Tar­get de­liv­ery

Pro­grammes for ru­ral de­vel­op­ment are in place. En­sure they reach each of the in­tended ben­e­fi­cia­ries

Down to Earth - - COVER STORY - RICHARD MA­HA­P­A­TRA

Now is the time to take up a com­mu­nity

driven plan to use vil­lage as­sets like ponds to re­gen­er­ate ru­ral ecol­ogy and

en­vi­ron­ment

THE NEW GOVERN­MENT has two tough chal­lenges in the ru­ral de­vel­op­ment sec­tor.The first chal­lenge is to match the United Pro­gres­sive Al­liance’s (upa’s) ru­ral de­vel­op­ment budget of more than one lakh crore ru­pees a year.The sec­ond is to fix the short­com­ings in the de­liv­ery of de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits to the right people. De­fi­cien­cies in de­liv­ery in many ways spelt the doom for upa de­spite its un­equiv­o­cal fo­cus on ru­ral budget. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi, feted for his im­pec­ca­ble de­liv­ery skill, will be closely mon­i­tored on this agenda. The three steps he must take:

1.Re­tain the ru­ral de­vel­op­ment budget. All re­cent govern­ment sur­veys point at the re­vival of ru­ral con­sump­tion as well as over­all econ­omy. This is be­cause of the enor­mous sums of money pumped into ru­ral de­vel­op­ment in the last one decade. Ru­ral growth is also help­ing na­tional econ­omy to grow at what­ever slow pace it is grow­ing.The new govern­ment should not down­size flag­ship pro­grammes like the na­tional ru­ral em­ploy­ment scheme and the ru­ral health mis­sion that are di­rectly linked to the well-be­ing of the ru­ral work force.

2.Re­form the job pro­gramme.The new govern­ment should take up the much­needed re­form in de­sign and de­liv­ery of ru­ral de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. It should start with mgnrega that is on de­cline. It should be re­vived as a core pro­gramme that pro­vides a ma­jor source of fund­ing for vil­lage de­vel­op­ment schemes. Vil­lages al­ready have mil­lions of pro­duc­tive as­sets like ponds and tanks.Now is the time to take up a com­mu­nity-driven plan to use these as­sets to re­gen­er­ate the vil­lage ecol­ogy and econ­omy. In­stead of the non-ne­go­tiable list of works un­der the Act, the govern­ment should manda­to­rily fund a vil­lage’s plan to sus­tain the as­sets al­ready built.

3.De­cide on the di­rect ben­e­fit trans­fer. The buzz about send­ing the mon­e­tary value of de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits di­rectly to the ac­counts of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries is fiz­zling out. This has more to do with the way In­dia rolled out the am­bi­tious pro­gramme. The govern­ment should first pre­pare a must-do list to make this pro­gramme suc­cess­ful. It needs a ver­i­fi­able long-term com­mit­ment to ex­pand the for­mal bank­ing sys­tem to ru­ral ar­eas. Sec­ondly, the sys­tem of iden­ti­fy­ing the ben­e­fi­ciary has to be clear and ob­jec­tive.To start with, the govern­ment must end the con­fu­sion over who is poor in In­dia by quickly tak­ing into ac­count the find­ings of the re­cently fin­ished caste and eco­nomic cen­sus.The pur­pose of the cen­sus was to gauge who is back­ward.

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