Working towards a better India
As a Member of the Empowered Committee on the “Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Implementing a Priority Programme”, I recently had the opportunity to review some of the excellent work done by our district administrations. They have done sterling work in four main areas of incremental development--Soil Health Card scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachh Vidyalaya and Swachh Bharat Gramin. These programmes have witnessed a lot of progress.
The Soil Health Card scheme has provided rural communities with an opportunity to receive expert assistance in assessing soil productivity and enhancing its quality. Such a scheme seeks to gradually support the government’s recent budget announcement that farmers’ income could double within the next five years. Decades ago, India witnessed the ‘White Revolution’ that revolutionised milk production. Similarly, the Soil Health Card scheme has ushered in a ‘Brown Revolution’ that will enhance India’s soil productivity and food security in the coming years.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, financial literacy, women’s emancipation, insurance coverage and a broad monetary accountability have been established. This has empowered rural communities. It has also has made it possible for the last-mile delivery of state-sponsored schemes. Suffice to say, the scheme has initiated a strong ‘monetary revolution’ in the country.
The Swachh Vidyalaya scheme has established clean toilets in schools. More significantly, it has ushered a ‘sanitary revolution’ by way of inculcating the spirit of cleanliness among children. For the girl student, this has been an endeavour to guard her honour. It is a silent revolution, which is firmly establishing a foothold in the most important sector of our young generation.
Under Swachh Bharat Gramin, cost-effective toilets have been constructed in rural areas with adequate water supply and complete waste management. These structures have subdued the habit of open defecation among our masses. This is a scheme of fundamental importance to our national life and is a part of the ‘sanitary revolution’.
There is substantial data to support such claims on all these schemes. To this observer, these schemes and their enthusiastic implementation have begun to change India from within. I am particularly encouraged by the fact that women administrators have excelled in programme implementation. They deserve recognition and professional rewards.
What is far more important is that the achievements of these processes are adequately publicised. People’s representatives, social change agents, media, publicity machinery, political workers and relevant governmental entities should be effectively engaged in spreading the message of this success in order to motivate all relevant stakeholders in this country.
These days, the media and our citizens are usually engaged in sensational news, rather than in the dissemination of information on positive development. This situation needs to change. A campaign needs to be sustained for this purpose, regardless of political considerations. Bringing national and international visibility to this foundational change will go a long way in transforming India into a clean, productive and socio-economically vibrant country. And a proper dissemination of positive information will also motivate those who are lagging behind in these schemes.
The Government of India should initiate a well-structured campaign to publicise this ‘silent revolution of soil, sanitation and social security’ among the masses. These programmes have taken India on the path of achieving its Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 MDG agenda, thereby heralding a new era of rural resurgence. Our national and international campaigns should highlight these aspects, as well as the role played by women administrators in this direction.
(The author is Chairman, Khadi & Village Industries Commission. Views expressed are strictly personal)