Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Private: Engaging Rural Youth Gainfully

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Reaping benefits of India’s demographic dividend by better skilling

Introduction:

  • India has a high proportion of youth in its population, especially that of rural youth.
  • Harnessing their potential to contribute to the country’s growth would require rural-centric policies that combine the development of appropriate technologies and innovations, skilling of youth, and the creation of an ecosystem for the establishment of own enterprises.

Definition of Youth:

  • The United Nations referred youth as those in the age group of 15 to 24 years.
  • While the National Youth Policy of 2003 considered youth as those belonging to the age group of 13–35 years, the NYP 2014 redefined youth as those in the age group of 15–29 years(Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports 2014).
  • In their report on “Youth in India 2017,” the Central Statistics Office(CSO 2017) defined the age group of 15–34 years as youth.

Engaging Rural Youth:

  • By the definition of NYP 2014, with 33.3 crore youth population in the 15–29 years age bracket (that is, 27.5% of the country’s population of 121.1 crore), India is the youngest country in the world.
  • The proportion of rural youth is about 67% to 68% of the country’s total population.
  • The male rural youth remained at about 52% of the total rural youth population.
  • Given this overwhelming percentage of rural youth, any policy to advance the cause of youth needs to be rural centric to harness and realise their potential and contribute to the country’s growth.

Structure of Rural Economy:

  • According to the data provided by the CSO for the base year 2011–12, the rural sector accounted for about 94% of the country’s farm income in 2011–12, that is, income originating from crops, forestry, fishing and livestock-related activities.
  • Further, the rural sector contributed about 36% of the country’s non-farm income.
  • The farm sector has been losing its significance with the sector’s contribution to rural income falling from 72.4% in 1970–71 to 39% in 2011–12.
  • Even though the farm sector continues to be an important sector, within it, there is also a shift from traditional food grain production to horticulture and dairy.
  • Cultivation activity contributed only 35% of the total income of  the agricultural households.
  • It reflects the changing structure of the country’s rural economy and challenges policymakers to maintain the tempo of non-farm activities in rural areas.
  • The shift away from the traditional reliance on farm activities to non-farm activities in the rural areas has been accompanied by the rising literacy rate.
  • Literacy rate in rural India has considerably improved from 44.7% in 1991 to 68.9% in 2011; that is, more than two-thirds of the rural population are literate now.
  • Diversification of economic activities coupled with the rising literacy rate provides ample opportunities for diversifying the talents of youth.

Rural Youth Development:

  • There is a need to create a suitable environment to develop opportunities for employment of the rural youth. It includes three important steps:
  • Development of modern and appropriate technologies and innovations that have the potential for large-scale adoption in rural areas;
  • Skilling of rural youth to make them capable of adopting those modern technologies;
  • Development of an appropriate ecosystem in the rural areas so that the skilled youth are encouraged to establish their own enterprises.

1.Developing modern and appropriate technologies and innovations:

  • Although, agriculture is not seen as a remunerative occupation, through advances in innovation, capacity-building, partnership and participatory approaches, better market linkages and by developing a synergy with other sectors of the economy, many employment and entrepreneurial opportunities can be created.
  • There exists a huge opportunity in rural areas for the growth of off-farm sector activities.

Example: Opportunities are emerging in agri-tech, agri-based e-commerce, information technology (IT)-linked agri-extension, seed technology, biotechnology, farm monitoring, agri/rural fin-tech, and so on, enabling the educated rural youth to explore new ideas, undertake research and establish start-ups.

  • There are also opportunities emerging from the modern practices of farming, other rural activities, use of the drone to detect problems in crop fields/orchards etc.
  • The idea of harvesting solar energy as the third crop on the farmer’s field is also gaining ground.
  • Mobile infrastructures such as biorefineries/phyto-refineries can be developed to provide processing support.
  • There is a need to facilitate the integration of agricultural research, industrial research and biotechnological research.
  • Efforts are also needed in finding innovation/technology-based solutions to some of the basic problems relating to agriculture:
  • Development of smart agricultural machinery;
  • Developing apparatus such as censors to encourage precision agriculture to apply need-based fertiliser and micro-nutrients; and
  •  Finding solutions to the overuse of water.

2.Skilling of rural youth:

  • Human capital is vital for fostering the growth of the economy and more so of the rural economy.
  • The Need to focus on skill development follows directly from the need for improving employment opportunities.
  • National Skill Development Policy estimates that only 5.4% of the workforce in India has undergone formal training.
  • The percentage of rural youth (that is, 15–29 years age group) who did not receive vocational training of any sort stood at 90.3% in 2011–12 and this went up to 93.7% in 2017–18.
  • Although formal vocational training can be considered as a sure gateway to the job market, the employability of the trained ones remains poor because of the low quality of vocational training imparted.
  • The rural youth lack “soft skills,” such as the ability to experiment with new ideas, spot business opportunities, sales and marketing skill etc.
  • The thrust on the skill development of rural youth should be capability-based, and the focus should go beyond agricultural occupations and traditional courses.

