‘Adopting’ is in the air. Everyone is adopting – Modi ji, Sonia ji, Rahul ji, Tendulkar ji and now Hema Malini ji. They are the foster parents of villages in India, under the scheme of ’Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojna’ (SAGY or MP Local Area Development Scheme aka MPLADS).
The grand idea behind the scheme is–if each Saansad (MP) adopted three villages in a couple of years and take responsibility of the all-round development, then by 2019, there will be 2,500 ‘ideal villages’ leading to a snowballing of development in India. What an idea Sir ji – ‘constructive politics’ that has a ‘viral effect’. Wah!
But wait a minute; lets ponder over a few questions to understand this scheme better –
Question No. 1: What does ‘development’ mean? The programme emphasizes it as ‘the physical and institutional developmental infrastructure’.
Hmm. Let unpack this – Physical and Institutional Developmental Infrastructure means – roads, schools, hospitals, plantation, toilets, dug wells factories???
Physically building can mean lots of labour work = lots of employment for poor = income rise = good health, nutrition/education etc. But building can also mean lots of tenders = lots of corruption = poor quality work and ultimately empty schools, closed hospitals and roads washed away in the first monsoon itself.
Why think negative? Be positive. There can be so many outcomes – one of which is – the MP’s frequent visits can mean the roads will be good in shape, the community centre will be up and running. Similarly the schools and hospitals will be thriving with teachers, teaching materials and nurses and equipment. The STCs, B.Eds, ANMs will all have jobs, as they couldn’t secure one during the tenure of the last government, after clearing tough Public Service exams.
Question No. 2: What is the selection criterion?
According to Modi ji, an ‘MP is free to choose any village except that it should not be his/her village or of his/her relatives’. Is it a lottery? A Whim? A careful strategy to develop a village one can be proud of!
Well, it is quite unclear how a village qualifies for adoption, but lets look at the ones we have already got –
A village with homogeneous caste community – like Jayapur near Varanasi. It is reported that there are no Muslims in this village and the PM has adopted it.
The village can have a lot of historical value, like the one Sonia ji chose – Udwa in Jagatpur.
Or a village in a well developed industrial area, such as Deeh near Amethi which Rahul ji is the foster father of.
Now this is smart. A village with already ‘some development’ (development = industrialization). There you go! Someone said, Rahul ji and Sonia ji ‘may have adopted the villages but may not necessarily endorse the scheme’.
Well already industrialized village may not need anything! Why adopt one?
One common thing to observe – all these villages so far, seem to be near a town i.e. within 15 to 25 kms radius i.e. accessible! Or as close as 9 kms like Hema Malini’s village Raval.
Question No. 3: It is not a ‘money driven scheme’ it is a ‘people’s driven scheme’ (from supply driven to demand driven initiative). Wonderful!
- Why then Sachin Tendulkar’s village (and likewise all others in the scheme) costs 2.79 Crore? And if we misunderstood then how without the money any ‘physical and infrastructural development’ will take place?
- Did anyone ask if people are ‘driven’? May be they are but do not know what to be ‘driven’ for? Or they will figure it out. Or the MPs will decide like Hema Malini ji – women empowerment is the main theme for Raval.
- What if people who are to participate in their ‘development’ are missing or not around in the village?
Missing or not around? What do you mean?
Migrate! You know, a number of young men and women migrate out in search of labor work sometimes? Then its only married women and elderly people often left behind.
Exactly, that is why we need to develop the village – jobs, roads, cottage industries. We have to bring back our youth in the villages.
Question No. 4: The approach – ‘bottom to top or top to bottom’?
Well, the PM has clarified, ‘that the work has to begin somewhere and its up to the academic world to find out’, which approach is better.
Well, that makes everything clear, isn’t it? It is a ‘people driven’ programme but it seems every MP has his/her own agenda to impose. Perhaps they can learn from RSS!
Yeah, RSS is doing it for years?
??? Doing what?
Adopting a village and developing it, e.g. Jayapur.
Aah, so Jayapur is already a ‘model village’? Its been adopted by RSS since 2002: the 12 years of glorious development! So are the villages near Jayapur developing as a result of snowballing?
But why did RSS adopt the village Jayapur? Why BJP (the PM) may have interest in the same village and who funds RSS to do this development?
There is some historical connection to it, if you bother to find out. The story of RSS leader Nanaji Deskmukh’s contribution of making villages self sufficient. But we have no time to get into that side of debate for now.
Question No. 5: ‘Maintaining the scheme will give the MPs a sense of satisfaction of having done something for which he (and she?) will be remembered in future!’
So ‘otherwise MPs do not do anything’? Aren’t they remembered for not having done anything more than for doing ‘something’? This is unconventional – do something and then be satisfied. Unusual expectation, isn’t it?
Besides these general questions, the concerns are also related to the possibility of side effects – will patronizing a village have a negative impact on class/region/political divide or whether adopting will enable influential people a licence to exploit natural resources of the village; or if companies investing in the scheme under their CSR will take advantage in lieu of business set up or land-grab opportunities???
On the other hand, the PM himself is participating in the scheme that will keep the momentum going. There seem to be a sufficient focus on social development. A real-time, web-based monitoring of the work and periodic reviews of the progress will be undertaken. A number of government schemes will be implemented more efficiently etc.
It is quite early to predict the results therefore, let’s hope this scheme works and the villages do develop (whatever we define the development is). However, in the meanwhile, lets play our part: being critical, if not skeptical citizens.
Please write yours questions, concerns or answers (if got any) in the comment box.