The Indian Economy Blog

January 23, 2007

A Brief Introduction To RISC — Rural Infrastructure & Services Commons

Filed under: Infrastructure — Atanu Dey @ 5:44 pm

I had been pondering about India’s rural development for a while before I signed up as a Reuters Fellow at Stanford University in Sept 2001. Later, Vinod Khosla and I co-authored the concept paper. This is a short version introducing the why, what, how of RISC. There is a distinct possibility that RISC may be piloted some time soon somewhere in south India.

Why RISC

India’s economic growth and development is predicated to a large extent upon the development of its 700-million strong rural population. Currently, the majority of India’s population lives in about 600,000 small villages and are engaged primarily in agriculture and related activities. Since a very large labor force in agriculture necessarily implies very low per capita incomes, a substantial portion of India’s current agricultural labour force has to move to non-agriculture sectors for incomes in all sectors to go up. The challenge is to manage the transition of a large segment – perhaps even 80 percent – of the rural population from a village-centric agricultural-based economy to a city-centric non-agricultural economy, and do so in a reasonable period.

Urbanization and Development

Economic growth is both a cause and consequence of urbanization. By urbanization is meant the dense aggregation of people into economically interacting units (cities and towns) of anywhere between 100,000 people and several million people. Cities are engines of economic growth because they give rise to economies of scale, scope, and aggregation. This is so because infrastructure – buildings, roads, power, telecommunications, water, sanitation, security, maintenance – can be provided economically to larger aggregations of people. Availability of low cost infrastructure in turn makes the availability of a wide range of services possible in cities as opposed to very small villages. It is the aggregation of supply and demand for economic goods and services (and therefore indirectly for infrastructural goods) which account for cities.

Constraints

A set of basic facts define the constraints within which the economic growth and development of India’s rural population must be addressed. Fundamentally, they relate to resource constraints, the nature of infrastructure, and the future trajectory of the geographical distribution of the population.

First, people need access to a wide range of services which allow them to engage in economically productive activities. These services include, at a minimum, market access, educational, health, financial, entertainment, transportation, and communications. It is primarily these services which enhance life and livelihood, and with which any population is concerned with.

Second, the provision of services depend on the availability of infrastructure. Without the foundation of affordable infrastructure, affordable services cannot be provided.

Third, infrastructure investment is ‘lumpy’ – the average cost of provision of infrastructure is inversely related to the scale of the operation.

Fourth, if there were no limitations on the financial and other resources available for providing infrastructure, it would be possible to provide infrastructure at every village. Resource limitations preclude this option.

Fifth, even if the full set of infrastructure were provided at every village, they will not be commercially sustainable as the aggregate derived demand for the infrastructure will be insufficient to make them commercially viable. Clearly, subsidy of infrastructure for 600,000 villages is not an option considering resource constraints.

Finally, while the current geographical distribution of the rural population is into over half a million small villages, the future distribution is a much smaller number of much larger aggregations of people – if the desired future is one where the agriculture sector’s share of GDP is to be significantly smaller relative to manufacturing and services sectors, and if the majority of the labor has to be engaged in non-agricultural activities. In other words, the basic geographical structure of population distribution will eventually undergo a change, whether one likes it or not.

Not Village-centric

It is therefore argued that ‘village-centric’ development is not feasible because of resource limitations and because people naturally tend to migrate out of villages to cities. Furthermore, it not desirable since a vibrant economy depends on the aggregation of the population into units much larger than a small village. In short, investing scarce resources into villages is short-sighted and uneconomical.

Based on the above considerations, a model for rural development has been conceived called RISC – Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons.

The RISC Paradigm

The RISC idea is to bring to the rural population the full set of services that are normally available only in urban locations. It works within the constraints of limited resources by focusing attention to and concentrating investments at specific locations to obtain economies of scale, scope, and agglomeration.

