Mission hunger-free India "off the track," says Swaminathan
CHENNAI: Mission 2007's objective to set up knowledge centres in 6,00,000 villages by 2007, the 60th anniversary of country's independence, will be achieved, said M.S. Swaminathan, chairman of the MSSR Foundation and Mission chairperson.
In his presidential address at the 16th Foundation Day of the MSSRF, Prof. Swaminathan said the objective was to facilitate and accelerate through multi-stakeholder collaborations, the provision of knowledge centres in each village. Each of them would be a centre for knowledge-based livelihoods and income-generation opportunities for poor women and men, farming communities and all disadvantaged people. At the current rate of progress he was confident of achieving the objective.
However, he was sceptical of achieving the other objective of the mission hunger-free India, which was "off the track." The main reason for the setback was stagnant agriculture productivity. In fact, productivity showed a marginal decline. Justifying the subsidy being given to farming operations, he said it should not be called subsidy but a life saving measure for farmers. Pointing out that suicide by farmers was an extreme manifestation of poverty, he said solutions to problems should emerge from the people. People-driven models alone would succeed. The foundation, on its own, had built up models which could be replicated.
For improving productivity, he suggested a combination of technological, ecological and management upgradation.
Japanese Ambassador to India Yasukuni Enoki in his foundation day address said India's main task now was how to feed its burgeoning population.
The Ambassador released the annual report of the foundation.
Jeffrey Sachs, Director of Earth Institute, Columbia University, said major challenges facing India was extreme poverty and the need for sustainable development.
Expressing concern over poor allotment to national rural health mission, the director said only one per cent was being invested for rural health. Health schemes had not reached many areas. As India was the leading player in information and communications technology, the country should effectively utilise it for providing health to rural people.
UNESCO Director Minja Yang said the systematic way of empowering local people should be through village knowledge centres. Geeta Mehta, Friends of MSSRF, Tokyo, said the basic reason for India's under development was the under utilisation of its vast human resource.
Students, especially girls, dropped out from schools mainly due to lack of transport and toilet facilities.
Executive director of the foundation M.Velayutham presented a report on the work done by the foundation in the last one year.