The Centre is working on an ambitious plan to reach out to tribal communities in parts of central India that have remained beyond the scope of government welfare schemes due to Maoist obstruction. It will use NGOs as frontal bodies in order to gain access to these areas.
Resources available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Indira Awas Yojana, the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana and the Backward Regions Grant Fund go largely unutilised in these conflict areas. The Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) — as the body comprising governments and NGOs will be called — will leverage these resources in these areas.
In addition, the BRLF proposes to have its own corpus — Rs 500 crore from the Centre and contributions from respective states, banks, public sector units, philanthropic institutions and individuals. The autonomous foundation will also work for socio-economic upliftment, build local institutions like panchayats, and allow adivasis to assert their rights and entitlements.
According to sources, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh is writing to the CMs of central Indian states, seeking their support and contribution.
“The central Indian adivasi belt has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in Maoist militancy in recent years and suffered from development and governance deficits. Without such an initiative, massive resources will not translate into enduring outcomes on the ground,” the concept note finalised this week said.
The idea stems from an observation that even as the reach of governments has been restricted, NGOs like the Ramakrishna Mission in Chhattisgarh managed to reach tribals and used innovative techniques and methods to create awareness and improve livelihoods. Their success was attributed to the trust they managed to build in the conflict zones.
But the drawback is that these initiatives create only a few oases of excellence. “The voluntary sector tends to be wary of partnering with local and state administration, while governments tend to view the civil society with suspicion. The way to inclusive growth is by fostering powerful partnerships between the two,” the note said.