Connecting the dots:

  • It is important to understand how relevant the training is to the needs, identify the gaps and make concerted efforts to fill the identified gaps.
  • The quality of training at industrial training institutes needs to be strengthened by redesigning the curriculum and upgrading them through appropriate budgetary allocations under the National Skill Development Fund.
  • It is equally important to strengthen the institute–industry interface.
  • Rural youth should be trained to acquire different soft skills including basic English language skills.
  • Skill development initiatives need to be compatible with programmes and policies directed towards making a “Digital India.”

3.Developing appropriate ecosystem for establishing rural enterprises:

  • Skills acquired need to be linked to their engagement in some livelihood option. This requires a responsive entrepreneurial ecosystem that identifies their talent and absorbs them in an economic activity.
  • Agriculture graduates from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research system or state agricultural universities may be engaged in agri-related rural entrepreneurships.
  • Establishing fellowship programmes in different fields of agriculture may bring back youth with a farming background to the field and related agribusinesses, and in agriculture-related research and development.
  • The possibility to make the Krishi Vigyan Kendras a hub of all the technology solutions developed by different missions, departments of various institutions like the ICAR, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and private sector players can be explored.
  • The Citizen Service Centres(CSCs) may be designed to play the role of purveyors of taking the latest advances in production and post-harvest systems to the field. Youth can be trained on various IT platforms to run these CSCs.
  • An important aspect for enterprise creation is funding support, particularly equity funding, which is critical to ensure the success of any enterprise.
  • Provision can be made to encourage deployment of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds as seed funds for these ventures.

Conclusion:

  • Engaging rural youth gainfully should become an integral part of growth stimulating policies
  • Productively engaging the rural youth would help reduce the asymmetries in several socio-economic indicators between rural and urban areas, which have come to characterise the recent growth experience of the Indian economy. 
  • Thus, the efforts towards bridging the rural–urban divide should revolve around the idea of engaging the rural youth in productive activities.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] SARAS Aajeevika Mela

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SARAS Aajeevika Mela

Mains level : Impact of DAY-NRLM

SARAS Aajeevika Mela

  • It is an initiative by the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD).
  • Its objective is to bring the rural women SHGs formed with support of DAY-NRLM, under one platform to show-case their skills, sell their products and help them build linkages with bulk buyers.
  • Through participation in SARAS Aajeevika Mela, these rural SHG women get vital national level exposure to understand the demand and taste of urban customers.
  • The Mela acts as an integrated approach towards women empowerment.
  • It is organised by the marketing arm of the Ministry, Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology (CAPART).

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[oped of the day] Constitution’s Seventh Schedule, which differentiates between spending by the Centre and states, needs a re-look

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Rationalising CSS to preserve federalism

What’s this feature?

Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. This will cover a key issue that suddenly came into news and students may miss it in the daily news. This will also take care of certain key issues students have to cover in respective papers.

CONTEXT

The difference between a CS and a CSS is that for the former, all expenditure is borne by the Union government. For a CSS, part of the expenditure is borne by the Union government. States bear the rest. 

Centrally Sponsored Schemes – 3 trends

  • In CSS, the state’s contribution is contingent on the type of state — North East and Himalayan states versus the others. 
    • The present CSS basket has an expiry date of March 31, 2020, co-terminus with recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission. From April 1, 2020, we will have a new CSS basket. 
    • Revamping a CS is the Union government’s prerogative, while revamping a CSS, without consultation with states, is not.
  • The ToR (terms of reference) for the 15th Finance Commission mentions a re-examination of CSS
  • The Union government is taking a look at CSS. 

Previous committees on CSS

  • The former Planning Commission’s 2001 B K Chaturvedi report on restructuring of CSSs and Niti Aayog’s 2015 Sub-Group of Chief Ministers’ Report on rationalisation of CSSs. 
  • Chaturvedi report
    • It suggested that nine flagship schemes (MGNREGA, IAY, SSA, NRHM, and so on) should remain as CSSs, while another six schemes (JNNURM, RKVY and so on) should become CSSs.
    • When implemented, all schemes were repackaged and retained. It was restructuring in the sense of rearrangement. 
  • Sub-group of chief ministers
    • It talked about implementation and divided schemes into core and optional ones. 
    • Existing CSS should be restructured and their number should be reduced to a maximum of 30 schemes. All these schemes would be ‘Umbrella Schemes’, with every scheme having a large number of components with a uniform funding pattern.
    • Thereafter, there are 28 CSSs, divided into “core of the core” and “core”.

Assessment

  • The 28 umbrella schemes are very large umbrellas.
  • For example, the scheme on “Green Revolution” covers “Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Food Security Mission, Agriculture Marketing, Information, Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation, Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census and Statistics, National Agri-Tech Infrastructure, National Mission on Horticulture, National Mission on Oilseed and Oil Palm, National Project on Agroforestry, National Project on Organic Farming, National Project on Soil Health and Fertility, Organic Value Chain Development for North East Region, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Rain-fed Area Development and Climate Change and Sub-Missions on Agriculture Extension, Agriculture Mechanisation, Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine & Seed and Planting Material.”
  • Clearly, the figure of 28 is misleading. The number of CSSs depends partly on how one defines a CSS. 
  • At the 3rd National Development Council (NDC) meeting in 1954, Shri Hanumanthaiah referred to the difficulties of the states in finding resources to meet their share of expenditure.
  • He also suggested a consultation with the states before directives in this regard were issued.
  • It was also pointed out that a large number of schemes were sponsored by other ministries also e.g. training schemes of the Ministry of Health and certain schemes for the industry of the Home Ministry. 

