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India needs a rainbow recovery plan

  • 06 October, 2020

  • 8 Min Read

India needs a rainbow recovery plan

Context:

  • The article emphasizes a renewed approach to growth and development in the post-COVID scenario.
  • In Europe and the U.S., a ‘green new deal’ (GND) proposed by some from the political mainstream puts the climate and employment crises at the centre of economic recovery.

‘Business as usual approach to ‘Rainbow New Deal’ (RND):

  • The article warns that attempting a ‘business as the usual approach could only result in further deteriorating the situation caused by the pandemic.
  • The article calls to take pathways to a more just and sustainable future by adopting a multi-hued approach to what it refers to as a Rainbow New Deal (RND).
  • This approach would require the integration of environmental protection and tackling wealth and social inequality and the economic vulnerability of the vulnerable sections.

Ensuring sustainable livelihood opportunities:

  • There is the need to generate dignified, sustainable livelihoods for the vast majority of the population and workforce that is today living precarious lives, while also ensuring ecological preservation.
  • The nearly 200 million small farmers, pastoralists, and fishers should be enabled to sustain or switch to organic, ecologically sustainable production, with their own food security as the highest priority, and with local marketing links.
  • Schemes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme could be re-oriented and extended, including for urban livelihoods.

Encouraging sustainable lifestyles:

  • There is a need to encourage lifestyles and livelihoods that obtain substantial food, medicines, household items and other needs, from natural ecosystems.
  • The policies from the government should encourage sustainable livelihoods. Forest-based livelihoods alone, for instance, can support 100 million people.

The impetus to local industries:

  • There is the need to revive and sustain decentralised production of most goods and services, across all villages and towns, with a massive investment in the small and medium sector enterprises.
  • This should also include providing an impetus to India’s incredible diversity of crafts.
  • Products like soap, footwear, furniture, clothes, energy, and myriad other items of everyday use can be produced by community-run units across the country.
  • ‘Made in India’ should be ‘Handmade in India’ by local workers. All such production could be run democratically as producer companies or cooperatives.
  • This could gainfully employ 200 million people.

Focus on self-reliance:

  • There is the need for greater emphasis on self-reliance of the various sub-regions of the country.
  • During the COVID-19 lockdown, community resilience based on such initiatives was amply demonstrated.
  • A ‘network economy, in which clusters of villages can be self-reliant for most basic needs, and exchange with neighbouring clusters what they cannot produce or grow can help dispel some doubts over the viability of such self-reliance on being able to meet all requirements of the people.

Investments in high-impact sectors:

  • The RND would entail substantial investments in public health, education, housing, transportation and other basic needs.
  • If these are run in a decentralised way, with appropriate training, they could generate many more millions of jobs.
  • All of this would be within ecologically sustainable limits and specially focused on empowering and benefiting the most marginalised people.

Government aid and support:

  • Government-sponsored programmes like Kudumbashree in Kerala and Jharcraft in Jharkhand show how they can be significantly scaled with state support.

Addressing the inequalities:

  • There is a need to address the gross inequalities in social and economic domains to make the development process more inclusive as well as sustainable.

Source: TH

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