First Report of the National Advisory-cum-Review Committee on Backward Regions Grant Fund. B.K. SINHA Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, New Delhi. Contents of the Presentation. → Background &Methodology of the Report; → Behaviour of Backwardness;
Ministry of Rural Development,
Government of India, New Delhi
→ Background &Methodology of the Report;
→ Behaviour of Backwardness;
→ Independent Evaluation by the World Bank;
→ Views expressed in the Solution Exchange;
→ Scope & Focus of BRGF: Bridging the Critical Gaps;
→ Capacity Building of Local Bodies;
→ Local and Grassroots Planning;
→ Strong evidence of inter and intra-regional disparities;
→ These disparities have increased in the post-liberalisation era;
→ The regions receiving more foreign investments pull ahead;
→ Pockets of backwardness even within the developed regions;
→ Evidence to deepening of backwardness (NCEUS)
→ Disparities in rural infrastructure;
→ Lack of investment in social parameters- health, education, roads, drinking water, communication, energy etc;
→ Institutional backwardness including weak LSG institutions;
→ Weakness of Governance structure eg excessive reliance on bureaucracy for delivered development;
→ Backwardness in terms of marketing & financial infrastructure;
→ weak institutional framework- information flow, security of rights and adjudication;
→ geographical and communication isolation;
→ Beginning of planning to take care of backwardness;
→ Bombay Plan primarily aims at rapid & balanced growth;
→ Mahalanobis Model seeks to create high industrial growth & technology led growth through public sector interventions and directed investments;
→ IRDP an important step in removal of regional disparities;
→ JRY with 50% weightage to rural SC/ST population & %0% to inverse per capita labour productivity;
→ Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (2002) through identification of backward Mandals;
→ RSVY(2003)- low agricultural productivity, unemployment & critical gaps;
→ Inter-Ministerial Task Force for Redressing Regional Imbalances (2004)- 17 parameters including income, social and physical infrastructure;
→ NREGS also addresses backwardness through its demand driven structure;
→ PURA with its concept of growth centres;
→ BRGF seeks to address backwardness through capacity building, planning and filling up the infrastructural and other gaps;
→ Patel Committee (1964)- agrl output per capita, irrigated areas, industrial participation, elcxtrification, road mileage and facilities for education & health;
→ Planning Commission Study(1966-71)- 5 categories of desert, drought affected, hill, tribal, and high density using 15 indicators of growth;
→ National Committee on Development of Backward Areas(1978)- Block Development to be the criterion for assessing backwardness;
→ Dandekar Committee (1984)- per capita NDP, consumer expenditure, NDP form agriculture, from registered manufacturing, proportion of urban population, workers in non-traditional occupations, per capita bank credit, literacy etc;
→ IG Patel Committee (1984)- 25 indicators;
→ Sarma Committee (1997)on Identification of 100 most backward districts;
→ identification of Backward Villages for Indiramma and 8 schemes;
→ Barroah & Dubey- food security, gender sensitive literacy, IMR, immunisation & sex-ratio (0-6);
→ WB Effort- female literacy rates & unemployment;
→ Govt of Maharashtra (2008-9): using 100 indicators;
→ last mile provision/initiative to make an asset productive;
→ emphasis physical not soft infrastructure eg health centres without staff etc;
→ no forward & backward linkages;
→ inadequate or partial infrastructure eg road without culverts etc;
→ lack of functional capacity for delivery eg lack of skilled/technical staff for building up DPC etc;
→ Access without services eg PDS without ration cards, power connection without water supply;
→ critical gaps could be closed with minimum investment in several areas;
→ Identification and plugging of critical gaps receives no focus nor the responsibility of any person;
→ Lack of convergence in schemes at the level of the Central and the State level schemes;
→ Intense departmentalism at the district and the sub-district levels;
→ Sectoral Planning without taking cognisance of what the other sectors are doing;
→ No institutional platform in the district to provide convergence of schemes;
→ Overburdening and use of the institution of Collector and its politicisation;
→ Limitations to individual initiative and enterprise;
→ Lack of transparency in devolution of funds & their utilisation;
→ No grassroots planning and involvement of the people;
→ Failure to provide back up mechanism to DPC;
→ Ambivalent support to the PRIs by the State Governments;
→ Use of methodologies in assessment of backwardness without wide acceptance;
→ State Governments not involved;
→ Different States have evolved their own criteria for assessing backwardness eg Maharashtra using 17 parameters & WB using 2 parameters;
→ no mechanism to address backwardness in forward districts;
→ no consensus to the level of backwardness eg WB addresses at the Block level;
→ No consensus on the kind of data to be used;
→ No consensus on what kind of data to be used;
→ No consensus on methodologies to be used;
→ No creation of linkages with other efforts including the Cenus operations, the Population Register, NSSO studies, BPL Census etc.
