Members of Parliament (MPs) have forced the Centre to end the state government's role in awarding innovations in their parliamentary constituencies. They have successfully pushed for having a say in deciding who will get the award.
In May this year, the ministry of statistics and programme implementation (MOSPI) introduced a scheme "MP-one idea" to promote a "grassroot bottom up" approach to innovation, and to arrive at solutions for local problems through awarding three best innovations to each of the country's 790 MPs. The scheme was suggested by the National Innovation Council, headed by Sam Pitroda.
The ministry allowed the MPs to allocate Rs. 5 lakh from their local area development fund (MPLAD) of Rs. 5 crore every year for the awards.
The ministry's guidelines, however, imposed a condition that the state governments will be the final deciding authority, becoming a bone of contention with the MPs.
Furious, the MPs wrote to the ministry - refusing to allocate funds to the scheme by saying they cannot become "subservient" to state governments. "Our independence will be lost," explained a senior Congress MP on the condition of anonymity.
Srikant Jena, minister for statistics and programme implementation, saw logic in their view and asked his ministry to change the guidelines.
"Giving power to the state government will cause unnecessary delay," he told HT.
The new rule issued this week incorporated the MPs' concerns and made the selection committee, to be headed by the district collector, as the deciding authority.
It also increased the role of MPs in selecting the best innovations in their constituencies. Under the new rules, the number of selection committee members has been increased from six to eight, with two more members representing civil society to be nominated by an MP. The other six members from the government and the academics field will be nominated by the district collector in consultation with the MP concerned.
The rule also provides for expenditure to hold a function with "adequate media coverage" under the tutelage of the MPs to give the awards in each parliamentary constituency.
"In order to ensure that the scheme would be able to foster a spirit of innovation and grass-root level competitiveness and spur the innovation movement in the country, the award function should be given wide publicity," the guidelines say.
The committee has been authorised to give cash awards of Rs. 2.5 lakh, Rs. 1.5 lakh and Rs. 1 lakh to three best innovations in the constituency.