What was said in the past and what’s the way ahead

  • Given the paucity of resources, there can only be a limited number of CSS and CSS combined, such as the Chaturvedi figure of 15. 
  • There is an optimal level of governance at which public goods are best provided.
  • The Seventh Schedule was a product of historical evolution. There should be no CSSs for items on the State List.
  • A CSS restructuring/rationalisation debate requires a relook at the Seventh Schedule.
  • This should be done with consultation with states at an appropriate forum.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

SMART project in Maharashtra villages

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Food processing & related industries in India- scope & significance, location, upstream & downstream requirements, supply chain management

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SMART Project

Mains level: Facilitating agri-business in India


News

  • The state government launched an ambitious project – State of Maharashtra Agribusiness and Rural Transformation (SMART) – in 10,000 villages with an objective to achieve sustainable farming within the next three years.

SMART

  1. The SMART project is being undertaken will cover almost one-fourth of Maharashtra.
  2. The project SMART will be assisted by the World Bank.
  3. The focus is clearly on villages which are reeling under the worst agriculture crisis compounded by lack of infrastructure and assured value chains to channelize the farm produce.
  4. The objective of the project is to:
  • create and support the value chains in post-harvest segments of agriculture,
  • facilitate agribusiness investment,
  • stimulate SMEs within the value chain,
  • support resilient agriculture production systems,
  • expand access to new and organised markets for producers and
  • enhance private sector participation in the agribusiness.

A farmer friendly project

  1. This project unites agriculture-oriented corporates and farmers by providing them a common platform.
  2. Through this meaningful partnership change will emerge across rural as well as livelihood of farmers across the state.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level: Holistic development of rural India through capacity building with help of various premier institutes


News

The Government has successfully launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0.

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

  1. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a flagship programme of the Ministry of HRD, which aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with a set of at least 5 villages so that these institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base.
  2. It is a significant initiative where all Higher Learning Institutes have been involved for participation in development activities, particularly in rural areas.
  3. It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors.
  4. Currently, 748 Institutions are participating under the scheme.
  5. The objective of the scheme is:
  • To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities;
  • Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people; and
  • To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government Programs.

Back2Basics

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  1. This is an HRD Ministry initiative launched in 2014 with the two-fold aim to provide rural India with professional resource support from institutes of higher education in the field of STEM
  2. And Building institutional capacity in Institutes of higher education in research & training relevant to the needs of rural India
  3. This programme will be launched in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) throughout the country
  4. Each IIT/NIT/IISER will identify 10 villages in its neighbourhood and work out technologies to solve the most pressing issues of the region
  5. Various teams from these institutes will visit the villages, identify problems and then aim to find financially-viable schemes.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Govt. deploys 800 IAS officers for village outreach

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Role of civil services in a democracy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: The newscard highlights the evaluation process of central welfare schemes against the spirit of cooperative federalism


News

To ensure delivery of Central welfare schemes

  1. A battalion of Central Govt IAS officers has been drafted to ensure on the ground implementation as the Centre races to saturate 117 “aspirational districts” with seven flagship social welfare schemes by Independence Day.
  2. PM himself has been monitoring the implementation of these schemes by meeting various beneficiaries and has pointed to this campaign as a model for future of welfare delivery.

Details of the deployment

  1. At least 800 Deputy Secretaries, Under-Secretaries and Director-level officers, drawn from Ministries as diverse as Defence and Urban Affairs, have been assigned about 75 villages to visit, as part of the Extended Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (EGSA) from June 1 to August 15.
  2. In total, 49,178 villages — most with a majority SC/ST population — are being targeted.
  3. Senior officials from the Ministries of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, and the Department of Personnel and Training are jointly coordinating the drive.
  4. Central officials are being absorbed into EGSA duty for at least 15 working days.

What do they do?

  1. In each village, the Central team convenes a meeting of villagers and beneficiaries along with a State government or district official, a lead bank representative and local officials from the agencies responsible for enrolling people into the schemes.
  2. They monitor the scheme, get feedback…If there are any hurdles, they can sort it out on the spot. Ex. central officers could direct the local representatives to give immediate sanction for gas cylinders, bank accounts or electricity connections.
  3. The teams can also directly input the day’s progress into a data system that can be tracked live on the EGSA dashboard “egsa.nic.in”.
  4. Senior Ministry officials also make direct daily calls to a section of District Collectors to monitor progress, while third-party observers for each district —mostly from NGOs or academia — who do random checks of villages and report back to the Ministry.

