The development story of India is incomplete without being inclusive of the villages and rural area of the country. “If we have to build the nation, we have to start from the villages” – this is, in fact, has been repeatedly emphasized by Prime Minister Modi in his speeches.
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Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana is a unique initiative by the Government of India, to transform the villages of the country, in a way that they become models of development for others to follow. The focus of the scheme will not be the infrastructural and material development of the villages. Instead, the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana will lay emphasis on a value-driven, holistic approach, to devise a developmental model which is sustainable and far-sighted. In that direction, this particular scheme aims to leverage and channelize the energy, capacity, and commitment of the Members of Parliament as an effective way of transforming the rural area in their respective constituencies/states.
Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana has been envisioned to be a result-oriented, time-bound initiative. The goal of the scheme has been very clearly defined to develop three Adarsh Grams per Member of Parliament, by March 2019, of which one was to be achieved by 2016 itself. Thereafter, five such Adarsh Grams (one per year) will be selected and developed by each MP, by the year 2024.
The Unique Developmental Model of SAGY
From being a country of very few urban centers to becoming home to the mega-cities like Mumbai and Bangalore, and of course, in recent times the ‘Millennium City’ of Gurugram. The urban infrastructure of India has certainly come a long way. One can see random patches of land growing into vertical jungles of concrete, the high-rises, and flyovers emerging out of nowhere! In the great Indian story of development, the villages and rural infrastructure of India seems to have been left far behind and forgotten of after that.
However, as Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of an ideal village implies, you don’t really need electricity polls to transform a village. It’s more about the values and social structure that drives a village through progress, and makes it an ideal village, or ‘adarsh gram’.
In Mahatma’s own words, and I’m quoting,“An ideal Indian village will be so constructed as to lend itself to perfect sanitation. It will have cottages with sufficient light and ventilation built of a material obtainable within a radius of five miles of it. The village lanes and streets will be free of all avoidable dust. It will have wells according to its needs and accessible to all. It will have houses of worship for all; also a common meeting place, a village common for grazing its cattle, a co-operative dairy, primary and secondary schools in which industrial education will be the central fact, and it will have panchayats for settling disputes. It will produce its own grains, vegetables and fruit, and its own khadi. This is roughly my idea of a model village.”
Quite accurate. Mahatma Gandhi’s vision, almost a century old, still holds true for the India of the day.
The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to make this development model envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi into a reality of the villages of India. The scheme focuses on transforming the fate of the rural India by instilling a value shift amongst the citizens and the overall social structure of the villages, based on the pillars of the basics like sanitation, healthcare, education, employment and social equality.
Key Areas of Transformation under the SAGY.
The value-centric model of development that the scheme adopts is quite diverse in its approach and touches different spheres of personal and community life.
The whole model of development can be broadly classified into four major areas of transformation: personal, human, social and economic development. The transformation at the personal level will aim at improving the quality of life of an average villager, by reinventing the individual values, hygiene, culture, religion, and behavioral aspects. At the level of transformation of the humankind, the essential entities like education, healthcare, and nutrition will be worked upon. Reforms with socio-economic implications, like social justice, dispute resolution, citizen services, financial inclusion and skill development will help raise the overall bar of the rural lifestyle.
Together, the work done on improving the scenario of all these areas will help bring about a development which is truly sustainable, and responsive to the needs of rural India.
How does Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana Work?
In almost 70 years of independence, several schemes for the development of rural India have been initiated. Most of these schemes have just come and passed by, without creating much impact. The situation of rural India, on ground, remains largely the same.
There can be several reasons. The primary one being a major disconnect between the development inputs being delivered by the government agencies, and the actual real-time requirements of the villages. Another reason being an unruly focus on infrastructure and expenditure, completely ignoring the social and cultural aspects of development. In fact, in many decades that have gone by, villages of the country have been made to rely more on the grants and subsidies by the government agencies, than to make the village entities self-reliant and self-sufficient.
The Saansad Adarsh gram Yojana aims to plug in these gaps and provide a comprehensive model of development, which is weaved around and caters to the needs of the specific village.One of the best strategies for implementation in that direction was to involve the Member of Parliament from the region as an instrumental entity in the whole process.
Identification of Adarsh Gram
A Gram Panchayat would be the basic unit in the implementation of the scheme. It will have a population of 3000-5000 in plain areas and 1000-3000 in hilly, tribal and difficult areas. The MP would be free to identify a suitable Gram Panchayat from his constituency, for being developed as Adarsh Gram.
After identification of the village to be developed as an Adarsh gram, the next step will be to prepare a Village Development Plan (VDP) for every identified Gram Panchayat, with a special focus on enabling every poor household to come out of poverty. An important part of this will be the stimulation of a favorable environment and social mobility, to garner maximum inputs from the villagers themselves.
Once the Village Development Plan has been drafted based upon the inputs of the local villagers and is approved by the gram panchayat, the next step would be the projectization of the whole exercise, into term- based targets of 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and beyond. The entire exercise has to be implemented by the concerned departmental officials.
Outcomes of the Scheme & Key Beneficiaries
The outcomes of the Saansad Adarsh gram Yojana are supposed to reflect more in terms of the value-based, holistic growth of the village, rather any major infrastructural leaps. There will be a significant impact on the overall quality of life of the rural population, with improvement in availability, as well as usability of basic amenities like safe drinking water, sanitation, health care, cleanliness, education, digital infrastructure, transportation, and connectivity. The scheme is also expected to generate new and sustainable employment opportunities for the younger village population, and significantly bring down the numbers of distress migration. Moreover, the scheme also aims to bring about a major push to the digital infrastructure of the villages, with all citizen services being computerized.
The most valuable outcome of the scheme is expected to be the re-establishment of a sense of peace and harmony, which the villages of India used to be known for, by eliminating the difficulties and distress being faced. Moreover, the model village, or the ‘adarsh gram’ thus formed, will act as an inspiration, and will be used as a demonstration for other villages in the region, which may be taken up under the scheme in subsequent rounds.
The soul of the scheme lies in the belief of ‘antodaya’- the reform and upliftment of the weakest and most deprived section of the society. Once the villages of India start moving in that reaction, India is destined to be a power to reckon with. It’s going to be a chain process, one village inspiring the two adjoining villages, and those, in turn, spreading the fire to four more!
There are a total of 790 MPs who sit in the Parliament of India if each one of them actually builds 8 model villages by 2024, 790 x 8 is 6320! The lives of crores of rural Indians is transformed. Let’s hope this happens!