→ No evolution of monitoring parameters & methodologies;
→ Evolve methodologies for assessment of backwardness;
→ Allow space for State wise variations without creating a competition for backwardness;
→ While it is generally agreed that Block should be the unit for determination of backwardness the States should have the option of going down to the GPs/villages;
→ Use simple parameters for assessment; such States which have the back up may use sophisticated statistical tools;
→ Create special categories for socially induced backwardness;
→ Create linkages with the Census Operations, Population Register and UID;
→ Join hands with the BPL Census of create identify the backward areas;
→ Create an index of backwardness which can be measured easily;
→ Create an interactive National Portal for Backwardness;
→ Interactive and GIS enabled;
→ Create connectivity and computer system using funds;
→ Scheme-wise monitoring and follow up;
→ Direct entry form the Blocks and Gram Panchayats;
→ Inspection by independent monitors;
→ Join hands with other groups for monitoring like the NLM of MoRD, Monitors of CAPART ;
→ Involve the universities and educational institutions for planning, capacity development and monitoring;
→ Strong co-relation between infrastructure & development (NIRD:99);
→ Investment in infrastructure brings development (NCAER: Rural Infrastructure Report 07);
→ Increase in tele-density brings about development ; remains low for the rural areas (1.07: 31); stagnates on account of development in other fields;
→ driver of growth theory; rural roads play an important programme; PMGSY a major programme; no linkage of BRGF with PMGSY;
→ No relations in addressing gaps in agricultural technologies; no institutional linkages with ICAR, NRFA, etc;
→ No institutional linkages with rural health, education and other programmes;
→ Land the most important aspect of development not on the radar of the BRGF; making land productive;
→ Lack of implementational capabilities in districts; no pooling together of the district and other agencies;
→ PMGSY has an excellent planning mechanism and a good implementational mechanism; join hands with the programme;
→ Link with the Department of Telecommunication for better effect for ground level planning and implementation;
→ Address gaps in agricultural infrastructure; eg in creating storage and Grain Bank in every village etc.