RISC follows the logical trend of moving away from vertically integrated institutions to one of horizontal segmentation and specialization. Thus, conceptually and operationally, a RISC has two levels: the lower one is the infrastructure level (I-level) which provides a reliable, standardized, competitively-priced infrastructure platform consisting of power, broadband telecommunications, and the physical plant (building, water, air-conditioning, sanitation, security). The I-level is achieved by the coordinated and cooperative investment of firms that specialize in the component activities.

The user services level (S-level) is above the I-level. Co-located at the S-level are firms that provide user services such as market making, financial intermediation, education, health, social services, governmental services, entertainment, logistics, etc. The presence of the I-level reduces the cost of the services and therefore the prices that the users face. Economies of scope and agglomeration are obtained by the presence of the variety of different service providers.

Given that rural populations are very poor, it is reasonable to expect that the aggregate demand of a single village for any single service will be very low. However, the aggregate demand for, say, a 100 villages for a single service could be significant. Aggregating the demand for many different kinds of services of the same 100 villages would translate into lot of services. These services would require infrastructural inputs which can be commercially and sustainably supplied. Thus, a RISC would supply to the needs of about 100 surrounding villages.

The total rural population of India can be covered by about 6,000 RISCs each servicing the needs of approximately 100,000 people. Further external economies of scale can be obtained by implementing a few thousand RISC locations across the rural landscape. Access to a RISC for any rural person would be only a ‘bicycle commute’ away.

Operationalizing RISC

The distinction between the I-level and the S-level becomes apparent at the operational level. The I-level is provided by a small number of firms which specialize in the provision of infrastructure. The essential requirement is that the investments from these various firms are coordinated. This resolves the ‘coordination failure’ generally associated with investments that are large, lumpy, which have large lead times in implementation, and have long pay-back periods. These can be private sector or public sector firms.

There is an element of planning in the creation of the I-level. But it is not a top-down, bureaucratic, government imposed centralized planning. It is coordinated investment in various components of the infrastructure so that they all make each other mutually viable. The role of the government is highest at this level.

The government has to facilitate the process of the creation of the I-level first through light-handed regulation. Second, it has to give required tax incentives to the firms. Third, the government may be required to facilitate investment though loan guarantees. Finally, it has to help with the acquisition of land required for the projects. The model does not require the government to directly fund any of the infrastructure.

The firms providing the infrastructure will be basing their investment decisions on adequate return on investment, of course. The infrastructure will be used by, and paid for, the firms which are at the S-level and which provide the services that the users demand.

The composition of firms at the S-level will be almost entirely market-driven. There will be two basic categories of services. First, services which the users are willing and able to pay for. This means that the benefits to the users of the services will be greater than the costs. These are the ‘income-enhancing services’ such as greater market access. Second, services which are not fully priced such as government services and those provided by NGO and charitable entities.

What RISC Does

RISC provides a signal to coordinate the activities of a host of entities: commercial, governmental, NGO’s. It synchronizes investment decisions so as to reduce risk. It essentially acts as a catalyst that starts off a virtuous cycle of introducing efficient modern technology to improve productivity that increases incomes and thus the ability of users to pay for the services, and so on. It creates a mechanism that reduces transaction costs and therefore improves the functions of markets.

Therefore, RISC
* serves as a focal point for the bi-directional flow of information and materials within the rural areas
* clusters economic activities in specific rural locations by facilitating firms’ businesses
* seeds urbanization and urbanize the rural population without socially costly rural to urban migration
* integrates the rural economy with the national and international economy and remove inefficiencies

By providing a full complement of services, RISC creates a ‘mini-city’ which seeds the formation of a city by drawing to it the population from the surrounding villages. Initially, those who need the services will commute to the RISC location but as time goes by, the area around a RISC will naturally evolve into a small city. RISC is the grain of sand around which the pearl of a city can develop.

Development of People, Not Villages

The economic development of the rural population, rather than the development of villages, is the goal. This requires that the population have access to services, which in turn requires the availability of infrastructure. Infrastructure investment is lumpy and cannot be economically provided at the scale appropriate to small villages which are the norm in rural India. Furthermore, looking to the future, the economy of present day rural India cannot continue to be dispersed into 600,000 villages. The population will have to migrate to a much smaller number of larger aggregations. These formation of these aggregations can be catalyzed by the coordinated investment of infrastructure, either in greenfield ventures or in existing locations where there is road or rail connectivity.

