Even though, our country has made phenomenal progress in the field of Science and Technology as well as the mainstream industrial infrastructure, the fruits of these developments have not reached the large spectrum of our rural population which still languishes in deprivation and poverty. There are huge developmental disconnects between the rural and urban sectors such as inequity in health, education, incomes and basic amenities as well as employment opportunities, all causing great discontent and large-scale migration to urban areas.
Further, the imperatives of sustainable development which are being felt more and more acutely all over the world also demand eco-friendly development of the villages and creation of appropriate employment opportunities locally. Increasing urbanization is neither sustainable nor desirable. In this context, it may be recalled that Mahatma Gandhi had envisioned that that the development of the country should take place on the basis of ‘Gram Swaraj’ i.e. self-sufficient and sustainable rural economy – a dream which continues to remain unfulfilled even after 70 years past independence.
One prominent reason for this situation is the gross alienation between the ethos and activities of our higher knowledge institutions particularly, the professional institutions from the process of indigenous rural development. So far, our professional and higher education institutions have largely been oriented to cater to the mainstream industrial sector and, barring a few exceptions, have neither had the opportunity nor the orientation and the wherewithal to directly partake in the indigenous developmental activities.
The need for harnessing the indigenous S&T and other knowledge resource of the country in the process of indigenous rural development is being felt acutely. In this context Unnat Bhārat Abhiyān is a unique, highly challenging and very much cherished initiative in this direction.