As per Census 2011, 68% of India’s population resides in rural areas. Therefore, the development of rural India must be one of the top-most priorities of any government that comes into power. Modi government has completed four years in power. Therefore, it seems requisite to assess the impact of its schemes in this sector.
When someone talks about Modi government schemes, Ujjwala, Jan Dhan and Swachh Bharat are the most prominent schemes that come instantly in people’s minds. If we have close look at these schemes, they are largely aimed at rural beneficiaries:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana: More than 4.1 crore BPL LPG Connections have been provided. This is mainly aimed at betterment of lives of rural women.
- Swachh Bharat (Gramin): More than 7 crore household toilets have been built. There are more than 3.75 lakh open-defecation free villages now.
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana: 18.65 crore (more than 58%) of new bank accounts have been opened in rural/semi-urban areas.
These flagship schemes have been designed to cater to the rural population. If we want to further look at the impact of rural development schemes specifically, we can easily divide them under four broad categories:
- Housing (PMAY-G)
- Rural Connectivity (PMGSY)
- Employment (MGNREGA, DDUGKY)
- Rural Quality of Life (DAY-NRLM, SAGY, SPMRM, Gram Swaraj)
Providing housing to the rural poor
Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin (PMAY-G) was launched on November 20, 2016 to restructure the erstwhile rural housing scheme, Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY). The scheme was part of the vision for ‘Housing for All’ by 2022 under the present government. A target was set to complete the construction of one crore houses by March 31, 2019.
The most striking thing about PMAY-G is the pace of work at which the construction of houses is being completed. The pace of construction has increased by nearly four times in the last four years. The following illustration shows this trend:
The number of rural houses completed under PMAY-G and IAY in 2017-18, is more than four times the number of houses completed under IAY in 2013-14. This shows us the sheer pace of work under the new scheme.
Against the target of 51 lakh houses for 2017-18, more than 44.54 lakh houses have been constructed (PMAY-G and IAY). This is no small feat considering PMAY-G is a relatively new scheme and it took months to complete the process of beneficiary registration, geo-tagging, account verification etc. after its launch.
The faster completion of houses has come on the back of payment of assistance directly into the beneficiary account through IT-DBT platform. Further, geotagging of the completed houses with photograph and other details is done and made available on the PMAY-G website.
Providing connectivity to rural areas
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is a centrally sponsored programme, launched back in December 2000 by the then-prime minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee, with the objective of providing all-weather road connectivity to unconnected villages.
The present government prioritized this scheme as one of the major schemes for its rural development initiatives. As a result, this scheme has acquired tremendous pace under the tenure of the present government. The following illustration shows this trend:
In 2011-12, the rate of construction under PMGSY was 85 km/day, which dropped to 66 km/day in 2012-13. In fact, the average rate of construction during the period 2011 to 2014 was a mere 73 km/day. Now if we look at 2017-18, the rate of construction reached 134 km/day. This is more than double the construction rate in 2012-13
Even if we just look at the length of roads constructed, there has been an increase every year and no dip in the length completed after 2014. This can be seen in the following graph:
While the length of roads constructed dipped from 2011-12 to 2012-13, there has been no dip in this number since 2014-15. In fact, there was big growth of more than 30% from 2015-16 to 2016-17.
The target date for completion of PMGSY-I has been preponed from 2022 to 2019, to provide connectivity to all eligible habitations by March 2019.
Generating employment and imparting skills to the rural populace
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA):
MGNREGS is a UPA era scheme, but it has gained much impetus under the present government. The current financial year has been marked by the highest-ever budget allocation of Rs 55,000 crore.
As of now, the scheme has 10.9 crore active workers.
The MGNREGS has been subject to criticism by activists and media commentators, especially about delayed payment of wages. Much progress has been made in the last three years on this front. While, the percentage of payments generated within 15 days was at 26.85 in 2014-15, this figure increased to 85.02% in 2017-18.
Deendayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY):
Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) was launched on September 25, 2014 and is focused on imparting skills to the rural youth between the ages of 15 and 35 years from poor families.
Out of a target of 7.88 lakh candidates, more than 5.7 lakh have already been trained. Out of these, more than 3.48 lakh candidates have already been placed. This is the data available as on February 28, 2018.
Improving Rural Quality of Life
There is a plethora of schemes that directly or indirectly affect rural quality of life. Here is a close look at the impact of these schemes:
- Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM):
This scheme targets about 9 crore rural households and involves one female member of each household in women’s SHGs and organisations at the village level and above.
The scheme has been able to promote more than 41 lakh SHGs till date. Number of households mobilized into SHGs is at more than 4.88 crore
- Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY): The scheme was launched on October 11, 2014 as a holistic village development project. As per the scheme’s framework, each Member of Parliament (MP) had to take up the development of physical and institutional infrastructure in three villages by 2019.
The broader objective of SAGY is to improve access to public services and community action for social and economic development of these model villages, which are labelled “Adarsh Grams”.
As of date, 1352 gram panchayats have been adopted under SAGY.
- Shyama Prasad Mukherjee RURBAN Mission (SPMRM): SPMRM was launched with an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crores on 16th September, 2015 to improve 300 clusters in rural areas economically, socially and physically on a five-year period. Out of these, 263 clusters have been approved.
- Gram Swaraj Abhiyan:
The scheme was taken up on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti from 14th April to 5th May, 2018 for reaching out to poor households, spreading awareness about government welfare schemes. The 21-day Abhiyan was able to address problems of people in 16,850 villages.
Housing and road connectivity have been one of the key infrastructural constraints for rural India. PMAY-Gramin was preceded by Indira Awas Yojana and PMGSY is a Vajpayee-era scheme, but the sheer pace of completion of projects under the Modi government has been unprecedented for these two schemes. Despite all the criticism around payment of wages, the percentage of wages paid timely under MGNREGS has gone significantly high. A lot of other rural development initiatives are working in tandem to develop these areas.