Aayog vision and challenges for Manipur
THOUGH the government think tank NITI Aayog’s vision for convenient subsistence to all the citizens by ensuring them houses with proper toilets, vehicles, regular power supply and even the luxury of living in air conditioned homes with digital connectivity in 15 years is worth appreciating, such a long term vision would be akin to mocking those who are currently enduring a wretched lifestyle. It is also obvious that not many would raise objection against the Aayog modalities, which also visualise a fully literate society with universal access to health care facilities. However, the apparent lack of initiative to address the existing socio-economic issues besetting crores of economically underprivileged section of the society could also be construed as rubbing salt to wounds as their immediate requirements centre on having two square meals a day. For instance, poverty in India has been an important issue, in-spite of the country enlisted among the fastest growing economies in the world, at a growth rate of 7.6 per cent, as per an estimate worked out by the Deutsche Bank Research in 2015. With around 170 million people, or 12.4 per cent, living in poverty the government think tank’s vision would be no less than a pipe dream for the millions who are compelled to retire to bed on empty stomach. The Deutsche Bank report, however, showed improvement on the poverty index in India, when compared with the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDG) estimation that 270 million or 21.9 per cent people out of 1.2 billion Indians lived below poverty line in 2011-2012.
Reports of other research groups also established about poverty in India being a historical reality as it is learnt that from late 19th century through early 20th century, under British colonial rule, poverty in India intensified, peaking in 1920s, during which famines and diseases also account for loss of millions of lives. The post-independent not only put a curb on mass deaths from famines but also led to rapid economic growth after 1990s which gradually reduced the extreme poverty scenario. As the Aayog vision encompasses pan-India objective, expecting industrially backward state like Manipur to compete with other more advanced states for fuelling the growth of Indian economy would be unfair. However, materialisation of the Aayog’s vision for modern network of roads, railways, waterways and air connectivity, access to quality air and water, increase per capita income three-fold to Rs 3.14 lakh in 2031-32 from Rs 1.06 lakh in 2015-16 would be helpful in spurring development of the state’s economy through regular and sufficient sops from the Centre. It is also said that the Aayog is mulling for a yet-to-be finalised short-term development vision under ‘Three Year Action Agenda’ covering 2017-18 to 2019-20. On account of Manipur being an agrarian society there is possibility for the state to join the race for development, in case the government accords priority on infrastructure for rural development with specific focus on poverty alleviation, better livelihood opportunities, provision of basic amenities through innovative programmes of wage and self-employment and improving irrigation system.