President of India
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In Hindi


Hyderabad, December 30, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to be here today to deliver the Golden Jubilee Lecture of the National Institute of Rural Development, which has over the last fifty years carved for itself, a prominent place amongst the premier institutions of the country.

This Golden Jubilee reminds us that the 1950s was an exciting period for community development in India. I am honored to pay tribute to the memory of the Late Shri S. K. Dey, the founder of the community development movement in India and a great institution builder. Other distinguished administrators, social scientists and several other personalities, have also contributed immensely to the growth of this institute over the last five decades.

Our country is fortunate to have several institutions of national importance, which were built out of a vision and a dream. Making Indian villages into republics was the dream of Mahatma Gandhi. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave shape to this dream, through his vision of community development projects. This vision led to the establishment of two institutions - the Central Institute of Study and Research in Community Development, at Mussoorie and the Trainers' Training Institute in Community Development, at Rajpur in 1958. These two were later merged, re-located to Hyderabad and renamed as the National Institute of Rural Development.

Today, this Institute is an important intellectual and academic landmark of Hyderabad, with a large campus, sylvan surroundings and state-of-the-art training infrastructure. All of these create the platform from which the NIRD can deliver high quality national and international training programmes to thousands of rural development functionaries. I understand that together with its two Regional Centers at Guwahati and Patna, the NIRD conducts over 300 national and international training programmes every year. It also trains around 8,000 rural development functionaries, which include government officials, elected representatives, Non-Governmental Organizations and international delegates.

Over the years, the NIRD has emerged as a well-known training organization for rural development managers. Backed by its five decades of experience in rural development and its highly qualified faculty members with both national and international exposure, it has built for itself a reputation as a centre of excellence.

Mahatma Gandhi believed that the heart of India throbs in the villages and that people's participation was of importance for achieving "Gram Swaraj" and for the prosperity of rural areas and welfare of the poor. The participation of every person in our rural areas is very important, for the proper and effective implementation of schemes and programmes which are expected to bring benefits to our villages. The Panchayati Raj system is an instrument to make this a reality. The NIRD played an important role in the evolution of the 73rd Constitution Amendment, paving the way for the creation of the Panchayati Raj system and restructuring of rural development programmes. I hope that the NIRD will augment its training infrastructure for extending capacity building support in various aspects of integrated rural development to the representatives of the Panchayati Raj Institutions, especially women. Models for sustainable growth could be developed and shared with them. As a result of social mobilization, there are a large number of Self Help Groups in India today. All help should be given to them also. The NIRD could assist them in channelising their efforts in the direction of productive enterprises and support them in capacity building.

I am informed that from this year onwards a one-year Post Graduate Diploma Programme in Rural Development Management will commence here. Its aim is to develop a committed and competent cadre of rural development management professionals in the country. This, I hope will eventually create a large pool of programme delivery managers whose induction is vital to the success of rural development and for meeting the aspirations of the people. In the rapidly changing economic scenario, effective implementation of projects and programmes designed for the welfare of the rural areas is necessary for achieving food security as well as a growth process that is equitable in our country.

Food security is an important goal, particularly in the contemporary world, which faced a serious global food crisis earlier this year. This can only be achieved through rapid agricultural growth and multi-dimensional rural development. To enhance agricultural productivity, land development and irrigation are necessary. Land is a critically important national resource, the efficient use of which is vital for economic growth and development of rural areas. However, land is under tremendous pressure both biotic and abiotic. There should be optimum utilization of land and efforts must be made to improve its quality and restore soil health. Farmers can be made aware and encouraged to adopt improved agricultural practices to enhance productivity. Implements and methodologies should be such so as to reduce the drudgery and hard labour of farming operations. Sometimes simple innovations have proved to be of great utility - a maize dehusker-cum-shelling machine and a garlic bulb breaker developed in Rajasthan, became very popular. The NIRD should encourage the development of farmer friendly machines. Rain fed farming is like a gamble and, therefore, every effort must be made to make water available over longer periods of time. Small structures like farm ponds, village tanks, nallah bunds can be built and at the same time, the upkeep and de-silting of existing water bodies can be undertaken to enhance their water storage capacity. Apart from Government programmes, these activities can also be undertaken through shramadan by motivating people. Here, the role of the Rural Development Management professionals will be very important. As trained persons with knowledge and understanding of the rural environment they should be like guides who can carefully take their group on the road that lies ahead.

Our rural communities face many challenges and opportunities. I would like institutions to provide creative answers to these challenges and convert them into opportunities for the development of rural India. An important assignment will be to make technologies available for developing rural communities. In this context, I understand that the NIRD has been working towards creating a Technology Bank or what is called a Te-Bank. This is expected to serve as a virtual platform to collect, store and share appropriate technologies with stakeholders to enhance their livelihood opportunities. Knowledge kiosks should be set up at the panchayat level for wider dissemination of information about useful technologies.

Researchers must also remember that India has a vast repository of traditional knowledge. This knowledge has been accumulated over years of practice by our people. It is important to understand and value this knowledge, which can be the basis of further research and development.

I believe that access to knowledge is critical for the growth of all sectors of our economy and this includes agriculture and its allied sectors. The benefits of Information Communication Technology must also reach our villages, including remote and far-flung areas and be available to the rural population, especially women and the weaker sections. Technological interventions that are gender sensitive and link the weaker sections of society to the national mainstream are the need of the hour.

I once again compliment all those associated with the development of this Institute for their dedication, commitment and professionalism. I would encourage it to continue with its endeavour to develop training infrastructure and equipment for national and international programmes.

I once again wish the NIRD and its fine team of faculty members a great future.

Thank you,

Jai Hind

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