Hon’ble Prime Minister has given a call for Poverty Quit India on completion of the 75th year of the Quit India Movement 1942. He has also given a call for a societal mission to do so by 2022. Given the fact that nearly 8.85 crore households in rural India reported either a deprivation or were automatically included, the challenge, in sheer numbers, is formidable: However, the efforts made over the last two and a half years, gives us the confidence that perhaps we are on the right track, when it comes to rural development programmes and
tracking rural poverty.

The department of rural development is a major source of public programmes (employment, skills, social security, livelihood diversification, road construction, housing, water conservation, solid and liquid resource management, etc.). If convergent action in other related sectors of health, education, nutrition, skills could be made simultaneously, it is possible
to improve the well-being of poor households in a short period of time. Poverty free is seen as enabling social opportunities for deprived households to come out of their destitution. Poverty free, therefore, connotes and ability to develop one’s fullest human potential through education, health, skills, sanitation, clean drinking water, nutrition, food security, live hood, housing, gender, and social equality and empowerment, connectivity, electricity, system of sustainable resource use, waste management, and most of all, sustainable diversified economic activities for higher incomes.

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Intervening on Scale: Rural India has a very large number of rural households spread over a million habitations and villages. Clearly the interventions have to be to scale. There has been a very significant increase in the Central Government’s allocation and actual spend under the Department of Rural Development. With an allocation of Rs. 1.05 lakh crore in 2017-18, there is a doubling of allocation compared to 2012-13. Add to it the State share (60-40 in non-Himalayan and 90-100 in Himalayan and NE States). Annual transfers under Fourteenth Finance Commission to Gram Panchayats have also been in the range of Rs. 25,000 crores to Rs. 35,000 crores during this period. Over Rs. 70,000 crores has been leveraged as bank loans by Women SHGs in the 2015-17 period, a manifold increase compared to the previous years. The thrust on placement skills and self-employment skills have also facilitated larger economic activity in rural areas.

Citizen’s Engagement: The Department focused on a citizen centric approach to improve accountability. Special efforts were made through Cluster and Panchayat Facilitation Teams in identified backward Blocks. The planning exercise under the Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise in 2569 backward blocks using SECC deprivation data and knocking on the doors of every deprived household and planning for its well-being, also strengthened partnership with eh poorest households. The use of citizen centric apps like the Meri Sadak app to get a feedback on roads and the awass soft app for uploading pictures of PMAY Gramin house, also helped in connecting with households. To further the Public Information Campaign, the Department is organizing a Gram Samridhi and Swachhata fortnight from 1-15 October 2017 at every Gram Panchayat.

Transparency through IT/DBT and use of Adhaar: The Department has been as leader in use of transaction based MIS for IT/DBT transfer straight into Bank/Post Office accounts. 98 percent wages under MGNREGS and 100 percent payments under MPAY Grammin are on the IT/DBT platform. Over 5.9 crore MGNREGA laborers already have an Adhaar linked Bank account, with their consent. The availability of Banking Correspondent or Post Office outlet with micro ATMs at fixed village locations on pre-determined dates, will unlock the power of easy digital transactions on a large scale. It will also ease the hardships for labourers, pensioners, etc. The Women SHG Community Resource Persons have offered to become Banking Correspondents of Bank Sakhis and the experience so far is encouraging.

Evidence based Monitoring: Large scale programmes require systemic approach to monitoring and evaluation for effectiveness. Besides very strong and transparent transaction based MISs, use of geo-tagging to ascertain quality of assets,visit to 600 districts each year by institutional monitoring institutions to look at specific programme implementation, a common review mission to eight state twice a year to look at the quality of implementation are some of the efforts improving monitoring.

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Courtesy: Yojana