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The one aspect that hits the observer in the face is the vast amount of government funds being spent in the villages in the name of development. Even if one does not go back 50 years while calculating amounts spent, even the last decade would be adequate. Thousands of rupees (if not lacs) have been spent per head on development by government. There is no evidence that this has helped. Some examples would perhaps make the point clear.

  • An average of 4.3 drinking water schemes, each worth lacs of Rupees, have been implemented by government in every village of Maharashtra over the last 45 years. In spite of these the number of tanker aided villages is steadily rising and was close to 25,000 last year.
  • Home sanitation blocks have been built in a number of villages at an average unit cost of Rs.3500/-. Invariably the block is made with substandard material and cannot be used.
  • School buildings have been built but no teachers appointed – classrooms lie vacant.
  • Grampanchayat offices and sub centres are built – they are never opened.
  • MP / MLA / Grampanchayat funds are used to built giant concrete entrances to the villages – where children in schools starve because the mid-day meals don’t reach them.

One can go on, but the point is clear : government funds are not targeted at the necessary aspects and / or are not reaching those in need. Why is this happening? There are a number of reasons that have come to fore

  • Awareness at the grassroots about these schemes and decision making process is limited. Many a times decisions are taken by the uninformed or the corrupt.
  • Local self governance institutions are weak in the face of the bureaucracy, especially at the cutting edge.  Thus one finds that the gramsevak (servant!!! of the village) lords over the elected panchayat and decides what is to be done.
  • Administration, especially at higher levels, looks at the macro picture and fails to see the realities at micro-level. They have no time and more importantly no access to these realities.
  • Peoples leaders prefer to do something that is grand and lasting (hence the Community Centres and Giant Arches) rather than what is necessary.

One wonders whether the intention of government is to address the issue, spend the money or make it appear that the money is being spent.

It would take a team of trained economists, many months of research to find out the efficacy of the rupee spent by government. Trotting out the Late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s famous quote of 15 paise of every rupee spent reaching the poor has become a poor joke and an excuse for this situation. This should not be acceptable… This must change.

We feel that an AUTONOMOUS SOCIAL WATCH INSTITUTION must be set up in the state. This institution will have the task of undertaking social audits in each and every sector of development. It will be answerable to people and will make its reports available to the people of the state. One of the areas that can be studied are government schemes and programmes.