India’s poverty is a child and parent of women’s role in our economy and society. But a new ambition is starting to work

India’s poverty is a child and parent of women’s role in our economy and society. But a new ambition is starting to work

A roundtable on the challenges of Indian women organised by the Harvard School of Government a few years ago at the beautifully restored Bikaner House in Delhi was predictably inconclusive on whether the problems — and solutions — lie with society or the economy. But changes in our economy (women’s access to income) and society (women’s aspirations, treatment of women and girls by men and elders, influence, beliefs about women’s potential) need simultaneous work to create a virtuous cycle. I believe this virtuous cycle needs Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Beti Swastha Badhao and Beti ko Rozgar dilao.

While a new ambition for women is starting to work, another decade of persistence (Gender 5.0) is needed to reach escape velocity.

Most people think about gender bias in terms of economics (labour-force participation and missing GDP) or interpersonal dynamics (men being insensitive to women). But gender bias is a set of interlocking dynamics with lots of well-meaning people implementing and protecting systems, practices, structures and institutions that fundamentally exclude, disenfranchise, and marginalise women. I can’t claim to understand the situation of all women, but I know politics is not an easy calling; I think many women will enjoy and relate to the chapter “On being a woman in politics” in Hillary Clinton’s recent book.

Even if there is some of what American sociologist William Ogburn calls a “cultural lag” — the mismatch between the material conditions of life which change quickly and behaviour and attitudes, which are more resistant to change — huge progress has been made. Gender 1.0 was set off by Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Gender 2.0 came from Gandhiji’s recognition that the freedom movement “walked on one leg”. Gender 3.0 was votes for everybody in 1947 (some women in Switzerland only got voting in 1971). Gender 4.0 started after 2014 with schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Ujwala, Maternity Leave Bill, and many other initiatives. Gender 5.0 will include working on men and issues such as triple talaq, fixing our employment exchanges, more learning outcomes in schools, more formal enterprises, more apprentices, more cities, more manufacturing and macroeconomic stability.

Any agenda for women’s empowerment will not be sustainable unless women are empowered to pursue it for three reasons. First, research suggests the strongest predictor of women’s empowerment is having waged work and parents are more likely to invest in girls if there is a strong economic return to having them. Second, reservation is important to discuss — research suggests that getting women into political leadership roles changed parental aspirations for girls and even closed the gender gap in education in some states. Third, many issues for young rural males — especially in North India — likely increasingly relate to the social problems associated with skewed sex ratios.

We need to creatively design policies to counteract the market failures caused by cultural norms, for example, in designing employment exchanges we need to address lower registration by women by having information campaigns on returns to employment for women. In designing apprentice schemes, we need to require factories to invest in hostels and child care that will get women to take up apprenticeships. In reducing labour laws, we need to push harder to remove discriminatory acts like The Factories Act 1948 that prevent women from working at night. I am hopeful both productivity and culture will respond. Gender 5.0 could raise labour force participation to above 30 per cent quickly.

Tourism, education and healthcare — probably the fastest-growing areas of jobs for the next decade — hire more women for many reasons but jobs near home attract women workers. Mckinsey estimates India could add $490 billion to its GDP by 2025 by increasing female labour force participation that would add 68 million more women to the labour force. But we don’t live an economy but a society — the latest NSS round suggests that 31 per cent of women engaged in domestic work state that they would like to work for a wage. Women face significant restrictions of mobility — past Indian human development surveys suggest over 50 per cent of female respondents report needing permission to go to a Kirana store. And women working or controlling money lower rates of domestic violence.

