In the series on the performance of various ministers in the Modi government, let’s take a look at Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj
Narendra Singh Tomar comes from Madhya Pradesh, and like most other top BJP leaders and ministers currently, traces his rise from students and youth movement. He was student union leader in Murar College in Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh. Later he was president of BJYM Gwalior in between 1980 – 1984, and was elected as councillor of Gwalior Municipal Corporation in 1983. He continued to hold various positions in BJYM Madhya Pradesh, rising to be its president in 1991 – 1996. He was elected as MLA in Madhya Pradesh assembly in 1998 and was reelected for the second term in 2003. From 2003 – 2007, he served as a cabinet minister in Madhya Pradesh Government. He was also appointed as state BJP president in 2006. He was first elected to Loksabha in 2009, and reelected in 2014. He joined Narendra Modi cabinet in 2014 and was first given charge of the Ministry of Steel, Mines, Labour and employment, however during the cabinet reshuffle in 2016, was given charge of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation.
Pradhanmantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) – PMAY (G) is the revamped version of Indira Awas Yojna, under which houses are built for the poor. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a vision that every poor should have a roof over his head by 2022, when India completes 75 years of independence and there shouldn’t be a single family without a pucca house of its own. Rural Development ministry under Narendra Singh Tomar is running this initiative in rural areas of the country. Under earlier Indira Awas Yojna, successive governments had built only 4.22 lakh houses, while Modi government till date has built nearly 75 lakh houses in rural area since 2017 when PMAY (G) was formally launched, achieving 19 times the number houses built till 2014, just in 4.5 years. In first three years before the revamp of the scheme, government had constructed nearly 36 lakh houses under Indira Awas Yojna thereby taking the number of total houses built by Modi government to 1.11 crore in last 5 years. To stop leakage of funds and ensuring timely completion of houses, and weeding out ghost beneficiaries, government has relied on IT systems, where every constructed house is geotagged, funds are transferred through DBT, MIS reporting at every stage like sanction, allotment of land, construction has transformed this scheme into a game changer one. All the MIS reports of this scheme are publically accessible, and can be seen here. These homes are also immediately given electricity connection under Saubhagya Scheme, and LPG cylinders under Ujjwala Scheme.
Toilets – Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his victory speech itself had announced Swachch Bharat Campaign on May 16th, 2014. This campaign was launched formally on October 2nd, 2014. One of the main targets of this multipronged campaign was to construct household toilets. Rural Sanitation coverage before 2014 in India was abysmal at 38.7% before 2014, when the campaign was launched meaning only 4 of every 10 rural houses had its own individual toilet. According to Prime Minister Modi has aimed to achieve 100% rural sanitation by 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in 2019, who was one of the biggest proponents of cleanliness. According to latest data, India has achieved sanitation coverage of 99.1%, and will achieve the 100% sanitation target before the deadline. Till date 9.26 crore toilets have been built, 5.58 lakh villages are open defection free (ODF) compared to just 47,000 villages, 617 ODF districts compared to 5 districts before, and 30 states and union territories compared to none before. However as on date only two states, Goa and Odisha are substantially lacking behind in ODF with about 76 and 84% coverage respectively. Telangana has achieved sanitation coverage of 95 % while in other 6 states and UTs are almost ODF with sanitation coverage of over 99% but just below 100%. Again all data here is gathered through MIS and is publically accessible here and here. According to WHO report, India would avoid 3 lakh diarrheal deaths due to 100% sanitation coverage.
Funding details of Gram Pachayats made available online – Funds allocated to every gram panchayat in the country under 14th finance commission can be seen online on the website. It also shows every GP has got how much for which work to be undertaken. Corruption is a mainstay of Indian politics and people aren’t aware of how much money their panchayat has got from the government. With this date available publically, one can demand accountability from their village heads (Sarpanch). This data can be found here. Also all works undertaken in any panchayat of the country can be publicly accessed here. Various reports like execution status of action plan, fund monitoring report from village to block to district level is available here.
Rurban – Rurban is the combination of two words, rural and urban. As per Census 2011 almost 68% of the total population. Large parts of rural areas in the country are not stand-alone settlements but part of a cluster of settlements, which are relatively proximate to each other. These clusters typically illustrate potential for growth, have economic drivers and derive locational and competitive advantages. Hence, making a case for concerted policy directives for such clusters. These clusters once developed can then be classified as ‘Rurban’. Hence taking cognizance of this, the Government of India, has started Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission (SPMRM), aimed at developing such rural areas by provisioning of economic, social and physical infrastructure facilities.