RISC is not an attempt at social engineering through centralized planning. Neither is it another model of Internet kiosk or telecenter. It aims to solve a problem by appealing to the profit motives of all participants, be they private sector, NGOs, or the public sector. The good that will surely come out of it can only be attributed to Adam Smith’s invisible hand.

Reference: Dey, Atanu and Vinod Khosla (2002), ‘RISC – Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons’. Full document available at Deeshaa.com and at Khoslaventures.com.

Post Script: Andrew Leonard wrote about RISC at “Vinod Khosla’s Marshall Plan for Rural India” at salon.com. (This is a circular reference as the article references this Indianeconomy.org blog post.)

27 Comments »

  1. [quote]There is a distinct possibility that RISC may be piloted some time soon somewhere in south India.[/quote]

    Atanu, I’ve read your posts on RISC on your blog (deeshaa.org) and the concept paper on Deeshaa.com and find the idea to be very interesting, especially with its taking into account the future evolution of rural India rather than assuming the present geographic distribution. Would there be any summer opportunities for interested undergraduate students when RISC is piloted in south India?

    Regards,

    Rahul Reddy

    | Rahul Reddy | rahulbr at sas dot upenn dot edu | University of Pennsylvania 2009 |
    | Economics and Political Science |

    Comment by Rahul Reddy — January 23, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

  2. Very interesting proposal. What do you need in order to start a pilot project?

    Comment by Abhishek Nair — January 23, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

  3. It’s a great idea, but as you duly note, the main challenges are at the operational level. It seems that for this to have the widespread level, you would need the resolve at the highest levels of state and national government. Also, implicit in the logic is the realization that our current urban infrastructure is not adequate – as it stands now, it can not possibly accomodate even a small chunk of our vast rural population. What you seem to be suggesting (simplistically) is that India – both public and private sectors – build many ‘quasi-urban’ centers.

    How is this more efficient than building fewer proper (ie. capable of accomodating >1M people) urban centers? Even in view of our slow political and bureaucratic process, isn’t it easier to focus political will and effort rather than trying to disburse it? Or is it based in the belief that villagers won’t migrate to cities, so you have to bring the cities to them?

    Comment by Nanubhai Desai — January 24, 2007 @ 3:18 am

  4. Sorry, in the second sentence above, I meant to say “…for this to have an IMPACT ON a widespread level…”

    Comment by Nanubhai Desai — January 24, 2007 @ 3:28 am

  5. Rahul, most certainly there would be great opportunities for undergrads at the RISC pilot. I will keep my blog updated on all the progress that we make on the pilot.

    Abhishek, what is needed most is the will to implement the model. If that happens, then the resources can be clubbed together. It appears that the political will exists for creating the pilot in south India.

    Nanubhai, the best outcome is to have, say, half a dozen mega-cities (15+ million population each–Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Nagpur :) ) and then about 60 large cities (5 million population), and 600 small cities (1 million). That gives us about 990 million in all living in cities. The rest 100 million or so will live outside these cities whereever in “rural” areas.

    The RISC proposal is a sort of an intermediate step towards that sort of a goal. Let’s say that we put down 5,000 of these “seeds.” Some will sprout. Through a market-driven process, some of these will naturally grow to the small city (1m population size), and some will inflate to the large city size. What is important is to do the seeding.

    I would like to clarify that I am against putting down RISCs in already existing small towns and villages. Existing places have a structure that is difficult to change. Their legacy blueprint will not allow a more rational blueprint. RISCs should be located in such areas where there is room for growth. That is, if you expect to grow a large tree, it is best to plant the seed in such an area where the seed can grow naturally.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — January 24, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

  6. “A more rational blueprint”, “The government has to facilitate the process”, “required to facilitate investment though loan guarantees”, “coordinated investment in various components of the infrastructure”—-doing all this will require both of Atanu’s hands as well as the very visible hands of many others, who are not really doing this for profit maximisation. More power to all of them. Why insist on giving the credit to the invisible hand?

