Since they are not governed by municipal bodies, they are not eligible for urban infrastructure. These towns are crying out for roads, markets, first-stage agro-processing infrastructure, storage facilities and financial intermediation for small farmers and traders. But they remain “villages”. A large infrastructure package for them is the need of the hour. The decline in agricultural growth, from 4 per cent per year between 2004 and 2008 to 3.28 per cent between 2009 and 2012, should warn policy planners. Infrastructure is the name of the game when the inflation rate is largely in food and energy. This is the area to concentrate on. The quicker we cross the 34 per cent investment rate mark, the better it will be for us.
Another area that needs significant attention is skills development. For this, the private sector, NGOs, cooperatives, industry associations and others must be roped in in a big way. Every skill development programme must have a certification process, preferably overseen by the local chamber of commerce so that trainees can get jobs and the country’s skill deficit can be removed.
The water, energy and communication sectors have also been starved of investment. India has no right to call itself a powerful emerging economy if it does not invest in these sectors and liberalise them so that private players can also participate in them.
The writer is chancellor, Central University of Gujarat
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