Rural India: Challenges & Possibilities

Many decades ago Mahatma Gandhi had said that India lives in villages. It’s true even today, in spite of rapid urbanisation and substantial migration from villages. Still 68 per cent of India lives in villages and out of 572 Lok Sabha seats 342 are in rural areas. With such big numbers, rural India seems to be the dominant force in the country, not only politically but economically as well. But the reality is completely opposite. Of course India is the fastest growing major economy in the world, but rural India has very little contribution to it.

Opinion: Skilling for the 4.0++ World!

As the festive lights and spirit of celebration brings another year to a close, it was inspiring to hear Mukesh Ambani’s address on the Fourth Revolution earlier this week. Mr Ambani outlined the move from what was typically eras of linear growth to the prevalence of the exponential era, where change was accelerating at an unprecedented level. As the Indian economy has moved from $350 billion in size in 1991 to $3 trillion currently with the aim of reaching $10 trillion by 2030, he saw a significant entrepreneurial opportunity in India’s 1 billion ‘unsolved problems’.

Who audits the auditor?

The spate of major corporate scandals, including the likes of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco International, Adelphia, and Peregrine Systems in the USA gave rise to the Sarbanes Oxley Act, 2002 (SOX). In respect of some of these scams the auditors were blamed and held responsible for not raising/highlighting the issues to the stakeholder. The SOX Act promulgated an independent oversight of public accounting firms providing audit services resulting into rise of Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB).

Opinion: Adopting AI in agriculture

It is one of the marvels of human innovation but artificial intelligence (AI) offers a tough competition to us. The days of speculating rain and sunshine may soon fade with artificial intelligence’s capability to predict right conditions with precision to an extent. It comprises one of the basic aspects of precision agriculture (PA) promoted even by the government to boost productivity and in turn, farmers’ income.

A blessing in pipeline for working women

The Maternity Benefit Act 1961 was amended in 2017 to enhance/increase the maternity leave to 26 weeks from 12 weeks, for a woman employee, for the first two children. This write-up follows previous ones where we discussed the obligations under the amendment that were solely applicable to an employer.

Opinion: Facebook will implode

During an offbeat conversation at one of the family Christmas get-togethers, my nephew says, “Facebook is for your generation, it’s so blah”. Setting aside the point about him being 33 and me 48, it probably points to a bleak future for the behemoth called Facebook in spite of it’s size, scale and belligerent leadership. Yes, it is highly possible, Facebook will cease to exist in it’s current recognisable form in my 50s and my nephew’s 40s.

Towards a sustainable business environment

India’s natural resources sector is set to enter an exciting phase in 2019 as the sector’s potential begins to unravel on the back of favourable policy environment. It is only in fitness of things that a nation like ours, which is endowed with mineral rich geology, should aim to significantly ramp up its domestic output of metals and minerals, thereby cutting down its dependence on imports for critical resources like crude, aluminium, copper, iron ore as well as coal.

Opinion: Backing SMEs

The SME sector, rightly known as the ‘engine of growth’ for India, has grown significantly over the years on the back of increasing awareness, digital advances and better opportunities. Despite several challenges, like infrastructure constraints and lack of access to formal credit, it has been thriving and shouldering the responsibility of economic and social development.

Overcoming agrarian distress

Once Mahatma Gandhi was asked by the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI), Bangalore to fill up its visitor’s book, Gandhiji while filling it up indicated under the column Occupation, ‘Farmer’. Lal Bahadur Shastri coined the slogan Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan. Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee added Jai Vigyan to Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan. Unfortunately today a life giving occupation like farming is becoming an enterprise leading to farmers’ suicides.

Opinion: Health as poll agenda

With the results of the 5 state elections out, the run-up to the 2019 elections has become more interesting. In winning the BJP states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the ebbing Congress has received a shot in the arm, one that can boost its chances of 2019 but may not last long enough to create the groundwork for a higher victory, unless it decides to do more on the ground and to project clearer and better visionary leadership at the top.