Abundant Foodgrain Stocks, Ample Foreign Exchange Reserves and Poverty: Addressing the Challenges of India’s Development Story

India progressed with 9% growth and 5% inflation with the Economic Reforms of 1991 which trumped the old slow growth model to a new continuous monitoring model of economy building.
We reached our millennium goals, due thanks to globalization and liberalization with major hiccups which refuted core development methods and presented us with the adage, ‘Growth comes with its share of difficulties’.
And in the age globalization of not only economies, but also hopes kept us in fear to daringly see new possibilities in lieu of breakdown.
As we enter the last half of 2011, India possess economic abundance and ample food grain reserves so much as our granaries can’t store it and leave it to nature to decompose. No, these are not golden spoon moments; in fact, we have lot of abject poverty to look into on why so high uneven divide got created, as if it’s a clarion call that we missed to look into our developments as vivid as our diversity.

One look tells us that agriculture constitute the major part of our economy, and as a result we out folded our agriculture spending in the last couple of years which fruited us with 4% growth in agriculture, which we once only dreamed about.
Sadly, it also fostered generation of a new economic divide, ’rural poor’.
Frightening are the recent NSSO figures which numerate 91% of income gap among rural and urban dwellers. Still this did not stop us from delivering the growth rate, but warns us to check our fuel before striding forward to a halt!

A look into the fund distribution clears the flaws that we missed while formulating them. One among many is, the subsidies still are divided into big farmers leaving the needy peasant with a namesake amount. This was drawn to utilize the contribution but it failed to bring in a collaborative way of mixed economy. Ahead, we must look into distributing them unequally and on need basis. Another issue left to solve is 70% of our agriculture still depend on monsoon. We again failed to bring sophisticated irrigation methods to this cause. As a result, agriculture excluding fisheries, poultry is in a state of collapse! We spend millions of amount on surface and groundwater irrigation, but still have no clue why there is a lack in output per field. Subsidies still reach only 1/3rd part of the ratio.

Now, let’s look at the NSSO figures for rural spending. Rural consumption is now 2/3rd part of national average. From last 5 years, overall expenditure has increased from `772 to `1054 in 2009-10. And, food expenses also has increased slowly from `404 to `600 in 2009-10. Speaking math rural spending on FMCG is presently 64% from 53% on food in last 20yrs, and on other misc. from 9.5% to 24% an increase in 14%. Thankfully but unintentionally, India’s 60% of rural folk ride a motorcycle, today!
The above data shows increase in non-essential expenditure which includes transport, school, hospital, fuel, tobacco to essential ones. We gave them services and rightfully spending has also increased drastically.
But, did we liberalize to a larger extent? We presented an Indian farmer with better facilities like education for his kids, roads and increase in public transport to towns for accessibility, networks for communication but left better irrigation methods to manage for on their own. Giving rise to subsidies on diesel created formerly rich-in-land farmers driving luxury cars! As mentioned we created rural poor and gave them better accessibility, certainly giving them many juggling balls to hold through among real estate, urbanization and employment of his land and no food for thought advice.
We need policies and better amendments to fix many leakages in the present safety net programs like NREGA to quote and many others. Our legislative acts also have lots of shortcomings for fostering tribal communities. A strong inclusion must be made for all their problems and to check population control.

These changes implicitly affect nation’s food security. Similar to Right to Education Bill, the Food Security Bill (likely into Winter Session of Parliament) is appreciated. Under this, we intend to give legal entitlement to highly subsidized food grains to around 70% of the population. Accordingly, 75% rural households will get subsidized grain according to newspaper reports.
But, a step further must be taken. We currently have the Public Distribution System (PDS) which is perhaps the largest distribution network of its type in the world. But, is not efficient in working at street level for which they were created for. Around 40% of the stock goes into black market. Commodity reserves are plenty but cannot release them. Under the new bill, `20 per day food security for rural areas is being reserved. Add on issue to be looked upon is food relief measures during floods and natural calamities.
Opening of exports for wheat, cotton, rice is a welcome move to our surplus stocks. But, there’s no point in exporting fodder food implying to sell not only the harvest but four months of land as well. Concrete policies should be made while initializing them leaving no missed opportunities.
India’s development story is not complete without talking on the urban view, its resources and challenges. No doubt, migration from rural areas to urban zones have increased in the past 5 years and posed further strain on the limited resources of the city. We have been giving away our lands to Greenfield projects for promising growth and development of world cities until recently flaws have been detected in the Noida project of illegal land acquisitions and improper planning. We must plan flawlessly and nimbly in these issues. A further step would be to plan with a local community involved in the monitoring process of work done.

