Change through the ballot is a very sedentary, laid back approach to change. While it gives the people a chance to remove a government that is non performing, there are micro issues that do not get addressed. There is between the people and government a yawing gap. While there are NGOs that view the community from the micro perspective, there is no agency that actually furthers their agenda to a higher theater.
Between the state and the people a congenial asset that addresses local issues using its clout with the authorities at sub-state and state level would enhance the newly constituted NITI Ayog. The trans formative context that the new organisation is seeking to put forth, would be enhanced by grassroots perspectives from these micro agencies.
This is nothing new. There has been a clamor for creation of these linkages that go to bridge the gap and put forward a realistic agenda. Policy making that just looks at the issues from the top hasn’t been able to address poverty. In fact the causes of poverty have grown manifold. Development and growth seem to benefit an already enriched economic minority. Fast tracking of environmental clearances is a pointer to this perspective. While savvy economists work on economic models, their designs are almost always alien to our landscape.
GDP perspective of growth suggests that an increase in GDP would take care of poverty. This model of growth hasn’t benefited a large section of our people and has exacerbated the almost irreversible internal displacement. As farmlands and micro businesses are uprooted for industrial expansion, when forest lands are plundered, eco-systems disturbed, then I think the shifting paradigms at the top would produce only miscarriages.
While investment is fast tracked (red carpet and not red tape), there are other things that need to be urgently addressed. First who would take care of the lakhs of people who, one fine day find that their farmland, cattle and micro-businesses are crushed under the juggernaut of crass industrialization. When forests are plundered, the indigenous people who depend upon the forest find themselves at the death’s door. The familiar landscape becomes alien. They do not in any way benefit from the industrial units that replace the farms and forests, neither economically or socially. Proud forest communities become second class citizens, whose lives become dependent on state mechanisms, they are sought to be taken care of through affirmative action or through local charities.
It is not enough to bring change at the top, micro issues, when aggregated would go a long way in providing a better perspective that would not just enhance policy making but would go a long way in addressing the root causes of poverty. The new institution should look beyond economic models and make policies keeping in view the realities of the Indian landscape.