Thoughts on Rural Housing

Shri. P.V. Maiya was in the banking service. He worked for 32 years in SBI before he started the ICICI Bank in 1994. Since his retirement in 1998, he has been working on and off as an advisor to whoever seeks. He also keeps himself busy with social activities. This includes being the president of the Yogakshema trust.

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Here are some of his thoughts on rural housing and ways to bring change.

What are your views about the need for rural housing?

“The question about the need for rural housing is not relevant, because no one can say that there is no need for rural housing. India has over 600,000 villages and in the vast majority of them, people don’t have proper shelter. The basic needs are shelter, food and education. Unfortunately in this country, housing has been a neglected area and it has not be possible for any government over the last 70 years to tackle this problem. This requires an enormous effort, time and money. Unless we do this, our people in villages will continue to live in abject poverty without proper shelter and will be condemned to live without a decent life which is unfortunate. But, there is no question about the need. Today, it is absolutely essential to provide housing to rural folk. Indeed houses to any families who need it, because it is the basic necessity of civilization.”

In the collaboration of the government, financial institutions and NGOs, what role should each play?

“The problem of housing is acute in rural areas (perhaps equally acute in some urban centres), is so enormous that it is not humanly possible for any one government or one agency to tackle this problem. It might take a century given the population of India. Nevertheless, collaborative effort is necessary by all concerned. The role of the government is essential is making sure that proper land is available, all approvals connected with the building of houses are completed efficiently and promptly.

Each of these houses cost money. So, financial institutions have the role of providing the loans for these houses at low rates. This are possible with an insurance and commitment from the home owners. Banks need to make it an easy process with simple formalities.

NGOs role in this case is not just complimentary. Their commitment level is high in bringing awareness about the need for a house, of what are proper shelters. Their work is also in arranging financial assistance and ensuring that the assistance given is repaid promptly.

They also need to make sure that the home owner puts in commitment and his own effort to work towards the house. The more we think about doling money, the more we are actually degrading them. We must encourage them to commit themselves to build their home. That is possible when the individual owner has a sense of feeling towards living better. This is where NGOs can bring a great deal of awareness and education to the people.”

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