Faced with the unfinished agenda - half way achievements under the Bharat Nirman mission projects like rural roads and houses and MDG goals staring in face - the government is preparing an army of 40 lakh volunteers to connect planning in New Delhi and implementation at the village level.
TULIP (Total Unity for Livelihood, Innovation and Production), as 'the Bharat Nirman Volunteer' is christened would serve an anchor to spearhead programmes in rural India - PDS, MGNREGA, Indira Awas Yojana, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Rural Health Mission, literacy mission, mid-day meals and others - run by different ministries.
"There is a stark disconnect between people and the programmes, leading to disappointing results. The dearth of village level machinery in many states is limiting our potential - putting question over the UPA schemes," a rural development ministry official said.
As an answer, the ministry is raising the TULIPs - volunteers who connecting with people would streamline implementation of schemes, ensuring service delivery.
Under the Bharat Nirman Volunteer project, each volunteer is assigned up to 40 households from his locality. Responsibilities include establishing close contacts; generate awareness and procedures to avail benefits of schemes, legal literacy to demand entitlements, expedite grievance redressal and feedback to the government.
The ministry already launched the first phase a few days back, under which 39 blocks from across 28 states are covered, where the volunteers are being trained in State Institutes of Rural Development.
Once trained, they would be assigned the tasks - which include assistance with the BPL census this year and acting as rural reporters in community radio and wall newspapers.
But the government wants all this in a cost effective manner, which means no additional budget, no monetary or other benefits - only an award and certificate of appreciation after a year of 'good social work'.
"Yes, it is purely voluntary. Still we expect good response - as we only require just 1% of potential candidates in villages. In states like Tamil Nadu, we received about 900 applications from one block," the official said.