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