Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Empowering India

A small update related to Babin's earlier post.

On a larger scale, in comparison to the Kudumbasree and EDC, the Government of India under the leadership of Manmohan Singh and P.Chidambaram, and Sonia Gandhi ofcourse, has embarked on a never-before project - The Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The sheer scale and size of this project is amazing, not to mention the possibilities and extent to which it can impact the poor in India.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2004 promises wage employment to every rural household, in which there are volunteers to do unskilled manual work. Through this Bill the government, aims at removing poverty by assuring at least 100 days' employment.

According to WHO statistics, more than 30% of Indians live Below the Poverty Line (BPL) - the cut off at which this is calculated varies and hence in effect the percentage might be higher than this.

Thus the money required to fund this scheme is a whopping Rs. 40,000 to 50,000 crore! Our FM is quite confident of meeting this allocation, and in fact gave almost Rs.24,000 crore for the project.

Contrary to the pessimists, which naturally include the Leftists who are supposed to be pro-poor, the scheme is effectively being implemented at the grass root levels with the determination and inspiration of many Indians - rich and poor.

Despite being not directly involved with the scheme, nor being an economist, I have strongly believed in the scheme for whatever I could make out about it and these are phenomenal schemes and ideas which we all should whole-heartedly welcome. Like I said earlier, the very message they convey is so important - you get paid for working, you get everything if you help build the nation - and not for sitting idle or shouting slogans and conducting hartals.

I hope the next phase of the scheme includes Kerala - not because there are plenty under the BPL, but there are plenty of people who are committed to be unemployed-by-choice. Who would rather hang out at the bus-stops, join marches, loot, steal, strike than work.

I wish more and more people would realise what good, educated, progressive minded and visionary leaders can do to our nation; as compared to the narrow minded, always-opposing, pessimistic looting lot. Just imagine, the Left parties are busy organising protest marches and hartals against Bush's visit (LDF has called for hartal in Kerala on March 02,2006) - apart from throwing peoples lives out of gear and causing losses for the economy I really wonder what these idiots gain. Oh, I am mistaken. There are geniuses among us who still vote for them for these gimmicks.

Today I got an email from a friend. He sent me the transcript of an email from a district collector who is involved in the implementation of the EGS at the grassroots. I was so inspired and touched by his words.

the EGS is presently under implementation in 200 districts in INDIA and in Andhra pradesh it is being implemented in 13 districts.My district chittoor is also one of them and i am the project officer in my far we have received around 2 lakh applications for 100 days assured job. at present we are conducting gram sabhas for preparation of shelf of works. we are identifying works that are to be carried out in the field os the weaker sections of the society. all are done on a participatory mode and hence there will be absolute transparency. there will be no malpractices as (commonly perceived). the checks are being put in place by people's participation. we've prepared a software with help of TCS for the preparation of Job cards and estimates of the works. at present two computers each are being installed in the mandals. i've got 62 systems today and we are installing them. from 15th of this month we've to provide jobs to the applicants, otherwise unemployment allowance has to be paid. this is statutory under the employment guarantee act. i feel that india is the only country which has given a statutory backing to employment guarantee. the experiences that i'm gaining in implementing the act are very rich and highly satisfying.the allotment for our district alone is Rs 100 crores in the first phase.


quills said...

Thanks Mindcurry and Babin for bringing such worthy projects to citizens' notice. It is very heartening to hear of the measures adopted by our PM and his team to eliminate poverty. I am glad to read as per the Collector's email that these kinds of schemes have been met with success in the various districts it has been implemented so far. I hope it will come to Kerala soon and help the the deserving poor. I also hope that such schemes will finally teach the hartal seeking, public enemies with false ideologies, the importance of being gainfully employed and earning through their own hard labour, instead of getting their pockets filled as designated party thugs.

silverine said...

