Innovative Strategies for Grass Roots Development

Innovative Strategies for Grass Roots Development

by Garry Jacobs
Vice President, The Mother’s Service Society, Pondicherry

Keynote address presented at the National Workshop on Innovative Strategies in Grassroots Development, Gandhigram, February 18, 2010

Abstract

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Development is a process, not a program. It is not something that is accomplished by the government, educational institutions, NGOs or businesses, though all can contribute in their own way. It is an initiative of the society itself which is accomplished by the people. Development is self-development. It is accomplished by self-conception. Development is one of four levels of social progress – survival, growth, development and evolution. The process of development passes through a number of stages –subconscious aspiration of the collective, pioneering individual initiative, imitation, conscious awareness, multiplier effect, organization, institutionalization, and culture.

Development is the process of converting social potential into social reality. That potential takes innumerable forms and is unlimited. This presentation illustrates four types of social potential that can be tapped to dramatically accelerate the development of India today. Technological potential is what everyone is aware of, but the untapped scope for technological potential in India is enormous. The best technology is that which can be readily adapted by a very large number of people to enhance their own productivity and incomes. The application of micro-nutrients in agriculture can easily double average crop productivity in India within a few years. Combined with modern land preparation techniques, it can also drastically reduce water consumption for agriculture, which constitutes more than 80% of total water usage.

Organization is another vastly underutilized social potential. The Farm School is a simple form of organizational innovation which can be utilized to disseminate advanced agricultural technologies quickly over a wide area. Establishment of a national system of Farm Schools combined with advanced soil testing laboratories can double India’s crop productivity and half water consumption for agriculture by 50% or more.

Education is the key to evolving a modern prosperous democracy. A simple, low cost, effective technique for early childhood education has been developed by Dr. Glenn Doman of USA and is already being implemented in India. This method employs flash cards to teach very young children both language and general knowledge starting from the age of two or three years. By the time they reach first standard, they are already capable of reading fluently in both English and Indian languages together with a wide range of general knowledge.

Money is usually considered the key to development and there is never enough of it to go around. Money mobilizes social resources to meet social needs. As long as there are untapped social resources, there is potential for creating money. Few people realize that communities can create their own money to foster more rapid development. Thousands of communities around the world are operating their own local or complementary currency systems designed to mobilize unutilized resources to satisfy unmet needs.

Government does have a key role to play in development. But free electricity and subsidies are not the best way. Gifts and subsidies are usually counter-productive because they undermine initiative by individuals and local communities. Imparting skills and creating opportunities for employment and self-employment mobilize untapped social resources to enable people to help themselves. India’s NREGS program is a far-sighted initiative that places India on the global forefront of innovation in grassroots development. Its greatest value arises from the fact that it recognizes employment as a fundamental human right of all citizens.

There was a time when people considered population India’s greatest problem. Today we realize that population is one of India’s greatest assets. The development of a nation depends on the development of knowledge, skills, character and values in each of its individual citizens. The ultimate objective of all development efforts should be to enhance the value of man, provide people with greater freedom, self-confidence and self-respect, and encourage them to develop and express their latent capacities and abilities for their own progress and the prosperity of the country. Today in India development is generating a revolution of rising expectations based on the rising value of man. The ultimate power and resource of development is not money or technology or even social organization. It is the individual human being.

Further Information:

  • Theory and process of social development

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=The_Process_of_Development

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=Theory_of_Social_Development_Chennai,

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=Theory_of_Development 

  • Crop production and Farm Schools

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/files/Strategies_for_Employment_Generation_in_Agriculture_Report_to_the_National_Commission_on_Farmers.pdf

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/files/Raising%20crop%20productivity.ppt

–     National Agro Foundation, Chennai http://www.nationalagro.org/presdientvisit.htm

  • For Complementary Currency systems

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=Local_Currency

–     www.strohalm.org

–     www.appropriate-economics.org/materials.html

–     www.complementarycurrency.org 

–     http://www.banquepalmas.fr/IMG/pdf/Community_Banks_-_Microcredit_The_Case_of_Brazil_.pdf 

  • Early Childhood Education

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=The_Genius_of_the_Child

–     http://www.primroseschool.org/

–     http://www.mssresearch.org/?q=National_Education_Program_for_India

–     IAHP, USA http://www.iahp.org/

 

Future Education Conference

A one-day conference on Future Education in India was organized at Anandha Inn, Pondicherry on January 28, 2018 to consider the changes needed in our schools and to examine successful strategies that are already being applied by schools in India and overseas. 

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