Since independence, significant improvement has been shown in India’s economic and social development.
In the post-reform (since 1991) period, India has done well in some indicators such as balance of payments, resilience to external shocks, service sector growth,
Significant accumulation of foreign exchange, Information technology (IT) and stock market, improvements in telecommunications etc.
GDP growth was around 8 to 9% per annum in the period 2004-05 to 2009-10. Investment and savings rates were quite high at 32 to 36%.
However, exclusion continued in terms of low agriculture growth, low quality employment growth, low human development, rural-urban divides, gender and social inequalities, and regional disparities etc.
“ Bharat Nirman will be a time-bound business plan for action in rural infrastructure for the next four years. Under Bharat Nirman, action is proposed in the areas of irrigation, road, rural housing, rural water supply, rural electrification and rural telecommunication connectivity. We have set specific targets to be achieved under each of these goals so that there is accountability in the progress of this initiative."
To upgrade rural infrastructure, a commitment of Rs. 1,74,000 crores has been made to Bharat Nirman.
As part of the programme, Government of India have proposed that by end of financial year 2008 – 2009, every village of over 1000 population (or over 500 in hilly and tribal areas) will have an all-weather road.
To achieve the targets of Bharat Nirman, 1,46,185 kms. of road length was proposed to be constructed by 2009. This will benefit 66,802 unconnected eligible habitations in the country.
To ensure full farm to market connectivity, it was also proposed to upgrade 1,94,132 kms. of the existing Associated Through Routes. A sum of approximately Rs. 48,000 crore is proposed to be invested to achieve this.
Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidhyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) has been introduced in April 2005 with aims to provide electricity in all villages and habitations in four years and provides access to electricity to all rural households.
Establish Rural Electricity Distribution Backbone (REDB) with at least a Distribution Transformer in a village or hamlet, and standalone grids with generation where grid supply is not feasible.
Subsidy towards capital expenditure to the tune of 90% was to be provided, through Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC),
Electrification of un-electrified Below Poverty Line (BPL) households was proposed to be financed with 100% capital subsidy @ Rs.1500/- per connection in all rural habitations.
The 2001 Census places the rural housing shortage figure in India at 148 lakhs.
The Bharat Nirman Programme envisaged to construct 60 lakh houses over the next four years across the country, starting from 2005-06.
The rural housing programme is implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development through the Indira Awaas Yojana scheme, which is a centrally sponsored scheme where the cost is shared between the Centre and the States on a 75:25 basis.
Grant assistance is provided to the extent of Rs. 25,000 per house for normal areas and Rs. 27,500 for hilly areas. Funds are released to the DRDAs in two installments.
It is the flagship programme of the Government that directly touches lives of the poor and promotes inclusive growth.
The Act aims at enhancing livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least one hundred days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work.
Implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development.
The Act came into force on February 2, 2006 and was implemented in a phased manner.
In Phase I it was introduced in 200 of the most backward districts of the country.
It was implemented in an additional 130 districts in Phase II 2007-2008. The Act was notified in the remaining 285 rural districts of India from April 1, 2008 in Phase III.
NREGA is the first ever law internationally, that guarantees wage employment at an unprecedented scale.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) aims at enhancing the livelihood security of the people in rural areas.
This work guarantee can also serves other objectives like: --
Generating productive assets,
Protecting the environment, empowering rural women,
Reducing rural urban migration and fostering social equity, among others.
Key Processes of Implementation Application for Job card Issue of job card Demand for employment Work allocation Payment of wages Selection of works Approval of shelf of projects Informing village PRI Preparation of estimates And approvals Acknowledgement of demand Maintenance of muster roll Verification
The Central Government bears the costs on the following items:
The entire cost of wages of unskilled manual workers.
75% of the cost of material, wages of skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Administrative expenses as may be determined by the Central Government, which will include, inter alia, the salary and the allowances of the Programme Officer and his supporting staff, work site facilities.
Expenses of the Central Employment Guarantee Council.
The State Government bears the costs on the following items:
25% of the cost of material, wages of skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Unemployment allowance payable in case the State Government cannot provide wage employment on time.
Administrative expenses of the State Employment Guarantee Council.
District Level Agency for effective grievance redressal. It will be an agency independent of the central or state government. The Agency will receive complaints from NREGA workers and others on any matters, consider such complaints and facilitate their disposal in accordance with law.
The Ministry has set up a Toll free National Helpline 1800110707 to enable the submission of complaints and queries to the Ministry for the protection of workers entitlements and rights under the Act.
Proactive Disclosure: Annual Reports on outcomes to Parliament and State legislature are mandated. Further as per the NREG Act and recent amendments, all documents and records relating to the scheme are to be make available for public scrutiny by paying a specified fee.
Social Audit: Section 17 of NREGA provides for social audit of all works under a Gram Panchayat by the Gram Sabha. The Gram Panchayat has to provide records for all the social audits. Social Audits enable the rural communities to monitor and analyze the quality, durability and usefulness of NREGA works as well as mobilize awareness and enforcement on their rights.
100 Eminent Citizens are being identified to monitor and report on the implementation of NREGA. Their reports and findings, to be placed on the website is expected to enable further programme improvements.
The Rome Declaration (1996) made during the World Food Summit states that
“ Food security is achieved when all people, at all times, havephysical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active life.”
The capacity of the poor to purchase food can be ensured in two ways – by raising the incomes or supplying food grains at subsidised prices. While employment generation programmes attempt the first solution, the different schemes given below are the mechanism for the second option.
PDS means distribution of essential commodities to a large number of people through a network of FPS on a recurring basis. The commodities are Wheat, Rice, Sugar & Kerosene
With a network of more than 4.62 lakh fair price shops (FPS) distributing commodities worth more than Rs 30,000 crore annually to about 160 million families, the PDS in India is perhaps the largest distribution network of its kind in the world.
All is not well with the PDS. The annual food subsidy involved in maintaining the system is huge. The level of food subsidies as a proportion of total government expenditure has gone up from a level of 2.5 percent or below in the early 1990s to more than 5 per cent today.
Has been plagued with many other charges of corruption, inefficiency, delivery of old & poor quality grains etc.
The Right to Food Act, which has been prepared by a team comprising of Prof. Jean Dreze, Harsh Mander, Biraj Patnaik, Reetika Khera and Dipa Sinha and was released on 24 June, 2009 proposes to consolidate, in law, entitlements that are currently in place through eight food and nutrition-related schemes.
All BPL households shall be entitled to 25 kg of food grains each month, at Rs 3/kg for rice and Rs 2/kg for wheat under the Public Distribution System.
Under the new Act, the government would provide 251 lakh tons of food grains for BPL and AAY categories, with subsidy amounting to Rs. 40,380 crore (if 25 kg of rice or wheat per month is supplied to each BPL household at Rs 3/- a kg).
There are apprehensions that sustainability of Food Security law would be at peril if India faces lower agricultural production due to poor harvest, drought etc. in the future. Is India ready to rely upon food imports and food aid to ensure right to food at all cost ?
Is the Food Security Bill going to replace all such food related schemes that existed before its enactment?
Increasing Food Subsidy Bills & burdening of the Fiscal Deficit of the country.
Corruption & Inefficiencies in the implementation of the scheme.
Low quality of food grains – A World Bank report (June 2000) states that half of FCI’s grain stocks is at least two years’ old, 30% between 2 to 4 years old, and some grain as old as 16 years.