As India moves into the next millennium it has many things to be proud of. With a landmass of 3.29 million square kilometers and a population of just over a billion India has enormous natural resources, it also has the second largest pool of technical and scientific personnel in the world and is one of the fastest growing economies in the developing world in terms of its GDP growth.
However India is still far behind other developing nations in terms of achievement in some of the very basic social and economic development indicators specially in the rural areas where majority of our population lives. 65% of its rural areas are without sanitation facilities and large parts of rural India face acute water shortage. Some areas are completely deprived of education facilities particularly secondary and higher education and drop out of children from schools particularly girls is very high. Infant and Maternal Mortality rates are very high, and around 0.6 -0.7 million children people majority from the backward castes are involved in manual scavenging. Due to lack of awareness and traditional beliefs open defecation is very common. Participation of poor and margnilized communities in the local governance and informed decsiosin making is also lacking specially in tribal and remote areas.