Despite a continuing fall in the growth rate of India's GDP for the last several quarters there are indicators that point to a turn-around of the rural economy. Positive and long-term improvements can be seen in foodgrains production, in horticulture, dairy, poultry and fisheries, access to physical infrastructure such as electricity and roads, per-capita income of poorer states (which have a high percentage of rural population), wages of unskilled labour and growing employment in non-farm occupations due to programmes such as MUDRA. However challenges still remain in some vital sectors, such as water, marketing of fruits and vegetables, skill development, education and health.
Whereas the number of poor can be fixed simply through a sample survey, identifying them would need visiting each and every household. While Planning Commission was the official agency to estimate the percentage of population below poverty line (BPL) once in five years based on the National Sample Survey on Consumption Expenditure, a Census to identify the BPL households has been conducted by the states through the Ministry of Rural Development of the Central Government three times (1992, 1997 and 2002) in the last 25 years.
A chain, they say, is only as strong as its weakest link. How then are societies and economies grow successfully without safeguarding and strengthening their weakest members?
Welfare measures are not freebie. Hence, the policy culture must keep an effective balance between passion and compassion, to make the impact of underlying much more robust than in the sloganeering confine of 'greater common goods'.
Thirty-five year old Gomati from Mangatpur in Pilibhit has opened a bank account under Jan Dhan, but she is skeptical about its use. "There is no money in it. I am confused. What will I do with it?" she said tersely when asked about her bank account. Gomati is not alone. Hundreds of women spoke in unison at the five-day financial literacy programme conducted by Skoch Group at Pilibhit, a picturesque Himalayan plateau rich with flora and fauna, but one of the economically backward regions in Uttar Pradesh
When we talk of government services, the image of long queues, unending delays, chaotic offices and piles of paper, automatically crops in our mind. This was true for all levels of government - the Centre, the states as well as the local bodies. However, things are changing gradually for better with the use of information and communication technology. Some of the organisations have successfully transformed their way of functioning and service delivery system with the help of modern technology.
The new government has started an ambitious financial inclusion plan that aims to bring every household under the banking net by 26th January 2015. Financial inclusion has been a buzzword for quite some time.
The Prime Minister's clarion call to make the Indian textiles the biggest employer in the manufacturing sector and the second largest employer in the country after agriculture is all set to streamline the prospects of social and economic inclusion.