→ Land issues need to be addressed by taking up sectoral needs of different regional typologies like the PESA areas, the 6th Schedule areas, the land of the land of the SC/ST etc; recent initiatives in the NREGS;
→ Link up with the health and educational infrastructure;
→ PURA concept extremely relevant for addressing rural backwardness; create institutional linkages;
→ Use the capabilities existing in different Departments at the district level;
→ the leveraging of funds and resources should not be at the cost of the basics of the programme; identify and maintain the non-negotiables;
→ Committee takes note of the escalation of funds in the budget for the year 2010-11; not sufficient;
→ there are to be two basis of funding; core and supplementary;
→ Core level of funding at the existing demand structure; supplementary to be demand driven;
→ Identification of critical gaps sectorally at the GP, Block and the District levels and plans for filling them up;
→ Planning of BRGF for entire period of 5 years; funds not to lapse with the end of the FY;
→ Simplification of the process & release of funds; the paper requirements to be scaled down;
→ Release to be made on the basis of a sectorally differentiated District Plan presented like before the FY;
→ Incentive-disincentive structure for timely utilisation, quality of utilisation etc;
→ Assessing the quality and the outcome of investments;
→ The untied nature of the utilisation to continue;
→ emphasis on rural roads and infrastructure to continue;
→ Advisory to the States in respect of activities like Sustainable Agriculture, Livelihoods, rural roads, health & educational infrastructure etc;
→ Needs to be deeply embedded into programmes like NREGS which have a wide platform and good deal of compatibility with other programmes;
→ Attempt at the district level to identify thrust areas;
→ Creation and maintenance of water resources one of the prime tasks of the programme;
→ Rural technologies particularly agricultural technologies to be one of the thrust areas;
→ Technical literacy, acquisition of placement based skills, tele-literacy and medicines etc ;
→ better utilisation of land resources; pooling together of resources for upgradation of land utilisation;
→ No template evolved to assess the critical gaps in institutional and organisational terms;
→ No parameters have been evolved to assess the process of filling up the critical gaps; no post-training evaluation;
→ Lack of a common framework for need assessment, design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of capacity development projects
→ No statistical methodologies have been evolved till to capture changes in capacity building: necessary to evolve hard evaluation mechanism; even independent evaluations fail to indicate the efficacy of the programme:
→ The NCBF is far too focused on individual training and may not entirely address organisational or institutional capacity gaps.
→ It does not require the States to conduct a capacity needs assessment for each district
→ It omits pre-electoral training and the mass training aspects;
→ NCBF is limited to BRGF districts; there is 40 crore fund for the non-BRGF districts but the size of this fund is too small to make an all India impact;
→ There is no integration of line departments and the diverse sectors in capacity building;
→ NCBF suffers from un-realistic costing of capacity building training programme; the costing prescribed is not dynamic and does not cover the cost of capacity building;
→ There is no institutional platform for the implementation of the NCBF; the institutional anchor is missing;
→ There is no organic involvement of the stakeholders in the programme;
→ There is no ownership of the NCBF by any of the groups; the obvious choice for the implementation of the programme would have been the PRIs who could carried the programme forward;
→ Composite inter-sectoral Capacity Building:
→ Common strategy for Capacity Development for the State:
→ Integration of all Training/Capacity Development into a common structure:
→ Multi/Mixed mode of Training-Cascading mode, SAT, Satellite TV, Community Radio, Wall News Papers etc.
→ Hands on process of Training evolved in the State of Maharashtra:
→ Evolution of National Capacity Development Frame Work as the second face of NCBF:
→ Uses a more comprehensive upgradation of Capacities individual, Institutional, Organisational and socio political empowerment:
→ Appropriate framework for assessment of the capacities of the individual, institutional, organisational and social capacities has to be evolved;
→ Statistical and empirical tools for the assessment of the capacity development needs in the above four parameters should be prepared;
→ A comprehensive training need assessment within these 4 parameters is required to be carried out;
→ Build in the line and other departments into this framework; contradiction that BRGF being conceived as a scheme and is being referred to as the BRGF Plan; the District Planning Manual clearly provides the sources of budget that should be included into the District Plan; need for revision of the words of BRGF manual;
→ An overall coordinated and efficient implementation plan for capacity development initiatives should be prepared;
→ In this context, National Capacity Development Framework (NCDF) could be a more comprehensive concept and therefore recommended in place of NCBF;
→ Assessment of the capacities of the elected LSG representatives for discharge of their role;
→ Enabling local government elected representatives to upgrade their knowledge and skills to better perform their responsibilities, such as implementing programmes equitably;
→ To create a future vision of development of their local area and of their institutions;
→ to think in terms of concrete actions which they can take or facilitate
→ to develop skills required for day-to-day performance of executive duties
→ to create capacities amongst the electorate to be able to select better representatives;
→ to work in close co-operation with the officials and civil society organisations;
→ there should be an awareness of all the sources of funding to the district or the sub-district levels as applicable;
→ Orienting key officials associated with the devolved functions to perform better as technical advisors and trainers;
→ be more receptive and learn from the ground level experience of elected representatives;
→ to extend better quality support to the elected representatives;
→ to contribute to the vision and growth of the bodies that they serve;
→ The officials should aware of the entire resource envelope for the district and should also be aware of the processes of their devolution, sanction and expenditure.
