Uttarakhand Vision 2040

This is the key note address delivered by me at the National Conference on the subject. The talk as delivered can be seen/ heard in YouTube by googling y s rajan. This text is a lightly edited transcript of that speech.

First of all, thanks to the Vice Chancellor Dr. Chandra Shekhar Nautiyal, Dr.Har Sharan NTPC Chair Professor and the organizers for giving me this opportunity for share my thoughts with the august audience here. Dehradun is not new to me. I had been here since 1975 for ISRO work and had come many times.

For me it is also great nostalgia-enjoyable ones. I will recall a few items dating back to 1998 when the then Union S&T Minister Dr. M.M. Joshi desired us, TIFAC to create a vision for the yet-to-form Uttaranchal State as a follow up of major Technology Vision 2020 exercise we had completed and the popular book by Dr. Kalam and myself, India 2020, Vision for a New Millennium had just come out. Minister of State for S and T (Late Bachi Singh Rawat) shared with us his immense knowledge about the real ground realities(some of them harsh) of this wonderful land and people

TIFAC’s philosophy was not just to generate reports and publish them. Reports have many action items- specific project ideas. We always take up a few of the action points and implement projects. It is like “Walk-the Talk”. Some great persons in Agriculture, Health Sector, Herbal/Aromatic Plants, Educationists, and Administrators worked very closely with us. I will show a brief brochure. I am glad that one of those vision-action leaders who worked in Uttarakhand, Prof A N Purohit is here with us.

My intent is telling about it, is that I learnt a great lesson then, through studies, discussions and visits.

In part, the Uttarakhand economy was a “money-order-economy” because a great number of sons of soil were going to Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Pune etc to work in ordinary jobs and sent money to their families.

But another very great finding by me was that people who belong here, went away for greater achievements as eminent doctors, academicians, defense personnel, institution builders etc. They made their mark all over India and the world. I called them the “diaspora” of Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand! Great achievers by nay Indian and global standards.

They are great strengths if one can network them and “rope-them-in” to do the same within Uttarakhand. We did some of it in our TIFAC projects and it was successful e.g. Mobile Hospital praised by USAID as a great model to follow.

This diaspora-net is the strength number ONE for Uttarakhand. Second is the fact after its formulation from 9 November, 2000 it has shown a good potential to grow in economy-in GDP and GDP per capita. Uttarakhand definitely won’t come in the bottom of the list of states in India, in any of critical parameters. It is also reported to be the sixth richest states.

That means the people of the state and the powers- that-be operating here, have the capability to grow fast-faster often than overall India average. Now when you are set to look ahead the next twenty years, after a good record of 20 years, what do you aim at?

Challenges are a lot more now. Fast growth from a low base is relatively easy. Some of the low hanging fruits have been well utilized.

Is that enough? In a world where the global linkages to the economy, business agriculture and technologies are very strong, one cannot afford to think in the old mode. 20 years ahead is too long in one sense. The rapid changes take up place now all over in India. The aspirations of the youth of Uttarakhand are also rising very fast. People want better living, more goodies for their day-to-day living. Next 20 years may witness 2 or 3 major changes technologically and the way people work and live.

It is against these background and context; we need to look at the years ahead. I have seen the four themes specially emphasized for the conference:

  1. Tourism
  2. Women Empowerment with special emphasis on health & education
  3. Localizing MSME’s
  4. Sustainable Urbanization and satellite towns.

I would touch upon these and some more in a holistic way; I foresee things unfolding and the great potentials for Uttarakhand and the challenges in implementation.

Kindly pardon me if I adopt a mode of delivery

“Satyam Bruyaat (Speak truth)

Priyam Bruyaat” ( Speak it pleasantly)

And I would omit the third part

“Na Bruyaat Satyam Apriyam” (Don’t tell unpleasant truths), as over years in India’s public life we have started adopting a mode “Bruyaat asatyam priyam” (Speak pleasant lies), though it is prohibited in the same hymn as “Priyam cha nanritam bruyaat” ( You should not tell a sweet lie). That had caused great harm.

I found that Tulsi Das had warned of it long ago.

Mantri Guru aru Vaidya ( Minister/ Adviser, Teacher/ Guru, and Physician)

Piya bolahi bhaya aas ( Tell pleasant things out of fear or hope (of rewards))

Raja Dharma aru Tan ((then) King/Ruler/ CEO, Dharma/Order of Law, and Body)

Teenahi begahi naas (all three get destroyed speedily)

While Kama is often sought after in private lives and dharma often emphasized in public life, the glue that holds them together is Artha-the wealth.

Therefore, would first touch upon the issue for wealth enhancement (growth) in Uttarakhand. State as a whole and the people (almost 1 crores plus now-may increase to 1.2 crores) in the next 20 years (till 2040).

Wealth generated in the state as per the economic snap shot of the report of IBEF(India Brand Equity Foundation) for 2017-18, as GSVA i.e.

