Ja­gan plans an army of vil­lage vol­un­teers to im­prove ser­vice de­liv­ery of his wel­fare schemes

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Gover­nance is tak­ing a unique bot­tom-up ap­proach in Andhra Pradesh. Chief Min­is­ter Y.S. Ja­gan­mo­han Reddy is mak­ing good on his in­au­gu­ral day (May 30) prom­ise to im­prove last-mile de­liv­ery of wel­fare schemes and ser­vices by hir­ing 266,000 vil­lage vol­un­teers by Au­gust 15.

“Ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing those who did not vote for us, should be served equally to an ex­tent that they change their opin­ion. My voice and as­sur­ances should reach ev­ery per­son in the state through you,” Ja­gan told

the newly-ap­pointed vol­un­teers while in­au­gu­rat­ing the sys­tem on In­de­pen­dence Day. “I saw the is­sues peo­ple faced dur­ing my 3,648 km-long pa­day­a­tra. That was when I an­nounced the vol­un­teer and vil­lage sec­re­tar­iat sys­tem for ef­fec­tive de­liv­ery of govern­ment schemes.” The Andhra chief min­is­ter said he will utilise the ser­vices of the vol­un­teers to ful­fil four of the five pre-poll prom­ises in the first year. The vol­un­teers will first iden­tify the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, as­sess their prob­lems and then rec­om­mend the ap­pro­pri­ate

govern­ment scheme they can avail of. Each vol­un­teer will take charge of 50 fam­i­lies and be paid Rs 5,000 a month.

Ja­gan’s plan to re­cruit vol­un­teers is in keep­ing with his de­ci­sion to take gover­nance to the grass­roots. Crit­i­cism about pick­ing party sup­port­ers as vol­un­teers apart, Ja­gan hopes that they will in due course de­velop into com­mu­nity lead­ers. To keep a check, a toll free telephone num­ber, 1902, is at­tached to a call cen­tre in the Chief Min­is­ter’s Of­fice for peo­ple to air their griev­ances.

Come Oc­to­ber 2, and a vil­lage sec­re­tary will also be ap­pointed to each grama sachivalay­am or vil­lage sec­re­tar­iat, cre­at­ing an­other 141,576 jobs. Be­ing the man­dated nodal point to de­liver gover­nance to peo­ple in 72 hours, each vil­lage sec­re­tar­iat will em­ploy 10 peo­ple from the vil­lage. To­gether, the vil­lage vol­un­teer sys­tem and vil­lage sec­re­tar­iats are ex­pected to be a fine ex­am­ple in de­cen­tralised gover­nance that also pro­vides an en­dur­ing peo­ple con­nect.

The posts of vil­lage sec­re­tary will be coveted ones as they come with a salary of Rs 15,000 a month, the se­cu­rity of a govern­ment job, not to men­tion lo­cal clout. Some 216.9 mil­lion job-seek­ers are in the race for the posts—an av­er­age of 21 for each post. There are also 4,909 can­di­dates from other states. “Salary and se­cu­rity are a strong at­trac­tion.

Though In­ter­me­di­ate or Plus 2 are part of the el­i­gi­bil­ity norm, a large num­ber of en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates are also tak­ing the test given the lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the tight job mar­ket,” says an of­fi­cial track­ing the mega re­cruit­ment drive.

On­line en­trance tests will be held in phases from Septem­ber 1.

Promis­ing com­plete trans­parency in the tests, the state has cau­tioned as­pi­rants not to fall prey to any bro­kers promis­ing jobs through other means.

This will be the first ma­jor govern­ment re­cruit­ment drive since the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. The state will set a record of sorts by cre­at­ing over 400,000 jobs within three months of a govern­ment as­sum­ing of­fice. The govern­ment will also launch the YSR Rythu Bharosa (free elec­tric­ity to farm­ers and an­nual in­vest­ment sup­port of Rs 12,500 for four years) on Oc­to­ber 15, the Amma Vodi scheme (an­nual grant of Rs 15,000 to in­di­gent moth­ers to ed­u­cate their chil­dren) by Jan­uary 26. By Ugadi, or Tel­ugu New Year day, Ja­gan has promised “there will be no poor fam­ily with­out a house in the state”.

But does the state have the money to ful­fil Ja­gan’s lofty pa­day­a­tra prom­ises? The state’s debt, which stood at Rs 1.3 lakh crore in 2014-15, reached a whop­ping Rs 2.6 lakh crore in 2018-19. Yet, the state pre­sented a Rs 2.3 lakh crore wel­fare-ori­ented bud­get this July. Where the money will come from is any­body’s guess.


SPEND IT LIKE... CM Ja­gan at his swear­ing-in cer­e­mony in Vi­jayawada, May 30

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