→ Make an assessment of the institutional strength and weaknesses of the organisation that they serve;
→ To create an institutional vision of development and growth;
→ Enabling local governments with structures, systems and resources (physical, human and intellectual) needed to function effectively
→ Creating efficient policy instruments for effective functioning of local governments;
→ To create paradigms for inter and intra-institutional co-operation;
→ Improving the Gram/Ward Sabha functioning, particularly to provide opportunities to the poor, women and scheduled castes/scheduled tribes, to assert their demands through participative planning, monitor plan implementation and to hold their local governments to accountable through invoking Right to Information and social audit
→ Mover of NCDF in every State, every district and even below the sub-district levels; at the State level SIRD or institution identified by the State Government; the responsibility to act as the driver of the programme; development of the capacities of ‘lynchpin capacity providers’ and effective mechanisms to engage civil society and the private sector;
→ Every institution to be aware of the resource envelope for the district as a whole and the processes and linkage involved; aware of the vision for the district and the perspective plans prepared in this regard.
→ Creating conducive socio-political environment through sensitising the media, political parties, representatives in the legislatures, civil society organisations and citizens to accepting and promoting local governments
→ The four capacity factors that affect the achievement of development goals include:
→competency of individuals
→ effectiveness of organizational arrangements
→ efficiency of policy instruments
→conduciveness of sociopolitical environment
→ These factors are interdependent and complementary to each other
→ The most fundamental problem encountered in assessing impact of the CD plan relates to causality and attribution;
→ SIRDs to be accepted as the lynchpin institutions at the State level;
→ SIRDs to be strengthened in terms of faculty, infrastructure & other institutional support;
→ Creation of a corpus fund for the institutions;
→ Organic linkage of the ETCs with SIRDs should be created; sufficient scope for individual initiative in such institutions;
→ The requirement of capacity development has become so complex and vast that ETCs/District Capacity Development Centres will have to be established in each district.
→ Make the management of the SIRDs more broad based by providing functional autonomy and by bringing the expertise available in the universities, PRIs voluntary sector, corporate and the private sector to bear on them.
→ Envisioning exercise by NIRD & SIRDs; presented in the XXIII Colloquium;
→ The staff of the SIRDs as per their requirement and not on a standardised basis for the entire country;
→ Necessary that the lynchpin institutions financial self-dependance;
→ In view of the abnormal enhancement in the needs for capacity development it becomes necessary that there should be a Centre for Capacity Building at the district level.
→ There is also need for a composite capacity development framework at the district level.
→ Convergence in the capability building programme at the district level is a sine qua non.
→ The District Capacity Development Centre must have a composite governance structure with a senior official of the state services as Principal. The centre could be made nodal capacity development unit of DPC. The District Capacity Development Centre should be able to take the capacity development activities down to the village level with a well thought action plan and evaluation mechanism.
→ It is the apex training institution in the country with training, research and advisory functions;
→ It functions as the think tank of the Government on key matters;
→ Its role also includes developing the capacities of lynchpin institutions;
→ There is no relationship binding NIRD and the SIRDs. This linkage is weak. Earlier the fund for the SIRDs was being routed through the NIRD but the practice has since been discontinued.
→ NIRD generally suffers with resource constraints and has experienced stunted growth process;
→ NIRD is the National Institute for Rural Development and is serve the requirements of all the line Ministries having rural interventions, However, there is little role for other line Ministries in the governance of the NIRD . This has affected the capabilities of the institution.