Rajasthan is doing its part. The PM’s ambitious Beti Bachao Beti Padhao simultaneously targets the sex ratio and girl’s education; Jhunjhunu and Sikar have been recognised as two of the best performing districts nationally. Our Mukhyamantri Rajshree Yojana, started in 2016 to offer financial support for girls from birth to the completion of class 12, has benefited more than 11 lakh children. Our Mukhyamantri Hamari Betiyan Yojana offers scholarships to meritorious girls after class 10 up to Rs 2.25 lakh per year. Our Padmakshi Award started in 2017 recognises district exam toppers in Classes 8, 10 and 12 with a certificate and cash award of up to Rs 1 lakh. We have distributed more than 15,000 scooty’s for post-class 10 meritorious girl students from low-income families and 12 lakh bicycles to girl students who enter class 9. Similarly, we distribute 27,000 laptop computers every year to girl students who score 75 per cent or more in Class 8, 10 and 12. And our Menstrual Hygiene Scheme is creating awareness about the issue among women of reproductive age. And women were the obvious anchor for our flagship Bhamashah programme that pioneered direct benefit transfers in 2008.

Nelson Mandela said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings”.

Gender issues are also man-made because a nation is shaped by the stories its children are told and a nation is sustained by the stories it tells itself. India is changing the stories it tells itself and its children. Persistence, courage, and continuity could create a level playing field for men and women soon.

Smt. Vasundhara Raje. (The author is Chief Minister of Rajasthan)

No more typifying Rajasthan, we have changed, says CM Vasundhara Raje

No more typifying Rajasthan, we have changed, says CM Vasundhara Raje

A decade is not even a drop in the ocean of history and heritage; cultures and communities; sights and sounds that make up our state. Change is inevitable in an increasingly connected world. Our Rajasthan, too has been undergoing a metamorphosis.

The ghunghat is being replaced. Manju Devi, a porter in Jaipur station has broken into a very male bastion. So has Meera Bai Meena who repairs handpumps in hamlets nestled in the hills of Udaipur. The travails and triumphs of Rupa Yadav, a child bride who is now pursuing her MBBS, exemplifies the change in mindsets.

I see a difference in every sector. It was the women of the state who campaigned to make the state free of open defecation. Village Wildlife Watchers, unread in most part and volunteers at that, use Whatsapp to monitor wild animals in their charge. Today, Rajasthan has institutions of National repute IIT, IIM, AIIMS, National Law School. Youth from Rajasthan are acquiring skills that make them employable. Just running after a degree has become a thing of the past.

Enterprise has always been a part of Rajasthan’s DNA. An average Rajasthani is industrious and ready to take risks. Now, add to this the incredible energy of youth who are carving out their own future through startups that deal with smart solutions for every day problems delivering medicines to aged at home, aggregating autorickshaws, learning spoken English; the list is endless. Our youth and our small businesses are taking advantage of a reformed policy framework that allows them to breathe life into their creations. If you thought about buying a car lately, you probably checked out – that’s the changing face of Rajasthan for you, where an entirely home-grown startup has now become India’s largest. Frontier Markets is working with rural women in the sector of solar energy. MyLy is working on improving learning outcome of students, Ecomitra in the field of renewable energy; I could go on and on.

In the last 10 years, the smartphone has shown the user what change can be. Smart infrastructure has now become an expectation. Rajasthan is proud to have one of the largest road networks in India. And, then there are the 90,000 kms of digital highway. Rajasthan has one of the most advanced digital infrastructures in the country and also front offices that leverage this digital strength to deliver to people safety and security through Abhay Command and Control Centers. Our digital infrastructure allows us to operate India’s largest DBT program Bhamashah. Nearly 42 crore transactions, worth more than Rs. 19,000 crore, cash and non cash have taken place on Bhamashah. 25% of India’s Common Service Centres we call them e-mitras are in Rajasthan delivering 400+ services. Digital is now the recognized strength of Rajasthan.

Quality elementary education is germane to building foundations of the future. As recently as in 2012, Rajasthan had 28,000 elementary schools with less than 30 students. Nearly 9,000 had less than 15 students. More often than not, a child had to change schools thrice between classes I and XII. Today, government schools in Rajasthan have shown remarkable improvement in enrollment ratios, transition rates, gender gap reduction and in retention rate. The Board results speak for themselves and this year, class XII result show 90.53% for Arts, 86.6% for Science and 91.94% for Commerce in many ways better than private schools. It is no wonder that a reverse migration is taking place – parents are bringing back their kids to government schools. Such change makes us proud and serves as an encouragement.

