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75 years: Rural Bharat - Freedom from Darkness

WebdeskAug 12, 2021, 07:19 AM IST

75 years: Rural Bharat - Freedom from Darkness

                                                                                                                                                                         Nirendra Dev
No story of India in the last 74 years is complete without the story of rural India - the villages and far-flung areas.
New Delhi: India, that is, Bharat, is set to make a foray into the 75th Year of Independence.
The journey has been exemplary. There has been a sea change in more ways than one, especially in rural Bharat.
No story of India in the last 74 years is complete without the story of rural India - the villages and far-flung areas.
In the last six to seven years, the Modi government has been a change maker. The biggest contribution has been in the form of rural innovation.
The central government has encouraged exploiting of traditional rich resources. This can be understood from the Bamboo scenario in the northeast. The villagers have started getting money and work through innovation and schemes such as bamboo missions.
In Tripura, now bamboo cookies are being made with the shoots of a naturally sweet variety of bamboo.
The shoots of a local variety of Bamboo - Muli are crushed and processed before being mixed with wheat flour, butter and a few other ingredients to make these cookies.
The bamboo cookies are a brainchild of the Bamboo & Cane Development Institute (BCDI) in Tripura.
Then comes rural electrification, and this move has heralded 'freedom from darkness' - 'Andherey se Azaadi' in a real sense.
The empowering of village bodies and Sarpanches too has been an important step.
In this context, take the example of villages of 2021 in Jammu and Kashmir.
Today, people are hoping for miracles and peace; it is possible because of rural civic bodies. They are powerful, and funds are also being provided.
These are certainly out of 'conventional box' thinking, and the experiments have yielded results.
Here we have some figures. Between 2012 and 2018, the number of rural households in India with toilets has seen a quantum leap to 63 per cent from 31 to 32. During the same period, an estimated 33 per cent more households switched from cooking with firewood to cooking with gas. 
Efforts have been made to ensure strategic partnerships between the government and the public sector.
Rural jobs are crucial. This issue is also crucial as it is directly linked to migration, which again leads to pressures on urbanisation.
The 'job' is also a powerful issue both politically and socially. And here, we ought to talk about skill development and leading the population towards professions and vocations. They can do better.
It may be worth mentioning that it was fashionable for western journalists to describe India as a sleeping giant of an economy not long ago. But lately, there has been a sea change.
“By providing electricity connection to every household, my Government is illustrating the life of each person,”
said President Ram Nath Kovind in his customary presidential address to the Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament on January 31, 2019.
President has exaggerated nothing. With its mosaic of colours, contrasts, and cultures, this amazing sub-continent has leaped forward in the last few years, and rural electrification would always be hailed as a major milestone.
India, in other words, is perhaps living today–according to its deserving potentials and rural India with its illuminated villages have truly contributed to the nation's forward march on multiple fronts.
The President has also pointed out that in 2014, more than 18 thousand villages had no electricity connection.
“Today, every village has been electrified. Under 'Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana', 2 crore and 47 lakh homes have been provided electricity connection. Now India is rapidly moving on the path where every home is electrified and no poor household will be forced to live in darkness," he said.
In September 2017, the Modi government launched the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana scheme, better known as the Saubhagya scheme, to connect all households to the electricity grid. The Housing scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Gramin and cleanliness Drive Swachch Abhiyan were other game-changers. In 2011-12, there were only 11 per cent people with cooking gas supply, and it has now gone nearly 50 per cent. In effect, these initiatives and works for establishing toilets have brought transformation in multiple sectors. 
One important result is these have changed people's psyche.
Rural people have been given confidence and self-respect. These are vital, which may not be appreciated from a typical ivory tower and urban point of view.
These have helped the rural population believe that these are some of our achievements and we can achieve more.
In agriculture, again, the traditional system of cultivation has been encouraged.
This brought in results in states like Sikkim. The state's Organic Farm work has been exemplary, and now other states are trying to emulate those.
Only recently, from Nagaland's rural areas, hot green chillies have been exported to London.
Thus, when we talk about 'Naya Bharat', these are the issues the country should emphasize.
The Union Budget of 2018-19 rightly calls Bamboo the 'green gold'.
'Bamboo' is essentially a type of grass, but its classification as a tree for about a century had prevented the northeast natives from optimum use commercially.
North-East India, in effect, grows about 68 per cent of India's bamboo–a substantial, rich genetic resource.
Estimates say India has 30 per cent of the world's bamboo resources but contributes only a four per cent share of the global market.
The issue is low productivity, and here comes the significance of the Bamboo Mission launched by the Government of India.


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