The success of such drill is limited

  1. The rate of enrolment during the duration of the scheme has been the most impressive in the Saubhagya scheme, and in the Indra Dhanush Missions.
  2. Addressing the NITI Aayog Governing Council earlier this month, PM had said the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan has emerged as a new model for implementation of schemes.

Sidelining Cooperative Federalism

  1. However, the large-scale involvement of Central officers raises questions about the viability of such drives, and about roles in a federal democracy.
  2. Dissent of the state officials due to central interference and sidelined pending workload was the most common concern raised.
  3. This is a deeply problematic way of going about welfare delivery as sought by some states.
  4. Constitutionally, while the Centre has higher powers of taxation, the bulk of the expenditure on welfare is to be done by the States.

Its not the ‘Centre’ who formulates but the ‘State’ who implements

  1. The centralizing trend in flagship welfare schemes allows the ruling party at the Centre to draw political mileage and build vote banks.
  2. Direct connections to the district administration tend to bypass State administrations, while sending out large Central teams to do the work of local officials fails to empower local human resources.
  3. The new approach is not just centralized, but also personalized.
  4. It may create a veneer of efficiency and a high-quality publicity campaign, but it undermines the logic of federalism

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Govt okays Rs 5,000 crore micro-irrigation fund

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Benefits of using micro-irrigation

Mains level: Specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.


News

Fund for micro-irrigation project

  1. The government has approved a dedicated Rs 5,000 crore fund to bring more land area under micro-irrigation as part of its objective to boost agriculture production and farmers income

Particulars of the fund

  1. The fund has been set up under NABARD
  2. It will provide this amount to states on concessional rate of interest to promote micro-irrigation
  3. An allocation of Rs2,000 crore has been made for this fiscal while Rs3,000 crore has been earmarked for the 2019-20 fiscal
  4. NABARD will extend the loan to state governments during this period
    More about the fund
  5. The dedicated fund would supplement the efforts of PMKSY programme and help bring about 10 lakh hectares under micro-irrigation
  6. The fund will facilitate States to mobilise resources for their initiatives, including additional (top up subsidy) in implementation of PMKSY-PDMC to achieve the annual target of about 2 million hectares per year during the remaining period of 14th Finance Commission

Low interest rate

  1. Borrowings from NABARD shall be paid back in seven years including the grace period of two years
  2. The lending rate under MIF has been proposed at 3% lower than the cost of raising the fund by NABARD
  3. This cost would be met from the ongoing scheme of PMKSY-PDMC (per drop more crop component) by amending the existing guidelines

Low coverage: Micro-Irrigation

  1. It currently has a coverage of only 10 million hectares as against the potential of 70 million hectares

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Telangana govt launches Rs 8,000/acre investment support scheme for farmers

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the scheme

Mains level: The Rythu Bandhu scheme is a first-of-its kind scheme in India.


News

First-of-its kind investment support scheme for farmers in Telangana: The Rythu Bandhu scheme

  1. Farmers will get Rs 8,000 per acre every year as crop investment support
  2. About 58 lakh farmers who till over 1.42 crore acres are expected to be benefitted from the initiative

More about the scheme

  1. Farmers will directly get the financial support twice every year to maximise agricultural production and productivity
  2. The financial assistance will be for two crops each year
  3. The state government has already set aside Rs 12,000 crore in the 2018-19 budget exclusively for this scheme

Other efforts done by the state government

  1. As a proof of ownership, Rao also distributed ‘pattadar’ passbook among farmers. Land title documents were prepared after a comprehensive land survey
  2. He pointed out that the survey identified 1.42 crore acres as cultivable land in the state
  3. For seamless implementation of various agriculture-related schemes, land records have been updated and digitised

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[op-ed snap] In a state of energy poverty

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Discoms, “Power for all”, etc.

Mains level: The regional imbalances in electricity access, challenge from Distribution network capacity, etc.


Context

  1. It is uncertain if the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ will mean universal access

Important turnarounds

  1. There is now 100% village electrification in India, an important milestone in the country’s development trajectory
  2. Another important turnaround came last year when India claimed to be a net surplus and exporter of electricity (a scenario projected to continue for at least a decade)

But do these developments mark an end to India’s energy poverty?

  1. 31 million rural households and about five million urban households are still to be connected to the grid( the highest in any single country)
  2. At the same time, a significant portion of connected rural households is yet to get adequate quantity and quality of supply

Future plans of the government

  1. The Central government has set itself an ambitious target of connecting all remaining households by the end of March 2019 and made budgetary allocations to cover the cost of electrification
  2. As part of a Centre-State joint initiative on 24×7 ‘Power for All’, State governments have already committed to ensuring round-the-clock supply to all households from April 2019

Regional imbalances in electricity access: Barriers and fallibility

  1. Seven States (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) account for 90% of un-electrified households
  2. Coincidentally, these States are ranked poorly in social development indices and house about two-thirds of the population living below the poverty line
  3. This concurrence between economic poverty and energy poverty will be a barrier to the goal of universal access