→ The linkage with universities and other educational/training instutions/independent research organisations is weak. This again affects the capabilities of the institution.
→ The management structure of the NIRD is very weak and does not permit transparency and infusion of new ideas.
→ Shift at the earliest to a mixed mode of capacity development including distance learning, e-learning mode and sitcom based training;
→ Each of the institutions should have a wide based connectivity through the Virtual Classroom (VSS);
→ Instead of establishing Satellite Studios in each SIRDs it would be ideal to use the existing studio facilities with Doordarshan/Other commercial channels for telecasting the programmes as is being done in Andhra Pradesh through the existing SAPNET studios. APARD model
→ Ground truthing in the mode of Karnataka is a good model available; APARD model could also be considered;
→ The Panchayats can use the ham radio and the community radio for capacity development;
Evaluation programme should be inbuilt into the training programme;
→ Regarding training materials it is essential to have multimedia inputs on relevant subject. In West Bengal we have been benefited by presenting video clips of success/failures and in highlighting the issues involved.
→ Class room based training though necessary for introducing any subject does not help much in gaining practical insight beyond a certain point. Handholding at the place of work has been found very effective.
→ Institutional capacity building is to have sound financial management system and good accounting practices.
→ Use of ICT has a tremendous role in improving governance (including financial management by computerising accounts). There should be a special drive for using ICT in capacity development of the local governments
→ There are Panchayats like Heure Bazaar, Gangadevapalli and others who have done outstanding work and have become institutions in themselves;
→ There are such centres of excellence in all the States and parts of the country;
→ People visit such institutions for purposes of learning and emulation;
→ There is a lot of learning derivative from such institutions;
→ They are also capable of providing handholding support to the trainees living in the immediate vicinity;
→ The two biggest cost components in training include travelling and the logistical expenses;
→ The best doers are also the best teachers;
→ If DPCs are to be made meaningful they must have their own permanent Secretariat with adequate infrastructure;
→ The DPC should have Full time professionals in the field of:
→ There can be no planning in absence of statistics; there is a full fledged district statistical office in every district along with a retinue of staff; this can also be made a part of the DPC Secretariat to provide statistical support to it.
→ It may be desirable to have a mix of full and part time professionals to provide support to the DPC.
→ DPCs should have adequate allocable resources.
→ There should be arrangement for dissemination of the plans to all the stake holders, particularly the local people. This may be done by introducing a system of voluntary disclosure by (i) writing the salient features in the walls of the panchayat office or other prominent places, (ii) submitting copies of the same in a specified library and (iii) putting up the same in the website (in fact entry in Plan Plus serves that purpose).
→ Guidelines Planning Commission have issued guidelines in the past for district planning followed; the Planning Commission must insist that the district plan reflects regional needs, community needs and resource availability; also, the district plan should sector-wise reflect expected outcome in three broad aspects: human development, infrastructure development and development of productive sectors. Apart from focusing on regional development issuess, the district plan should be the consolidated form of vertically integrated and horizontally co-ordinated plans of LSGs and departments; this can be verified at before the annual plan discussions.
→ There should be a district window in the State budget;
→ DPC should be the sole approval agency for all CSS at the district level. The DPC should have the powers to compel attendance and participation of all the line departments involved in the planning process;
→ The practice of scheme wise planning should be done away with; instead States are required to be encouraged to develop a single district plan with mention of all sectoral components;
→ The DPC should be encouraged to monitor the progress and undertake concurrent evaluation of the interventions carried out in collaboration with reputed institutes;
→ The Planning Commission may impose condition for preparing district sector plan on each subject and check the progress as a part of the annual Plan discussion;
→ There is a strong need of capacity development of the departments in grassroots planning and other planning tools and techniques;
→ To have convergence of sectoral programmes, the standing committees within LSGs should be well trained and empowered to federate and coordinate the stakeholder associations.
