For building a strong rural India

B S Yeddyurappa

                                                            
 It is imperative for everybody at least now, to strive for solving these problems in thought, word and deed.  The concept of “Ramarajya”propounded by Mahatma Gandhi might materialise if such an atmosphere is created.

In this background, a session of the Karnataka Legislature is being held on September 9, 10 and 11 for a comprehensive special debate on agriculture and rural development. This marks a rare chapter in the annals of the legislature. It is an important step in realising the dream of Mahatma Gandhi.

Within a span of one year, our government has implemented many programmes and schemes for the upliftment of the rural poor and farming community. We have given an incentive of Rs 1000 each to 22 lakh dryland farmers, spending a total amount of Rs 220 crore. We have provided loans to 13.25 lakh farmers, weavers and fishermen at a low interest rate of 3%. Over 82,000 small sprinkler and drip irrigation units have been provided with an assistance of Rs 83 crore. An incentive of Rs 100 crore has been provided for milk producers and Rs 200 crore has been provided this year. Under the “Thayi Bagya” scheme, Rs 24 crore has been provided for pregnant women institutional for delivery. A sum of Rs 221 crore has been allotted for rural medical assistance. Under the “Bhagyalakshmi Scheme”2.98 lakh girl children have received the benefits. These are just a few instances of our commitment towards improving the lives of rural masses.

The BJP government in the State has embarked on a number of programmes for the upliftment of rural areas.  A separate mechanism has been instituted for  implementation of  the Dr D M Nanjundappa panel recommendations on comprehensive development of backward regions.
It is my endeavour to work for the welfare of all as laid down by the Constitution and in accordance with the wishes of the people, as spelt out by the popular mandate and dictated by our conscience.  In my view, this is true service. I am not well versed in intellectual pursuit. I am an ordinary farmer’s son, who came up in life through hard work and struggle.

In pursuit of my motto of serving the people, I humbly pray to the almighty god, in the words of poet laureate G S Shivarudrappa, “Shakthi kodu, Shakthi kodu, He Prabhu.’’  (Give me strength; Give me strength, O God).

What do the people of this State want? All children in villages should be able to go to school and become educated. Girls in villages should not suffer from malnutrition, die during delivery and be able to live happily without being deprived of health facilities. They should be guaranteed sufficient income to eke their livelihood.  Educational and health facilities must easily be available to them near their homes. They should be assured of housing facilities within a definite time-frame. It is our bounden duty to work for ensuring these needs. There are several other challenges facing the state. People are facing various other problems. They are suffering from drought, floods, diseases, and illness. We have to devote maximum attention for solving the problems of the people in these critical times. This alone should be our Dharma.
Agriculture is the predominant occupation in our country.  It is the farmers who feed the entire country. The country is assured of sufficient food if the farmers toil and grow enough.  However, the farming community is disheartened and losing its self-confidence due to various factors.  They are yet to become self-sufficient.  
The migration of rural masses in search of jobs, education and better health facilities to towns and cities must stop.  The rural people should be able to believe that they can live without worries and have access to essential facilities in villages just as the people believe that it is possible to live without any worries or avail of various facilities in urban areas.

We should pay attention to the all-round development of the constituencies represented by us.  What are the steps and programmes that can be taken up for the development of each of our constituencies? What is the background of our constituencies? What are the infrastructure facilities that are available? Are necessary raw materials available? How can they be put to productive use? Where are the marketing facilities for the goods produced? How to reach the produce to the market centres? If we discuss all these issues with an open mind, prepare a necessary action plan and make sincere efforts to implement the same, it is possible to empower our constituencies, which in turn strengthens the state.

Former chief minister Siddavanahalli Nijalingappa had dreamt of ushering in the all-round development of the farmers. I had accompanied Shri Nijalingappa when he called on former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. “Government cannot ensure employment to farmers. If the farmers are assured of water, the farmers will meet the needs of the country.’’ These words uttered by him still ring in my heart.
It is not possible to distribute the fruits of development to villages from outside. However, the rural people must be enabled to reap the benefits of development.
It is not sufficient if the government treats rural development merely as a programme.  All plans, programmes, policies and decisions of the Government must be tailored to guarantee empowerment of rural masses. Rural development should be the central focus point of the Government’s entire strategy.  A comprehensive blueprint for each village in all taluks of the State must be chalked out and sincerely implemented.

PURA:  A model
The economic condition of about 220 million people out of the country’s total population of over a billion is pitiable.  It should be our primary duty to enable these people to stand on their own feet.  We need to evolve specific and concrete programmes to make about 220 million people living below poverty line self-reliant.
It was the NDA government, which took a firm step in this direction in the country.  A serious thinking started from the moment veteran statesman Atal Behari Vajpayee became Prime Minister.  To complement this initiative, the then President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam formulated “PURA’’ (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) for providing facilities available in urban areas in rural areas too.

PURA is not a routine Governmental programme. It is a comprehensive programme evolved to provide suitable solutions after examining the entire problem from all angles.  Guaranteeing employment to all is a main component of this programme.  Restructuring the entire educational sector by providing primary education through schools, imparting subject-wise studies, skills, knowledge and education form part of the programme. 

Ensuring essential health facilities, drinking water, quality power supply, proper houses in rural areas are included in PURA. The Centrally sponsored roads, housing and employment guarantee programmes and various other state schemes come under it.  The Rural Development is the nodal agency for overall implementation.  
PURA is being successfully implemented in the States of Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh inspired by NDA government. Covering as many as six lakh villages in the country under the PURA programme, creating 7,000 cluster hubs and ensuring all-round development is the main goal of PURA.
Politics should not be injected into such developmental programmes as it will scuttle the path of development.  When welfare of the most neglected sectors is the primary goal of politicians, why should one stoop to the level of searching a needle in a haystack?  This is said in the interest of the people is welfare and not out of political motives.

“Development through the lowest rung’’ is the right policy.  Making the administration committed to responsiveness, thoughtfulness, consideration and implementation is the goal of this Government. With a view to enable the Government to march towards villages with a firm commitment for rural orientation, this session of the State Legislature is being held.
The general public, subject experts and other prominent persons are free and welcome to express their views through newspapers or write to the Government directly or in the form of e-mails (cm@kar.nic.in or info@yeddyurappa.in)

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