The main issue in these seven states

  1. Electricity distribution companies (discoms) in these seven States are already highly indebted, accounting for 42% of accumulated debts of all discoms as on March 2016
  2. \Their debts account for 17% of accumulated liabilities of the States
  3. Despite continued State subvention (except by Odisha), all these discoms have been consistently running at a loss, accounting for about 47% of the loss in electricity distribution business

Given the context, it is uncertain whether the goal of electrifying all ‘willing households’ by March 2019 would translate into universal access to electricity

Challenge is from Distribution network capacity: Another major challenge

  1. The distribution infrastructure in India is overburdened causing a high level of technical losses and frequent breakdowns
  2. The distribution network capacity in several States is inadequate to carry available electricity
  3. Subsequently, discoms have been resorting to load shedding while their contracted generation capacities are underutilised
  4. Adding new load to the existing fragile distribution network will only compromise the quality and reliability of supply
  5. It could result in continued blackouts for the rural poor during peak hours

Efforts done by the government: Inadequate funding

  1. The available funding support has been short of the growing requirement
  2. Current allocations under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Integrated Power Development Scheme (IPDS), to augment rural and urban distribution networks, respectively, are only a fraction of the requirement
  3. Moreover, disbursement of these grants has been much slower, 17% under DDUGJY and 31% under IPDS, reflecting sluggish implementation

The way forward

  1. Low achievement of earlier electrification schemes has often been blamed on incompatibility and a lack of cooperation between the Centre and States
  2. Given that six of the seven low access States as well as the Centre are run by a single political party (and allies), there seems to be a strong political consensus on the goal of universal access

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[op-ed snap] The problem of lack of rural electricity demand

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various electricity schemes mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: The newscard discusses the issue of discoms’ stressed finances and poor reliability of power supply in rural areas.


Context

  1. The government has announced the electrification of all inhabited census villages
  2. However, nearly one-fifth of India’s rural households (around 31 million) still remain in acute darkness

Government efforts for the same

  1. The government is committed to reaching these households through the Saubhagya scheme by 31 December 2018—a deadline that has been moved up from 31 March 2019
  2. The project’s ambition is praiseworthy

But is it enough?

  1. Electrification schemes like the previous Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), and the ongoing Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) and Saubhagya schemes have focused on establishing village electricity infrastructure
  2. There are issues with these schemes
  3. The largest issue is the lack of focus on supply-side barriers

The main issue:-
Power For All: Electricity Access Challenge In India
A World Bank study

  1. According to the study, “even where electricity service has been locally available, many village households choose not to adopt a connection”
  2. For instance, states like Tripura and Sikkim, despite almost universal access, have among the lowest consumption rates
  3. Examining this gap between electricity access and household-level adoption allows for a better understanding of supply-demand problems
  4. Only six states had, on average, 24-hour power supply in rural areas as of December 2017
  5. This lack of reliability often discourages households from adopting electricity, which disincentivises discoms, thus undermining investment in rural electrification

Challenges faced by Discoms

  1. Discoms face multiple challenges, ranging from revenue losses due to high costs of power procurement to power theft
  2. and irregularity and delay in disbursement of state subsidies assured to domestic and agriculture consumers
  3. The lack of political will across governments to rationalize tariffs and slash these subsidies is a long-running problem
    Government efforts
  4. The current government attempt to address discoms’ financial stress via the Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojana (Uday) is the latest in a long line of government bailouts. It hasn’t been any more successful than previous attempts
  5. The scheme was rolled out in 2015

The way forward

  1. While India has made remarkable progress in bringing electricity to every village, the achievement on this front masks continuing challenges
  2. There’s still a long way to go for lowering barriers to adoption, easing discoms’ financial stress and incentivising rural adoption

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[op-ed snap] Power drive: Getting affordable electricity to every household needs sustained policy support

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The anomalies and the possible solution discussed in the newscard.


Context

  1. When PM recently announced that all inhabited villages now enjoy electrification, it signalled a significant milestone in the country’s development
  2. Yet, statistics conceal severe disparities

Importance of access to electricity

  1. It drives the productivity of households, empowers women and enables education and communication

Some anomalies
(1) The actual number of households in villages that have power connections

  1. The existing definition to declare a village electrified is coverage of a mere 10% of households and common facilities such as schools, panchayats and health centres
  2. Rural household electrification has a wide range across States, from 47% to 100%

(2) The number of hours they get reliable power

  1. The average hours of power supplied in a day to rural areas in January 2018 ranged from 11.5 in Mizoram, 14.91 in Haryana and 17.72 in Uttar Pradesh to 24 hours in Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu

(3) The per capita power that rural and urban Indians consume

  1. The per capita consumption between rural and fast-rising urban India also represents a challenge, since there is a divergence between the two

Consequences of these anomalies

  1. These anomalies are often the result of infrastructure deficits and administrative inefficiency
  2. They also show that(even with supportive Central schemes) the Power for All 24×7 goal adopted by States and Union Territories with a deadline of April 1, 2019 is far from realistic.

Is the renewable sources of energy a ready solution for rural India?