India’s FDI investments are contributing 10% to economy and its love affair with India is cooling down which keeps us in a favorable position to revive the backbone of our domestic economy. It should definitely start with agriculture and smooth a transition towards the services sector. The major scams in 2008 has put a bad picture of ourselves to foreign investors and it’s ripe time to win back their faith by implementing tax policies on a fixed tenure. Also, the investments have been centered to manufacturing and services sector which also needs to flow down to other sunrise sectors such as defense, financial and banking.

As mentioned growth comes with its share of problems and difficulties but we have never bogged down on our capabilities. We have immense potential to work our way out as we did in the financial meltdown and large youth, to bring novel combination of solutions for complex problems.
And pointing it on democracy is not the way to go.

What we are missing is agility in decision making and quick feedback amendments. The state should bring in discretion powers to the penultimate level of administration or perhaps the gram panchayats at direct level of its head. An impromptu effect would be to include at least 5% of local members of any decision committee, which would be highly conducive. Today, as in 1990s the Govt. must be bold enough to usher a new wave of policies addressing the concerns without excluding strong monitoring laws.
To conclude I would say, we should revive our inspiration from our ancestors who started civilization in the Indus Valley to the political crisis, which gave us the brilliant economist Kautilya amidst the Greek invasion of Alexander the Great to being a global power. Certainly we are still having many budding Chanakyas to set the growth wheel going and help create flawless execution processes throughout challenges and bring the goal of being a developed nation into light not for chauvinistic conversations, instead surfed by every Indian mind.


The above essay participated in the ‘GOLDEN JUBILEE CELEBRATION OF INDIAN ECONOMIC SERVICE’ organised by IES- DoEF, Ministry  of Finance in August 2011. Any info. for the same is welcomed!



It was a fantastic learning experience to watch LEAD(an organisation comprising a group of young people united by a desire to educate and thereby, change destinies of underprevileged children around Airoli, Ghansoli and few rural villages in Badlapur) conduct, manage for the cause. Following our small Volunteers Meet at Airoli, it was a truly great event.

The volunteers involved at LEAD this year and since its intiative really bring a diverse mix of skills, which is great to see. From B.Com grads to technical whiz kids all passionate fellows, it has been incredibly inspiring talking to them and hearing about their ideas, plans for the future. From shoots trees grow.

While the Centre is a resource, the true spirit will come from all of the energetic youths involved who are taking bold steps to improve their communities and regenerate the hope of education for underprivileged kids. I’m thrilled to be supporting the region in this way with many others helping out.

Recently, I was sent a link to a fascinating page in the TimesOfIndia over the weekend which was about The Joy of Giving Week. Its India’s festival of giving!!!!

No matter who you are you can be a part of it by doing something good for the society at large and thats exactly what it does.

Just when I thought, why not start your own page for charity that you feel passionate about?
Just then, we created a community GIVE JOY which would help colleges look into celebrating JOY of GIVING WEEK 2011 and would also foster genuine, selfless giving for the needy!

Thereby we planned to create many events for the cause up this week! Check them out and try to be a part of it.

– Donate old clothes, stationary, food items for a good cause.

– Buy stationary at a concessional rate and donate the remaining amount.

– Love chocolates, puppets

– A Bike ride from Mulund to Malshej (don’t miss!) … Ride for a cause on 2nd October 2011

– Celebrate in your community
Learn how

– Buy paintings View them here

– Get the latest edition of POPULAR SCIENCE at a concessional rate to support! Drop an email at prathameshshanbhag at yahoo dot com 😉

So, how do you plan to celebrate the JOY of Giving Week 2011?

All items and other beneficiaries collected will be mobilized to LEAD Foundation based in Airoli.
Find them on Facebook

If you plan to give generously or have any other query please drop a mail at prathameshshanbhag@yahoo.com or Call on 97 57 28 76 18

Make sure you check back in over the coming weeks to see how we are all getting onGIVE JOY

I’m still confused!

flicksurf & Indian startups

Look around where you reside for start ups..!#!# huh whats that? Greek? No. I’ll help you out.

Just have a look around your street for whats sprawling up across the juncture. A walk will do. You’ll be totally amazed at whats been happening and whats all on your fellow citizens mind. Every novel idea or out of the box development are technically called start ups these days.

Start ups in India has grown into a top portal frequented by members of Indian start up eco-system. Who are they? They are a new breed of hybrid genes who have donated fear in their bellies to a transformation with their setbacks as they came up the road less taken!

To cite consider the rise and rise of flipkart.com been valuated at about $1bn becoming a first start up to cross that figure. It has not only raised the expectations of existing customers but has also brought in many new and faithful customers in this foray which now invites many other new ventures and foremost players equally alike.

As such cutthroat competition is not new to India. Presently it is one of the many setbacks to one of the most trusted telecom and airline players, worldwide who entered India at the blossom time. And also to the fact that the Indian Government haven’t shown any checkered flag to anyone wanting to cash in for the fruitful progress of the economy which is conducive.

