A cartful of ideas, issues and solutions

At the age of 80, the zeal with which he pursues socially relevant projects is exemplary. Founder Director of IIM Bangalore Prof. N.S. Ramaswamy, who was recently conferred with Padma Bhushan, shares his vision with Mandira Nayar...Professor N.S. Ramaswamy is a man on many missions. Conferred with the Padma Bhushan by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam this past week for his pioneering work in social service, Prof. Ramaswamy has worked tirelessly for 40 years in a number of fields from environment, animal welfare, rural development, introduction of ethical to moral values in life and management.

"I am happy in getting this recognition because the worthy missions and socially relevant projects on which I have been working for the past 40 years, will get some attention from the government and public so that these would survive me and perhaps get accomplished," says Prof. Ramaswamy.

"If it had come earlier, I would have got enough time to make use of this recognition to receive attention from the government. Now it is too late since I am already 80 and not much time is left to actively campaign for creating awareness about these missions and projects," he adds.

Founder Director of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Bangalore, Prof. Ramaswamy has established Institutes of Management in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. His Bangalore-based non-government organisation -- the Centre for Action, Research and Technology for Man, Animals and Nature (CARTMAN) -- is renowned for its ability to make this acronym actually work.

Apart from being a management guru, he has also been instrumental in improving the bullock cart and the slaughter system, for which he has been recognised the world over. Committed to the cause of animal welfare, he is also popularly known as the Cartman for designing an innovative animal-friendly cart, which reduces the suffering of animals and increases productivity.

"Bullocks used for ploughing and carting save the country 6 million tonnes of petroleum, valued at Rs. 20,000 crores. By improving bullock carts and taking good care of livestock, 20 million additional jobs can be created and rural earnings would increase by Rs. 30,000 crores. The asset value of livestock sector to the economy forms 7 per cent of the GNP, but the plan allocation is only 0.3 per cent. If attention is paid to this sector, it would increase its output tremendously and solve off-season unemployment problems in rural areas," he says.

Prof. Ramaswamy attributes one of the reasons for rural areas being in trouble to the shifting of industries from these areas. The first person to study and campaign for modernisation of slaughterhouses, even though he is a vegetarian, he believes that moving them to villages will help.

"You could slaughter animals in villages and transport the carcasses to the cities. This will save fuel costs and will also generate employment for millions of people. Farmers can also use bullock carts to transport goods in neighbouring towns during off-season period. I have demonstrated in Tamil Nadu that this is a success. They can earn up to Rs. 300 a day," he asserts. He has also proposed that five million donkeys be raised in order to eliminate head porterage by women.

A firm believer in extending the concepts of management to other areas, Prof. Ramaswamy believes that the government system that is bureaucratic, not managerial will benefit from it.

"The government is still deeply bureaucratic. The other problem is that all the power is concentrated in Delhi. It is very unfair that government employees should only work 180 days here. This works in Italy, Germany and France where people are not so dependant on the government. I had proposed an Indian Development Service, instead of the Civil Services that we have adopted from the British. But it still to be implemented," he says.

However, he has a concrete solution to ensure to improve the socio-political situation in India. "We have copied the British system, which works there as it is a mono-society, India is a pluralistic society. The political system is having a divisive effect. I had suggested that the 10 large States should be split into 30 smaller units so that the Centre could become more powerful for governance and the States will be powerful for development," he says.

He also proposes a system, which will eliminate fragmentation of political parties. "The reason of criminalisation of politics is that it has become a money making business. No one is prepared to be a `tyagi' like me," he says.

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