    Comment by akondofswat — January 24, 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  7. Any hint on what you mean by “soon” in regards to the initiation of the pilot project?? :)

    Comment by Watcher — January 24, 2007 @ 11:57 pm

  8. We have to take into account the cynicism and hunger for subsidy
    mentality that has been bred into majority of Indians (incl farmers)
    thru the years of socialism. Paying user charges for services is still
    anathma. And loans from govt or quasi govt institutions are meant not
    to be paid back… For e.g the recent cancellation of all agri loans
    from co-op banks in TN by this populist DMK govt has resuled in almost
    banckruptcy of all co-op banks here. i knew of rich farmers who made
    a bonanza of more than Rs.10 lacs thru this canellation. the common
    thread now in TN villages is the lament about the ‘unlucky’ ones
    who missed this bonanaza (who didn’t get any loans recently)..
    no one seem to worry or care about the viability of the banks..
    And the loan mela syndromes intiated by populist congress govts
    in 70s has corrupted the credit worthiness of an average farmer
    or rather has increased the willful default of all loans….
    Economy can be rebuilt but ethics once lost is lost forever.

    K.R.Athiyaman

    Comment by K.R.Athiyaman — January 25, 2007 @ 7:27 am

  9. Sounds like an interesting idea, but…

    Presumably, rural Indian farmers at least have a job and their own homes and source of food.

    Once they come to the city, they either have a job or they are beggers.

    There are plenty of poor American city dwellers who rely on government handouts to survive who may look upon rural Indian farmers with envy…

    It may cost more in the short run to bring modern infrastructure to rural India, but at least the government won’t have half a billion “modern” welfare clients dependent on handouts to survive when the economy hits a slow period.

    Also, China now estimates they can add a maximum of one million “modern” jobs a month to their economy. At that rate, it will take India almost 60 years to achieve your goal.

    Comment by alphie — January 26, 2007 @ 2:50 pm

  10. Atanu, I think this is a very interesting and promising idea. What is the government response to the pilot at this point? Have any studies been conducted in terms of the costs to provide I-level infrastructure for a 100 villages?

    Comment by Virag Khara — January 27, 2007 @ 1:59 am

  11. Regarding Atanu’s proposal, I would hope that the government would be involved as little as possible. For almost all infrastructure except roads (unless one considers private toll highways) or rail going out to these , it seems to me that the private sector could handle matters. As Atanu wrote, the gov’t's role would limited to light regulation and providing incentives like tax breaks or loan guarantees. Besides, if the idea is implemented by the private sector, with profit as the driving motive, its future growth won’t be susceptible to budget cuts or other things going on with the gov’t. The gov’t's help, at least by my reading of it, seems necessary only to lessen the initial fixed costs with tax breaks and such. Afterwards, if it’s profitable, it will sustain itself.

    Comment by Rahul Reddy — January 27, 2007 @ 2:27 am

  12. I thing I learned something new. “Economic growth is both a cause and consequence of urbanization.” Somehow in my mind urbanization was a purely social megatrend (Naisbitt) with little connection to the overall economy.

    Comment by Sarat — January 27, 2007 @ 5:30 am

  13. This just in. The Planning Commission has recommended that PURA–Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas–be dropped from the Ministry of Rural Development’s Centrally sponsored schemes, the Pioneer reports.

    I have been arguing against PURA for a bit because it makes no economic sense. However I suspect that the recommendation will be overturned and money will be wasted on PURA.

    Alphie: Perhaps due to some error your comment has got posted to the wrong thread. I will get the technical people to look into the crossposting of comments.

    Sarat: Yes, urbanization is major factor in economic development, and economic development is a major factor in urbanization. It makes theoretical sense and it is empirically true.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — January 27, 2007 @ 7:10 am

  14. Since many years, I have argued against PURA on the grounds that it does not make economic sense.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — January 27, 2007 @ 7:47 am

  15. Hehe, Atanu,

    Not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not.

