Getting down to the ground by Dr,V,N,Sharma IITK
3rd January 2003 ( message No 281)
I think we are discussing the details of newspaper reports too much on what is ailing India or its development process. It does not take us anywhere. My suggestion is that discussion, in a very precise manner and with patience, should now converge to what is to be done to remove those ills. I am giving something from the past and a proposal. Pl. go through with patience before responding.
I started socio- political activities wayback in 1965-66 at IITK with a large group and continued there upto 1979 after which I took over a change of job from IITK to SAIL / RDCIS at Ranchi, Jharkhand from where I took voluntary retirement in July this year. I find very few iitians of those days in the variety of communication
list foriitians. Perhaps they have no interest in getting a job and have lost all hopes in seeing a positive change in this country. In the beginning I also felt like many others do today that they can change India with some more efforts and some communication. But with passage of time and day by day I found it more and more difficult.
Most of my friends and colleagues dropped out from such socio political activities almost then at IITK itself. Yet I have continued with these activities as I perhaps have become more thick skinned.
The experience of last 23 years in Bihar/ Jharkhand was a bit different because this is a more complex situation with existence of tribals, at the same time existence of huge mineral and natural wealth, uncontrolled exploitation of human, large christian and muslim populationetc. Experiences at IITK and Jharkhand has made me conclude that an intellectuals perception or understanding of the problem of the people is mostly wrong esp. if the person is fully busy in some other pursuits. It requires declassing of a person first and developing himself in the process of development. Many may feel offended but there is no short cut to this. The internet/e-mail group discussions may give us some satisfaction of doing something but it has no meaning for the masses. I do not think most of the IITians in general are capable of doing this sort of thing.
Such detailed work on the ground cannot be their cup of tea. But some of them certainly have done wonders and can do that now. I am saying this with my personal experience of IITK of 1967-77 period if some of you are still there. A group of faculty, students and staff were attempting to conduct experiment on some positive changes. They were all branded "Naxalites" and the leaders sent to jail. I am proud that most of them -the students and majority faculty stood by the cause.
Development in my opinion should be first the development of mind rather than straight mechanical or electronic creation of wealth. At the cost of being misunderstood I feel that it also requires development of IITians and Indianthinkers including me before we start taliking on these lines. In view of this my suggestion is that
1. In stead of starting on India's development in top gear get into the socio-economic and cultural history of the land, their need, the level of technology needed and analysis of the various inputs required.
2. Define the perception of development and the target group.
3. Formulate a programme on the basis of that.
4. Form a group to work for it (adopt or develop a village/ settlement or develop water bodies in a region or start a good teaching /research institution for engg. agr.or medical education - kind of an IIT or MIT of your imagination- depending on the resources available).
5. Take sabbatical, start working on the ground on full time or replacement basis
6. Experience the difficulties youself - not through the newspaper reports and find solutions.
Alternative is that you serve India all alone like (Late) Anil Agrawal of Centre for Sc. & Env. New Delhi. I request you all to critically examine and respond to the
I have taken voluntary retirement in July 2002 from my regular job with SAIL and I am available to take part in the programme if I am convinced of the seriousness of getting down to the ground level.
M.Tech (Met.Engg.,IITK); Ph.D.(Env.Sc.& Engg., ISMD)
Environment & Water Management Consultant,
A-100, SAIL Satellite Township,
Ranchi-834004, Jharkhand, India.