  1. To many, the falling cost of renewable, decentralised sources such as solar photovoltaics represents a ready solution for rural India
  2. Yet, the evidence from States such as Maharashtra damage and lack of technical capacity can pose serious hurdles
    Possible solution
  3. The answer may lie in a hybrid solution that ensures continued scaling up of both grid-connected and standalone solar systems in appropriate areas

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Electricity reached all Indian villages

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DDUGJY, SAUBHAGYA scheme, Rural Electrification Corporation

Mains level: Electrification of all Villages & associated benefits


Universal electrification achieved

  1. According to the government data, all of India’s 597,464 census villages have been electrified.

What is an electrified village?

  1. A village is declared to be electrified if 10% of the households can access power along with public institutions
    such as schools, the panchayat office, health centers, dispensaries and community centers etc.

Electrification before the due date

  1. With the electricity now reaching all villages through the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana
    (DDUGJY), it is being termed as a game changer moment for readying the country towards achieving
    universal electricity access
  2. All Indian villages now have access to electricity
  3. The last village to be brought on the national power grid was Leisang village in the Senapati district of Manipur

DDUGJY

  1. State-run Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) is the nodal agency appointed for executing the scheme
  2. Aimed at providing round the clock power to rural households and adequate power to agricultural
    consumers, leading to complete rural electrification
  3. The scheme will also help improve India’s per capita power consumption of around 1,200 kWh which is
    among the lowest in the world

The Way Forward

  1. Household electrification remains the final frontier in providing electricity access
  2. Given its electoral potential, the next step now is to provide electricity connections to more than 40 million families in rural and urban areas by March 2019 under the Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), wherein all households will be targeted
  3. The scheme funds the cost of last-mile connectivity to willing households and will provide the architecture through which the government seeks to reduce import of fossil fuels, boost underutilized power plants and meet its climate change commitments
  4. By providing universal access to electricity under the scheme, the government plans to leverage the same to promote induction cooking, heating and charging electric vehicles, apart from the initial target of providing lighting

Back2Basics

SAUBHAGYA Scheme

  1. Aim: To achieve universal household electrification in all parts of the country by providing the last mile
    electricity connectivity to all rural and urban household
  2. Under the scheme, the government will provide free electricity to all households identified under Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) data 2011
  3. The Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC) is the nodal agency for operationalization of scheme throughout the country
  4. Electricity connections will be given to APL families for Rs 500, which will be payable in 10 equal monthly installments. The BPL cardholders will get it for free
  5. For covering un-electrified households located in remote and inaccessible areas, solar power packs of 200 to 300 Wp with the battery bank, comprising of 5 LED lights, 1 DC fan, 1 DC power plug including the Repair and Maintenance (R&M) for 5 years

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

More institutions to work for rural development

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0

Mains level: Holistic development of rural India through capacity building with help of various premier institutes


Unnat Bharat 2.0

  1. The second stage of the Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, a scheme of the Centre aimed at making higher education institutions provide solutions for problems of villages is set to take off with a much wider spread than its first stage
  2. While just 143 premier institutions like IITs and NITs took part in the first stage, UBA 2.0 will see open and much wider participation from many higher educational institutions
  3. Both technical and non-technical institutions have been invited to build systems in villages as per their
    strengths

Two-way learning

  1. The idea is to have a coordinated approach where the government and institutions work together to
    facilitate rural development
  2. It is expected to be a two-way learning process, where institutions share their knowledge with villages and also learn from the wisdom and common sense of rural folk
  3. The key points include helping villages achieve 100% school results, creating 25 jobs each in four sectors in each village where work would take place, increasing rural incomes, providing drinking water and sanitation to villages, disposing village garbage, among other things

Back2Basics

Unnat Bharat Abhiyan

  1. This is an HRD Ministry initiative launched in 2014 with the two-fold aim to provide rural India with professional resource support from institutes of higher education in the field of STEM
  2. And Building institutional capacity in Institutes of higher education in research & training relevant to the needs of rural India
  3. This programme will be launched in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Science Education & Research (IISERs) and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) throughout the country
  4. Each IIT/NIT/IISER will identify 10 villages in its neighborhood and work out technologies to solve the most pressing issues of the region
  5. Various teams from these institutes will visit the villages, identify problems and then aim to find financially-viable schemes.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] Restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Mains level: Initaitives for rural development


News:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs gave its approval for restructured Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA).   
  • The Scheme will be implemented during the period from 01.04.2018 to 31.03.2022

Details:

  • This scheme will extend to all States and UTs of the Country and will also include institutions of rural local government in non-Part IX areas, where Panchayats do not exist,
  • The scheme will have both Central Component – National Level activities including “National Plan of Technical Assistance”, “Mission Mode project on e-Panchayat”, “Incentivization of Panchayats” and State component – Capacity Building of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs),
  • The Central Component will be fully funded by the Government of India
  • However, Centre:State funding pattern for State Component will be 60:40 for all States, except North East and Hill States where Centre: State funding pattern will be 90:10
  • For all Union Territories (UTs) (with and without legislatures), the Central share will be 100%.
  • The implementation and monitoring of the activities of the scheme will broadly be aligned for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with main thrust on Panchayats identified under Mission Antyodaya and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.
  • The Scheme will converge capacity building initiatives of other Ministries with particular focus on those Ministries which will be impacted substantially by this Scheme,
  • Sunset date for RGSA will be 31.03.2030.

