beautiful function. My special wishes to Mulayamji, Honourable Chief Minister of UP. I greet all the citizens of SAIFI and nearby villages for their happiness, health and family welfare.
The heart of India lies in its villages as there are 5,83,000 villages in our country and around 70% of our population reside in the villages. Hence the villages have to get economically developed in the country. The next less than two decades are very important for India for transforming from a 'developing' country to a 'developed' nation. The development of the villages is the foundation for the national progress.
PURA - (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Amenities)
To achieve this vision and the progress, I would like to share with you some thoughts on possible missions. For bridging the rural-urban divide and achieving balanced socio-economic development, the government has announced the Rural Development Programme called PURA - Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas. It involves identification of rural clusters with growth potential and creating four types of connectivities for them:
(i) Road, transportation and power connectivity
(ii) electronic connectivity in the form of reliable telecom, Internet and IT services
(iii) knowledge connectivity in the form of good educational and training institutions, and
(iv) Economic connectivity that would enable kisans and others to get the best prices for their produce in the market created in the village complexes.
As a beginning, the Government has decided to implement the PURA strategy in 5,000 rural clusters out of 25,000 possible clusters across the country in the next five years. But the success of this ambitious programme lies in the collaborative efforts and active participation of all the villagers through their panchayats.
PURA task profile
PURA is designed to benefit the village community as a whole. Different connectivities are designed for economic development of villages. This will enable the village community to get better education, better healthcare facilities, good sanitation facilities, good physical connectivity, good communication facility, without disturbing the civilizational heritage. It will help them to get all the urban amenities in their villages. The economic development will be realized through improved agriculture and producing value added agro products through agro-processing industries and determining the core competence of the village, both in raw materials and skills and develop cottage and small industries through technological input. It will also involve establishment of market system with infrastructure to store grains, chilling plants for preserving milk and vegetables and food processing units. All this will enable generation of employment potential for the village community.
Vocational training will also be provided through setting up institutions for enhancing productivity and product quality. Formation of village cooperatives will enable direct marketing of the products to big marketing centers and realize better prices. The electronic connectivity will enable the villagers to know the updated prices of the commodities so that the villagers are not paid low for the agricultural production. The PURA can be funded by government and non-government agencies in partnership with industry, banks and educational institutions located in the region. The entrepreneurs for PURA will be generated by the universities who will create enterprises in the region which will provide employment potential to the village community. The village panchayat should cooperate with these agencies for making the programme a success. They can give ideas; they can give the core competence of the village and also state where the skills lie. They can help the executive authorities in the routing of physical connectivity and creation of electronic connectivity nodes. Some of the PURA projects will be fully funded by the Government and others could be funded by NGO's, NRI's and entrepreneur who will be setting up their enterprises in the region. The State government should take this task in a mission mode and be a facilitator.
In addition to economic development and educational progress of the children and youth, it is also important to promote sports and cultural activities to generate holistic personalities. Each one of our villages is rich in certain cultural activities such as the folk dances, folk music, village theatre and certain talents in sports. This area needs development to promote the cultural heritage of the village. The application of modern technology for these arts and sports can lead to acceptability by the tourists. Also some of the sportspersons can excel and become national / international winners.
Uttar Pradesh has around hundred thousand villages. It is one of the three states which have shown substantial progress in agriculture and also growth in information technology in few urban centres. I would suggest the Honourable Chief Minister to undertake three immediate missions for Uttar Pradesh:
1. Women's education index is relatively low. It has to be enhanced in mission mode. Women's education normally results in the birth of a small family. This mission can be carried out with the support of large young population especially the students. Each one of them can teach few persons those who cannot read and write. This should be in addition to the normal adult education programme.
2. Food processing, Food storage and preservation have to be given highest priority for providing value addition to the end product and market stability for agricultural produce. Technology has to play a role in making it cost effective. This is essential for bringing happiness to the farmers.
3. UP has a tremendous tourist potential with heritage centres, historical monuments and the Ganges in the background. Tourism can be a wealth generating industry of the state. Thrust is needed to develop infrastructure such as road, air, power, habitat and electronic connectivity urgently to attract tourist in large numbers.
When Uttar Pradesh can continuously give six Prime Ministers to India and many political leaders, I am sure you can also develop the state to be the number one state in the country by having vision, mission and the goals. My best wishes.