‘The biggest lesson Corona Virus Pandemic has taught India is to become self- reliant’ said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his video conferencing interactions with gram panchayat members on National Panchayati Raj Day. What PM forgot to address was another lesson that, India is not yet economically viable to be self-reliant. Almost around 40 to 50 million people in the current scenario are dependent on the government for basic needs such as food.
It had lauded the efforts taken by the gram panchayat heads in their respective villages but his speech has failed to have the space for real issues. The problem of food availability, unemployment, cash shortage, rural migrants, and many more are still causing havoc in the country. The government machinery has failed to respond to the request, complaints, and enquires of the local level panchayat.
Talking to different village heads from Maharashtra, the several sarpanch has complaints regarding the way the upper hierarchy of government is responding to their queries. The ambiguity in the distribution of regular ration and newly declared free ration has been one of its kinds. Sanjay Shelar sarpanch of Mahave said, ‘earlier when we had a doubt, we made an enquiry on the clarity of how to distribute, we got no response and continued as we did before’
The rural migrant is still suffering as no provisions are yet instructed to the local level panchayat. They are the one who has no plan, nor government has executed any. According to the Bhaskar Pere Sarpanch of Patoda village traced, ‘ there are 100 migrant families at least with two to four members each do not even have food to eat, no NGOs or MLAs are helping here ‘. It also concerns him what will be the livelihood for them for the consecutive month. Currently, they are provided with 20% of wheat which is entitled to native villagers. However entitled people won’t give up this 20% next month.
Another village Mahave has 200 to 250 such migrants with no food. Several requests are made to upper hierarchy, MLAs, and MP but responses delayed. Sanjay Shelar adds, ‘collector of the region has asked for a list of such people with complete details, we have provided it, yet no help’. The government has no provisions for them; the administration is trying to provide them through NGOs. One of the sarpanch complained the 2kg wheat from Ngo just goes through 8 days which is not enough for a month.
Digitization or Documentation
PM mentioned about the E-Gram Swaraj Portal and mobile APP, through these Apps the land disputes will get resolved, the villages will become digitalized. More than 1.25 lakh villages are provided with broadband. The gap between villages and cities will decrease. It can perform all tasks but failed to clarify the vagueness of documents in availing the benefits of PM yojanas. One thing here to be noticed is, currently is the problem of property big? or availability of food for everyone is the priority.
To avail, food documents need to be in place. Roti, Kappda, Makkan are no more the basic needs, what have become the basic is a document, document for survival. The major problem of the document is, some don’t have ration cards and if some have then they are not registered. As per the quarts report,100 million people are excluded from the distribution system as 2011 census population figures are used to calculate State-wise coverage under National Food Security Act. Every person whose name is on the list gets the ration and who doesn’t have is been excluded. Secondly, the document, Aadhar card is not enough to claim ration. Sanjay Shelar adds, ‘there are no clear directions on the Aadhaar guidelines. Secondly, the ration is available in limited quantity it is hard for us to decide whom to give and him not to. We have made inquiries about it, the list will come in next month for the further procedure’. The vagueness in documents is taking a toll on the life of people. The document flaw existed before as well, only now it is more prominently visible.
PM added, ‘Stronger the Panchayat system, strongest becomes the democracy and in the same way the benefits of development will reach ab endpoint of the demand chain that is a common man’. The development has become a later agenda for now, as the priority is survival. The package announced by the government has been more of shortcomings as it is not meeting the reaching end shores. The promised ration has been of rice and lentils so far only rice has reached the ration shops. The MNREGA hike has bought no change as people are not willing to work on the farm and as per one of the Sarpanch payments of wages has been delayed every time.
Nevertheless, the government is constantly making policies to ease the burden of vulnerable. However, it has forgotten to implement it. Even Modi’s interactions have failed to do so. If the lower level governing body is not heard then how the policies will be formulated. If one is done, then how it will be efficient and effective for the beneficiaries. Implementation of schemes and strategies on the ground levels is going into vain
At this spur of the moment will ‘Vishwas ‘ and ‘Vikas’ of Prime Minister Narendra Modi work in an ongoing fight with the battle of coronavirus pandemic and the side effects of its preventive measures?