Impact:

  • The approved scheme of RGSA will help more than 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to develop governance capabilities to deliver on SDGs through inclusive local governance with focus on optimum utilisation of available resources.
  • The scheme is designed keeping in view programmatic convergence with Mission Antyodaya GPs and 115 Aspirational districts as identified by NITI Aayog.

Background:

  • The Finance Minister, in his budget speech for 2016-17, announced the launch of new restructured scheme of Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA), for developing governance capabilities of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • A Committee under the Chairmanship of the Vice Chairman-NITI Aayog was constituted to restructure the existing scheme of this Ministry as Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[op-ed snap] The welfare effects of rural electrification

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Saubhagya Scheme

Mains level: The issues discussed about rural electrification. And how rural electrification can help India in achieving SDGs.


News

Work done by various governments for rural electrification

  1. Rural electrification received attention in the development agenda mostly in the last one-and-a-half decades
  2. In 2005, the Central government launched the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY) which subsumed all other ongoing schemes related to rural electrification
  3. The scheme focused on electrification of villages through implementation of decentralized distributed generation (DDG)
  4. RGGVY was later included in the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) (recently renamed the Saubhagya scheme),
  5. which additionally focuses on feeder separation, improvement of sub-transmission and distribution network, and metering to reduce losses
    Satisfying results
  6. All these schemes have delivered results and now only a few villages are left that have yet to achieve the target of 100% electrification
  7. As per the latest government statistics, only 910 villages are yet to be electrified, which account for 5% of India’s un-electrified villages (as on April 2015), excluding some uninhabited villages

However, the performance of rural household electrification is not that encouraging

  1. Around 35 million households—approximately 11% of the total rural households—are yet to be electrified

The right criteria of measuring real success of rural electrification

  1. The success of rural electrification should not be measured only on the basis of connections provided, but also on the basis of provision of reliable and quality power supply during peak hours
  2. Both of these are still persistent problems faced by a majority of India’s rural households
  3. As per the UNDP recommended “Energy Plus” approach, supply of electricity only for lighting is a necessary but not sufficient condition for rural livelihood development
  4. This framework emphasizes on energy access in combination with productive use of electricity for income generation and livelihood upliftment

High cost of power supply in rural areas

  1. As a majority of the rural households cannot afford high cost supply, utilities are reluctant to supply the required quality and quantity of electricity in these areas
  2. This is apart from the issue of capacity constraint in terms of power generation/purchase
  3. However, implementing some appropriate measures such as smart meters, infrastructure development, franchisee arrangements with local self-help-groups (for more effective billing, monitoring and collection) may improve the situation to some extent

Saubhagya scheme addresses some crucial issues(given above)

  1. It aims to improve environment, public health, education and connectivity with the help of last-mile power connections across India along with providing electricity connections to over 40 million families in rural and urban areas by December
  2. Households out of reach of the national electricity grid are proposed to be provided with solar power packs along with battery banks with the Rural Electrification Corporation as the nodal agency
  3. The Saubhagya scheme will help India meet its global climate change commitments as electricity will substitute kerosene for lighting
  4. It will also help improve education, health, and connectivity apart from having a multiplier effect on increased economic activities and job creation.

Energy poverty affects women and girls more
How?

  1. As they have to bear the primary responsibility for collecting firewood, cooking and other domestic work
  2. These tasks expose them to negative health impacts and increase their domestic and reproductive burdens
  3. Thus, there is also a need to explore the role of rural electrification in promoting gender equality, which, along with women empowerment, is an integral part of inclusive development and sustainable development goals (SDGs).

The way forward

  1. None of the energy access programmes in India have incorporated gender equality in what they hope to achieve
  2. As India is currently focusing on the achievement of SDGs, women-centric energy access programmes will contribute more effectively in achievement of various SDGs

Back2basics

Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana–“Saubhagya”

  1. Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana – ‘Saubhagya’ a new scheme was launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 25th September 2017
  2. Under Saubhagya free electricity connections to all households (both APL and poor families) in rural areas and poor families in urban areas will be provided
  3. There are around 4 Crore un-electrified households in the country and they are targeted for providing electricity connections by December 2018
  4. Rural Electrification Corporation (REC) has been designated as its nodal agency for the Saubhagya scheme

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Govt to build 10 million houses for rural poor by December 2018

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not mcuh

Mains level: Development of Rural Infrastructure is an important part of the Mains Syllabus


News

Government’s Target

  1. The ministry of rural development is aiming to complete the construction of 10 million houses for the rural poor by December 2018
  2. It is earlier than the the March 2019 deadline set by the National Democratic Alliance government

Particulars of the project

  1. More than five million houses are to be completed by March 2018
  2. To complete this target, the rural development ministry has in partnership with state governments taken many steps “including setting month-wise targets for completion of houses
  3. Some 5.6 million people were sanctioned houses under the programme with the government using data from the 2011 Socio-Economic Caste Census and gram sabha (village council) records