The above mentioned panorama is just the tip of an iceberg. And there are countless young NRIs flocking to have their share of pie with their self imposed misappropriation about India’s growing story. Nevertheless the doubtful yet gleaming Indian mother has one more reason to say ‘Mara deekra toh US mei hai, MS seektha hai‘ and if not he certainly has a chance to make it large back here!

Two sectors which I personally feel which has a very bright future in India are cyber-technology and aeronautical part making business. World One countries are already into cyber-technology, closely followed by Chinese. The latter sector is still in for a stellar growth and our home grown mechanical engineers can carve out a part in it(perhaps with a add-on grad. degree)!

I am more inclined to the cyber side of India’s development as of this blog. The last carriage for our growth train was no doubt Sameer Bhatia’s Hotmail sale to Microsoft which spurred a lot of related dot com boom in India. To quote

“A lot of traditional Silicon Valley industries like semiconductors and networking have matured. Today’s Indian entrepreneur is simply where the market is. And that obviously includes social, mobile and cloud,”
says Vish Mishra, a venture capitalist at ClearStone Ventures and global head of the world’s largest entrepreneurial body, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)

Get back to your twenties and run a flashback and you will feel that’s the best time to be in this country! I have fortunately had friends with this viewpoint and every time I used to go to them with complaining grudges(to flicksurf team) they shot back saying India is a good breeding ground for entrepreneurs, not employees!

India is a good breeding ground for entrepreneurs, not employees

Even constant ripples of water make way out of huge rocks and eventually pass through them creating a waterfall to soothe and awe minds and hearts alike.

With this belief, we(Team flicksurf) planned to start a recommendation engine to heal net-savvy users and others in search for relevant content from the web and give ‘friendly yet firm’ reply to spams. A recommendation engine is very different to a normal search engine in heaps of ways!

A recommendation engine doesn’t have an inch of space on your feed without your friends’ control. We explored a lot with it and it actually make sharing your recos. pretty simple and hassle free. No you don’t share your message to your friends by having to scoop in through many other updates but with a simple click and a pound of truthfulness.

We of course, had couple of face to face meetings to discuss the course. The most helpful meet in this initiative was at a food court where we were able to grasp what actually was in need. One of the team members also went to Amsterdam(in the process extended his vacation) to find how a top check-in managing site did wow its users.

We implicitly(with much into observing people at a large food joint) into two categories of community interest viz. movies and music!
Others categories we decided to add later are books, blogs, musings!
And therefore went ahead into flicksurf concentrating our initial splurge with them and wait to see the response, worldwide!

We ourselves were amazed with the response we received from various technical communities in India and other such forums. And so we decided to launch it to everyone(only accepting emails right now) with a catchy, less geeky know how to operate on it.

It overall was a very pleasant experience for the team and will bring in lot of our hopes to test. I look forward to have many such deep learning curves with the flicksurf team

Excitement of our group at the moment is sky high and hope all the fun we had creating it is matched from the users who’ll be joining us!


flicksurf is currently in beta version and available to users. If you would like to have an invitation and check out how many of your friends are on it drop your email here.


Follow @flicksurf

Travelogue – Chinchoti & Tungareshwar Waterfalls

7th July 2011, 20:53hrs

It never seemed that we would have a sort of ‘double dhamaal’ in store for us while we hustled our way to Chinchoti and Tungareshwar falls with no signs of rain. Nevertheless we gathered at Dadar station to catch a train to Virar at 7:43am. The route to Naigaon station brought us an ugly picture of what was in store for us, until we reached Naigoan station at about 8:40am. Some cloud clapped mountains on the east side of the station increases the oomph factor of the rain and much needed relief for the eyes, more importantly the direction.

We then took an auto to Chinchoti naka(takes Rs.15/person) to be accompanied by two working class travellers and lampoon conversations of the auto driver which brought a glimpse of the place. The auto drops you on the crossroad of Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway (Chinchoti naka). The road ahead to the falls is diagonally en route to the interiors of Kaman village.

The residing villagers are the best signboards to the way up and are helpful. The road inward goes on getting narrower till we are surrounded by fields. We crossed the fields to find another narrow road which was adjacently placed to the stone walled railings of the village folks.

Just as we were about to cross the fields we were startled to be welcomed by a snake!

It was dozing away on the road hoping to be pounced upon by us. Luckily it feared away on our thought of bypassing it using mid-air techniques. We then rested for a while with humidity and cloudy weather getting on us. Mere looking around the place fooled us by its randomness. The track meandered through lush green forests, rivulets and rocky patches. Certainly, this was not merely a hike or a trail in the hills. It was going to be an altogether different outdoor experience. We then opened ourselves to snacks and water to recharge ourselves on the trek ahead.
As Confucius puts it, ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop’ we yet again started our hike steadily, watching over our steps and looking forward to signboards. Gut instincts and luck favored us by bringing in villagers to show us the path to the falls (you always take a left when met with two roads!). We always made sure that we inscribed our directions on our way back on barks, flat stones or by arranging pieces of stones.

