New Delhi: Senior government officials on Friday called for greater integration and convergence among the numerous government-run social schemes for effective poverty eradication, citing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s flagship rural jobs scheme in Kerala as one of the more effective programmes due to its working in tandem with other welfare schemes.
The officials explained how Kerala had created a single conduit for delivering entitlements of several schemes and departments to beneficiaries, leading to resource efficiency and better outcomes.
Supporting the idea of convergence, B.K. Chaturvedi, member, Planning Commission, said “with convergence, two plus two will equal six, not four."
Aruna Sharma, additional secretary in charge of panchayat and rural development in Madhya Pradesh, listed the multiplicity of schemes and agencies, and the lack of access to information and faulty planning as some of the main reasons for India’s poverty alleviation programmes not succeeding despite being implemented for decades.
Sharma has authored a report called “mainstreaming of resource convergence in policy making, programme design and execution".
According to the government’s budget documents, its spending on social services including nutrition, water supply, housing and sanitation increased from Rs.30,700 crore in 2004-05 to Rs.1.9 trillion in 2013-14
“The non-synchronised efforts lead to little change in the condition of the targetted beneficiary," the report said, recalling that 147 Centrally sponsored social schemes had been condensed into 66 in the 12th five-year plan being implemented in 2012-2017. “There is now a realization that converging resources can bring out the best of each initiative," it said.
Among the successful convergence initiatives listed in the report are the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Kerala, the rural housing scheme in Sikkim, collaboration among agriculture, water, rural development and forestry sectors in Chhattisgarh and rehabilitation of beggar families in Gujarat.
These programmes were described as “remarkable model interventions" that “illustrate the potential within these schemes to complement one another and improve the lives of people and communities".
Sharma noted that each of the more than 600 districts of India received ₹ 1,200 crore for social spending every year. “If a corporate body were given an assured input of ₹ 1,200 crores per annum to meet the demands of a population of around 1,000,000, they would first create a corporate strategy and a business plan... each of the 672 districts in India get a similar amount per annum for infrastructure and human resource development. Thus the districts need a similar plan..." she said.
Lise Grande, India’s United Nations resident coordinator, added her voice in support of convergence, saying India had some of the “most progressive and impressive development programmes in the world".
“Convergence between them holds out the promise of greater effectiveness and efficiency and, therefore, greater impact," she said.