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The Central Government and the State Governments of India allocate a considerable amount of budget on the welfare schemes for the upliftment of the various sections of the society across numerous sectors. These schemes are announced with promises of outstanding returns but fail to deliver in most of the cases.
According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report of 2013, even after more than three decades after its launch, the flagship scheme for the nutritional and developmental needs of children, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), has failed in making a difference with still half of the children of the country remaining malnourished.
The CAG has also found serious lapses in the implementation of the farm debt waiver scheme where nearly 20 crore were given to farmers who had taken loans for non-agricultural purposes or whose loans did not meet eligibility criteria. At the same time, the farmers eligible for benefit of 3.58 crore under the scheme were not considered by lending institutions.
National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which guarantees 100 days of employment in a year for unskilled manual labour is also rampant with corruption and serious doubts have been raised about its implementation. According to a CAG report on NREGA, the scheme has failed in several states due to misappropriation of funds. Apart from corruption, there are several issues in its implementationlike caste prejudices, local politics and a complete lack of accountability.
These are few of the many stories about the failure of the welfare schemes and aid programmes. The World Bank in one of its reports in fact says that the aid programmes are beset by corruption, bad administration and under-payments.
Besides the aforesaid reasons of the failure of the welfare schemes and aid programmes, we understand that one of the major reasons is the lack of awareness about the schemes in general public, specifically, in the target groups of the schemes. This leads to non-utilisation of the assigned budget and corruption on every level due to which the target group remains deprived of its benefits.
However, it is observed that if a scheme is well advertised, explained and assistance is provided among the masses, the tendency towards availing those benefits increases.
One of the examples of this is the Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY). The scheme has now touched nearly 50 million women and it has been observed both by the Population Council report and National Health Systems Resource centre that the awareness about JSY is universal with an increased awareness about maternal health and infant care. Beneficiaries were also aware of various vaccinations for the new-borns and nutrition this has led to many beneficiaries using institutional services during their next child birth. However, still there is potential for a complete level of awareness.
It is ironical that most of the efforts by the NGOs in the country are towards mobilising private funds for the upliftment of the under privileged, however, huge efforts are required to channelize the government funds towards the real needy and create accountability in this space. Therefore, if holistic and rigorous efforts are taken in addressing the issue of awareness and accountability, the benefits of the welfare programmes can reach the actual beneficiaries which will be a tremendous step in addressing the problems the poor and common man.
Information & Guidance Centre for Welfare Schemes(IGCWS) is a humble step towards addressing this problem of awareness and accountability about the schemes. IGCWS will develop into a one-stop centre for all Government/Private welfare scheme related guidance and assistance.
The Aims and Objectives of the centre are:
- To develop a databank of all Government, Corporate and other private schemes in India.
- To convert the information released with respect to the schemes into a simplified format which can be understood by common man.
- To incorporate all means to disseminate the refined information along with the documentation support. This will include a website and call centre.
- To guide and assist people to apply and avail the schemes both through electronic means and on the field.
- To strive for accountability in government departments with respect to the welfare programmes and act a pressure group to do the same.
- To strive for utilising the complete funds allocated for welfare projects from the government.