Gain at Grass­roots

India Today - - THE STATE OF THE STATES - by Uday Mahurkar

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.

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