Wednesday, May 24, 2006

a word on decentralization

There is increase in participation of community in various sphere of development.
Decentralization is issue at the core of all. More and more we reach near the goal and objective of decentralization we can achieve “lot” not just what we think.
But things get struck at the implementation stage. HOW to go about it? Lots of NGOs are there and must justify their existence. They must be made accountable and responsible.
Similarly Govt machinery should also be under such purview.  inculcating the feeling of citizenship among one and all is most essential. Once we achieve this we are 70% towards our objectives. Rest by training, Mass awareness etc. Now days lot of new concepts are taking place like “Govt at the doorstep of Nagrik”, (i.e.village) by Lok Adalat. Court at village. District Magistrate, Deputy Commissioner camping in villages along with govt machinery. All are good and innovative ideas. Adding to it more new methods are to be devised for govt functioning within the given framework [financial/administrative powers]. Participation of people just seems to end on the eve of polling. Afterwards councilors and council rules with agenda of one group or the other.
Elected representatives are on board in various committees, urban counterpart of VEC, Ward Committees,. Councilors are declared as notifiers of civil events.

I was working under CRBD; we were supposed to implement the Registration  of birth and death act. But there was also scope for improvement – such as media awareness, training & sensitization. We used to write to medical officers at each PHC/ sub-centres so that people should always be aware of the MCCD and must remember while dealing the death cases. State dept can organize training etc. As I used to visit rural& tribal areas for inspection, and side by side I tried to interact with the villagers, Mahila Mandals other small groups, local social workers, people working in Panchayat office, Pradhan all of them were told about the procedure for registration and  related issues- I mean- the implementing agency can improve upon whatever mechanism they have. That comes when each functionary think of “citizenship” within him and its responsibility- which is becoming “EXTINCT” now days.

COORDINATION is also another important issue  here.
Whatever dept of education does or plans it should be coordinated by other depts. Viz Social Welfare, Tribal Welfare, civil Supplies, health, Panchayat, district administration etc. Often good schemes could not be implemented due to lack of coordination or coordinated efforts by depts..
For urban disadvantaged children, education dept with the assistance of NGO start evening centres, now it is called as EGS/AIE centre. But then it should not be left for education dept only to run. The local administration either [gram Panchayat in rural] or dept of social welfare may compliment supplement by providing a shelter/hostel/ or space for such school. Health dept provide medical assistance, Dept of Industries or related dept may run skill/capacity development course, the local ward councilors can ask fro special help from the council and/or with MPLAD etc. PRAYAS is also helping such children in DELHI.
provision is available Under SSA for educational materials and MIDDAY MEAL, but not beyond that. Then society has to take over.  Education cess may be roped for such purposes.

Why children become disadvantaged/deprived at all??. Is it responsibility of education dept only (SSA) to provide education? Not at all. Migration is also a factor. Why they migrate. [Urbanisation??] Foremost reason for no education to children is linked to livelihood. Local administration (self government) is unable to provide livelihood support. Other depts. Should also make plan to improve the situation. Thus without the broader and coordinated effort by all the agencies no solution can be successful.

Dept can make EGS/AIE as per the available children in municipal area , Ward committee may be roped in and made responsible to supplement the EGS scheme.
DECENTRALIZATION is also involved here- since local self government should (or be able to) make some plan for sustainable development of the area. Council or ward committee can thus have representation from the institutions/ consultants/Experts/ Local Club/ Social workers – so as to have more need-based plan development.
Electoral roll has to become more usefull/ purposefull this has to be linked with census data. Database development is also at core of issues. Once we have Panchayat/ Ward/ Council/ Tehsil-wise database linked with various other databases (may or may not having element (field)) of local needs, So that, these Ward committees on desktop can see the database of concerning ward and develop plan- which also requires justification. Thus Village-wise census data, electoral roll may be linked which can be made linked with Economic census, Agriculture census, Survey of Industries or any other such available databases.
THIS is not to make issues more complex but to think in a way so that more coordinated efforts are taken for development of society.
Govt depts. May also be allowed to outsource the works to Non Govt agencies, But that is not a permanent solution. Govt dept have to build it by themselves.
For that everyone will agree a political will is needed.
Few examples from Tamil Nadu are there, where district collectors have initiated good works, whatever framework is available with them.
Today only it appeared in TOI, that over dependence on official statistics not backed by Science and disregard for folk and classical knowledge have led to the current state of affairs in forest across the country. Paper quoted Dr Madhav Gadgil while delivering the Bengal Science lecture 2005.

Evening classes or other classes only by the education dept will not solve the problem. Everyone is aware of the outcome of the juvenile home etc homes set for reformation of the children. Thus more coordinated efforts from all the depts. is required to make any innovative step for urban or rural deprived children.
SOS village and similar kind of projects were established for such purpose earlier. But they are not evaluated.
The education of the urban poor child has to be linked with the skill/vocational education from the start so that they can comeup with some skills also so as to sustain themselves in future. God knows if we have any of street children becoming IAS or some in that bracket?
Certainly NGO are to be roped in this effort. And under SSA proper funding provisions has to be made.

While at IIT Kanpur campus I had been part of a novel activity inspired by Smt Vijaya Ramchandran and her group (Vivekanand Samiti??) thanx to her. Few like minded people including the students, housewives, faculty members etc got together to start evening classes for the children of labourers camped at construction sites in and around campus. She and her team roped in some people/ organization who regularly donated something to these children. In a way this was to attract them for evening classes. I joined the work for some time. when i got a job at Delhi I left. But always i will remember Smt Vijaya Ramachandran aunty for her benevolence.

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