    Agricultural life may be primitive, but there is value to it.

    Make sure you figure the cost of its destruction into any calculations you make.

    Comment by alphie — January 27, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  16. Alphie, no I am not being sarcastic. Your comment has nothing to do with the subject at hand. I presume that it was meant for a different discussion. I did not claim that farmers should move to the city and become beggars. Indeed, I said precisely the opposite: that rural people should not migrate to existing cities as they are reduced to living in slums.

    If you delight in non sequiturs, please have all the fun you wish. But can we for the moment restrict the discussion to what is on the table. Thank you kindly.

    Comment by Atanu Dey — January 27, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

  17. Just off the top of my head, an idea for you, one that could be used as an historical analogy.

    European economic development revolved around market towns. Sure, London and the great cities had an impact, but it was things like the market days at the market towns that were actually the lifeblood of commerce for the rural population, that vast majority.

    There’s actually been one bloke who studied how far apart these might have been by looking at local sausage recipes. His reasoning was that there would be a cultural style in the hinterland of one of these towns. He found that such recipes changed roughly a full day’s walk away: consistent with the idea that the hinterland would be half a day in, half a day out from each market town.

    Now, such towns were the up to date technology of the day. What you’re suggesting is that there is a chasm in technology between the rural villages and the major cities (well, duh!) and I have a feeling that if you can get the analogy right (obviously, it needs a lot more work and back up than this email), that what you want to do is stimulate the creation of such market towns and thus speed the dissemination of technology, that you’ll get a lot more western types to grasp the idea.

    It speaks to those who are historically literate, at least. If you can get the proper comparison between connections to the main trade routes of that time and, say, connection to the backbone, that’s the sort of thing that people will grasp.

    Well, maybe, I offer it as an idea, anyway.

    All the best.

    Tim

    Comment by Tim Worstall — January 27, 2007 @ 3:34 pm

  18. Atanu,

    Sorry if I misunderstood your goal. I looked over the Deeshaa website and found this description of RISC:

    “It essentially acts as a catalyst that starts off a virtuous cycle of introducing efficient modern technology to improve productivity that increases incomes and thus the ability of users to pay for the services, and so on.”

    The best way to improve the productivity of rural farms is to get rid of all the rural farmers and replace them with a tractor…

    Comment by alphie — January 27, 2007 @ 5:57 pm

  19. Alphie, I think that the “Non Sequitur Competition of 2006″ is over. Perhaps you could send your entries in the next time the competition is announced. You will surely win. Best regards.

    Atanu

    PS: I wonder about your handle “Alphie.” Comes from “Alf” the US sitcom, does it?

    Comment by Atanu Dey — January 27, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

  20. Hi Atanu
    This is an idea whose time has come. Improving the employability of the rural population is the most important problem that should be occupying the parliament, but Indian response has so far been extremely stupid and slow.

    I have a question about your misgivings about not using the existant infrastructure for the RISC idea. Isn’t it cheaper/quicker to locate the RISC outlets in the minor towns to begin with ?

    Apart from the applications that you have outlined, I also recommend a new one – to consider providing CD-burning facility for downloaded educational materials for use in private schools.

    Comment by Kiran Varanasi — February 2, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

  21. Hello,
    Your theory sounds really neat. But wouldn’t a bottom-up strategy be a better idea, especially in a country like ours. With a government that takes too much time, another top-down solution seems to be missing the point. I do not mean to be disrespectful or rude, I am merely trying to learn. I am a Masters student at Indiana University, and I have been researching ICT projects which are supposedly a boon, especially in rural areas. And while this is a digression, I do want to make my point. Dumping technology on them (indian villagers for example) is nowhere close to a good idea, and it is pretty much a cop-out. But a lot of people seem to be doing this, and maybe some ideas work, but that is pure luck. What is needed is a people-based approach, and many miss the point. If anyone is interested in knowing more about my research, I am welcome to discuss this. Most of the great ideas around the world are bottom-up, and this is due to a variety of factors. Of course, there are some exceptions.
    And with your RISC being the base around which a city needs to form seems to be a very callous idea. Tradition and cultures, long ones, are part of these villages. We should ensure that people continue to live in them, following that and maintaining the cultural fabric of their place. This can be done by not revamping their entire way of life. Digital artifacts can reinforce their lives, not the other way around. What is needed is good design, and it needs good designers. I sincerely hope that you have an inter-disciplinary team designing this, and not a single perspective or like-minded ones. Again, I am not being disrespectful, but based on what I have read, I see aspects of bad design which have been repeated in many cases and I think you are missing the point. And if people like you who can make a difference miss the point, it does not bode well.
    This is my humble opinion, and I would love to initiate a dialog. And of course, I could be wrong about this, but I dont think so.

