After ‘success’ of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Modi govt eyes similar rural campaign in October

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After ‘success’ of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Modi govt eyes similar rural campaign in October

The campaign will be launched to mark Gandhi’s 150 birth anniversary, a politically significant move given key assembly polls later this year and 2019 LS elections.

New Delhi: Buoyed by the “success” of the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, the Modi government may launch another rural welfare campaign to mark Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations in October, ThePrint has learnt.

The move is seen as politically significant in view of the crucial assembly polls later this year and the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The government claims that the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan — primarily a Dalit outreach programme launched to mark the Ambedkar Jayanti — was a “success”.

It is now contemplating organising a similar campaign targeting backward districts across the country in October this year.

Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

This campaign ran from 14 April to 5 May, under which the government sought to provide benefits of seven welfare schemes to 21,058 villages with a large number of deprived/SC-ST households across the country.

The welfare schemes included PM Ujjawala Yojana, PM Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana or Saubhagya, Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for All, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, PM Suraksha Bima Yojana and Mission Indradhanush.

According to the rural development ministry, which is behind the campaign, nearly 100 per cent saturation was achieved in five of these seven schemes, barring Ujjawala and Saubhagya.

Sources in the ministry say work was expedited in the target villages during the three weeks of this campaign.

What next?

According to ministry officials, a similar rural campaign for “aspirational districts” – the districts that require transformative actions — may be organised around Gandhi Jayanti this year.

The contours, however, are yet to be worked out. Overall, the BJP government has planned a commemoration, which will run from 2 October 2018 to 2 October 2020 to mark Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

According rural development ministry’s data, in Unnat Jyoti, 84 per cent of the target was met with 10 states reporting a 100 per cent saturation. PMJJBY, a life insurance scheme, saw 90 per cent of the target being met with 16 states reporting a 100 per cent or above saturation.

Mission Indradhanush — an immunisation programme for all children under the age of 2 years as well as pregnant women against seven vaccine preventable diseases — met 98 per cent of its target. Jan Dhan Yojana managed to even overshoot its target, as did PMSBY that provides affordable risk coverage.

The flagship schemes — Saubhagya (electrification scheme) and Ujjawala, which gives subsidized LPG connections — have however, lagged behind.

Saubhagya met only 31 per cent of its target under Gram Swaraj Abhiyan. Officials in the ministry say that despite 14 states achieving 100 per cent saturation, the figures are low because of difficulties in implementation in certain states due to geographical and other constraints.

Under Ujjawala, 46 per cent target was met — the overall figure again weighed down by some states due to their logistical issues.

Implementation hurdles

The ministry’s data aside, the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan — modelled more as a Dalit outreach programme — did witness difficulties on the ground. This campaign also involved BJP leaders going to specific Dalit villages, which then had to complete all pending work before the visit.

As ThePrint reported last week, with work needing to be rushed through, pradhans of some villages had to arrange for funds on their own to complete work given they had little time to wait for release of government money.

In addition, members of the Dalit community have criticised the campaign for being nothing but “vote-bank” politics.

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