Understanding and channelizing local issues at the grassroots level to policy makers at both regional and national level is both challenging and vital. With a dual objective to create a platform for conducting such local public-private dialogue (PPD) to enhance awareness of issues and assisting in measuring and representing local conditions to inform state and national policy, Centre for Development Finance (CDF) initiated the ‘India Local Economic Environment Project’.
Forming the basis to this project is the PPD process, which is a crucial initial ingredient, involving identification of various stakeholders cutting across diverse functions and their analysis. Somasundaram of CDF explained “We met an array of stakeholders ranging from elected representatives of panchayats, farmers, entrepreneurs who manufacture and sell bronze idol and lamps, vendors in vegetable and fish market, industry practitioners, bankers, NGOs, Government officials etc. Also we got hold of the District Collector and got the list of line department officials who would be of use to this initiative.”
Further to this on 1st July 2010, a one-day workshop was held in Thanjavur, one of the operational areas of the project, where a PPD was conducted. The participants were the horticulture and agriculture officials from Thanjavur district administration, academicians, union chairman of Thanjavur, secretary of chamber of commerce and representatives of – farmers’ association, bronze idol association, flute making and mud-idol association, and Bus owners association.
The participants were divided into groups and were asked to frame a vision statement for Thanjavur in the year 2015 – they identified “Self-sustained Thanjavur” as their vision. Having dealt with the ideal vision, the participants ventured towards identifying obstacles in reaching towards the said vision, some of which were: Non-availability of water inflow for paddy cultivation and non-availability of storage godowns for paddy; Poompuhar not procuring the bronze idols from the manufacturers; Government’s non promotion of agro-based industries; Lack of encouragement in developing temple-based tourism and non-availability of policy for rotation of crops. The existing procedural delay in setting up of business was also pointed out.
The participants realized the need for innovations in agriculture related activities. Also the information shared by the Tamilnadu Agriculture University on the manufacturing of small weeder and selling the same at reasonable cost for the farmers (which is been imported now at higher rate) was quite useful to them.
At the end of the day the participants formed a working group, comprising a healthy mix of private and government representatives, with consent to meet once a month (first meeting on 26th July 2010) for setting up priorities to be carried out to achieve the identified vision.
Somasundaram, Progam Head – Development Metrics and Lalitha N, Project Manager, of CDF contributed this post.