Mission Antyodaya’ should not fall by the wayside 

Context: Recently, the Mission Antyodaya Project related report on infrastructure and service gaps and the other on a composite index have been released so far. The Government of India launched the mission in 2017-18 to revive the objectives of the great democratic reforms in India. The Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development act as the nodal agents to take the mission forward.  

What are the constitutional provisions/laws which ushered decentralisation reforms to deliver social justice and progress in rural India? 

The Indian Constitution mandates population-based representation to Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities, and one-third reservation for women (in most States, now 50%). 

The constitution mandates that the local governments are empowered to prepare and implement plans for ‘economic development and social justice’ (Articles 243G and 243W).  

It mandates establishment of various Institutions to perform various functions like the Gram Sabha facilitate people’s participation, the District Planning committee (DPC) prepare bottom up and spatial development plans, the State Finance Commission (SFC) ensure vertical and horizontal equity,  

Background 

The Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 revealed very disturbing facts about rural India. Most of the rural households had no salaried jobs, were landless, many had no adult member to support (female-headed households), suffered multiple deprivations, engaged in manual casual labour, no room or only one room to live, and so on. 

About the ‘Mission Antyodaya’ project 

Objectives 

The main objective is to ensure optimum use of resources. It is done through the convergence of resources of various schemes. For example, the convergence of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the National Rural Livelihood Mission, National Social Assistance Programme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, etc.) and save administrative expenses. 

The planning process is inspired by the people’s plan of Kerala. The mission wants to make the gram panchayat the hub of a development plan 

Functioning of the Mission 

An annual survey is conducted to assess the various development gaps at the gram panchayat level. The data is collected for the 29 subjects assigned to PRI. The assessment-based approach can foster economic development and inter-jurisdictional equity. The data enables sectoral and spatial development planning, from the village level to the State and the country as a whole. . 

The findings of the ‘Mission Antyodaya’ survey 2019-20

The gap report and the composite index has exposed the fact that we have not achieved ‘economic development and social justice’ so far. This remains a distant goal even after 30 years of the decentralisation reforms and nearly 75 years into Independence. 

In fact, India has not witnessed rural development, the goal posts have been moved to 2022 which coincide with the 75th anniversary of Independence. 

Way Forward 

The government should reduce the growing rural-urban disparities across primary health care, literacy, drinking water supply and other issues.  

The data can be deployed to India’s fiscal federalism. It can improve the transfer system and horizontal equity in the delivery of public goods in India at the sub-State level.  

The strong policy interventions can help in the attainment of the constitutional goal of planning and implementing economic development and social justice in India. 

Source: The post is based on an article “Mission Antyodaya should not fall by the wayside” published in The Hindu on 27th April 2022. 

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