Making “One plus One Eleven (1+1=11)”

Dr. By S.K.Panda


We are living in uncertain times. Report of corruption, irregularities and malpractices with wide ranging implications in telecom, coal and other sectors, falling exports, reduction in the rate of growth have become matters of concern all over the country. The success story of India Shining with growth rate likely to touch double digits is falling to around the tardy Hindu rate of growth. Collapse of the National Power Grid, which pushed major part of the country to darkness, reflects the gaping hole in infrastructure. The employment opportunities have been shrinking and number of unemployed has been increasing. Price of essential commodities has been growing, which is likely to worsen with the diesel price hike. In these difficult times, bed of Sheuli flowers on the pavements in the early morning, Kash flowers in the riverbeds and the days getting shorter indicate arrival of the much awaited Durgapuja festivals. Like the earlier years, it has brought new hope and aspirations of all.

            Tripura, a small State of the northeastern region, has been passing through an interesting phase with noticeable improvements and success in several fields. The first unit of the much awaited gas based power plant at Palatana, Gomati district is expected to be commissioned shortly. This will make Tripura one of the few power surplus states in the country and usher in a new era of prosperity.

However, the real power is not the one that is generated by burning gas. In a democracy, the real power comes from the people – the educated, enlightened and well informed people, who become active stakeholders in the affairs of the state. Electricity is generated with gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel, whose stock is limited and goes down with use. People’s power, on the other hand, is unlimited and increases when it is shared and used (like the joy). The lasting solution to the challenges faced by the society today lies in organizing and directing the people’s power in positive direction.

 To narrate a few incidents of recent past, on the 15th September 2012, the Khowai district administration had launched “Mission 100” led by an enthusiastic, young Collector with emphasis on mobilizing the mothers, field workers and the people’s representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions. The enthusiasm of the people in general and the mothers and children in particular, was visible in the number and mood of the gathering. It indicated the potential that can be mobilized. The Mission 100 seeks to ensure 100 % coverage in terms of immunization of each and every child for checking incidence of communicable diseases. This is one of the essential prerequisites for the development of human resource. There were suggestions to make the mission wholesome with the inclusion of a few other similar areas namely (i) making each and every person literate, (ii) recording of each and every marriage, (iii) registering and tracking each and every pregnant mother from the detection of pregnancy till birth of the child covering  prenatal health checkup, nutritional support, and  institutional delivery as well as post-delivery  postnatal health checkup, breast feeding along with health care facilities to the new born, and (iv) enrolling the child in the Anganwadi Centre and providing the six Integrated Child Development Services(ICDS). It will ensure provision of health care to the child covering a thousand days from conception till the child is two years old, which is critical for the development of human resource. While this appears to be a herculean task, the recent experience and enthusiasm of the people, the people’s representatives and the field officers make one confident that it is achievable. This intervention will ensure reduction of infant mortality, maternal mortality rates and malnutrition to zero; thereby achieving the much cherished objective of the Constitution. The young Collector of the West Tripura district has also initiated innovative means for ensuring basic health, nutrition, immunization support to each and every mother and child by bringing about synergy in the operation of  ICDS, NRHM and such other schemes.

The Gomati district administration has taken up yet another innovative experiment of bringing about synergy at the grass root by co-locating the AWC, the Health Sub-Centre (HSC) and the Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra (RGSK) at one location. As a result of development, the primary needs in terms of “Roti, Kapda and Makan (food, cloth and Shelter) have been met to a considerable extent. As a result, the focus has to shift to the next strata of development covering “quality health, quality education and skill for earning livelihood”. Provisions for these require more resources- financial, managerial, which are more challenging. These call for better coordination, pooling and targeting available resources. Co-location of the basic infrastructure under the ongoing schemes will not only facilitate implementation of the related schemes  but will ensure better coordination, effective people’s participation, reducing losses and optimizing use of available resources.

Another small yet meaningful case relates to the Tripura Forest Development and Plantation Corporation (TFDPC) Limited, primarily engaged in forest plantation and development related activities, supporting  Anganwadi Centre (AWC)s under its Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) initiative in providing the six ICDS services covering nutrition, immunization, preschool facility to children and expecting and nursing mothers. It provides a unique institutional mechanism for development of the human resource. In 2006, universalization of ICDS was taken up in the state with a view to providing the six ICDS services to each and every child and as a result of persistent efforts, one such Centre (AWC) has come up in each and every habitation. The network of AWCs, with the Anganwadi Worker (AWW) s and Anganwadi Helper (AWH), is providing yeoman service in the rural areas. The TFDPC has supplemented the AWC with provision of preschool education and other materials which may be small yet a meaningful step in the right direction as it will help in development of the children, particularly those belonging to disadvantaged segments living in the interior areas of the state. In this context, it worth noting in several parts of the state, enthusiastic Collectors have initiated teaching of English language in AWCs by mobilizing local support for meeting the need of the local community. This initiative has been started on a limited scale in areas with power supply facilities by training the Anganwadi workers and providing audiovisual equipment for imparting preschool teaching in English, which has been widely appreciated by the local villagers.