Not so long ago, hospitalization of a family member condemned a poor family to abject penury. Today, under Bhamashah Swasthya Beema Yojana, over 1 crore poor families have health insurance cover of upto Rs. 30,000. In case of selected life threatening diseases, this can even go upto Rs. 3 lakhs. Already, 21.50 lakh people have availed this facility. Insurance payout has been to the tune of Rs. 1100 crores. 700 private and more than 500 government hospitals are working together to achieve results and the poorest of the poor are now availing of hospitals they could not have thought of before. Maternal Mortality Rate, which was 318 in 2009, has reduced to 199 in 2016. Similar improvements are visible in IMR, Birth Rate and Death Rate.

Some of our readers must have come across the Anapoorna Rasoi Vans. Immensely popular, these Vans serve hot, clean and nourishing meal at low prices, in all our urban local bodies.

Our farmers are always at the mercy of nature. For the first time, farm loans to the tune of Rs 8400 crores has been waived by the State. This money is available to small and marginal farmers while others too are eligible to a proportionate waiver. But while waiving loans we are also strengthening our co-operative sector and disbursing fresh loans, equal to the amount waived.

Dusty displays in dark corners with little interpretation is what our museums used to be. In a state like Rajasthan, where every mile has a story to tell, the collections of government museums are varied and priceless. Visitors deserve to see and appreciate them. To experience the change, step into Albert Hall or government museums in Bharatpur, Bikaner and Jodhpur and see for yourself. 18 State Museums are being reinvented, even the ones in the smaller towns such as Sikar, Jhalawar, Pali, Viratnagar, Alwar and Jaisalmer. Hopefully, they shall in time, become hubs for culture.

While on the topic of change, there is a need as well as space for the new. So, when there are long queues before the Madhvendra Palace in Nahargarh, one realizes the importance of art in public spaces. Putting art in public spaces is an important step in demystifying art and exposing the younger generation to the finer aspects of life. And to continue the story, the Museum of Legacies in Kishanpol Bazaar in Jaipur and the soon to be opened Chowks and Kunds, buried under the roads of the walled city are an integral part of offering something new. In the space of monuments and legacies, we do have a problem of plenty. This is why partnerships are important. The days of passive management are over, the time is ripe to make our monuments, ‘living monuments’.

Quality of life is an important indicator of happiness. Be it mobile libraries, toy banks or sanitary napkin dispensers, small inputs go a long way in boosting the happiness quotient. Change is when a fossil river, commonly called a nullah is rehabilitated with the expectation that it shall once again flow as a river should. The Dravyawati River Project should transform the Jaipur City scape and give residents the much needed promenades, gardens and open spaces. A Ring Road for the city is happening. As our cities grow, there is an urgent need to decongest traffic and offer much better connectivity.

Every year, some part of the state faces a silent calamity – drought. We are as big as Germany with as many people as France. Yet, we have only 1% of India’s water resources. The imagery of a woman balancing numerous pots on her head and carrying water back home has for ages, typified Rajasthan. This has changed. Through Jal Swavlamban Abhiyan MJSA, we are carrying out one of India’s largest climate proofing exercises. More than 3.5 lakh water harvesting structures in over 12,000 villages have either been created or rehabilitated. Water table has risen, dried up hand-pumps and wells have started to flow. But there is a challenge to supply potable water to all inhabitants, as one has to live with the constant threat of fluoride and salinity.

The Louvre in Paris sees more tourists in a year than India. Angkor Wat gets more visitors than Rajasthan does. We do not lack in sights, sounds and attractions but till 2015 we never ever had a planned tourism promotion campaign. We know the multiplier effect tourism has on the economy. In the backdrop, we modestly planned to increase tourist footfalls in the state to 50 million by 2029. We will achieve this, this year itself and ‘jaane kya dikh jaye’ is a runaway hit. Amber today has the second highest footfalls of any monument in India, second only to Taj Mahal.

A girl student grooming herself in front of a mirror in her school; the farmer using polytubes to grow vegetables; the long queues to the zoological parks in Sajjangarh, Machia and Nahargarh, and the energy of the youth at Masala Chowk will allow you to experience the change that is taking place in Rajasthan today. The credit goes to Team Rajasthan.

