‘Need to go beyond agriculture to develop rural areas`

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam has said that employment opportunities will increase if rural India thinks beyond agriculture.

Kolkata: Former President A P J Abdul Kalam
has said that employment opportunities will increase if rural
India thinks beyond agriculture.

"In some cases, we may have opportunities with local
craftsmanship, local rural tourism, knowledge products and
service sector. Such a focus across a diversity of
opportunities will also help generate better employment and
tackle the issue of disguised unemployment," he said.

While expressing his views over the debatable issue of
agriculture vs industry in the country`s vast hinterlands, he
said in an e-mail interview from Delhi, that the focus
should be on leveraging the power of core competency of each
and every region.

"Of course, since we are talking of rural context, in
many occasions this would be related to agriculture, but not
always," Kalam said lamenting that in urbanisation there is
little focus on developing native technology or evolving core
competency of the region.

Through his new book `Target 3 billion` co-authored with
Srijan Pal Singh and published by Penguin, Kalam promotes a
strategy called PURA (Providing Urban Facilities to Rural

The stratergy talks about focusing and developing the
local core competencies which originate from the indigenous
culture and conditions and how technology can enhance them
into a viable enterprise solution.

To encompass local culture and value-based learning,
even education needs to be customised, the Bharat Ratna
awardee pointed out.

Explaining that the strategy is not meant to urbanise
rural areas, Kalam said PURA is about nurturing the
competencies of the rural areas and generating entrepreneurial
opportunities for the locals.

"PURA can thus be extended to an urbanisation programme
with a sustainability factor," he said, adding that the model
focuses not only on conserving the environment but also on
enhancing the local culture.

"We have evolved a new cadre of entrepreneurs called the
`Ecopreneurs` who would be green-collared enterprises," he
said when asked as to how rural areas should fight the curse
of pollution that comes along with urban amenities.

Describing rural development as technology`s biggest
opportunity, the eminent scientist, remarked that technology
can empower the 3 billion underprivileged people living in
rural areas all over the world.

When asked what keeps him motivated to continue working
for developmental causes even at the age of 80, he cited his
dream to see billion smiles on billion faces.


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