Rohanpara is a small village in Ambedkar Nagar district, tucked away on the eastern fringes of Uttar Pradesh. For the record, the village has 101 welfare and development schemes running to uplift its population of a little over 3,000, consisting of marginal farmers and daily wage labourers. But most of the villagers are blissfully unaware of these schemes, and continue to languish in penury. The village appears frozen in the pre-Independence era, with few obvious signs of development.
Rohanpara represents the state of affairs in at least a part of rural India, despite the substantial scaling-up of budgetary outlays for social sector schemes — the centrally sponsored ones in particular — in recent years, enabled by high growth for several years and the policy of “inclusive growth” adopted by the UPA government.
Why this dichotomy between what the government avowedly wants to achieve and the ground reality? Bureaucratic lethargy in ensuring that the doles reach the intended beneficiaries and the complex administrative structure implementing several schemes are obviously the culprits. The multitude of schemes reducing allocation at the village level to a pittance in many cases, without being able to make any meaningful differences to the lives of the people, is another problem. Hopefully for Rohanpara and such villages in the country, non-government organisations have taken upon themselves the task of helping people avail of the sops, while the officialdom is in a slumber.
People in Rohanpara still live in mud houses, without even proper toilets. This is despite the fact that the UPA government’s popular welfare programmes such as the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) and Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) have been “under implementation” at the block level here for over a decade.
An NGO called People’s Action for National Integration (PANI) run by Shashi Bhushan, an activist, has attempted to change the situation. “It is the responsibility of gram secretary or the block development officer to make us aware about such schemes but nobody bothers to do so,” said Badama, a housewife, who regularly interacts with the local administration on these matters, on behalf of fellow villagers. With the help of the NGO, villagers have approached the block development officer and urged him to implement some of the centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) and other state-level schemes that suit the village.
“There are hundreds of schemes on paper but nobody bothers to take them to the bottom of the pyramid. All plans remain in files