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Tapping the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Sirjjan Preet

By Sameer Kochhar and M. Ramachandran
Academic Foundation and SKOCH Development Foundation, 2010, pp. 318, Rs. 995.00


I have released many books but this is different said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission at the book launch of Building from the Bottom: Infrastructure and Poverty Alleviation. Ahluwalia said that the book corrects the perception that infrastructure is for (urban) India and not for (rural) Bharat. While it is important to look at failures as well as big successes the micro-successes are generally not taken cognizance of. This work takes care of this gap he said. The book is an inspiring compilation of essays by leading entrepreneurs and distinguished scholars providing insights into policy and infra-structure issues governance and service delivery and poverty alleviation. It also includes 11 case studies reflecting community participation innovation and commitment on different aspects of infrastructural develop-ment. As an advocate of inclusive growth Sameer Kochhar underscores two main challenges facing India in its pursuit of the growth story namely improving service delivery especially to the poor and spreading the benefits of rapid growth across the country. He tries to find answers to two key questions: How can we ensure infrastructure access and affordability? What are the implications for development planning and decision-making process? The book begins with the issue of improvement in service delivery followed by a discussion on inclusive and sustainable urban development PURA (providing urban amenities for rural areas) and disinvestment and privatization. Nandan Nilekani writes on the power of identity the Unique Identification Number (UID) or Aadhaar as a tool of empowerment access opportunity and inclusion but he misses out on policy dimension. However Nilekani draws an important corollary of UID in terms of increased accountability and transparency of government spending resulting in efficiency in public services and financial inclusion. M. Ramachandran envisages the roadmap for the countrys intelligent urbanization. In the wake of liberalization and globalization cities are fast becoming centres of both domestic and international investment and exhibit incredible potential as engines of economic growth and prosperity. Intelligent urbanization stipulates institution of innovative urban governance model and infrastructure renewal financing models on priority. P.V. Indiresan provides critical insights on PURA and urbanization of India and suggests ways of achieving inclusive development. Vijay Kelkars paper on strategies for disinvestment and privatization provides an important perspective on the topic. Kelkar has been an integral part of Indias reform story and a strong proponent of disinvestment programme. He raises two key questions: What should the portfolio composition of ...

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