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Although a lot of technologies developed by the rural people in India and elsewhere in the World may be available but often the problem is in taking them to other users or downsizing them, if necessary. Normally any technology is introduced to benefit from the “economy of scale.” But by downsizing a technology for the rural use one loses the economy of scale. However, one generates the local employments by using the locally available raw materials which need not be transported to far-off places, as required in the economy of scale. At this moment, not many serious efforts are noticeable towards the concept of local employment generation through technology, which may be referred here as “rural industrialization.” However, if the experts from modern industries and R&D institutions take interests to help the process of rural industrialization, it can change the face of not only rural India but also of other countries.
Various Science and Technology (S&T)-oriented voluntary agencies, Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), Governmental agencies, district-level administration, and few others have been successful in disseminating some rural technologies. These agencies have also achieved significant success in assessing the technology needs of a region and determined and implemented the technology solutions. It is possible to refine these technologies further and spread their reach using the S&T platforms that India has built over the years since independence. The challenge is to establish synergy among all these efforts, which are often fragmented and needlessly duplicated.
The scientists in the R&D institutions, the university system and the mission-oriented agencies have their own work. They do spend times for the betterment of rural masses. However, most of them are not suited for implementations mainly due to lack of appropriate perspectives to the problems faced by the grass root people. Hence, the role of Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) becomes important who tries to define the problems clearly and seeks for solutions through Governmental, S&T NGOs, academic institutes (university system), other voluntary agencies and even corporate sectors.
Though many entities such as Central and State governmental agencies, S&T NGOs, voluntary agencies, Public Service Units (PSUs), Corporate Industrial Houses in Private Sector and other agencies are engaged in development and dissemination of technologies for rural development, the spread of rural technology has been diffused, uneven, and slow. 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 technology needs. These groups must assess the status of different rural occupation groups, i.e., farmers, rural artisans, and the landless, before adding value to their products and services. Rural technology support is critical for realizing the vast potential of the rural farm and non-farm sectors.
Keeping the above aspects in view, the Office of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India conceptualised a mission called Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG). The RuTAG was conceived as a mechanism to provide a higher level of S&T intervention and support. This intervention, which is essentially demand-driven, could be for technology up-gradation, hi-tech delivery, technology training and demonstration or through any other innovative method. Specific training programmes are also sponsored by RuTAG.
The entities which are to be brought together by RuTAG are:
- S&T Institutions, S&T NGOs, and voluntary agencies
- PSUs and Corporate Industrial houses in the private sector committed to rural developments (may be as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibilities or CSRs).
- State and Central Government organizations already working for rural development in an area.
RuTAG could provide the mechanism and the support needed for this synergy. Thus, RuTAG is a synergizing and catalysing mechanism, and not a major funding mechanism.
The coordination of RuTAG activities has been primarily assigned to several IITs. The RuTAG IIT Delhi is one such entity which was established in January 2009. IIT Delhi has been allocated to coordinate the RuTAG activities in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi. The idea is to identify technology needs of the region, available technology solutions, problems encountered in adopting the existing technology at the grassroots, identify R&D institutions which can improve the technology, assessment of the existing technology, find out solutions to overcome the technological problems, and adapt a rural technology through R&D institutions to suit specific conditions using local resources.
- To identify technologies ongoing in the villages or have potential to reach the rural areas.
- To help to provide higher income and employment or reduce drudgery of the people in rural areas.
- If the technologies have some technical problems and pinches to adopt in the target region, could be taken up for further adaption or improvement or value addition through the application of S&T by the relevant R&D institutions in the country.
- The RuTAG IIT Delhi will bring together some of the technical institutions from the abovementioned states involved in implementing technological programs at the grassroots.
- Identify technology needs of the region
- Available technology solutions
- Problems encountered in adopting the existing technology at the grassroots.
- Identify R&D institutions which can improve the technology to suit the local conditions
- Assessment of the existing technology by relevant R&D institutions with reference to the problems identified, and find out solution to overcome the technological problem.
- Formulation of project proposals for testing the existing technology and undertaking R&D in the existing technology.
- Improve/upgrade/adapt the existing technology, conducting R&D/ modifications/re-designing/downsizing/fine-tuning/standardization/scientific validation for adoption of the technology by the users at the grassroots.
- Conduct demonstration and training on the improved technology to the trainers for large scale adoption of the technology by the target groups.
- Manufacturing and commercialization of the improved technology.
- Creating awareness of rural problems to the students and faculty of the university system, and offer them guidance and financial support to come up with solutions to the grass root problems.
RutAG 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.
- Chairman, Core Group: Prof. R.R. Gaur
- Coordinator and Principal Investigator (PI): Prof. S. K. Saha
- Prof. Rajendra Prasad
- V. K. Vijay
- Senior Project Consultant: Major S. Chatterjee
- Sr. Project Assistant
- Mr. Raj Kumar Gupta
- Mr. Davinder Pal Singh
- Jr. Project Assistant: Ms. Prabitha R. Shaji
- Attendant: Mr. Mangal Sharma