Value Addition

  Tertiary Sector     39.76%     Growth Rate     13.56%  
  Secondary Sector     49.74%     Growth Rate     9.71%  
  Primary Sector     10.50%     Growth Rate     5.4%%  

Value Addition (VA) is an indication of wealth generator. Primary Sector agriculture employs about 33% of the work force. But their net value addition is only 10.50%

So it is an issue. Those dependent on agriculture would therefore will get less income. Overall India it is the same problem. But average persons in agriculture in all India level is 52% with agriculture share in GDP is almost 15%.

Actually lesser number of persons in agriculture in Uttarakhand keeps the situation better. It does not matter if the number of persons goes down. But value addition should go up.

One key issue for the vision 2040 exercise for immediate and short-term action is to improve productivity in Agriculture. It cannot be done by just trying to do it with grains etc. One had to move towards high-end agriculture need not all be on food alone.

The wide range of climatic conditions even in small geographic area like Uttarakhand gives great opportunity to create high value products.

I came across a report about floriculture Chaffi JV between Dutch Government and Uttarakhand Government. It targets growing of Chrysanthemum, Tulips, Zates etc., in order to cut reliance on imports of flower bulbs and to meet the demand of art flora growers.

Production facility at Bhimtal is equipped with Dutch Machinery for 2 million plants annually through tissue culture.

Why not ramp up such items to provide for large-scale supply to many parts of India and even for export abroad? It will create many avenues for large incomes for women as well with different skills.

Another example: Uttarakhand has some 130 odd special species of plants not available elsewhere.

With world and India turning to consumption of herbal/ plant based products, there is a huge scope to commercially plant them and create new markets.

I saw a recent report that almost all consumer products from toothpaste to soaps to oils etc. in India have now turned 75% or more to plant additives even foreign MNC’s (Colgate, Hindustan Unilever etc.) are “forced” to use these to meet consumer demands. Indian market is huge. Rise of Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali is one example.

In addition for some of the farms, newer techniques of agriculture can be used. Also what about Hydroponics/ Aeroponics?

Protected plant cultivation is a new value added part of agriculture.

Again these items in agriculture cannot be seen as stand alone as in traditional agriculture. Many of them can be and have to be market linked through many e-commerce outlets for sale to India and the world. Local retail and e-commerce will coexist in the coming years.

That will require high-end skills of agriculture. Not all farmers need to do them; there will be a few such specialised workers in Uttarakhand itself.

It is in this context I am happy to see that ICT penetration is reasonably good in Uttarakhand.

  -  0.81 million-wire line

  -  167.24 With wireless subscriber

  -  Internet 52.130 million

How good they are in far-flung areas and hills I did not get the data. It is important to increase the internet penetration and smart phones. It should be high quality and reliable.

Availability of smart phones in the hands of ALL families of Uttarakhand in rural and less connected areas in crucial. It can be the target also for every student. It is possible now: ISRO’s recently launched satellites are meant to give internet connectivity to any part of the country. It is implemented through BharatNet.

They are not like the Edu sat network I see here in the campus. It is old vintage (20 years ago type!)

Uttarakhand should aim to use those new ISRO satellites for DIGITAL Uttarakhand even in all the hilly areas. It is not like going to moon. It can be achieved in 3 years say by 2022.

Once it is done, access to market information, linkages to e-commerce etc. will be possible. Many good businesses will grow around them and they will help persons from different walks of life in rural and urban areas, farmers, women artisans, etc. to earn more! These businesses will employ many youth who need not be engineers or scientists.

For students they will be ready for Industry 4.0, Agriculture 4.0 etc. very easily. Access to specialist doctors to pass on medical information will be easier.

Of course, other things like payment by Government to people becomes easy. Governance becomes better. Banking becomes easy for ordinary people.

So far, we have touched upon two items:

1. Value Added  -  Agriculture different from usual one, and with its aim to reach India and world market especially with high value addition because of unique geographic conditions of Uttarakhand. Uttarakhand can and should become hub for special Agri products I have referred to above.

Digital Uttarakhand  -  These are two must agriculture related activities to reduce inequality of incomes and make it attractive to be with the soil. Coupled with ICT women will have access to higher incomes. The ghost villages about 1000 abandoned due to poor income can be used to create many new models for agriculture with better income levels. Then it is possible to pay rent to those who left those lands!

Now coming to Industries, manufacture is crucial for value addition in a large scale. Uttarakhand, I found has a base in some modern industries. But it needs to get more of

  1. Electronics/Optics Assembly
  2. 3-D manufacturing
  3. Bioprocessing in major way
  4. Advance herbal based high value production
  5. Food processing with due care of effluents

My suggestion is that Uttarakhand need not to be worried about MSME’s and localizing them alone. Uttarakhand should attract big companies to have assembly here and create many ancillary MSME’s here as big networks. That will provide global market and business connections for the products made in Uttarakhand.

With 3-D manufacturing facilities in place in Uttarakhand, many of the usual artisanal products also can take beautiful high value forms fetching much higher incomes for the artisans and others involved in 3-D manufacture in Uttarakhand.

Then alone the secondary sector growth in terms of Value Addition will increase. Otherwise, it will go down from current levels because MSME’s not connected to value chains or supply chains to India, its neighborhood and parts of world markets will start becoming unprofitable. Therefore don’t localize, but globalize them by linking to right supply chains.

