Social and economic development of underdeveloped & developing countries bringing about an equitable growth eradicating the poverty, hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy and providing the poor better livelihood options...
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If educated youth choose to live in villages and launch the new agriculture movement based on the integrated application of science and social wisdom, our untapped demographic dividend will become our greatest strength.
During his recent visit, President Barak Obama pointed out that India is fortunate to have a youthful population with over half of the total population of 1.2 billion being under the age of 30. Out of the 600 million young persons, over 60% live in villages. Most of them are educated. Gandhiji considered the migration of educated youth from villages to towns and cities as the most serious form of brain drain affecting adversely rural India’s development. He therefore stressed that we should take steps to end the divorce between intellect and labour in rural professions.
The National Commission on Farmers stressed the need for attracting and retaining educated youth in farming. The National Policy for Farmers placed in Parliament in November 2007, includes the following goal– “to introduce measures which can help to attract and retain youth in farming and processing of farm products for higher value addition, by making farming intellectually stimulating and economically rewarding”. At present, we are deriving very little demographic dividend in agriculture. On the other hand, the pressure of population on land is increasing and the average size of a farm holding is going down to below 1 hectare. Farmers are getting indebted and the temptation to sell prime farm land for non-farm purposes is growing, in view of the steep rise in the price of land. Over 45% of farmers interviewed by the National Sample Survey Organisation want to quit farming. Under these conditions, how are we going to persuade educated youth, including farm graduates, to stay in villages and take to agriculture as a profession? How can youth earn a decent living in villages and help to shape the future of our agriculture? This will require a three-pronged strategy.
-Improve the productivity and profitability of small holdings through appropriate technologies and market linkages.
-Enlarge the scope for the growth of agro-processing, agro-industries and agribusiness.
-Promote opportunities for the services sector to expand in a manner that will trigger the technological and economic upgradation of farm operations.
Small and marginal farmers should be helped to liberate themselves from the stranglehold of moneylender and should be given priority for accessing low cost credit.
Post 1990 India has emerged as one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Its GDP growth rate of about 9% in the last few years is historically unparalleled except by our neighbour China. With rapid economic and social growth, however, new challenges emerge as also new growth strategies. For sustainable economic development, the crucial agricultural sector has to grow at a consistent 4% growth rate to GDP. Given the fact that 60% of our farming is monsoon dependent, ensuring consistent growth in food production is a major challenge, especially in wake of global warming and consequent climatic changes.
Credit has a very important role to play in supporting agricultural production and investment activities. The total credit flow to agriculture during the 10th Five Year Plan was expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.38%, as against the CAGR of 18.63% achieved during the 9th Five Year Plan. However, although the total agricultural credit has increased during the last six years, there are serious quantitative as well as qualitative concerns. The poor outreach of the formal institutional credit structure is a serious issue that needs to be corrected expeditiously. The findings of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 59th Round (2003), reveal that only 27% of the total number of cultivator households received credit from formal sources while 22% received credit from informal sources. The remaining households, comprising mainly small and marginal farmers, had no credit outstanding. Comprehensive measures aimed at financial inclusion in terms of innovative products and services to increase access to financial services and institutional credit, are required. Other issues such as ensuring credit flow to tenant farmers, oral lessees and women cultivators, complex documentation processes, high transaction costs, lack of availability of quality inputs across all regions, inadequate and ineffective risk mitigation arrangements, poor extension services, weak marketing links and sectoral and regional issues in credit are also required to be addressed expeditiously. The lack of rural credit bureaus also delays the process of sanction of agricultural loans as there is need to reduce loan risk and documentation procedures.
The Parliament of India passed the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act on the4th of August 2009, making education a Fundamental Right for every child in the country. The historic legislation underlines the obligations of the central and state governments for providing free and compulsory education to every child between the age of six and fourteen. Let us look at the basic provisions of the Act :
What does the Act provide ?
The Act provides that every child between the age of six and fourteen shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of elementary education, that is up to class eight. If a child is not admitted to school at the age of six he or she can seek admission even later on in a class appropriate to his/ her age, and will be entitled to free training to ensure that he is at par with his class. No child can be denied admission, expelled or held back before completing elementary education, and will continue to get free education even beyond the age of fourteen if he does not complete elementary education within that age.
What are the respective obligations of the Centre, States, local governments, schools and parents under the Act ?
The Central Government shall develop a framework of national curriculum , enforce standards for training of teachers and provide necessary technical support and resources to the State Government for promoting innovations, researches, planning and capacity building.
The State and local Governments shall ensure compulsory admission, attendance and completion of elementary education by every child of he age of six to fourteen years; ensure availability of a neighbourhood school , ensure that the children belonging to weaker section and disadvantaged groups are not discriminated against , provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning equipment; ensure good quality elementary education, provide training for teachers, and monitor the working of schools.
This comment by Stanley Fischer, the former Managing Director of the IMF is quoted by Thomas Friedman in his book ‘The World is Flat’ and perhaps best summarises a general perception that while there is no dearth of expert opinion on what should be done in the primary education sector, it is now time to look at examples of what has actually worked to analyse the reasons for this and to suggest how best these can be replicated elsewhere. The schools run by the Government of Delhi for instancehave undergone a radical transformation in the past few years from a system which was onceconsidered one of the worst in the country to one which is now undoubtedly one of the best. Drab, dull, ray and dirty buildings are giving way to bright, cheerful, clean ones with functional toilets anddrinking water for all children. Teacher absenteeism, which used to be among the highest in India, hasbeen almost wiped out and all teachers now reach their school on time and remain there for the fullschool day. All financial benefits such as that for school uniforms and all supplies such as text booksreach each and every child and there is no diversion. Classroom teaching has undergone an amazingchange with the introduction of joyful methods of teaching particularly for the primary classes, and allDelhi Government school children are learning to speak English just like all “other” children. In fact,short video clips showing the impact of the English language training imparted to school teachersunder an arrangement with the British Council can be viewed at the Education Department’s official websitewww.edudel.nic.in. The smart children shown there creating stories in class from English words given to them by their teacher are all primary students in Standard V in Delhi Government Schools. The achievements are reflected in the fact that the overall enrolment in all classes increased by 20% in justthree year period till 2008. More significantly the Government took a major decision at the start of theacademic year in April 2009 to increase the number of seats available in all Delhi Government School (DGS) in primary classes by a huge 10 % in order to accommodate the increasing number ofapplications received for admissions. A substantial number of the new students are coming fromprivateschools within Delhi and adjoining areas in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, or are children who would otherwise have gone to a private school but for the visible improvements in DGS. In fact, the nationalmedia, undoubtedly one of the hardest to please, have carried front page articles on how DGS are now aviable alternative to private schools, a far cry indeed from just a few years ago when even the PlanningCommission suggested that we hand over all our schools to the private sector or NGOs as we justcouldnot run them”.