→ The grassroots planning process is the basis of the planning exercise; all funding releases should be linked to the planning exercise;
→ The technical support structures and other related machineries of different line departments should be pooled together to support the common planning process at the community level. The Technical Support Institutions must never be used in contractor mode;
→ There are two distinct streams in district planning – participatory grassroots planning and regular quantitative planning exercise; the grassroots planning begins with envisioning exercise. There are excellent models of district and grassroots planning available which have worked on the ground in the States of Orissa, Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat wherein the planning process has been internalised by the people at the grassroots.
→ Attendance is poor in the Gram Sabha, as people do not perceive any benefits in attending the Gram Sabha; studies revealed that only the old age pensioners and people aspiring for IAY houses attend Gram Sabha;
→ To increase participation of the marginalised section in the process of planning, a valid quorum for Gram Sabha, convened to prepare village/GP plan, should have:
→ For daily wage seekers of the BPL HHs a compensation mechanism could be devised to promote their participation;
→ For the empowerment of Gram Sabha untied plan fund is a pre-requisite;
→ The fragmentation among the village communities may be cured by bringing them together on the platform of grassroots planning;
→ The domination of the rural elite could be overcome by promoting SHGs and involving them in the planning exercise;
→ The parallel bodies and the different committees formed at the village level under the various CSS and other programmes may be involved in the village planning exercise;
→ The role of DPC should include both planning and monitoring;
→ REs are necessary at the district, sub-district and at the Panchayat levels to enable meaningful grassroots district planning exercise.
→ The Consolidated Fund of the District will form the basis of the Resource Envelope.
→ The devolutions of the XIIIth FC funds will also constitute a part of the RE;
→ Within the Consolidated Fund of the District there should also be a component of Equalsation Fund for gap filling;
→ Market borrowings and other non-tax revenues should be used to supplement the Resoruce Envelope;
→ The Consolidated Fund of the District will follow Zer based budgeting so that accounting is not carried over year after year.
→ All transfers should be made electronically to eliminated delays;
→ The District Consolidated Fund accounts should be place on a web site for utmost transparency;
→ The Plan Plus needs to be converted into an intelligent programme in order to become an effective instrument of planning. An intelligent programme implies that it should be able to store and reproduce data as per the requirements of the planning process of its own.
→ Plan Plus should be able to store the datas related to different aspects of development in the geographical locality. An intelligent programme can only function on a large data basis.
→ Plan Plus should be GIS enabled and should be capable of operation with aid of handheld devices with GPS.
→ The Plan Plus should also be capable of recognition and capture of maps, geographical features, etc.
→ The programmes should also be sound enabled so that even illiterate persons are able to operate the programme. It may recongize and respond to voice commands.
→ In order to make the District Planning exercise functional it is necessary that the DPC must be served by a well functioning and efficient secretariat.
→ There is enormous capacity available in the NGO sector for grassroots planning;
→ Grassroots planning has to grow into a peoples movement as was the case in Kerala; it should take in three dimensions – growth of a peoples movement, formulation of a State policies around this process and agenda of the political parties in their election manifestoes;
→ There should be a planning cell at the district level within every line department having relevant computerised database;
→ For creation of political consensus over planning there is need for bringing all political parties to cooperate at the district level and below; competition may be allowed amongst the political parties.
→ There has to be an incentive – disincentive structure designed for creating competition for planning and implementation;
→ In order to cut costs and make trained manpower available for planning retired professionals may be permitted to be engaged at the district level and below; the experience of West Bengal suggests that there should be at least one person for every three blocks.
→ The NIRD, SIRDs, ETCs, ATIs, KVKs, Agricultural and Technical Universities need to be deeply engaged with the process of planning and they may be permitted to offer Courses in Distance Education and e-learning for the same.
→ There should be a proper mode of appraisal and evaluation of the plans being prepared and the processes at the grassroots, district and the state levels.
