Why best use of scarce resources is no rocket science
We always crib about scarce resources. Teachers who work in Government schools have very little resources, but still manage to teach. In fact, many such schools always learn the art of managing with scarce resources.
In any given situation, the use of scarce resources is a very big priority, in a society such as ours, where resources will always be limited. What we need to do is to invent some new methodologies to understand what can be done to take on the challenge of effective use of scarce resources.
For example, to overcome the problem of scarce rain water and ground water resources, a new team of experts have come up with innovative drip irrigation schemes. Similarly, since the thermal energy generation in our country is in a grave danger of being in deep trouble, since the coal reserves are drying up, and coal cannot be imported at cheap costs, we need to understand the tremendous potential of both solar energy and bio gas energy, apart from wind energy. Most of Tamil Nadu's energy requirements, for example, are now available from wind energy sources.
If the Government can do so much at the macro level, we also need to think, how to make best use of our resources, which are within our control.
Teachers can take the help of students to do some service to the immediate society, such as planting trees. In fact, many hundreds of students have already started making a big difference, by taking up such initiatives.
Many Non-governmental organizations have now taken up public causes, such as spreading awareness on AIDS. cleaning up public places like the world famous Marina Beach of Chennai, public hospitals and so on.
So, one methodology is to somehow rope in scarce human resources -- students or professionals or teachers or government servants -- for public causes, and then taking such initiatives forward through public participation, even in terms of economic resources. Seeking help from the rich people is part of this plan, and there should not be any hesitation in doing so.
Similarly, many non governmental organizations have started commendable social work by running schools for the poor, hospitals for the elders and so on, in areas like the North eastern States of India, that are not only difficult to access, but also costly in terms of transport cost. We need to explore how to use the Information Technology to aid the effective reach of such services.
The internet has in fact opened up tremendous possibilities. For instance, through Face book, it is possible to mobilize tremendous amount of money for an urgent operation, or blood of a rare blood group, at very short notice. This is exactly what needs to be done. We need to educate people on all such possibilities and the public will always stand to gain.
In terms of creating awareness about corruption, misuse of power, or overreach of politicians and so on, the media and the internet have played excellent roles and the movement is already on. This movement should be strengthened further.
In no case can we think of use of the most scarce resources, than use of water, which is becoming the most scarce resource. The public should now push the case of Corporate Organizations to jump into the band wagon and set up, water purification places in railway stations. Already, one particular company is now supplying water at highly reasonable rates in many railway stations. However, use of chlorine is a big minus, as many people do not like the taste of chlorine.
If the better companies take up the contract to supply pure drinking water at reasonable rates, and the actual cost is subsidized by Corporate Organizations, we can really achieve something.
Many Corporate Organizations have resources in terms of people on contract, huge pockets of money, and also technologies for getting things done. For instance, the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, at a city called Tiruchirapalli is one such organization in the Public Sector, with excellent resource position. Why can't the Railways entrust the job of cleaning all the toilets of three trains that start from this important station, and also replace all the utilities like mirrors, taps, and so on, within the toilets and then give the advertisement rights to the same organization for free advertisements, within the space of toilets and to a limited extent, in the main railway station itself? A few hundreds of thousands of rupees spent in this fashion, is not going to make any big difference to the profits of the organization and the public will stand to gain.
Why not the rich mobilize resources of small kinds to buy computers in schools and colleges, where the Government is found inadequate, in terms of providing such resources? The rich Non Resident families, who have resources that can last them for generations, can easily part with some donations and this can be channeled for providing such resources. This is already going on, but the movement should be better sustained and taken to the next level.
Many music directors and play back singers, for example, are ever willing to lend their services to help the poor, in terms of some performance, the proceeds of which can be used for social causes. This route should also be examined further.
In the context of utilization of public space in urban cities, whatever little space is left out, should be earmarked for public parks and playgrounds. In a city like Mumbai, which is heavily polluted, this is an urgent priority.
Rain water harvesting has stood the test of time. It has proved a big boon, in terms of mobilizing scarce rain water, for augmenting the ground level water resources in cities like Chennai, Bangalore, etc. In fact, in Coimbatore, an entire movement is on, to make this happen, and the results are simply excellent.
In education, the Government needs to explore the use of innovative methodologies of teaching, within the existing resources. For example, the concept of play schools, so successfully put into place in the private sector, can be tried out in the Government schools too. All that needs to be done, is to learn from successful experiences, and train the teachers to take on the challenge of the new experience.
It is possible. It can be made possible, provided the Government itself changes its mindset. Some concerted action is called for.
Similarly, we need to take stock of emerging realities of higher education and then simply open up big public debates through Facebook and even Public Interest Litigation. Why not? Only such innovative methodologies can yield results.
The scope of action to make the best use of scarce resources is very wide indeed. What we need to do is to act, and go for the low hanging fruits. That is, action that will yield small results. Once the results are there for all to see, more action can be initiated at the macro level. Public participation is what is required at every level.
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