    Comment by Arvind Ashok — February 8, 2007 @ 7:45 am

  22. If you are one of those people, who are sick and tired of listening to “India Shining Stories” despite the growth not bringing about basic changes you had expected to be associated with an economic powerhouse – you will probably like where Atanu Dey is going with this.

    Over the last few days I have been reading a lot about the Great Indian Corporate Shopping spree. What Lakshmi Mittal started last year with Arcelor, has seen several follow-up acts such as the Tata-Corus deal, Birla’s Hinduja takeover of Novelis and the Hutch deal with Vodafone. I wondered how much of Atanu Dey’s introduction to RISC (Rural Infrastructure & Services Commons) was relevant. I tried to understand this better. There is no doubt, that India is growing – and growing fast – the universally accepted eight percent GDP growth rate holds pretty good.

    But, how good is this economic growth, when more than half of children aged below five are undernourished or when one fifth of the entire population is chronically hungry. Dey also points out the recently released rankings in the Human Development Report, where our 126th rank (out of 177 counties) is nothing to be proud of. A quick look at the demographics explains this imbalance:

    The National sample survey organisation (NSSO) estimated that 22.15% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2004–2005, down from 51.3% in 1977–1978, and 26% in 2000. I for one question, whether this is any indication of India’s overall upliftment (especially rural areas) or just migration of ‘cheap human resource’ from villages and towns to the IT/ITes based megapolis.

    My doubt is further strengthened when you see that while services and industry have grown at double digit figures, agriculture growth rate has dropped from 4.8% to 2%.

    More than three quarters of India depends on agriculture for livelihood, but the contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP is less than one quarter.

    Precious little is being done to address plaguing problems in rural India such as availability of civic amenities, education and health & sanitation. This is further compounded by a high population growth rate.

    So what does this translate to – more pressure on crumbling urban infrastructure, which has led to greater congregation of population in ‘hot pockets’ of corporate India. This in turn, had led the politicians to shift their already trivial focus on rural matters, by addressing matters concerning corporations, city development and infrastructure. There is absolutely no incentive for either the poitician to be concerned about the rural population, or for the people to participate in upliftment of villages.

    The Discovery channel documentary on Thomas Friedman (Pulitzer winning author of The world in flat), showed that within an hour’s drive from India’s star performer – Bangalore, there were villages with no educational system or health-sanitation facilities. I wonder, how the villages deeper inside the world’s seventh largest country score on this scale.

    The politicians with schemes such as Rural Employment Guarantee Bill (2005) and the Reservation Bill have resorted to controversial methods, that give scope to extreme corruption. I only read about initiatives done by NGOs and corporations that lay emphasis on their CSR. Moreover, a new controversy bogged my mind – shifting the BPO industry to villages on the fringe of urban centers. Satyam computers recently set up a BPO village in Andhra Pradesh. While, this practice may reap in profits for firms such as Satyam, who are struggling with infrastructure issues and high operating costs in traditional ‘hubs’, what is the payoff for rural India. The sustainability of such quasi-pro-rural initiatives depends largely on availability and willingness of ‘cheaper skilled labor’ in such rural belts. This also, if successful, will add to the wooing of potential agro-based laborers to cheaper service based jobs, which may disturb the long standing balance of our economic structure.