Smt. Vasundhara Raje.
(The writer is Chief Minister, Rajasthan)

प्रदेश का हर गांव समृद्ध बने और हर किसान हो खुशहाल

प्रदेश का हर गांव समृद्ध बने और हर किसान हो खुशहाल

अंतरराष्ट्रीय मृदा दिवस

रेतीले धोरों पर कहीं कीकर तो कहीं खेजड़ी के पेड़। नजर दौड़ाओ तो कहीं भेड़-बकरियों तो कहीं गाय-भैसों के झुंड। रंग-बिरंगी आकर्षक पोशाक पहने अपनी जान जैसे प्यारे मवेशियों की परवरिश और अपने खेत-खलिहानों में जीवट के साथ काम करते ग्रामीण। राजस्थान की बात आती है, तो बरबस यह तस्वीर आंखों में तैरने लगती है। यह लाजिमी भी है क्योंकि, खेती-किसानी और पशुपालन ही हमारी रंग-बिरंगी राजस्थानी लोक संस्कृति का मूल आधार है।

हमारी ग्रामीण अर्थव्यवस्था भी इसी पर आधारित है। यही वजह है कि जब भी राजस्थान की तरक्की की बात आती है तो हमारा ध्यान सबसे पहले किसानों और पशुपालकों पर केन्द्रित होता है। हमारा लक्ष्य भी यही है कि हमारा किसान संपन्न हो, समृद्ध हो और समर्थ हो। हम चाहते हैं कि हमारे किसान भाइयों और पशुपालकों की आय 2022 तक दोगुनी हो। मुझे खुशी है कि किसानों और पशुपालकों के हितों को ध्यान में रखकर हमने जो प्रयास किए उन्हें देशभर में सराहा गया है। नीति आयोग के कृषि सुधार सूचकांक में भी राजस्थान टॉप थ्री स्टेट में शामिल है।

मैं विकास के लिए परिवर्तन को जरूरी मानती हूं। वैश्वीकरण के इस दौर में जो नए शोध और अनुसंधान हो रहे हैं, कृषि क्षेत्र भी उनसे अछूता नहीं है। हमारे किसानों के पास खेती और पशुपालन का परंपरागत ज्ञान और कौशल है, लेकिन अच्छी उपज के लिए आधुनिक तकनीक की जानकारी भी बहुत जरूरी है। दुनियाभर में कृषि के क्षेत्र में जो नवाचार अपनाए जा रहे हैं हमारे किसान भी उन्हें अपनाएं। कृषि उपज के लिए जो ज्ञान हमें विरासत में मिला है, उसके साथ-साथ यदि हमारा किसान उन्नत तकनीक और नवाचारों से जुड़े तो निश्चित रूप से हमारे राजस्थान की धरती सही मायने में सोना उगलने लगेगी। जयपुर में जो तीन-दिवसीय ‘ग्लोबल राजस्थान एग्रीटेक मीट-ग्राम 2016’ का आयोजन किया गया, उसका मकसद भी यही था।

राजस्थान में अपनी तरह का यह पहला आयोजन था, जिसमें हमारे किसानों को कृषि और पशुपालन के क्षेत्र में दुनिया की उन्नत तकनीकों और नवाचारों से रूबरू होने का अवसर मिला। यह आयोजन एक तरह से एक साझा मंच था, जहां हमारे किसान भाइयों, पशुपालकों और देश-दुनिया से आए कृषि विशेषज्ञों के बीच सहज संवाद हुआ। इन सबने आपस में अपने नवाचार साझा किए।

‘ग्राम’ में ऑडियो-विजुअल माध्यम से कृषि एवं पशुपालन की नई पद्धतियों और नवाचारों के बारे में जानकारी दी गई। किसानों के लिए एक विशाल प्रदर्शनी भी लगाई गई जिसमें आधुनिक कृषि बाजार, नवीनतम मशीनों और तकनीकों का प्रदर्शन किया गया। कृषि के क्षेत्र में रहे नए बदलावों, बिजनेस मॉडल तथा कृषि स्टार्टअप कम्पनियों में निवेश पर चर्चा हुई। चौपालों के माध्यम से किसानों को अपने अनुभव विशेषज्ञों और दूसरे किसानों के साथ साझा करने का मौका मिला।

