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‘Mission Antyodaya’ Should Not Fall By The Side

Context

This article argues that given the right momentum, the ‘Mission Antyodaya’ project bears great promise to eradicate poverty in its multiple dimensions among rural households.

Relevance

GS-II: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation

Dimensions of the Article

  • Background of Mission Antyodaya
  • Infrastructural gaps as pointed out by the Mission Antyodaya Survey
  • What can be done?
  • Way Forward

Background of Mission Antyodaya

  • The ‘Mission Antyodaya’ project was launched by the Government of India in 2017-18.
  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development act as the nodal agents to take the mission forward.
  • Key goals: The main objective of ‘Mission Antyodaya’ is to ensure optimum use of resources through the convergence of various schemes that address multiple deprivations of poverty, making gram panchayat the hub of a development plan.
  • Annual survey: This planning process is supported by an annual survey that helps to assess the various development gaps at the gram panchayat level, by collecting data regarding the 29 subjects assigned to panchayats by the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Also, data regarding health and nutrition, social security, good governance, water management and so on are also collected.
  • The idea of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj to identify the gaps in basic needs at the local level, and integrating resources of various schemes, self-help groups, voluntary organisations and so on to finance them needs coordination and capacity-building of a high order.
  • If pursued in a genuine manner, this can foster economic development and inter-jurisdictional equity.

Infrastructural gaps as pointed out by the Mission Antyodaya Survey

  • The ‘Mission Antyodaya’ survey in 2019-20 for the first time collected data that shed light on the infrastructural gaps from 2.67 lakh gram panchayats, comprising 6.48 lakh villages with 1.03 billion population.
  • The maximum score values assigned will add up to 100 and are presented in class intervals of 10.
  • While no State in India falls in the top score bracket of 90 to 100, 1,484 gram panchayats fall in the bottom bracket.
  • Even in the score range of 80 to 90, 10 States and all Union Territories do not appear.
  • The total number of gram panchayats for all the 18 States that have reported adds up only to 260, constituting only 0.10% of the total 2,67,466 gram panchayats in the country.
  •  If we consider a score range of 70-80 as a respectable attainment level, Kerala tops but accounts for only 34.69% of gram panchayats of the State, the corresponding all-India average is as low as 1.09%.
  • The composite index data, a sort of surrogate for human development, are also not encouraging.
  • Although only 15 gram panchayats in the country fall in the bottom range below 10 scores, more than a fifth of gram panchayats in India are below the 40 range.
  • The gap report and the composite index show in unmistakable terms that building ‘economic development and social justice’ remains a distant goal even after 30 years of the decentralisation reforms and nearly 75 years into Independence.

What can be done?

  • Converge resources: Given the ‘saturation approach’ (100% targets on select items) of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, the possibilities of realising universal primary health care, literacy, drinking water supply and the like are also immense.
  • But there is no serious effort to converge resources (the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the National Rural Livelihood Mission, National Social Assistance Programme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, etc.) and save administrative expenses.
  • Deploy the data to India’s fiscal federalism: Another lapse is the failure to deploy the data to India’s fiscal federalism, particularly to improve the transfer system and horizontal equity in the delivery of public goods in India at the sub-State level.
  • The constitutional goal of planning and implementing economic development and social justice can be achieved only through strong policy interventions.

Way Forward

The policy history of India has been witness to the phenomenon of announcing big projects and failing to take them to their logical consequence. ‘Mission Antyodaya’ is a striking case in recent times.

Source – The Hindu

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September 2022
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