→ At the national level there could be a National Planning Fund; while the BRGF would commit a part of its own budgetary provisions to the NPF other Ministries could also contribute a part of their funds ;
→ There should be a premium on capacity building for the weaker sections and others;
→ At the district level, there would be a district planning and capacity building fund at the command of the DPC and which should be managed by the DPC;
→ All the line departments could pool their planning component into this District Planning Fund for better utilisation except what is required in their planning cell;
→ There should be a District Consolidated Fund at the district level wherein all the resources from the CSS and the other plan components will be pooled together a reasonable part of which could be discretionary / untied.;
→ Wherever there are guidelines for the operation of the scheme that has to respected. The release of the fund will also be made as per the District Plan approved by the DPC.
→ The district credit plan and the sources of private / bilateral / international funding could be merged with the district fund.
→ The DPC has to also consider the audit reports made in this respect of utilisation of funds and the compliance thereto;
→ The DPC will also be concerned with the process of social audit; it will have the responsibility to visit different places and supervise the process of social audit;
→ The DPC will itself be subject to the process of social audit by third parties; appropriate methodologies will have to be evolved for the same;
→ An appropriate incentive mechanism should be put in place for community contribution in terms of resources to development plans;
→ The experiment of communitisation being carried out in the State of Nagaland in respect of health, education and electricity is strongly recommended for emulation in such Panchayats which opt for the same on pilot basis;
→ The Ministry may consider to directly transferring Funds to districts.
→ All transfer of Funds is to be made electronically.
→ The Fund Tracking System needs to be put in place to track the Funds right down to the Gram Panchayat level.
→ The process of convergence is more difficult to achieve at the top level rather than at the ground level; the Government has to make a special efforts in view of inter and intra-ministerial rivalriesand turf battles; it has to be rigidly enforced at the top level;
→ The process will initiate with a capacity development and sensitisation exercise.
→ Scope of convergence between the programmes in Ministries like Agriculture and Cooperation, Social Justice and Welfare etc.
→ The next step would be to have convergence at inter-ministerial programme level; the GoI could constitute groups of Ministries or groups of programmes for convergence with a specific task;
→ Assessing convergence is also necessary.
→ Proper incentive-disincentive structure have to devised for convergence. This should be at the discretion of the DPC and judged by a transparent process.
→ Convergence should be a transparent and holistic activity rather than mere fund adjustment.
→Active convergence amongst BRGF, NREGA, other livelihood programmes of different Ministries, water related programmes and other social sector programmes.
→ Convergence should start from the planning process.
→ A preliminary knowledge has to be instilled amongst the PRIs, SHGs and amongst other rural groups regarding the different CSS and other programmes.
→ There are powerful models of convergence planning. These models need to be put on the ground.
→ The recommendations of the Committee should be seen in a totality and not in isolation for maximised effort.
→ All the committees constituted under various CSS guidelines must be integrated within the PRI framework by subsuming these state department driven local committees into sub-committees/Functional Committees of respective PRIs to enable funds to be devolved through the PRI channel.
→ NIRD study suggests that there are three important pre-requisites for convergence to become institutionalized:
→ Once the necessary integration and convergence in programme management is achieved at the community level then it will automatically flow upwards to create bridges across the sector machineries.
→ Under BRGF it is more crucial to think of linking together the sector wise programme machineries including the technical support structures rather than singing the same old tune of inadequate staff and unfilled vacancies.
→Respective CSS guidelines could be substantially modified to provide centrality of PRIs in planning and implementation of the CSS.
→ The District Planning Committee should be made the institutional platform for planning and convergence at the District level.
→ DPC should be empowered to be the sole approval agency for all CSS at the district level;
→ The DPC is a planning and monitoring body. Hence, funds should be lodged with respective executive agency and not with the DPC. It may be noted that even Planning Commission allocates resources and does not park/disburse funds for the projects/schemes.
