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“There are so many MPs who are wanting to pursue constituency development programs and no entity supporting them. Thus, It seemed only natural to match supply with demand, connecting youth to leadership with a focus on development in grassroots India.” – Rwitwika Bhattacharya, Founder
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Adarsh Gram (Model Village): a Concept Note
1. The Idea of a model village
68.9% of our population lives in rural areas (Census 2011). Though number is expected to fall in the coming years, it is still estimated that more than half of our population would be rural even in 2050. Despite there being several past initiatives by governments at all levels – Central, State and Local – in the past, the level of improvement has not kept pace with the rising aspirations among Indians. On most development parameters, there is still a significant gap between rural and urban India
The proposed “Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana” of the Central Government aims to involve MPs more directly in the development of model villages. By adopting a village(s) under this initiative, an MP has the opportunity to directly benefit all sections of a village community in an integrated, efficient and participatory fashion.
A model village project has the following important objectives:
– Prevent distress migration from rural to urban areas, which is a common phenomenon in India’s villages due to lack of opportunities and facilities that guarantee a decent standard of living.
– Make the model village a “hub” that could attract resources for the development of other villages in its vicinity.
– Provide easier, faster and cheaper access to urban markets for agricultural produce or other marketable commodities produced in such villages
– Contribute towards social empowerment by engaging all sections of the community in the task of village development.
– Create and sustain a culture of cooperative living for inclusive and rapid development.
3. Key elements of a model village
A 21st century model village in India needs to incorporate certain key themes which would be essential for its success.
The figure below highlights these broad thematic focus areas, and also mentions the important elements under each such
An intervention under one of these areas could have an effect across other areas as well. For example, technology could
be used to improve the quality and delivery of other services such as health and education, which in turn contributes to
sustainable development. Similarly, the use of renewable energy, apart from meeting energy needs, also contributes towards environmental sustainability. Village tree plantation drives could encourage a community participation, benefit the
environment, prevent soil erosion and benefit agriculture, conserve water, and finally contribute to the aesthetics of the
village. A number of these initiatives have already been taken in different parts of the country, but most of them have been attempted in isolation. The urgent need is to bring about a convergence of all such initiatives, for which 2 things would be essential – a) grassroots level planning; and b) mobilization of resources.
For an MP, there are several primary resource streams which can be utilized for this purpose:
– Funds under existing schemes across different sectors such as health, education, skill development, livelihood etc
– MPLAD funds (Rs 5 crore per year) could be utilized for the construction of high quality, sustainable assets such as
school buildings, hospitals, Anganwadi Centres and school kitchens for Mid-Day meals. Funds could also be
channelized into road construction, and the construction of toilets in schools and homes, particularly for girls.
– CSR funds, of which a much larger corpus is available after the latest amendment to the Companies Act, could also
be used for the purpose of infrastructure development in the constituency.
– Self-help groups, who are eligible for subsidized loans under various Central and State government initiatives
– Gram Panchayats could also raise loans, if legally permitted to do so under the State Panchayati Raj Acts like in the
case of Kerala.
5. Choosing a village for adoption
As per the latest Census, there are more than 640,000 villages in India, and more than 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs).
In other words, every Lok Sabha constituency has more than 450 such Panchayats on an average. Among these,
choosing one (or 2-3) GP for the purpose of adoption is also an important decision to be made. According to the latest
guidelines, the MP may choose any Gram Panchayat with a population of 3000-5000 people in plain areas, and 1000-
3000 in hilly, tribal and difficult areas. However, as the PM has observed,
1. Strong Panchayats in terms of finances, functions and functionaries – The village Panchayat will have a
pivotal role to play in any village development project. The financial and functional strength of a Panchayat will be extremely useful in preparing village plans, mobilizing community opinion in favour of a particular initiative, and implementing the initiative in a transparent and time-bound manner.
2. Proximity to an urban centre – Choosing a village close to an urban centre might facilitate access to physical and financial resources, and also help in establishing better connectivity between the village and the urban town. Such a village could also become an extension of the urban centre, and have facilities which could virtually be at par with the urban centre. This would be very similar to the “Rurban” approach announced in the latest Union Budget, which aims to provide city-like facilities in rural areas close to existing cities.
3. Potential for piloting new technologies – Since technology would be at the core of the model village concept, the village must offer avenues for experimenting with such technology. Some examples of such technologies could be the use of solar power for irrigation and domestic lighting, and agricultural innovations based on soil suitability and climate.
4. Diverse population groups – The real success of such an initiative can be demonstrated if the lives of large and diverse sections of the population can be positively impacted by it. Rather than focusing on any particular religious or caste group, the model village must aim towards the uplift of all sections of the population in the village. However, it is important that special attention is paid to vulnerable groups such as young children, women and the BPL population.