Taking also into view, the advantages of clusters, both from an economic view point as well as to optimize benefits of infrastructure provision, the Rurban scheme aims to develop around 300 Rurban clusters, in first phase. The National Rurban Mission (NRuM) follows the vision of “Development of a cluster of villages that preserve and nurture the essence of rural community life with focus on equity and inclusiveness without compromising with the facilities perceived to be essentially urban in nature, thus creating a cluster of “Rurban Villages”.
Gram Panchayat Development Plan Campaign – Holding gram sabha’s (meeting of all the adults in villages) is a mandatory requirement by law in India. In gram sabha, issues concerning the village are discussed and plans are decided. But as often it is seen, either plans remain on paper or there is a large scale corruption in the execution of the plan, which thereby hampers quality of the work and full benefit isn’t accrued to the villages and gram sabhas become a mere formality. 14th finance commission proposed to release the fund to the tune of Rs 2 lakh crore between 2015 – 2020 to all gram panchayats of the country. However such large fund had immense risk of corruption, as sarpanchs in rural area are often uneducated, or even if they are educated then they connive with local officials, to siphon off the fund taking benefit of unawareness in rural area. Therefore, Ministry of Panchayati Raj has come up with Gram Panchayat Development Plan Campaign (GPDP) where this procedure has been made more stringent and accountable. Though all the proposals were to be discussed in gramsabha even before this scheme, after this scheme is being implemented, every decision is monitored with the help of IT and MIS reporting. Data is publically available here where anyone can check the data. All the panchayats are ranked according to the work done. How this scheme is changing rural villages can be read here.
Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana – Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojna (SAGY) was another unique scheme announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and is being executed by Rural Development Ministry. There are total of 790 Members of Parliament in the country, which includes 545 of Loksabha and 245 of Rajyasabha. Under this scheme every MP had to adopt 3 villages in 5 years till 2019 (Scheme was launched in 2014) and another 5 villages in next 5 years (2019 – 2024) and develop them as model villages. Loksabha MP has to adopt villages from his constituency while Rajyasabha MPs can adopt any villages from the state they represent. Nominated MPs of RS can adopt any village across India. Guidelines of works to be done in model villages were given by MoRD. If every MP does his work sincerely in villages he adopted there would have been 2370 villages model villages across India by 2019 and 6320 model villages by 2024. However this scheme hasn’t met anticipated success. While few MPs have done excellent work in developing villages, others have proven to be laggards. PM Modi himself rued about this fact in the interview to Zee News, that this scheme could have been operationalized in better fashion.
Gram Swaraj Abhiyan – On the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti in 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (GSY). GSY focused on taking 7 schemes of government of India to specifically identified 21,058 backward villages in 20 days i.e. upto 5th May, 2018. These schemes included free LPG connections under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, free electricity connections to non-electrified houses under Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojana, LED bulbs under Unnat Jyoti Yojana, Vaccination of children and pregnant women under Indradhanush Yojana, Bank accounts under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, Life and Accident insurance under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana. Again by using MIS systems, what works have been done is open for all to see on the website www.gsa.nic.in, making it a very transparent scheme. This scheme was later extended to 117 aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog. Reports of works done in these villages can be seen here.
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDUGKY) – Skill development is the subject which is very close to the heart of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Accordingly The Ministry of Rural Development announced the DDUGKY on 25th September 2014 which is Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya’s birth anniversary, and celebrated as Antyodaya Diwas. DDUGKY is tasked with the dual objectives of adding diversity to the incomes of rural poor families, and cater to the career aspirations of rural youth. DDUGKY is focused on rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families. As a part of the Skill India campaign, it plays an instrumental role in supporting the social and economic programs of the government like the Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities and Start-Up India, Stand-Up India campaigns. Over 180 million or 69% of the country’s youth population between the ages of 18 and 34 years, live in its rural areas. Of these, the bottom of the pyramid youth from poor families with no or marginal employment number about 55 million. Again the activities of DDUGKY can be seen on its publically accessible dashboard at www.ddugky.gov.in.
Ministry of Rural Development has taken Prime Minister Modi’s digital India vision very seriously and online dashboard showing progress of its all schemes with MIS reports is available here further strengthening participative democracy. It is often seen that, there is a large scale corruption in rural areas due to unawareness about schemes. Gone are those days now due to public availability of data on the MoRD website.
The author is journalism pass out from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi. After dangerously flirting with the idea of left during his IIMC days, due to the proximity of the IIMC with JNU, a den of radical leftists, he became firmly aligned to right after realizing the futility of the left. He tweets at @kpophale.