Redesign the model village scheme | HT Editorial
For MPs to take it up, expand its ambit to a cluster of villages and provide it fundsUpdated: Jun 22, 2020 18:56 IST
A study commissioned by the Union ministry of rural development on the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), launched by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi in 2014, has said that the scheme has not made “any significant impact” and “is not achieving the desired purpose”. PM Modi had urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to adopt one or more villages in their constituency and turn them into “model villages”.
While, in principle, SAGY is a good idea. But there are both political and structural flaws in its design. It fails to appreciate a ground reality. Any MP will find it difficult, if not impossible, to prioritise one village over another. A Lok Sabha MP represents, on an average, over 1.5 million voters of different castes, religion, gender and age groups, each with their own set of demands. For an MP to cherry-pick a few villages can be both politically counterproductive, and can disturb the delicate social equilibrium in villages/constituencies. Additionally, the scheme has no separate budgetary allocation and MPs are unwilling to allocate funds from the MP Local Area Development Scheme for projects in the model villages.
However, with the Covid-19 pandemic wrecking lives and livelihoods, and spurring an exodus of labourers from cities to villages, a new and redesigned SAGY, with funding, can work. For this, expand the ambit from one village to a cluster of villages. Follow it up with mapping the skill sets of residents and upgrading/re-skilling them; investing in farm and related infrastructure such as cold chains and food processing units; and building critical infrastructure. This is politically more feasible for elected representatives, and can create economic opportunities within villages.