Role of IT in rural development and food security bill in India
IT, rural development and food security bill in India
Role of Information technology, IT is now all pervading. Role of IT is very important when it comes to rural development especially in a country like India. Government of India is now debating on food security bill and economists argue that rural development is an essential part of food security bill.
Food security is the most essential part of human life. Modern welfare states recognize this as part of their duty. India is a big and country with diversified population. There are rich and middle classes in India who are ready to take global challenges in economic and other fronts. However, there are large numbers of poor people. It is the duty of a government in a welfare state to take care of these have nots. Food security bill is for them.
India is an emerging economy and it is growing in very fast pace. Growth rate of Indian economy is the second highest in the world after that of China. Indian economy was previously based on agriculture. More than seventy percent of Indian population was living in the rural areas and were dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Mahatma Gandhi once said that the soul and spirit of India are living in the villages.
India has the highest number of trained and experienced IT professionals in the world. India is also leading towards having highest numbers of internet connections in the world. However, Indian information technology talents are not yet properly utilized for the rural development in India. Goal of this article is to bring awareness among Indian government, political parties and industrialists about role of information technology in rural development of India.
Change in rural scenario in India
Recent developments has changed the scenario and influenced the rural economic character of India in significant way. Growth in IT sector played a major role in changing the picture of Indian economy. Large numbers of Indian youth has attracted to Information technology and opted their career in the IT field. At early years of IT explosion, they found their way to Silicon Valley in the USA. Several Indian IT companies also find their way to become biggies. Likes of Infosys, TCS and Wipro became technical giants and stepped into international IT market. IT giants likes of Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have opened their offices in India.
These information technology companies started developing software to export in developed countries, mostly in the US and European Union. Gradually they started selling their software and other IT products in domestic market in India. These Indian companies also hired large numbers of Indian youths in IT field.
India grabbed major share of outsourced businesses from the developed countries likes of America, the US; England, France, Germany and Japan. Indian knowledge bank helped the country to increase its share in global outsourcing market.
There is a paradigm shift in the nature of Indian economy over the past few years. Agriculture used to have lion’s share in Indian economy and rural area in India had a significant contribution. Industrial growth in between sixties and nineties could decrease the share of agriculture in Indian economy. However, the affect was not too visible. Indian agriculture was also growing viz a viz to Indian industrial growth with the support of added irrigation facilities, subsidy on fertilizers etc.
Growth in IT sector during the last decade of twentieth century and the first decade of the present century had significantly changed the economic scenario. Growth in service sector has surpassed industrial and agricultural growth. This has changed the population scenario in India. Traditionally seventy percent of Indian population was living in the villages and only thirty percent in the urban areas. Huge migration has been taking place during past few years from rural to urban areas. Now almost fifty percent of Indian population is living in the urban area.
This population shift has created several new problems. Cities are overpopulated. Real estate prices are sky rocketing in Indian cities. People are bound to live in down towns. Urban poor are in distress. They not only require food security but shelters too.
Food security bill in India
Government, Food security bill and politics in India
Present UPA government in India had announced food security as their top priority in their manifesto. They were continually advocating for food security bill during their election campaigns in 2004 and 2009. Indian National Congress led UPA is ruling the central government of India. They have brought out their agenda. The government wanted to bring the bill in the present winter session of the parliament. Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, President and general secretary of the Congress party were enthusiastic about this food security bill. The cabinet met on the issue early this week. However, there were differences in opinions among the ministers. It is whispered that Sharad Pawar, agriculture minister of India opposed the bill in the cabinet. Electronic media reported that Sonia Gandhi, Congress President and UPA Chairperson is unhappy with the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on this issue.
The opposition parties in India, especially BJP blamed that the government and Sonia Gandhi are not serious on the food security bill. They blamed that the government is playing foul with delaying tactics to divert attention from Lokpal bill, another major and controversial issue in Indian politics.
Food security bill will cost 80 K....
Economists on food security bill in India
Noted economist Noble Laureate Professor Amartya Sen told that food security is essential for the welfare of general mass. He added that the essence of development in a democracy is to deliver benefits of development to the deprived people. It keeps the development wheel moving, according to Amartya Sen.
Several ministers in the cabinet and noted officials argue that Indian economy cannot bear the burden of huge subsidy required for food security bill. It will cost Indian government approximately Rupees ninety five thousand crore ($19 Billion) per year. However, economists and opposition parties are of different opinion. In their opinions, Indian economy is capable of bearing the burden. They argue that the government is spending much in other fields and why not for the rural and poor population.
Rural development, the challenge of livelihood and poverty
Hindrances to food security bill
India is self sufficient in food grains. The country is not dependent on food imports. There is enough stock of food grains in the storage of governments and private parties. However, large numbers of poor people do not have buying capacity. Hence, it is not the question of production or availability but the question of proper distribution and purchasing power. Government of India purchases huge quantity of food grains from Indian farmers and distribute these food grains. There is a large distribution channel. However, the public distribution channel is not efficient enough. Corruption and lethargy have damaged efficiency and effectiveness of this channel. This is the biggest hindrance besides the subsidy issue.
Storage is another big challenge. Food Corporation of India is lacking in the infrastructure in storage. Food Corporation of India (FCI) does not have enough space to store all food grains collected and purchased from the Indian farmers. Moreover, present capacity of storage is not properly utilized. Huge quantity of food grains are perished due to negligence and inadequate storage. India has to build an infrastructure for adequate storage.
Agriculture in India
Role of rural development in food security in India
Rural development in India can play major role in food security, according to economists. Food security bill is essentially dependent on rural development. Adequate storage facility, transportation facilities and distribution channel is needed to ensure food security. All these are closely related to Indian rural development.
Increase in irrigation facilities, proper and sufficient electric supply, proper supply of developed varieties of seeds are few of the requirements in increasing agricultural production.
IT for agriculture in India
Role of Information technology, IT in rural development
Information technology, IT can play major role in rural development of India. IT can strengthen rural education system. IT can arrange for flow of necessary information required for rural development in India. These will help achieving food security in India. Internet and communication technology can be vehicle to the same.
Numbers of internet connections are growing in very high speed in India. It covers rural India too. Websites provide useful information. The government should design and develop websites to provide more information on rural development including welfare schemes. Indian rural people (Especially youth) can post their ideas and expectations in the blogs and forums of such dynamic websites. Government can also launch eCommerce websites to promote business and boost sales in rural India.
IT hubs can run in the rural areas. Not much effort is needed to achieve that as India has already established fairly well infrastructure of telecommunications in rural areas. IT hubs can retain rural educated population in their domicile. This will also solve problems of rural migration.
Information technology can help in generating employment and increasing income in the rural sectors in India. This will increase purchasing power of the rural poor. Poverty elevation can play major role in food security in India.
Can IT help in developing rural India?
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Food security bill in India
India needs food security bill. Indian government is trying to pass the bill in Parliament.