Reason behind faster completion of the project

  1. The faster completion of quality houses has been assisted by payment of assistance directly into the beneficiary account through the IT-DBT (information technology-direct benefit transfer) platform

Best performer states

  1. States like Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are among the best performing in terms of construction of new houses
  2. But states like Assam, Bihar and Odisha are among those lagging behind due to problems like floods

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

[pib] PM Launches “Housing for All” in Rural Areas

  1. Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Gramin): To provide an environmentally safe and secure pucca house to every rural household by 2022
  2. In its first phase the target is to complete one crore houses by March 2019
  3. Selection process? Using the Socio Economic Census 2011 data and validating it through the Gram Sabha
  4. PMAY-G is a major step forward in bringing together Skill India, Digital India, Make In India, IT/DBT Aadhaar platform and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). How?
  5. The programme provides for skilling 5 lakh Rural Masons by 2019
  6. Uses ICT and space technology to further confirm correct selection of beneficiaries and progress of work
  7. The entire payments are through IT/DBT mode with Aadhaar linked Bank accounts

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

CAG uncovers roads to nowhere

  1. Context: The performance audit report of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), tabled in Parliament
  2. Irregularities: Ranging from flouting of planning procedures, poor quality control, diversion of funds, extension of undue benefits to contractors
  3. Also, showing road connectivity where there is none, not providing roads to eligible habitations, and pathetic maintenance of roads
  4. Social Audit: The Public Accounts Committee of the 14th Lok Sabha had recommended that social audit (as included in the MGNREGA scheme) be incorporated in the PMGSY but it has not yet been done
  5. Why social audit? Various quality control and monitoring deficiencies

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

11 Maharashtra villages to pool land for integrated township

  1. Context: 11 villages from the Khalapur Nagar panchayat, in Raigad district started an initiative to voluntarily pool 3,500 hectares of land for the development of an integrated township
  2. Similar: similar to the NAINA (Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area) scheme being undertaken by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO)
  3. Andhra Pradesh Model: followed the Andhra Pradesh model, where the farmers have contributed 33,000 hectare to government for the establishment of state capital at Amravati
  4. Special purpose vehicle: Villagers to form SPV for planning and development
  1. Context: 11 villages from the Khalapur Nagar panchayat, in Raigad district started an initiative to voluntarily pool 3,500 hectares of land for the development of an integrated township
  2. Similar: similar to the NAINA (Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area) scheme being undertaken by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO)
  3. Andhra Pradesh Model: followed the Andhra Pradesh model, where the farmers have contributed 33,000 hectare to government for the establishment of state capital at Amravati
  4. Special purpose vehicle: Villagers to form SPV for planning and development

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Vajpayee’s road scheme soon in Naxal-hit areas

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways may lose the responsibility of building roads and bridges in the Maoist-affected States.
  2. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the brainchild of former Premier Vajpayee, which was launched in 2004, implemented by the Rural Development Ministry.
  3. Maoist-related incidents touched a 5-year low in 2015, with 1,006 incidents reported this year as compared to 1,760 in 2011.
  4. The Centre is working on an ambitious plan for seamless connectivity between the 10 Naxal-affected States and is all set to launch the Road Requirement Plan-II.

Road Ministry failed to finish first phase; Rural Development Ministry to take over.

  1. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways may lose the responsibility of building roads and bridges in the Maoist-affected States.
  2. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the brainchild of former Premier Vajpayee, which was launched in 2004, implemented by the Rural Development Ministry.
  3. Maoist-related incidents touched a 5-year low in 2015, with 1,006 incidents reported this year as compared to 1,760 in 2011.
  4. The Centre is working on an ambitious plan for seamless connectivity between the 10 Naxal-affected States and is all set to launch the Road Requirement Plan-II.

Rural Infrastructure Schemes

Major benefits of the Integrated Watershed Dev. Prog

  1. Prevention of soil runoff
  2. Rainwater harvesting and recharge of groundwater table
  3. Regeneration of natural vegetation
  4. In a bid to condense the Centrally-sponsored schemes, GoI integrated DPAP (Drought Prone Areas Prog.) + DDP (Desert Dev. Prog.) + IWDP into one single scheme.
  5. The new scheme would be called IWMP (management being the replaced word).

  1. Prevention of soil runoff
  2. Rainwater harvesting and recharge of groundwater table
  3. Regeneration of natural vegetation
  4. In a bid to condense the Centrally-sponsored schemes, GoI integrated DPAP (Drought Prone Areas Prog.) + DDP (Desert Dev. Prog.) + IWDP into one single scheme.
  5. The new scheme would be called IWMP (management being the replaced word)
  6. UPSC asked straight factual question on IWDP. One could have answered by either reading the Year Book or diligently making notes from The Hindu.

Has 2 departments under it – Dept. of Rural Development and Dept. of Land Resources. National level schemes under them – Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) for rural roads development, Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) rural emploment and for rural housing, Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY) & Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP).

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