By such practices we never lost our way and were on track with time.
A half an hour walk in the woods accompanied by black-colored butterflies, humming insects and chirping birds will lead you to Chinchoti falls. There are half a dozen falls of up to 5ft in height here. One waterfall was just the right size and force for a good body massage. Grabbing the best spot to sit under a waterfall is a skill to master.
Time moved on but it lacked the urgency to compel us to move with it. many in the hideAll the activity had made us all very hungry indeed. We had carried loads to eat, and we had our lunch in the shade of trees and huge rock seats. We were amazed by the beauty and green tinted color of the pools created by the falls.

It was still 1pm and we decided to go forward to the parent Tungareshwar waterfall. Another half an hour trail left us at the dazzling white water of the 125 feet magnificent waterfall which with its beauty got etched on our minds permanently. With some more rocky terrain and some more ‘kekadda khans’ we finally relished the moment at the foot of the falls. The depth of water was appropriate for swimming and provided a relief to our hard earned gruesome walk. We for the first timed loved the cloudy weather and falls abaft.

The fun was doubled since it was better than the previous and we all were waiting for a treat.. it was so beautiful, stunning, and eye-soothing, there is no such adjective that can explain the scene, and it is still stuck up in our eyes.

Without any invitation we jumped into the water as the rocks through which we were passing were slippery and care had to be taken while going further.
It must have been around 3 p.m., impossible to determine from the light of day…the sun was practically hidden for the greater part of the day by dark dense clouds. The day was cloudy and the temperature must have been a pleasant 22 to 24 degrees, we decided to call it a day. We packed our bags with some breathtaking photography hurriedly to be welcomed by incessant rain. Perhaps nature wanted us to stay there for some more time!

the journey was a thrilling experience and the waterfall a beauty!

Fearing the accessibility of comforts we decided to start our journey back to the base village. Thankfully the etched marks were present and guided us on our way back! The rain with it had brought yellow colored crabs to cross our ways and bid us goodbyes. With more invisibility and less distance to cover we were at the base of the village.
The coolness of air and more importantly wet clothes made us stop at a village house cum eatery (first house after the bridge) to pour in garaam chai and Parle G.

The trip concluded with more group photos to preserve a lineage of memories. Indeed the journey was a thrilling experience and the waterfall a beauty!

Along with fun and learning we also came closer to nature. Memories of these ecstatic moments, being caught alone in the natural order of things, will haunt us till next season, and then it would be time for an encore!

Set of clothes for traveling – to & fro
2 Shorts, 2 T-shirts
Good pair of shoes, Slippers
Rain cheater / Raincoat / Umbrella
Big plastic bags for keeping wet clothes
Sleeping bag / Bed sheet, Mosquito repellent, Torch
Toiletries, towel, undergarments, Personal medicines

Get LIVE CWC 2011 Scores! for FREE

A cricket fan!….fed up with monthly charges for ball by ball updates from operators when you are just heading out! Then check this out!

You’ll need a Facebook Account wherein you will have to enable your mobile no. here
(TIP:You can hide your mobile no. from your friends from your Profile Page)
Then go on to like ‘BCCI‘ i.e the Cricket Board in India and on their page to the left top click on ‘ Subscribe via SMS ‘ on their Fan Page!
Thats it! Be ready to receive a plethora of messages on your mobile. You can disable this service the same way!

Wait on! Did you know you can just do the same with your friends’ updates?

The Most Important Thing In Life – Discipline

Shortly, I was commuting by train to my house, I found an old man with glasses on his nose, reading the English version of ‘Bhagavad Gita’ quite point to point his finger making sure he not miss a word!
What caught me was his dedication and a bag of more books he was carrying with! I asked him (with a fear of being rejected), “What is the most important thing in life?’ He replied after a pause ‘DISCIPLINE!’
Sadly, I asked him in the last minutes of my travel(next time I commit to do it a lot before and in a more extraordinary persistent way). Made me think over it : How disciplined are we in our lives? Actually remembered Mahatma Gandhi – a single man who truly was so disciplined in whatever in did, that challenged the mightiest country in the world!
Finally, this man got off to his place and replied “One more thing is more important in life, its ENERGY!….You must have energy to use your time more productively.”
Must say a man with silver head and a golden heart!
[P.S: The reason I write this is because of his departure a young lad standing on the doors of the train was playing loudly ‘Socha Hai Ye Tumne Kya Kabhi’ from ‘Rock On’ which set the dramatic pun intended]