I used to think that the plight of the poor is indeed helpless until I read this post of yours. To think that employment and development work is taking place at the grass roots level is very very heartening. All that the govt. needs to do now is see that the children of those employed under the EGS get education and we will be on the right trajectory to complete eradication of poverty and illiteracy. Development at grass roots level is the key, but then the past Govt. knew all that and didn't do any thing about it. Without this post on EGS I would not have understood its impact and scope.Great work mind curry.

p.s.Believe me I am damn uneasy about the 30% people who live below the poverty line and the illliterate majority who cast a deciding vote. Until this is rectified we will have stilted progress which is as good as no progress at all.

BMJ said...

wonderful post MC. i have invited my friends to join this initiative. who knows what we can do together.

Mind Curry said...

@ quills - yes, i am quite disappointed in the way keralites react to opportunity. they are always pessimistic or oppose it without knowing much for literacy. in that sense, i feel the poor in other states deserve the benefits of such schemes more than the ones in kerala - because the so called poor in kerala still refuse to work but would rather get benefits free; compared to other states where they are willing to do something about their lives.

@ silverine - wonderful point girl, the key lies in educating the next generation. as far as i know, there are great initiatives on this aspect as well. will post on this shortly.

@ bmj - thanks buddy :) am sure with together we can make a difference. united we stand, divided we fall. simple huh.

Babin said...

Luckily, India has top brains in the political administration of the central government now. Things are especially good with this government since left can only push for social programs but can not be involved in the actual implementation of it. MMS,PC and Ahluwalia knows how to best design and monitor such programs for the best result. And we have a lot of dedicated bureaucrats and NGOs in the ground level to help out once such innovative programs are started.
btw, Good point there about Kerala, Mind. Will be interesting to see what happens when this program reaches kerala.

PS: welcome quills and bmj. Lets make a strong effort to save kerala together.

Keshi said...

knowledge is power...and ur spreading knowledge (hence power) to ur fellow-citizens through this great post...keep up the good work!


Mind Curry said...

@ babin - really true babin. i have told this in almost all forums including some media - to make atleast a bachelor's degree mandatory for all politicians. that will weed out all the waste-products and bring in capable people like we have in the central government.

@ keshi - thanks keshini :)

hope and love said...

thats a good news...!
great of u to post abt it..

Jiby said...

hello mindcurry,
feels odd calling u by that name now! great and informative u wrote i initially wondered how the govt would fund this programme considering the sheer numbers to be supported...but the the Congress is showing an unprecedented will-power to go ahead. i hope and wonder if this project could be made self-sustaining too in some way...

i dont know, i thought it had started in kerala too...maybe my habit of just glimpsing thru the papers played the trick...the article said that gross allegations of corruption in implementing the NREG have surfaced in Palakkad and efforts are being made to replace the collector who is standing in the way of the lobby which is using machines to sidestep hiring laborers but yet getting work under this project.

and i loved the select cm poll ur conducting...i used to write a few articles abt the forthcoming elections earlier...hope OC gets another term but obviously a lot of our highly-politically aware keralites think differently. plz lemme know if u will be in tvm in april or may...i'd like to meet you.

Mind Curry said...

@ hope and love - thanks girl, and there are surely greater people out there doing all the hard work. amazing huh.

@ jiby - hey! welcome back! your exams are done?

once the initial phase of EGS becomes a success am sure there will be scope to make it self sufficient.

kerala, am not really sure, so maybe your glances maybe more accurate :)but sadly, like you mentioned, its always bound to get stuck in some issue or the other.

yes i will be visiting kerala sometime during april and may as well. just let me know, would love to meet you too brother.

Mind Curry said...

@ some idiot - who has flagged and blocked my blog!! man! show some balls and write a comment or something instead of this cowardice.

quills said...

@the same idiot who flagged this blog: I totally agree with Mind Curry. Why stoop to the lowest level? If you have some thoughts or disagree with any particular topic on this blog, you should post your comment, instead of trying underhand ways. If you think this is going to stop us from free speech, you are very much mistaken. I am sure the growing band of supporters of this blog will continue to support Mind Curry and his team’s efforts with greater enthusiasm.

shruti said...

Ur right we seem to have stumbled upon ..some worthy people to take charge at the centre and the country should ensure that such people remain at the helm of affairs making India realise its potentials ..

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