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Was Rahul Gandhi the first to come up with the concept of ‘One District, One Product’: Here is the truth

Rahul Gandhi tweeted that "One District One Product" scheme which is implemented in Uttar Pradesh was his idea which he expounded "some time ago"

With Rahul Gandhi evidently having no stellar contribution to his name in the field of Indian politics and policymaking, the former Congress president today attempted to steal the thunder of the BJP government by crediting himself for the implementation of “One district one product” scheme by the central government.

Sharing an article regarding a survey that is currently underway for “one district one product” scheme, Rahul Gandhi lauded the idea in a tweet and boasted that it was his suggestion which he made “some time back”.

“This is a good idea. I had suggested it some time back. Its implementation will need a complete change of mindset,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

What is “One District One Product”?

The article shared by Rahul Gandhi says that the Industries Department is conducting a baseline survey in all districts to ascertain one district, one product for the Centrally-sponsored Micro and Small Enterprises Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP).

Under “One District One Product (ODOP), the government aims to generate employment, increase productivity, build capacity, impart skills, enhance market viability for farmers among other things. As per the scheme, once the product is identified, the government provides the necessary support for manufacturing/producing the product so as to ensure a better market price for the product.

BJP govts in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat already implemented “One District One Product”

Although it is true that Rahul Gandhi had talked about the idea of “One District One Product” in February 2017, and he patted himself for coming up with the idea, similar ideas were proposed by others before him. The former chief minister of Gujarat Anandiben Patel had already talked about the concept one year before him. In a tweet in February 2016, she had mentioned the concept of ‘One Village, One Product’ would be initiated on a pilot basis to preserve languishing crafts through focused approach and support.

In the BJP’s manifesto for UP assembly elections in 2017, a similar idea was mentioned. The Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra, which was released on 29th January in 2017, few days before Rahul Gandhi mentioned the idea, promised to focus on one local product or business in every district. Although the manifesto didn’t mention the slogan ‘one district one product’, the concept is almost identical.

According to the Sankalp Patra, UP government has already started the One District One Product scheme to provide employment to youth in the state. CM Yogi Adityanath launched the ambitious project of “One District One Product” in Uttar Pradesh in January 2018 with the stated goal of “encouraging indigenous and specialized products and crafts in UP that are found nowhere else – like the ancient and nutritious ‘Kala Namak’ rice, the rare and intriguing wheat-stalk craft, world-famous chikankari and zari-zardozi work on clothes, and the intricate and stunning horn-bone work that uses the remains of dead animals rather than live ones, a nature-friendly replacement for ivory”.

With this scheme, Yogi Adityanath government had expected to generate 5 lakh jobs. The scheme is still being implemented in Uttar Pradesh and is targeted at providing artisans and craftsmen in the culturally rich and diverse state a profitable alternative towards preserving their heritage.

Globally, One district (or similar administrative area) one product projects are being implemented in several countries for several years. It is believed that the idea was pioneered in Japan, where One Village One Product movement was started in 1979. Since then, similar projects have been implemented in many countries, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Thailand, Malaysia etc.

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Jinit Jain
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