24th Skoch Summit
Summit Theme | 24th Skoch Summit
(From L to R - Salman Khurshid, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Minority Affairs & Ministry of Corporate Affair; Gursharan Dhanjal, Editor, Inclusion & CEO, Skoch Media; Bibek Debroy, Distinguished Fellow, Skoch Development Foundation; Sudha Pillai, Hon’ble Member Secretary, Planning Commission; Sameer Kochhar, Chairman, Skoch Group; N C Saxena, Member NAC and Distinguished Fellow, Skoch Development Foundation; S S Tarapore, Distinguished Fellow, Skoch Development Foundation)more
At the 24th Skoch Summit we revisited the theme from the 4th Skoch Summit held in October 2004 at New Delhi.The 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) document has a subtitle of inclusive growth. This lists out divides and disparities and these can be spatial (geographic) or collective-category (gender, caste, community, ethnicity, religion) based. Reforms that trigger growth must be inclusive in the sense of broad-basing growth and mainstreaming deprived and backward segments. While growth throws up market-based opportunities, there must be equal access to markets. The main items on this inclusive growth agenda were the following:
- Education – There are inequities in education, in all of its dimensions of school education, vocational education and higher education. Among many backward segments, there are severe shortages in access to skill-formation.
- Health – The public sector health infrastructure has not delivered everywhere in the country, not just in curative health care, but also in preventive health care, like immunization, sanitation, clean drinking water and sewage treatment.
- Infrastructure – Of particular importance is electricity, roads, drinking and irrigation water.
- Governance - In several areas, the present government has created entitlements (NREGS, Right to Education, Right to Food). While that can make growth more equitable and ensure social justice, the implementation is linked to improved public governance.
- Subsidies – Related to public expenditure is the question of subsidies, such as those on food, fertilizers, petroleum products, electricity and road transport. Even when public financing is delinked from public provisioning,
there is a question of subsidizing the poor and there is no consensus yet on identifying the poor, witnessed in the debate over the Right to Food legislation.
- Spatial deprivations – The Spatial deprivations are much more than rural/urban. The 61st round of NSS (2004-05) shows that physical and social infrastructure are inadequate in around 125,000 of India’s villages and around 140 of India’s These are also districts that are violence prone. The spatial deprivations spill over into deprivations that are acute for gender, SCs, STs and Muslims.
- Financial Deepening - Catalyst for Growth – With Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee spearheading the policy initiative, there is a swell of opinion that a high level of financial deepening is a necessary condition for accelerating and sustaining growth in the economy. To bring about inclusive growth, this translates into urgent action on the financial inclusion front.
- Public goods and Public expenditure – Some areas of physical and social infrastructure are characterized by market failure. Therefore, provisioning will have to be done by the State and questions arise about the efficiency of public expenditure. Though the RTI Act, decentralization and civil society action have improved transparency and accountability of public expenditure, there is still a lot of leakage and corruption.The decentralized of funds, functions and functionaries to local bodies has been unsatisfactory and there are capacity constraints at the level of panchayats and urban local bodies.
- Land and natural resource markets – Added to these deprivations,is unequal access to natural resources and land. Both liberalization and urbanization created pressures on land, raising issues of conversion, compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation. Plus there are issues connected with tribal access to forest and mineral resources.
Environmental degradation often tends to adversely affect the poor as well.
- Special Session: Making of a New Nation - The Digital Pathway – Technology innovation is a key ingredient in India's success as a services economy, but the country will need to rapidly scale up its use of technology or risk losing its competitive edge but first, poverty and deprivation need to be removed through a spectrum of connectivities – physical, electronic and of the mind and of ideas and technology. How do we harness the power of a billion connected people? How will the global economy benefit by a connected India? Technology innovation is a key ingredient in India's success as a services economy, but the country will need to rapidly scale up its use of technology or risk losing its competitive edge.