Such innovative practices are not restricted to the government agencies alone. One of the most significant happenings relates to Voluntary blood donations, which has gained immense popularity with people from all walks of life- rich or poor, men or women, teacher or the taught- joining it. There is not a single day when blood donation camp is not organized in some parts of the state. Among the lesser known events, on the 21st September 2012, some young reporters came together and held a brainstorming session in the Agartala Press club for observing the Car Free Day on the 22nd September 2012 along with the State Science, Technology and Environment department. Their efforts for generation of awareness, restricting use of vehicles to unavoidable cases and related steps will have multiple advantages like conservation of fossil fuel (limited natural resource), protection of the environment and above all checking life style related diseases. This is a praiseworthy initiative for making people aware and mobilizing their active cooperation for a national cause.

Another such rare and noteworthy step relates to Shri Aurobinda Bhattacharya and Smti Ashima Bhattacharya of Kolkata making a corpus of Rupees Twenty (20) lakh for providing merit award to girl students securing top positions in the Secondary and Higher secondary examinations conducted by the Tripura Board of Secondary Education every year, in the memory of their daughter, late Indira Bhattacharya, who passed away on the 11th June 1986. This was launched in a simple yet significant function held in the Press club Agartala by the School Education Minister on the 7th October 2012. The teacher couple was moved at the warmth and response received in understanding and supporting their feelings. Mr. Bhattacharya was gracious enough to request not to mention about his donation as it will belittle his feelings. We cannot help saluting such rare breed of individuals, “who Give and Give and Forgive” –quite different from the majority “who get and get but forget”. This move will not only promote merit and education in the long run but also inspires others for making similar contributions there by filling in the gaps in the Government system. This again reinforces the fact that solutions to the problems of the day “lie in looking beyond one’s own self, not finding out mistakes of others but supporting and filling in the gaps for achieving the desired objectives”. It is also important to note that what make the couple to come over and donate their hard earned savings is “the trust and confidence that their money will be used for a genuine purpose and not misused”.  

As one gets up from bed every day, one has two choices, “either to go back to sleep and dream” or “to get up and try to make the dream a reality”. Challenges make life of an individual, a state and a country interesting. But the emerging challenges need to be seen and converted to opportunities. This would essentially require focusing on three key areas.

The first and foremost requirement relates to positive mindset and conduct, which will inspire and earn trust of others. The traditional approach of “making a line shorter by rubbing it up” is required to be replaced “by drawing a bigger line”. As it is said that “a glass which is half empty”, can also be seen as “half- filled”. It all depends on the way it is looked at. Challenges of today requires each one of us to shed ego, self-centeredness and working with a positive mindset. It is more necessary in case of persons in power and authority.

The second requirement relates to adoption of appropriate technology for optimizing use of available resources and reducing wastage. In the twenty-first century, technology, particularly the information technology related interventions, are changing almost daily. Enabling the people to use the right technology will help in empowerment and expediting the process of development.

The third aspect relates to working together in groups. The development process has to be made inclusive and participative. Literate and aware people working together in groups can make the most difficult thing possible and the development sustainable.

While under the British rule, India had seen a mass based social reform movement commonly known as “The Renaissance or Reawakening” in the 19th and early 20th century. A section of reformist thinkers and intellectuals from various walks of life comprising of  the legendary saint, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, founders of the Brahmo Samaj, had taken up contemporary major social, educational   issues like checking Sati, human sacrifice, polygamy etc. Their work had resulted in social, cultural and political metamorphosis culminating in the country getting its freedom from foreign rules. Through effective communication and social mobilization, it was possible to start widow remarriage and abolish social evils like human sacrifice and Sati (burning of the widow on the pyre of the deceased husband). These were possible not by enforcement of the law but by mobilization of the masses.

What is needed today is a second Renaissance for reinventing and reengineering the society in general and exploiting the people’s power in particular. This calls for positive mindset, use of appropriate technology and inclusive action of like-minded persons working together. Let us hope that celebration of the Durgapuja will provide us an opportunity to work together for solving the problems faced by the society and making our country strong with peace and prosperity for all.


“May He protect both of us. May He nourish both of us.

May we both acquire the capacity (to study and understand the scriptures).

May our study be brilliant. May we not argue with each other.

Om peace, peace, peace.”

 


 

 1) Written by Dr S K Panda, IAS, Chief Secretary, Tripura. Views expressed are personal.

 2)  Being raised by the ONGC Tripura Power Corporation Limited(OTPC), foundation stone of which was laid in October  2005.

 3)  Under the state Act for recording of marriages by revenue authorities

 

Published on 11th  Oct, 2012 Readers can send their comments on this Review to : feature@tripurainfo.com