किसानों को अपनी उपज कम से कम समय में गोदाम तथा कोल्ड स्टोरेज तक पहुंचाने के बारे में भी जानने-समझने का मौका मिला। किसानों के उत्पाद राष्ट्रीय और अंतरराष्ट्रीय बाजार तक आसानी से कैसे पहुंचें, उनकी मेहनत का पूरा प्रतिफल कैसे मिले, छोटे किसान कैसे ई-मंडी से जुड़ें, कैसे पशुपालक वैज्ञानिक तरीके अपनाकर अपने व्यवसाय को लाभप्रद बनाएं जैसे महत्वपूर्ण विषयों पर ‘ग्राम’ में कृषि विशेषज्ञों, प्रगतिशील किसानों और कृषि व्यवसाय से जुड़े लोगों के अलग-अलग सत्र हुए। किसानों ने इनका भरपूर लाभ उठाया।

‘ग्राम’ का उद्देश्य ही प्रदेश में कृषि एवं पशुपालन में आमूल सुधारों का सूत्रपात करना था। इस ऐतिहासिक आयोजन के दौरान कृषि क्षेत्र में निवेश के लिए 4400 करोड़ रुपए के एमओयू पर हस्ताक्षर हुए। मुझे पूरा भरोसा है कि यह सिलसिला आगे भी जारी रहेगा। संभवतया आजादी के 69 वरषों बाद पहली बार किसी राज्य में इस तरह का आयोजन किया गया, जिसका केन्द्र बिन्दु अन्नदाता किसान था। कृषि और पशुपालन के लिए यह आयोजन एक तरह से नई ऑक्सीजन था। किसानों की खुशहाली के लिए अब सभी संभाग मुख्यालयों पर ऐसे आयोजन किए जाएं।

राजस्थान में कृषि पर्यटन के क्षेत्र में भी अपार संभावनाएं देखते हुए हमने यह तय किया है कि प्रदेश की नई पर्यटन नीति में कृषि पर्यटन को भी शामिल किया जाए। मेरा मानना है कि राजस्थान रहे पर्यटकों में से अगर एक प्रतिशत भी कृषि पर्यटन की ओर आकर्षित होते हैं तो हमारे किसानों को इसका लाभ मिल सकेगा। हमने यह तय किया है कि केन्द्र सरकार के सहयोग से प्रदेश में स्मार्ट विलेज विकसित हों। भूमिहीन किसानों को नियमानुसार कृषि योग्य भूमि का आवंटन हो और औषधीय पौधों की खेती को प्रोत्साहित करने के लिए प्रदेश में सेंटर ऑफ एक्सीलेंस स्थापित किए जाएं। इसके लिए इजराइल जैसे आधुनिक कृषि में अग्रणी देश के साथ मिलकर रोडमैप तैयार किया गया है।

आज विश्व मृदा दिवस है। अक्सर देखा जाता है कि हम अपने स्वास्थ्य की चिंता तो करते हैं, लेकिन अन्न उपजाने वाली मिट्टी के सेहत के बारे में हमें चिंता नहीं रहती। प्रधानमंत्री नरेन्द्र मोदी ने इसके बारे में सोचा और सॉइल हैल्थ कार्ड बनवाने की योजना शुरू की। हमारा सौभाग्य है कि राजस्थान के श्रीगंगानगर जिले से सॉइल हैल्थ कार्ड योजना की लॉन्चिंग 19 फरवरी, 2015 को प्रधानमंत्री ने की। हम इस योजना का पूरा फायदा किसानों तक पहुंचाकर कृषि क्षेत्र के विकास की परिकल्पना को पूरी तरह साकार करने का प्रयास कर रहे हैं।

Smt. Vasundhara Raje.
(The writer is Chief Minister, Rajasthan)