For the development of backward districts, a focus on quality education, health-care facilities, training/skilling in order to build capacity and empower people to compete is the need of the hour, Birender Singh, Minister for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation said today.
Speaking at the first national level Workshop on Backward District Development: Changing Discourse on Poverty Eradication, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi the Minister said that While the Government is taking steps for the development of the backward districts, the private sector/industry has a critically important role to play in this.
Urging industry/private sector to think deeply – and differently – about the definition of economics and the economic disparity that exists, he said that while data was essential and could point towards solutions, it was important to understand the situation from different perspectives to find a workable and effective solution for the issues. Farmers, for instance, he said, require support by way of infrastructure and in irrigation facilities rather than fixing the MSP for their produce. Moreover, they need to be made a more integral part of the economic activity that takes place, largely, in urban areas and given the opportunity to participate in and prosper in non-agriculture based activities as well. Today, he said, a large number of youth from an agriculture background are no longer interested in pursuing agriculture – one needs to think about the economics of the situation to address such issues.
Earlier, Manoranjan Kumar, Economic Adviser, Ministry of Rural Development, said that development requires a change in mindset and processes. He shared important data from the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011, saying that this could be used effectively for industry to plan its interventions in the development of backward districts.
Sharing the experiences of his organization in the areas of backward district development, Ramana Prasad Alam, Chief Executive Officer, Amara Raja Electronics Ltd, said that local community involvement is very important in developing backward districts. He spoke of the company’s manufacturing facilities in a notified backward district – Chittoor District in AP – and that 75 percent of their employees have a rural background, showing by example backward development initiatives that have helped transform the area. The organization has focused on affordable education, employment generation, healthcare, infrastructure development and environmental sustainability & protection, and opened educational institutions and healthcare facilities, to name a few, in the backward areas, underscoring the link between economic growth and backward district development.
SR Gupta, Executive Director, Lupin Foundation, also shared his organization’s work and experience in backward district development. He said while India is still rural, it is moving away from agriculture. He spoke of his organization’s ‘cluster-based’ approach towards development and the ‘Change India Programme’ which was launched in 2010 and how it is boosting inclusive development.