Gain at Grassroots
It’s the lesser known story about Gujarat, beyond its industrial and infrastructural prowess, that makes it the state hard to beat. The state has taken huge strides in women’s welfare, girls’ education, poverty alleviation and water conservation and quality. The Mission Mangalam Scheme launched in 2009 is illustrative of the state’s innovative approach to women’s development. Under it, two lakh self-help Sakhi Mandals (women’s groups) covering almost 20 lakh women involved in embroidery, pottery and toy-making have been extended credit worth Rs 1,000 crore, enabling them to stand on their feet financially. The government’s stress on girl child education has brought dropout rate at primary school level from 36 to 8 per cent.
The government, in its endeavour to provide quality drinking water, has set up water committees in 17,000 of its 18,000 villages in the past five years. It also institutionalised a system of maternal care for poor pregnant women by involving over 6,000 doctors. Since 2005, 6.34 lakh women have availed of trained doc- tors instead of midwives.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s brainchild, the ‘Umeed’ (Hope) scheme, envisages training semiliterate youth in urban areas for service industries. Over 1.10 lakh youth have been trained since 2008 under this scheme. Over six lakh structures for water conservation, including check dams, have been built in the state since 2006. “What has paid off is constant monitoring to ensure implementation of schemes at the grassroots level,” says K. Kailashnathan, Modi’s principal secretary.