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5 Point Program

Introduction

   There is a large overlap of programs initiated by the Central Government through the Planning Commission with the programs of the State governments, resulting duplication waste and an overburdening of administration.  It is estimated that a DC/DM in a district is the overall incharge of 350 different programs, of which about 1/3rd are specifically meant for the poor. Given the pathetic governance in most States, Cities and Districts, it is impossible to do justice to even a tenth of these programs.  To focus the limited governance resources we need to focus on and achieve a limited number of vital objectives that will benefit the entire public.  Based on inter-state research, these 5 public goods and services that would have the maximum impact on the Welfare of the public, including the poor and Scheduled Tribes (the most identifiably disadvantaged group).

1. National Road Grid

Roads are both literally and figuratively the pathways to the growth of agriculture, services and industry and thus to jobs.  Connect every village (habitation), town and city with all-weather, paved/ metaled roads of specified standard in 10 years.  Road connectivity is particularly important in the poorer States and remote, hilly or inaccessible regions, where growth has not picked up.  The existence and quality of the roads should be monitor able by a web enabled information system.

Remove controls and restrictions on trade and transport at the State and local level.  Plan for the provision of land on the sides of district roads and at road junctions so that economic activity, such as trade, hotels, restaurants and repair facilities can spring up without impeding the flow of traffic. Plan National and State highways keeping in mind that underpasses and/or parallel local roads may have to be built in many places as economic activity springs up on the sides.

2. Public Health & Planning

For every town, plan and install a modern drainage, sewerage and water supply system with water works, sewage treatment plants and garbage disposal sites.  The impact in terms of economic activity, health and nutrition can be enormous.  Help develop consultancy firms that can Plan and organize such systems and organizations that can compete with each other to build these systems across the country.  Once 100% coverage of towns is attained, extend the planning effort to semi-urban areas (census towns) and villages in co-operation with Panchayti Raj institutions and NGOs. 

Allow and encourage private entrepreneurs to build hundreds of new townships / towns in semi-urban, semi-rural areas.  Connect these to the nearest highway and water-supply mains.  Scrap expropriatory sections of the Rent control act(s) and corresponding rules and procedures, so that the private sector can build and provide rental accommodation for the lower middle class and the poor.


    Public (health) education about basic health, hygiene(germs) and nutrition (nutritional foods) is vital public function of govt.

3. Basic Education and Skills

Universal Primary education is too readily identified with universal enrollment and low drop-out rates, rather than the ability to count, read, write and explain at the primary completion level.  Before declaring victory and moving on to target universal secondary education we must ensure that every young person (25 or below say) meets the global standard of Primary education. Central Government must set up testing, standards and certification systems that can determine if these standards have been met. Central govt. can also help develop and propagate E-learning techniques and methods, that can also substitute for teacher absent ism and complement less trained teaching staff.

 The only way to ensure learning is to empower every youth with a debit card, which allows him/her to purchase primary education from any school including any government school.  The set of authorized uses of the debit card will be fully funded by the State governments under whose constitutional jurisdiction school education falls.  The funding of the government school and part of the administrators / teachers’ pay must be linked to the total debit card receipts (monthly fees paid through the debit card).   These schools must also be graded by independent education rating agency(s), relative to the private schools, so that students/parents have the information to make choices.

Every youth, rural or urban, after completing primary education must also have access to the six thousand or so globally identified skills.  This requires a massive joint effort by government, NGOs and private skill providers.  Government must set up a framework for testing and certification of these job skills and ensure its integrity.  It must also provide funding for the poor, while all possible private and foreign expertise and experience is attracted to India to provide training in all these skills in the next five years.

4. Telecom Connectivity & Mobile banking

The USO fund must be used to ensure that the mobile footprint covers 99% of India in the next five years.  Open access to physical infrastructure and land lines (including telegraph and electricity wires) and fibre optic networks must be ensured in rural areas for attaining universal access to internet in the next 10 years.

The mobile network must be leveraged by RBI to lift restrictions on a Universal Unique ID (UID) based, mobile banking accounts system for the poor.  Internet system must be leveraged for provision of education, training, health, agricultural development and comprehensive e governance and public expenditure monitoring (PAIS).

5. Water Management

   There is an urgent need to improve the comprehensiveness and quality of water planning and management at every level (Centre, State, district, town, panchayat, and smallest farmer).  Water harvesting, watershed development, recharge of water bodies and aquifers, must be planned and implemented in every nook and corner of the country. Education and demonstration of models with the active participation of NGOs can play an important role.  Dams and canals have a place in cutting down the flow of water into the sea, recharging aquifers and supplying dry areas and parched towns.  Tube wells in depleting aquifers must be discouraged through proper pricing of electricity and perhaps even the pricing of water coupled with grant of per farmer water credits.  In regions (such as Eastern India) drainage systems are as, if not more, important than irrigation systems for improving agricultural productivity. In drier regions and regions where ground water aquifers are depleting at a dangerous pace, subsidies on water intensive crops eliminated, water must be priced and  'drip irrigation' & other water saving techniques introduced urgently.
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