    So, this brings me back to the initial debate – how can India shining not be a misnomer, but a whole, meaningful phrase, that applies to every sphere of India. Is RISC the only method of moving ahead, for rural upliftment ? I think, given a corruption-free, closely monitored and explicitly public undertaking by the GOI, NGOs and other partners, this could be one of the more effective solutions. The main idea behind RISC, is to bring to the rural population services that are normally available only in large urban locations. It is virtual grouping of villages and small towns to provide a common platform for Infrastucture (I-level) and user Services (S-level). The economies of scale works well with this model, as spreading the costs of such services over the large population of clubbed villages and towns, makes per unit cost as low as possible, while extending quality resources such as public health programmes, education and training and manufacturing capabilities (such as factories, logistics, access to markets, trading information).

    We may be competing well in 2007. But to sustain a long term balanced growth, we cannot ignore the rural population with it’s promising resources, reduced inefficiences and potential to decongest not just the metros, but also the economy on the whole. Lastly, with projects such as RISC, governance of India shifts from small units such as villages, to larger congregations in these RISC centers. Let India Shine. Now.

    References: Dey, Atanu and Vinod Khosla (2002), ‘RISC – Rural Infrastructure and Services Commons’.Full document available at Deeshaa.com and at Khoslaventures.com; A Brief Introduction To RISC — Rural Infrastructure & Services Commons — Atanu Dey (http://indianeconomy.org/2007/01/23/a-brief-introduction-to-risc-rural-infrastructure-services-commons/#more-389 )

    Comment by Abhijit Kumar — February 16, 2007 @ 3:57 am

  23. [...] However, an earlier post on the Indian Economy blog suggests an alternative way to fix this without giving up on the villages: Given that rural populations are very poor, it is reasonable to expect that the aggregate demand of a single village for any single service will be very low. However, the aggregate demand for, say, a 100 villages for a single service could be significant. Aggregating the demand for many different kinds of services of the same 100 villages would translate into lot of services. These services would require infrastructural inputs which can be commercially and sustainably supplied. Thus, a RISC would supply to the needs of about 100 surrounding villages. [...]

    Pingback by smriti.com » Can India afford its villages? — May 3, 2007 @ 1:33 pm

  24. The contribution of agriculture sector to GDP is grossly and wantonly misrepresented to keep the budgetary allocation to agri-sector at bare minimum. It needs a relook. Contribution from agriculture and allied activites like procesing, markets, transport, and so on to clubed to arrive at a correct figure which defenitely be more than the any other sector individually or combined.

    Comment by karnic — August 9, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  25. The idea sounds like a blue copy of China’s experiment in 1960s when the government tried to mobilize rural population to aggregated towns, which of course failed because it was not feasible to execute such a plan in a grand scale. Doubt this will work in India today.

    Insetad, just focus on building infrastructures with a national plan and then cities will form naturally and quickly. Keep things simple. A nation like India’s size, each section may need a different development model, trying to find a cure-all formula will be a tough sell.

    Comment by thecupgr — August 26, 2007 @ 5:11 am

  26. The article on the concept RISC to me appears very real solution. The bureucrats play foul play. As I am working in a project assisted by world bank where community plays a key role, I find three weakness:
    1. The presence of bureaucrats who do not any work without money.
    2. NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS which are very weak qualitatively.
    3. Poor wages for people working the sector that does not encourage social workers to work in the villages.

    Comment by UDAYAKUMAR KOLLIMATH — October 12, 2007 @ 7:58 pm

  27. RISC is a fine proposal and with some more modification based on the socio-political situations and infrastructural availbility and conceptual level performance and statusquo,the theme can be worked out.

    We were not able to work out a system for the Rural India and that is forcing the farmers to commit suicide,rural atrisans,weavers all leading vexed life.
    The floating of this idea is highly appraciative and time has come for a proper plan for our 600,000 villages.

    S.A.Rahim
    Chairman
    PEN India
    email:penindia.org@gmail.com

    Comment by S.A.Rahim — October 29, 2007 @ 3:11 pm

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