By Aakanksha Mishra, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) is a rural development programme launched by the Central Government of India in the financial year 2009–10, for the development of villages having a higher ratio (over 50%) of people belonging to the scheduled castes through convergence of central and state schemes and allocating financial funding on a per village basis. PMAGY aimed to bring many development programmes in various sectors like Bharat Nirman, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) for rural roads, water supply, housing, electrification and other big-ticket schemes like Sarva Shiksha AbhiyanMahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, ICDS, sanitation to the villages covered under this scheme. PMAGY was launched by the UPA coalition government supported by the left parties and was touted as a vote-bank gimmick to pocket maximum dalit and SC votes.

The vision was to build a Model village which has adequate physical and institutional infrastructure, in which minimum needs of all sections of the society are fully met; people live in harmony with each other, as also with the environment, and a village which is progressive and dynamic. The villages should be covered with all the facilities necessary for dignified living, creating an environment in which all residents are enabled to realize the best of their potential.

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The thrust areas are-

1. Physical infrastructure –  developing good road connectivity, ensuring access for all to safe drinking water, access to affordable housing and electricity, adequate communication facilities like post-office, telephones, Bharat Nirman Common Service Centre (being established by the Dept of Information Technology), access to adequate banking facilities etc

2. Sanitation and Environment – establishing sanitary toilets, drains and an efficient waste disposal system, encouraging environment friendly habits through plantation drives, water harvesting, use of renewable sources of energy, such as biogas, solar energy, wind energy, use of smokeless chulhas, etc.

3. Social Infrastructure, Human Development and Social Harmony–  establishing Anganwadi centre and schools of appropriate levels, access to primary health care and Reproductive Child Health (RCH) facilities, active Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat, women’s/swarozgaris’ Self-help Groups, youth clubs and Mahila mandals, educating the residents of the village of their constitutional and legal rights, etc.

4. Livelihood – ensuring adequate employment opportunities for the residents, making arrangements for development of skills among them, so that as many of them as possible are in skilled employment.

The objective was to bridge the disparity between SC and non-SC population in terms of socio- economic indicators like literacy rate, completion rate of elementary education, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate , ownership of productive assets etc, to ensure that all BPL families, especially those belonging to SCs, have food and livelihood security, and are enabled to cross the poverty line and earn an adequate livelihood, all children complete at least primary education, the incidence of malnutrition and disease, especially among children and women, is eliminated. It strived to eliminate practices like untouchability, discrimination, segregation, and atrocities against SCs and other social evils like discrimination against girls/women, alcoholism and substance abuse, etc. and ensure that all sections of society are able to live with dignity and equality, and in harmony with others.

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment of Government of India was the nodal agency responsible for implementation of the programme. To ensure the implementation two committees- an advisory committee headed by the Deputy Chief Minister and a steering committee headed by the Chief Secretary were formed. In a major administrative move in 2012, the scheme was transferred to the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment as it was felt that PMAGY had a synergy with the programmes run by the MoRD and underlined the merit of converging it with the Total Sanitation Campaign. At the national level, the National Institute for Rural Development (NIRD), Hyderabad, has been associated with the PMAGY as the Technical Resource Support Institution to discharge the following responsibilities:

 (i) Preparation of Model illustrative village plan

(ii) Orientation of State Govt. officials, officials of Technical resource Support Institutions, and key functionaries at District. and Block levels

(iii) Preparation of model Implementation Manual for District. Block and Village levels

 (iv) Preparation of Guidelines for baseline survey

As of today only four villages in India are considered model villages: Ralegoan Siddhi and Hiware Bazar in Maharashtra, Punsare in Gujarat, and Gangadevipalli in Telangana. The success of the first two can easily be attributed to outstanding leaders. The others are shining examples of people participating in a democratic process to develop their villages.

After the change of power at the Centre in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP under the leadership of Mr. Narendra Modi brought forward the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). The Prime Minister announced the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana in his Independence Day speech and chose the birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan for its formal launch. The aim of the scheme is to improve basic amenities in a chosen village and ensure all-round improvement in the quality of life.

As per the scheme’s guidelines, every MP can identify a village which is to be developed as a model village by 2016 and two more villages for similar development by 2019. Between 2019 and 2024, the target will be stepped up to five villages. The chosen villages should not have any connection to the MP’s family. The Adarsh Gram will be a model village not just in terms of physical infrastructure but also with regards to social justice, cleanliness and gender equality and will also show case transparency and accountability in local self-government. The Government hopes that this will have a snowballing effect in the countryside with rural folk clamouring for such villages and compelling district administrations and public representatives to replicate the scheme. MPs will lead this initiative in their respective constituencies. When completed, each Adarsh Gram will serve as a demonstration village.

Under the UPA’s PMAGY the delivery remained in the hands of the district bureaucracy. However under Modi’s SAGY the supervision of the programme is now in the hands of a key stakeholder, namely the local MP, whose political fortunes will depend on how best he executes schemes of this kind. It will also trigger competition among MPs in a given region because people in neighbouring constituencies are certain to exchange notes on how ‘Adarsh’ their chosen village is. This will prevent any apathetic or lackadaisical attitude in implementing the scheme as the MP will be made accountable for the failures. Critics have questioned the fairness of selecting only some villages to be developed as models. The programme’s clear intention is to develop from the bottom up by finding out what villagers want. Engaging and mobilising citizens is therefore the key to success. It must be remembered that under SAGY, MPs should not patronise the villagers. Instead they must empower the people of their adopted village, inspire and lead them to get them involved in the development of their own village.

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