→ Instead of using different channels/procedures in releasing funds by the GOI, it is recommended that the funds may directly be released to District level agencies as per the plan approved by the State Government to avoid unnecessary delay and last minute rush in utilization of funds.
→ Electronic transfer system should invariably be extended to all CSS by using core banking system and transfer funds at least to Block level to save delay. In order to avoid locking of funds, Central Fund Transfer system may be introduced.
→ All proposals from the Block to the District, to the State and to the National level should be online with installed systems of scrutiny.
→ All proposals will be examined through the software installed for consistency and such other checks as the State Government or the HPC may so desire.
→ All releases should be through CAS, thereby eliminating the need for going through Consolidated Fund of the State.
→ Hence, it is recommended that the role of PRIs in implementation should be clearly defined in the respective guidelines. To start with, activities/tasks in CSS to be performed by the different tiers of PRIs should be clearly demarcated especially building and updating the data base for the use of various departments, identification of beneficiaries, conducting social audit in Gram Sabha, etc.,
→ The CSS guidelines should provide for sufficient delegation of powers down the line to commence work immediately as per approved plan. The Panchayat Raj Institutions should be empowered to review, inspect and monitor the institutions or the department located in the rural areas. Whenever they inspect an institution and suggest improvements, the authorities of the department concerned in that institution shall be responsible to send an Action Taken Report to those Panchayat Raj Institutions.
→ Social Audit should be extended to all CSSs and the regular Gram Sabha should be a forum for conducting the social audit. Necessary mechanism should be developed for follow up action on the observation made by the Gram Sabha or other monitoring committees.
→ Resources available in different CSS may be pooled and released to PRIs for more effective social mobilization and well endowed campaign in rural areas. However, the respective department should assist the PRIs in preparation of campaign material and communication strategy on respective schemes.
→ It is evident from the above discussion that convergence of development programmes with NREGS needs to be pursued with more vigour.
→ To streamline the communication process, the MoRD may nominate a senior official as coordinator of convergence projects.
→ To ensure greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities and institutional arrangements under convergence, the states should prepare clear guidelines for adherence by all concerned at the district and below.
→ To make convergence planning more people centric, the projects identified by the line department(s) should be discussed in the Gram Sabhas located in the project area.
→SIRDs and reputed NGOs (who have experimented with convergence) may be entrusted with organization of short-duration training programmes dealing with concepts, issues, approaches
→ A small module on social audit has to be included in all the training programmes as all the convergence projects would be subjected to this audit by all the stakeholders.
→ Since convergence aims at consultative process and meeting the local needs, reputed NGOs may be entrusted with capacity building of elected representatives and CBO leaders about this dimension.
→ The MoRD’s earlier suggestion that inclusion of modules on ‘Convergence’, ‘Social Audit’ and ‘Participatory Planning’ are to be made mandatory in all training programmes organized by SIRDs, ETCs
→ The present arrangement of recognising the district / state initiatives through Award of Excellence in NREGS Administration would provide the needed incentive framework for the DPCs and others to implement the convergence projects in an innovative and efficient way.
→ Government of India and State, may also institute awards for best performance to the NREGS team (DPC, PD and officials of line departments), who have excelled in the planning and execution of innovative projects in convergence mode.
→ The ‘Integrated District Planning’ with community participation would be an appropriate framework facilitating emergence of convergence initiatives locally as a by-product.
→ Decentralized planning through community involvement is practiced, generation of volunteerism and ownership followed by partnership of community in the process can be expected.
→ In the light of the Tendulkar’s Committee report on estimation of poverty, which places rural poverty at 42 per cent, there is a dire need to bring convergence among development programmes for mutual benefit and creation of productive assets,
→ To mitigate the effects of global warming on agriculture and allied sectors, NREGS, line departments and other technical institutions in each district should evolve a common strategy and work together in revitalizing the agriculture to ensure food and livelihood security.