RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- AGENDA 2022- EASE OF LIVING
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked top bureaucrats to prepare a five-year plan for each ministry with well-defined targets to change the status quo and improve quality of life. The prime minister even asked the officials to begin work on making India a five-trillion dollar economy. He even stressed on using demographic dividend efficiently.
What is Ease of Living?
The individual’s ease of living is the level of wealth, comfort, material goods and necessities available to them in a certain geographic area. It includes factors like income, quality and availability of employment, class disparity, poverty rate, quality and affordability of housing, education, growth, environmental quality. The ease of living is closely related to the quality of life.
It is more important of looking at people at large. People at ground level should feel happiness, change, providing them opportunity to lead life with dignity. If people’s life is comfortable and if they are happy automatically the productivity increases because “Happy society is a flourishing society”.
What is done as far?
Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs conceived an index “Ease of Living Index” in 2017 to study the user to help city assess their liveability. It was launched to rank 116 cities that are smart contenders, capital cities and cities with population of 1 million plus. The first edition of index released in January 2018 and ranked 111 Indian cities and was topped by Pune. It is supposed to be revised in 2019.
What are the challenges?
In India, cities are not recognized as units of the economy and therefore it becomes very difficult to measure their economic contribution. The second issue is quality of data used which involves secondary data, which was collated by city governments from various sources. The need is to revisit the index itself.
Steps taken by government:
The government has launched various schemes to improve the quality of life of the citizens like Atal Innovation Mission, AMRUT(Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation), Digital India, HRIDAY(National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), Housing for All, Make in India, National Health Mission, National water Mission, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Power for all, Startup India, Smart India, Swachh Bharat Mission etc and all this scheme have seen benefits too but it has loopholes too. To bring in focus and drive growth didn’t happen as expected. For certain schemes like Housing for all and AMRUT there is a need to change the structure because it is fine in isolation but liveability is down.
The GDP growth is driven by cities. It is necessary to look at them as unit of governance, as an economic unit. At the city level financial allocation is low so we need to address it. Several steps have been taken since last year but have not yielded results.
What more needs to be done to ensure common man’s life is improved?
Ease of Living goes much beyond Ease of Doing business. The priorities of people have changed since 1950s from Roti Chapda Makaan to education, health, environment. If the target is to be 5 trillion economy in 5 years we need to grow at 10% plus growth rate every year and well distributed too.
The policy formulator should work with states. Monitoring, policy formation, correction should be done. There should be better coordination between centre and states in policy formulation.
Short term and Long term goals:
- Policy perspective= Devolution of financial powers should be done clearly to all cities. Political structure needs to be strengthed at the city level and more power should be given to Mayor.
- Long term= We need to upgrade the capacity of city administration by improving its The cities which has performed well like Pune in Ease of Living Index should be considered as model and worked upon.
The rural India is lagging behind. Agriculture is responsible for living standard. So it is important that proper skill are imparted, infrastructure is created with proper marketing networks.
- Efficiency, Productivity, quality, speedy implementation and execution of upgraded scheme with help achieve the targets.
- Economic growth and job creation addresses Ease of Living to an extent.
- Role of society in it is very important.
- Need to adopt holistic approach like industries can be created with manpower intensive since growth does not always translate into jobs.
As India grows people too should learn to grow. There is a need of a regulator and facilitator. Ease of Living is subjective which is different for you, me and everyone.