As India celebrates its Independence Day, here is some good reading.
President Abdul Kalam wrote in the Indian Express yesterday about empowering rural India:
A new situation is emerging in India. Very rarely in history have we come across such a constellation: an ascending economic trajectory, rising foreign exchange reserves, reducing inflation rates, global recognition of technological competence, energy of 540 million youth, umbilical connectivities of 20 million people of Indian origin abroad, and the interest shown by developed countries to invest in our engineers and scientists, including in new R&D centres.
Governments have been emphasising economic development by ensuring growth rates of seven-eight per cent annually, enhancing the welfare of farmers and workers and unleashing the creativity of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers. This opportunity must be fully utilised to bridge the rural-urban divide, using knowledge as a tool.
This discussion will be in five parts. The first part cites experiences with knowledge centres working in the country. The second part presents a case for Village Knowledge Centres in relation to the integrated development of rural areas through PURA.
The third part deals with examples of PURA in action. The fourth part presents the working domain services for effective knowledge acquisition to the PURA complexes. The final part consolidates the flow chart of data needed for farmers, fishermen and the entire rural population in an integrated way for sustainable development.
In an address to the nation, he called for energy independence:
Noting that the barrel cost of oil has doubled within a year, the President called for an economy which will function well with total freedom from oil, gas or coal imports.
Energy independence has to be our nations first and highest priority. We must be determined to achieve this within the next 25 years. Terming this as a national mission that must be formulated, the President urged that funds be guaranteed and leadership entrusted without delay.
In fact, Kalam did not limit it to the goal of energy security. Rather the goal he defined was energy security as a transition to total energy independence for which he outlined a detailed roadmap, even going into the potential savings the country could make through increased efficiency.
Writing in the Indian Express, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called for an open democracy and open economy:
Open societies enable the full flowering of our individual personality. Open economies provide the space for the fruition of our creativity and enterprise. Open societies and open economies empower those who live and work in them. Being an open democratic society and an open economy empowers India. Provision of effective social safety nets for the weak and needy will ensure that all sections of our population will participate in processes of social and economic growth, making for a more inclusive society.
India is fortunate to have such articulate people at the top. Now, if only others would get out of the way and let them lead…