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New book recounts how lives are transforming in rural areas
New Delhi, Oct 27 - Nagaon district of Assam, where 78 percent of the population is dependent on agriculture and most transactions were in cash, has transformed into a locality with heightened awareness of cashless transactions. In KSN Reddy Nagar of Greater Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, nearly 100 families who were residing in huts for decades were provided pucca houses, under the central government's housing scheme.
These and other success stories of governance over the past five years are to be found in a new book "Towards a New India - Governance Transformed, 2014-19", authored by V. Srinivas, IAS, Additional Secretary in the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
In North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Salma Khatun, a resident of Amdanga village, wanted to pursue higher studies and become self reliant. She was awarded the Kanyashree Scholarship, an incentive of the West Bengal government for appearing in the Madhyamik examination, and the money was deposited in the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana account. With the money, Salma plans to buy text books and study material to realise her dream of becoming a doctor.
In Banswada district of Rajasthan, a tribal area with over 1,500 villages, over 65,000 houses were constructed under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Rural. The tribals lived in huts and had never dreamt of living in pucca houses.
Similarly, in West Sikkim district, Parsu Ram Kami, a resident of village Suldung Kamling, dreamt of owning a pucca house. He was able to construct one, thanks to the PMAY-R scheme. Taking inspiration from him, more residents have built pucca houses there. Their village is affected by high velocity winds that would damage the thatched huts. With pucca houses, the lives of the people have improved dramatically, and so has their social standing.
In Bikaner, the first Open Defecation Free district of Rajasthan, following a campaign by the government, the women started pressurizing their menfolk to build toilets, to avoid the compulsion of having to wait for the sunlight to fade in order to be able to relieve themselves. They also highlighted the safety issues of venturing alone into the fields in the dark, as well as the health and hygiene issues related to open defecation.
This was all thanks to the massive counselling sessions undertaken by the district collector, who roped in all the gram panchayats to sensitise them of the need to build toilets. The Swachh Bharat Gramin Campaign in Bikaner covered 17 lakh rural population in 290 Gram Panchayats and 1,035 villages. On January 26, 2016, Bikaner was recognized as the first ODF district of Rajasthan, and the second in India. Studies showed that 97.8 percent of the people used toilets, which was a huge increase from the 29 percent coverage registered in 2011.
The 2002-page book, published by Konark Publishers, covers issues like healthcare for all, education and rural development, Jan Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, PMAY, Digital India, Skill India and Make in India, Social Inclusion, Fight against Corruption among others.
Noted economist-author Bibek Debroy, Chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, in his foreword, writes: "Governance is not just for the people, it is also by the people. That participatory process distinguishes governance from mere government. As one reads the book, he/she therefore imbibes a sense of optimism, not because of government publicizing schemes, but because there is a sense of citizen involvement."
The book also has messages by Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog, K.V. Eapen, Secretary DARPG, and by V.K. Paul, Member, Niti Aayog.
"In my long years of experience in governance, the last five years have been quite transformational, because the pursuit of radical reforms has benefitted millions of Indians in a manner in which governance has been taken to the doorstep of people through digital means," Srinivas told IANS.
"And that changed the imprint of digital India. The digitalisation practices are being felt in virtually every Indian's life. That is what I have tried to bring out in the book, and how best practices in e-governance has changed the lives of millions of Indians," he said.
"I've tried to represent the major programmes I have worked with, from Swachch Bharat, Skill India, Digital India, culture, employment generation through industry, Make in India, during my years in textiles - to present a comprehensive overview of my governance experience in my last five years," said Srinivas.
Srinivas, who has just published another book "India's Relations with the IMF, 25 Years in Perspective 1991-2016", earlier served as Deputy Director (Admin) at AIIMS, and also Chairman of the Board of Revenue for Rajasthan and Chairman of the Rajasthan Tax Board, among other posts.
"Towards a New India also has quotes from many serving IAS and other government officials on how the different schemes are working in their districts.
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