One of the main speakers, P.V. Indiresan, argued that although the Government of India promoted inclusive growth through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and waivers of farm loans, there was a risk that the resultant increase in incomes may vanish if the schemes were withdrawn.

Reflecting a new impetus for work in the area of climate change by non-governmental organisations, the India Development Coalition of America (IDCA), a network of non-profit organisations based in the United States, held a regional conference here on the mitigation of climate change and inclusive development in India.

During the conference, held this week at the Johns Hopkins University, discussants covered a range of relevant development policies urgently needed in India. These included education, healthcare, and welfare services as well as grassroots capacity-building that was essential to mitigate the impact of climate change on the poor.

One of the main speakers was P.V. Indiresan, Professor Emeritus, Former Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a Padma Bhushan awardee, who argued that although the Government of India promoted inclusive growth through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and waivers of farm loans, there was a risk that the resultant increase in incomes may vanish if the schemes were withdrawn.

Professor Indiresan noted that therefore, there was a need to give the poor the right to employable skills, modern shelter with running water, sanitation, electricity and affordable modern transport. This would lead to better access to schools, hospitals, markets and jobs for the poor, he said. He further urged that government policy “should be to establish where land is available cheap for businesses to create “export” jobs plus modern housing as well as mass transport”.

Participants share experiences

Participants and practitioners also shared their experiences across a range of organisations. Neha Misra, IDCA Renewable Energy Programme Advisor, discussed insights from IDCA’s community solar project, aimed at bringing the benefit of solar light to over 40 villages near the town of Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh.

Experts from other NGOs, such as Kewal Likhyani of Crush Poverty Now, discussed a bottom-up approach to creating self-sustaining communities and local capacity in rural areas. The focus on capacity building was also underscored by Jay Sehgal of the Institute of Rural Research and Development, who touched upon efforts to undertake rural research and improve village governance.