In 2014, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled the ambitious Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna and requested MPs to develop one model village in their constituency by 2016 and two more by 2019. Unfortunately, the MPs, especially from the BJP, have not warmed up to the PM’s plan to transform India’s villages.
According to the first report card of the ‘Adopt a Village’ plan by the rural development ministry, which is anchoring the project, MPs from parties other than the BJP have outdone the PM and his council of ministers. The top 15 parliamentarians include civil aviation minister Pusapati Ashok Gajapathi Raju of the TDP, Congress’ Motilal Vora, Samajwadi Party’s Dimple Yadav and businesswoman Anu Aga.
These MPs have used the funds creatively to improve social welfare (immunisation, drinking water supply, disability and widow pensions, school enrolment, electrification and mid-day meal scheme) in their adopted villages.
Former rural development minister Birender Singh’s adopted village and Modi’s Jayapur don’t figure in this top-performer’s list.
Seven hundred and two MPs joined the first phase of the plan enthusiastically and of these, 646 submitted village development plans and the progress of all the villages were charted on 35 parameters. The ministry then chose the top 47 villages and sent 16 teams to check the progress on the ground.
Why are our MPs so reluctant to make good use of this scheme, especially since they never tire of talking about the need to develop India’s villages during the public speeches?
Earlier, senior rural development ministry officials said MPs have complained about lack of funds to carry out these schemes. “They have raised the issue in Parliament and have also written letters to the ministry. Thereafter, the ministry wrote a letter for provision of funds from corporate, voluntary and private sectors,” an official told a national daily earlier this year.
In order to end this funds crunch, the ministry has decided to tap funds from corporate resources for the scheme. A letter dated December 22, 2015, by the ministry said gram panchayats should tap the resources of the private sector for development works. “Each gram panchayat should proactively tap the resources and strengths of the private, voluntary and cooperative sectors which could help in making available relevant technologies for local adoptions as well as making investments for local economic development, either independently or to supplement government efforts,” said the letter which has been written to principal secretaries.
If we use a corporate analogy, MPs are project managers and they have to think of ways on how to implement critical development programmes and source funds for them. But a majority of them don’t seem to be interested in going that extra mile to make this ‘Adopt a Village’ scheme a success.
What is extremely unfortunate is that the Cabinet ministers also who have not managed to implement this plan when they are the one who should have showed the way.
If money, facilities and a chance to effect a change cannot motivate them, what else will?