If one stay in the city capital – Raipur, or travel around its streets, one cannot drive away, but roll up their eyes to see huge hoardings and posters in almost every prominent street side, reading: Chalo Sangi, Chalo Mitan – Gram Suraj Abhiyan(25 April – 24 May)
These hoardings invite citizens to participate at the Gram Suraj abhiyan when the temperature is soaring at a 45 degree celsius. But that’s not what comes in the mind at a first sight, rather the attention that Rural Development has been receiving out rightly attention from the State government is among one of the thoughts that follows. Today, Rural Development in Chhattisgarh occupies a special significance for two-fold reasons – First, about two thirds of the population (2011 census) resides in villages; and there cannot be any progress as long as rural areas remain untouched. Secondly, the backwardness of the rural sector (that constitutes 80% of the population) turns out to be a major impediment to the overall progress of the State. Annual interaction with the people at their doorsteps is very important to ensure the implementation of government policies. It gives a sense of oneness and bridges the gap between the governing and the governed. Thus, the government of Chhattisgarh has launched the Gram Suraj abhiyan under the leadership of the Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh to ‘strengthen grass root level implementation of government programs and policies’.
A detailed, yet progressive preparation for the Gram Suraj Abhiyan was made in consonance with certain national programs, like general elections or pulse polio program where the Chief Minister made surprise visits to villages to take firsthand information about its policies. It has been an earlier practice where he hosts “Choupal” (meeting of villagers) to get primary report on the government’s performance at the grass root village level. Under this noble initiative, teams of government officials visit villages; stay for the night and jot down the grievances of the people. The Gram Suraj abhiyan is a way to enhance transparency in government programs and as a deterrent way to check corruption. Government can now easily identify gaps in areas like road connectivity, drinking water facility, women child welfare projects, children education system, agriculture, health system, mid-day meal scheme and other sectors where improvement is required. This abhiyan has enhanced faith among the villagers that their Government is responsive and sensitive to their problems.
It is to an extent that the Lok Suraj abhiyan is successful in each of its perspective. It is Chhattisgarh, the only state in India that has made a policy to make itself accountable visiting door to door, village to village, interacting with people to people to understand the implementation of previous policies, to understand grievances /demands of the public at large and to collect data/information pertaining to the Interests of policy makers and critics. There are many issues that are addressed on spot including water scarcity, appointment of teachers in government schools, and payment of bonuses. There are some miscellaneous infrastructural issues like road connectivity, education and health that are taken into consideration within a nick of time. This step creates a sense of trust among people that their elected representatives are concerned about them and their development. It has also by far enhanced government responsiveness by cutting on time required for redressal of grievances. It is, therefore, undoubtedly clear that the government has initiated an outstanding program to keep a watch on developmental activities and ensure implementations in a time bound manner.
Having said that, the Lok Suraj abhiyan is oftenly crticised for being ineffective in practicality. There are cases where villagers have abducted government officials. In many villages the issues raised in previous Lok Suraj abhiyan are pending and haven’t taken into consideration yet. In some places, villagers have started boycotting the Suraj abhiyan as they feel that the officials are here to collect personal data and it’s another way to play politics. It is also a matter of complain that the government officials have failed to keep a record of applications that were submitted in the abhiyan. There are many policies to monitor the implementation of schemes like Gram Suraj, Bharat Uday but such policies should be improved with the passage of time to serve the very purpose of development. In conclusion one can certainly say that the State of Chhattisgarh has adequate resources to decentralize governance in the State. And if one analyses the arithmetic of Gram Suraj Abhiyan, he can carve out the algebra of benefit, geometry of politics and addition of participatory democracy. Gram Suraj Abhiyan is nonetheless exceptional; it should, albeit, not be an exception.
Meanwhile we can and must say, ‘Jai Johar, Jai Chhattisgarh’.
Author: Jinendra Parakh
[The author is pursuing BA. LL.B. (Hons.) from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, Chhattisgarh.]
You can reach author at: email@example.com