Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu called upon planners, parliamentarians and the press to have a pronounced rural bias and a reservation mentality while allocating funds to villages. He called for bridging the urban-rural divide to ensure integrated development of the country.
The Banks must also give priority to rural innovations, he said.
Inaugurating the Rural Innovators Startup Conclave at National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in Hyderabad, the Vice-President expressed anguish that the country had not followed the call of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi to “go back to villages”.
Although, successive governments had focused on rural development, adequate attention was not paid and this led to “two Indias”, he said.
He pointed out that there was massive migration from villages to cities due to 5 Es – education, employment, entertainment, enhanced medical facilities and economic opportunities.
At the earliest, we need to bridge the urban-rural divide by providing all the amenities and facilities in villages on par with urban areas.
Calling for transforming rural economy with particular emphasis on five Is – irrigation, infrastructure, reduced interest rates, insurance and innovation, he said ‘If you have electricity, roads, hospitals, medical institutions and connectivity it will bring integration.
The Vice President said that technology and innovation can change the economy of rural India and added that this was the best time to demonstrate rural capabilities and showcase innovative technologies and products that can transform rural life.
The Vice President also said that self-help groups should be involved in the development as it not only brings down the income gap but also encourages the empowerment of women. He also said that the focus of providing electricity should shift from villages to every house.
Emphasising the need to remove bottlenecks with regard to infrastructure, funds, connectivity and certification mechanism to encourage rural innovators, he appreciated NIRDPR for acting as a bridge between rural youth and various institutions and helping the innovators to transform their innovations into technology start-ups.
“Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), National Skill Development Mission and schemes like Deen Daya Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojana are extending support to the rural innovators….There is a huge scope to create the right ecosystem for rural innovators to flourish,” he said.
The Vice President noted that employment generation was crucial for the overall growth of the Indian economy, but he also added that government alone or just the large industries cannot create all the employment. He urged micro & small enterprises to embrace the start-up ecosystem and use technology to increase their reach and efficiency so that they can play a leading role in employment generation.
He said that innovation-led economic development is mostly limited to software or IT despite the efforts of government agencies and a host of institutions.
Of late, start-ups are extensively being spoken about and have received a boost with the ‘Make in India’ initiative, he explained.
In a bid to give fillip to incubation and R&D efforts in the country, the government is also setting up the centres of innovation and entrepreneurship at national institutes, he said.
He stressed on building world class incubators, calling it the need of the hour. He also urged the private sector to come forward in a big way to promote innovative rural technologies and transform the rural economy.