By: Dr. J.S. Yadav
NEW DELHI: With Lockdown in context of Covid-19 virus the air in cities is cleaner and healthy and is widely appreciated by all. But it has shattered the economy and brought miseries for millions of migrants and casual labour. The pandemic is an awakening call for both developing and the developed countries. In India, the pandemic specially has brought to the front the inadequacies of our health infrastructures and the divide between urban middle class and the urban poor living in slums and on the road. The tryst with Covid has exposed the fault lines in our development models and approach and has re-emphasised the need for self-reliance especially in developing health system.
As a matter of fact, self-reliance was the corner stone of planned development and progress with equity and social justice as reflected in India’s development plans since Independence in 1947. In the first Five Year Plan itself various programs and schemes were initiated to strengthen national unity, scientific temper, development and progress toward building a modern nation state. For this, the common people were to be informed about though all possible means of communications so as to seek their willing cooperation and support.
Since then, enormous development and progress have been made. The lives of the poor have noticeably improved but inequalities have also increased manifold. India opted for democracy based upon universal adult franchise that is equality in matters of voting rights. But, the social inequalities not only persist, are becoming increasingly unbearable and hence anger, violence and even migration to big cities not only for livelihood but also for escaping indignities under traditional caste system.
In the circumstances, Prime Minister Narender Modi’s vision and goal of Sab Ka Vikash, Sab Ka Sath and Sab ka Viswas is laudable and the whole country stands behind him as was evident from the response by the public at large to his calls for specific actions during the lockdown period.
In the post Covid era the business could not be as usual. Rapid industrialization, urbanization and consumerism can no more be the indicators of development and progress. Gandhian philosophy and thoughts would be more relevant in post Covid world. There is sufficient for everybody’d basic needs but not for their insatiable wants. The development models that were followed for many decades failed to meet the basic human needs of food security, shelter and water (roti, kapda aur makan) especially of the poor and marginalized, and provide them quality education, health and banking services. To mitigate these, former President Dr Abdul Kalam suggested provision of urban facilities in rural communities.
Earlier with beginning of development journey in India community development programs were launched and village was considered as an independent republic and as a unit to be developed. To strengthen this approach, The Ford Foundation in late 60s and early 70s piloted the concept of ‘Growth Centres’ as emerging focal points of economic, education, health and social activities among a group of villages. As during those days connectivity among villages was poor the concept did not work.
However, since then connectivity of rural India has been transformed beyond recognition. Mettle roads connect almost all villages. Motor vehicles replaced ‘tongas’ (remember the film Nayadaur).Telephone connection, once a privilege and status symbol, is now in hands of a maid, shoe-mender or a vegetable seller in streets. A large number (in lakhs) of bank accounts are said to be opened under PM Jandhan Yojana Online transactions have taken over social, political, economic and cultural landscape in India.
With enormously enhanced connectivity ‘Growth Centres’ concept need to be revisited, planned and encouraged to slow down the race for industrialization, urbanization and growth of mega /monster cities. Instead, there is need for mushrooming of ‘Growth Centres’ across the length and breadth of the country where people get quality education, health and banking services and security of Roti, Kapda aur Makan in their respective villages. With available IT (information technology) and enormous connectivity it is possible to do so now and save the environment and the human race.
Dr. J. S. Yadav is former Director of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and is Founder Chairman of International Media Institute, Gurugram, Haryana NCR