Government Policies For Development And Arising Issues

This unit has been covered under the following segments-

2. Review Of Public Employment Programmes
3. Government Policies And Social Linkages
4. What Is Social Policy All About?
5. The Indian Development Experience In The Second Half Of The 20th Century
6. Government Policy In The Development Process And Issues
7. Land Reforms Issue
8. Food Procurement And Distribution Issue
9. Employment And Public Works Issue
10. Issue Of Education
11. Affirmative Action
12. Conclusion

Description of the above segments has been laid down below.

Introduction

There is a shift in Government’s approach towards development. Instead of relying only on increase in general affluence to enhance the living standards of citizens, the approach is to consider the acquisition of minimum levels of education, health, employment and nutrition as basic entitlements, and recognize the key role of the state in providing them to every needy citizen in the country In essence, the shift is towards universalization and entitlements. There is also increased emphasis on promoting balanced development in which all regions in the country have the opportunity to develop evenly. This equity-promoting role demands that greater resources be allocated to the backward regions to remove gaps in the provision of basic services and human development. As a result, large investments will flow to those districts of the country which are classified as backward. Admittedly, these are the most difficult districts to implement development programmes because of poor governance structures, low organizational capacity, weak infrastructure and unequal power structures. If the programmes can be implemented with a modicum of success in these backward regions, it would have garnered mainstreaming of development in the poorest parts of the country There is also a fundamental change in how government programmes are funded and executed. Increasingly key programmes are being funded by the Union Government and executed by State Governments. This ensures that on the one hand, no entitlement programme is made to suffer due to resource constraint and, on the other, funds are available with greater regularity to implementing districts, blocks and Panchayati Raj Institutions so that programme outcomes can be seamlessly achieved with local participation, ownership, initiative and supervision. In various budget speechs, the Union Finance Minister stated that the bulk of resources of the Union Government would go to various development flagship programmes, namely, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Drinking Water Mission, Total Sanitation Campaign, National Rural Health Mission, Integrated Child Development Services, and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme etc. All these flagship programmes signal a change in the development approach towards universalization and entitlements. To that extent a key consideration in the implementation of these programmes is to guarantee the reach and the outcomes of the programmes. These are part of the emerging paradigm of Union funding and execution by the State Governments. The challenge under the circumstances would be to maintain the ease and regularity of fund flow and ensure accountability in achieving the intended programme outcomes without incentives being distorted because of the duality in funding and execution. Since these flagship programmes are bound by the common objective of delivering entitlements on a universal scale, it is necessary that they converge at the grassroots and their individual planning systems are integrated harmoniously. Such integration would ensure common implementation framework for all the schemes. Above all, adequate and appropriate administrative and institutional arrangements are essential for the success of these programmes. In their design, these programmes provide for a multi-tier structure of administrative and institutional arrangements for implementation and monitoring with specified roles and responsibilities. The agencies involved are the respective ministries of the Union Government, departments of the State Governments and the local governments. The structure of implementation and monitoring, both elaborate and complex, underscores the criticality of various institutional structures working in tandem: at the minimum, what is required for the successful implementation of the programmes is both vertical coordination of different tiers of governments and horizontal coordination across departments for execution of the programmes through the local government. Of the various flagship programmes, the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (hereinafter referred to as NREGA or simply ‘the Act’) is certainly the largest in terms of its outlay, coverage and expected outputs. In particular, suitable administrative and financial management systems need to be put in place in order to achieve the desired objectives of NREGA in terms of the benefits of the programme reaching the intended groups to build capacity to implement the Scheme at decentralized levels and create a proper information system not only to implement the Scheme effectively but also to ensure accountability and transparency.