Thursday, August 06, 2015

How Narendra Modi Can Achieve Kalam's Vision 2020?

Do you often ask, with all the manpower and resources why India is yet to be a developed nation? It is the same question the late former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had asked. Along with 500 experts, he made a blueprint of the road to development. Aside from all the jet-setting and speeches, PM Narendra Modi could take a few pointers from the Missile Man.

Dr Kalam noted 5 areas of importance - agriculture and food processing; Infrastructure electrification; Education and Healthcare; Information and Communication; Technology and Industry.
Those of you who have gone beyond Flipkart pricing and Facebook quotes to actually read a bit about this highly-motivated, humanitarian legend and his ideas, you will realise that we are very much off-track.

It is for sure a long and lengthy process and should be seriously deliberated. These 8 steps will get us started on making Kalam’s Vision 2020 a reality:

Irrigation Irritation – Well it seems like every year part of India gets flooded. Mumbai literally goes under water yet Maharashtra’s drought scene remains unabated. Farmers continue to kill themselves year after year. Either there is too much water or none at all. Until proper irrigation is implemented, rain will be erratic, crops will continue to fail and farmers will continue to incur debts.

Leaky Cauldron – I asked the sabjiwali, “Why do prices shoot up every monsoon?” The old lady shook her head, pointed her finger and stabbed out the words, leaking warehouses spoil fresh produce. First of all there are far lesser storage facilities than needed. But even those which are standing are dirty, ramshackle and rat-infested. Forget temperature-controlled, insulated rooms in developed countries, in India if it’s not leaking it’s a miracle.

Meddlesome Middlemen – This is a classic case of government inaction. Middlemen are the reason why the farmers are underpaid and consumers over-charged. They hoard and stock up and regulate the flow in a free market. Everybody knows it, and like ostriches with their bald heads tucked into the sand during a storm, the ministers refuse to address the issue. After all, there are cartels and votebank involved. These middlemen, they are a menace, enough said.

Dil hai NOT sunny – Dr Kalam paid special emphasis to solar energy, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. India falls in the tropics. Hot is an understatement when hundreds of people die due to heat waves. The most sensible thing is to harness solar energy. Yet we are still bringing out tenders for coal fields, destroying forests and dislocating tribal. And if you haven’t noticed, our country is surrounded by seas. And lots of mountains. Lots of them. Desert too. Wind, water, sun – just saying you know.

E for Education – What else can we say that hasn’t been said before? Education is one of the strongest pillar of development. Every child should be entitled to it. Illiteracy is the single-most incriminating factor in lack of progress. More schools and better quality of education is a must. Better yet, free and compulsory primary education and merit-based scholarships in higher education should be considered.

The Bitter Pill -- If one has stepped into a government-run hospital, it is an experience you will not easily forget. The lack of hygiene, careless attendants, rampant bribery and obsolete tech will make you wonder if the government at all cares about saving lives. But most importantly, villagers have to travel hours for treatment. More number of hospitals, with proper medical professionals and care, not quackery, would definitely go a long way in easing the pressure and improve healthcare.

Research un-benefit: Indian PMs have over the years lamented brain drain from the country, but concrete steps have been taken? Developed nations make research and post-doctoral studies lucrative, with enough pay packages to compete with corporate offers. Our researches hardly get enough benefits, few labs in the country have proper equipments and few of us appreciate the effort made by our scientists. TV shows talk about singers and dancers and they have become our Idols now, season after season.

Tech troubles: The crux of the matter is, we need to stop buying and start inventing. There used to be a time when Indian physicists and engineers were world famous for their inventions. Now we spend an obscene amount of money to buy weapons and jets from other countries. Spend that amount on our own scientists and R&D, the world will come to us.

Five years to meet these benchmarks is a tough call but can we at least get started? Mr Modi there is a lot of work to be done, some of us are keeping a watch and the clock is ticking. 

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