New Delhi: The sixth annual Skoch Summit Challengers 2008 took up issues concerning panchayat finances and emerging technologies for rural India. Attended by over 430 delegates, ielf Help Groups and women Panchayat representatives from Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand shared their experiences and case studies.
State IT Secretaries, Panchayati Raj Secretaries, and Planning Secretaries, who were present in large number took questions from those who had worked on the field, helping refine strategies and methodologies to bring about greater transparency and efficiency.
Mani Shankar Aiyar, minister of panchayati raj addressed the session on ‘State of Panchayats – Focus on Finances’. “Women, who are the backbone of our villages, have become an important part of our Panchayati Raj Institutions. They are coming to the fore and using the space provided by Panchayats to address issues that concern them and the village community at large,” said the minister.
The conference provided a plurality of view that facilitates cross country participation with both rural and urban stakeholders sharing the platform with equal zeal and passion. “The aim is to achieve the larger objective of social, digital and financial inclusion,” informed Sameer Kochhar, chief editor & CEO, Skoch Consultancy Services.
The thrust of the conference has been on how better governance and better delivery of finances to and through Panchayats, facilitated through decentralization and e-governance, can be used to improve these infrastructure services and what are the best practices that one can emulate. Issues concerning infusion of technology and available choices, in rural India, were examined apart from policy and its implementation.
Skoch Challenger Awards were conferred by Dr C Rangarajan, chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. The award recognizes and salutes best practices in e-governance, education, ICT enablement, empowerment, capacity building and digital and financial inclusion. 17 awards were given to K C Chakrabarty, CMD, Punjab National Bank for financial inclusion through initiatives like the setting up of Farmers’ Training Colleges, financing rickshaw pullers, and setting up biometric ATMs; to M S Sundara Rajan, CMD, Indian Bank for total financial inclusion of the Union Territory of Puducherry, and extending similar efforts to other districts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala; for Customer Relationship Management to B Sambamurthy, CMD, Corporation Bank amongst others.
Some of the projects that were termed winners included the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana; Jeevan Madhur by Life Insurance Corporation; MCA21 by Ministry of Corporate Affairs; JNNURM by Ministry of Urban Development; e-Gram by Department of Panchayati Raj, Gujarat.