Now let us address the great thing of Uttarakhand: Tourism.

From religion to spirituality to serenity to adventure to scientific exploration.

However, digital Uttarakhand is crucial to expand and realize the FULL potential. Also, do not live with physical visit alone; Hybridize them with modern technologies of

  • Virtual Realities
  • Animated Pictures etc.

For example: Let the tourist go to the usual known places. Sitting in those beautiful environment let them go through Virtual Reality Shows. Explore the 21 new places identified in Uttarakhand by Government or other analysts as having great tourist potential.

Jogeshwar, Baijnath, Saat tal, Bhimtal, Pataal Bhuvaneshwar, Chakori, Someshwar, Pithoragarh, Chakrata, Roopkund, Hanaul, Anson Barrage, Harshil, Dhanaulti, Daryana etc.

With some Government and CSR support initially, many startup entrepreneurs can do these shows. It will be a new business forms called: Creative Industries. Youth especially will love such shows available in their mobiles and special places. After seeing them in virtual world or as animations, then tourist may decide to physically explore. They can use UAV’s too to get their own pictures.

Animation can become a regular value added business here. This will give lots of jobs to highly skilled young persons in Uttarakhand itself. Let persons come from outside as well.

Let usual tourism be there. Nucleate the items I mention above within next year. By 2030 they will become booming businesses with high value addition within Uttarakhand.

Tourism also means garbage, wastewater, etc. This is not merely due to tourists alone. More the people of Uttarakhand get more income they will produce more solid waste and liquid waste.

Waste material reuse in the short term and eventually to have zero waste can be done with known, proven modern technlogies.

So also within 3 years used water recycling and reuse should be enforced in all places with more than 10,000 people. It is possible within affordable technology. Also for solid waste reuse in about 5 years. Then you are on the path of sustainable development.

The entire education system should have to cater to these above-mentioned new skills be in Agriculture, Maufacturing, ICT or Tourism etc. Simple Read, wRite, and aRithmetic are not sufficient to cater to the skill/ knowledge requirements of value added activities mentioned above. Literacy takes a new meaning.

Aim should be to expose young students, right from early school education, to focused repeat focused new skills through physical as well as cyber-based techniques.

I have some more to say but I should not omit two items:

First, Disaster Management activities, prevention and post disaster services, can be built up professionally into an organized service business in terms of support services (not just for Uttarakhand but also for many parts of India). A special squad from Uttarakhand can be flown to other disaster prone/ hit areas; these can be termed as “Uttarakhand DM Services”.

Second is about Security System not just from Watchman to Defense Services but beyond that, the whole lot of cyber-based security related activities such as Intelligence, Surveillance, Imaging, Forensic surveys,etc.-Do not forget it. Uttarakhand people are in Army let them also be proud leaders in other security areas. Many women can do these activities very well.

Lastly a few words on women empowerment: Subramaniya Bharati a great national poet in Tamil would have been very happy to see it.

I hope it is not confined to traditional view of women. Yes, many hardworking women in Uttarakhand need to be taken care. There are also many others. Let us empower Uttarakhand women in all fields: as technicians, nurses, to pilots to fighter pilots to police to scientist to astronauts to sports to boxing to multiple language specialists, Indian and foreign. What not also as Business Women?

I see the emphasis on their health and education. Very crucial but a women who is capable of earning well and having skills to earn equal to or better then man will be taken care of in health; she will be respected. Most of the routine work will not be 9 to 5 as in Government Office or factories as it is now. It will be flexible timing. That will help women many ways.

The above brief talk contains elements for sustainable urbanization. Urbanization per se is not bad. People go to urban areas to get better income. When we diversify the opportunities to have better income in all parts of Uttarakhand, the issue will sort out itself.

As far smart towns, I have a view based on considerable experience and research. a With the amount of affordable access of satellite and smart phones I foresee that by 2030 the whole Uttarakhand can be a smart state.

Tourists who go to any part of Uttarakhand can enjoy the real and virtual world. Rural remote areas can be digitally connected to those who come to Uttarakhand can be linked to any place Andaman, Kanyakumari, or USA.

I am deeply aware of the issues of environment. All my suggestions above IMBED them. In fact with application of modern technology and science, environment and industries can have flourishing relation. They will be twin strands of modern living.

By 2040, I want to suggest that Uttarakhand puts itself a target that it will contribute 2.5% to 3% of GDP to India’s GDP (Now it is 1.3%). Not a difficult target. I have given some glimpses of how to proceed with actions.

I suggest that it is soon decided to form an Action Task Force with Dr. Das and VC taking the lead. Their goal should be to have Vision 2040 report along with action plan within six months say 15 Aug 2019.And launch mission and projects on or before 9 November 2019.

Lastly, before ending I would like to end with a quote, I got from a book. The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity & Radical remaking of Economics by Eric D. Beinhocker.

I quote this because you are all in the job of vision 2040-discovering new avenues.

“The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes”

-Marcel Proust

Thank you.

(Delivered on 15 February 2019 by Y S Rajan)