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One of the areas of focus of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India is related to the development and dissemination of technologies for rural development.Though there are many entities interested in doing this, the spread of rural technology has been diffuse, uneven, and slow and its full potential for generating a rapid multiplier effect in rural economy has remained unrealized.
The main constraint preventing advances in technologies for rural application from reaching most villages in India in full measure seems to be the lack of local technology action groups who can assist in upgrading the assessment of the technology needs and the current methodology status of different rural occupation groups, i.e. farmers, rural artisans and the landless, to enable them to add value to their products & services. Rural Technology support is critical for realizing the vast potential of the Rural Farm and Non-farm Sectors.
There is practically no technology needed for rural development that is not available among, or which cannot be developed by, Indian scientists or by Indian industry; the problem often is in transferring it or in downsizing it, if necessary. Normally any technology is enlarged to benefit from economy of scale.
On the other hand, what one loses in economy of scale by downsizing a technology for rural use, one can gain from the fact that the source of raw material in India – be it leather, milk, grain or anything else – is scattered and distributed. In this context, an international seminar was held during 7–9 October, 2003, in Bhubaneswar at the Regional Research Laboratory, a CSIR laboratory, on “Downsizing Technology for Rural Development”, the deliberations in which have given valuable insights into this field.
There is also no rural industry, for which there is not a modern counterpart. If the experts from modern industry can be encouraged to help their rural counterparts, it can also help transform rural India (e.g. industry ceramics experts helping rural potters in a TIFAC project) or R&D institutions can help improve the processes and plant equipment in a small-scale industry (e.g. hand-made paper industry in a project of the office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, through the Akhil Bhartya Gramadyog Mahasang).
S&T NGOs, government agencies, district-level administration, and a few initiatives from the industry have been successful in disseminating rural development technologies up to a point. The challenge is to establish synergy among all these efforts, which are often fragmented and needlessly duplicated, in order to nucleate new initiatives and to strengthen existing ones.
RuTAGs (Rural Technology Action Groups), that could provide the mechanism and the support needed for this synergy, have, accordingly, been conceptualized. This has been done with the help of Scientific Consultants in the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India, who are experts in various aspects of rural development.
It is felt that the PSA’s office can help through the RuTAG mechanism – a Central RuTAG with specialists in various aspects of rural development – related technologies, and a local RuTAG (to be headed by a retired senior Scientist/Technologist), and assisted by young rural technology professionals, for each region/ area which will essentially do all the activities related to technology delivery. RuTAG is a synergizing and catalysing mechanism, and not a major funding mechanism.
RuTAG is conceived of as a mechanism to provide a higher level of S&T intervention and support, than hitherto achieved. This intervention, which is essentially demand-driven, could be for technology upgradation, hi-tech delivery, technology training and demonstration or through any other innovative method.
The entities which are intended to be brought together by RuTAG are broadly: S&T Institutions working in the area. S&T NGOs and voluntary agencies active in the area. Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and Corporate Industrial houses in the private sector committed to rural development and having a presence in the area. State and Central Government organizations already working for rural development in the area. We have made small beginnings in Uttaranchal and Tamil Nadu, where Shri Chandi Prasad Bhatt and Prof. M.S. Swaminathan respectively have kindly agreed to be the advisers.
The scientists in the R&D institutions, the university system and the mission-oriented Agencies have their own work, but are willing, in fact eager to spend time for the rural good; they are not suited for grass roots intervention. On the other hand, if the technology needs are defined clearly, through S&T NGOs, other governmental and non-governmental agencies or even corporate entities, then these institutions can provide valuable support. The PSA Office can help in this through the RuTAG mechanism.
RuTAG’ is a synergizing and catalyzing mechanism, and not a major funding mechanism. It addresses need based up-gradation of technologies with the help of Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) and local NGOs. The needs are identified by S&T Institutions, NGOs, Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and State and Central Government organizations. The demand-driven interventions could be technology upgradation, delivery, training and demonstration etc. Specific training programmes are also sponsored by RuTAG.
RUTAG ACTIVITY IS HELPING TOWARDS :-
- Addressing defused rural economy through S&T Platform.
- Dissemination of refined technologies reaching to rural areas.
- Technology delivery for non-farm/ agriculture sectors.
- Benefiting Rural groups through network of NGOs.
- Adding value to the produce and Enhancing quality of rural life.
Till date seven RuTAG Centres are established at various IITs - (a) Madras (b) Guwahati (c) Kharagpur (d) Roorkee (e) Delhi (f) Mumbai and (g) Ropar.
For any further information. contact :
Co-ordinator, Central RuTAG,
O/o PSA to the Government of India
329-A, Vigyan Bhavan Annexe,
Maulana Azad Road, New Delhi-110011
Tel.: 011 23022035/ 230222119
Fax : 011 23022113
Email : schatterjee[at]nic.in, ketaki.bapat[at]nic.in
Website : www.psa.gov.in