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Trans entrepreneurs to ‘rural secretariat’: How collectors tried to impress PM with ‘good governance’

Prashasan Gaon Ki Ore campaign was undertaken as part of Sushasan Saptah or Good Governance week between 19 & 25 December, as Modi govt aims for international image of inclusivity.

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New Delhi: Sanjeeva, a transgender person living in coastal Karnataka’s Udupi city, around 400 km from the state capital of Bengaluru, took a loan last year to set up a fast food centre, ASARE (shelter). Within months, not only has Sanjeeva managed to become a successful entrepreneur, but has also cleared the loan taken to set up the business. Two more transgenders have found employment here.

Sanjeeva’s achievement was made possible by Udupi collector Kurma Rao’s entrepreneurship scheme for transgenders, Udyogini, under which the district administration provides loans at subsidised interest rates to transgenders for helping them set up their own businesses.

Sanjeeva’s case study and the Udyogini scheme were among projects, presented by district administrations from across states to the Union government’s Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG), as part of a “good governance” initiative undertaken by the Modi government.

“The Prashasan Gaon Ki Ore (administration towards the villages) campaign was undertaken as part of Sushasan Saptah or Good Governance Week (GGW)”, between 19 and 25 December last year, DARPG secretary V. Srinivas told ThePrint.

The initiative comes as India celebrates 75 years of Independence and follows the country assuming the G20 presidency in December, with the Modi government working to build an international image of inclusivity, said sources in the bureaucracy.

In addition to Karnataka’s Udyogini project, details of a smart library with tablets in Arunachal’s remote Changlang district, a project to reduce the percentage of maternal mortality in Assam’s Kokrajhar, the launch of a rural secretariat app in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar and various government schemes launched in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian to generate 5,000 employment opportunities, were among those whose details and achievements were shared with the government during the sushasan saptah.

All these projects were launched last year. While Kokrajhar has seen massive violence during the Bodoland movement, Bastar has for years faced Maoist trouble and Shopian is one of the hotbeds of militancy in Kashmir. ThePrint looks at some of the innovative projects details of which were shared by districts with the DARPG, or those initiated in conflict-hit or remote districts.

“The campaign (Prashasan Gaon Ki Ore) was conducted at tehsil (block) level, with focus on public grievance redressal and improving service delivery. Under this campaign, 53.4 lakh public grievances were redressed, 314.8 lakh service delivery applications disposed of, 700 workshops on district-level innovations held, and 982 best practices documented (during GGW),” Srinivas said.

The DARPG also directed all states to start working on innovative projects or schemes, which are people-friendly and define inclusivity, said a senior IAS officer in the department.

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Empowering the populace

Sources in the DARPG told ThePrint that 741 of 768 districts from across India took part in the Sushasan Saptah initiative.

“Apart from West Bengal, all other states have participated in this programme. We have designed a special digital portal for collectors to upload statistical data, pictures and details of the projects taken up by the district administration,” said the IAS officer mentioned above.

This is where details of the projects, including Udyogini, were shared by the districts concerned. ThePrint has accessed the details.

In the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Karnataka, the Udyogini project was launched last year to battle negative portrayal of the transgender community, according to the reports.

“Discrimination against transgenders should be prohibited. Encourage them (transgenders) to take up self-employment and develop entrepreneurship qualities,” the collector’s note to the DARPG said, explaining the idea behind the scheme.

According to details provided by the district administration to the DARPG, beneficiaries are given a bank loan of Rs 1,50,000, with a subsidy component of Rs 45,000, as well as an incentive of Rs 20,000

“Transgenders form a big community here, and we were trying to look for a sustainable survival plan for them. We held meetings with the community leaders and members. The suggestions for providing financial assistance came from them. We then took the suggestion forward and it was approved by the government,” Udupi district collector Kurma Rao told ThePrint.

Some of the details shared as part of the GGW came from remote or trouble-hit districts.

In Arunachal’s remote Changlang district, located near the international border with Myanmar, the deputy commissioner has set up e-learning centres or smart libraries, equipped with uninterrupted power supply, smart tablets, round-the-clock Wi-Fi and free subscription to the edtech platform BYJU’s, according to details submitted to the DARPG.

From Maoist-affected Bastar, Chhattisgarh, the district administration shared details of a mobile application, Rural Secretariat app, which enables locals to avail any government scheme or become a beneficiary of any government programme. The app also helps fast-track the administration’s complaint reception and redressal mechanism, claimed details received by the DARPG.

In a note, Bastar district collector Chandan Kumar claimed that the administration has already registered 14,056 complaints on the app, of which 11,065 were resolved and 2,291 are being processed.

“The application acts like a public interface for villagers,” said Kumar.

He added: “Audits for the application are now going on. This application is connected to our district’s central database and we have all redressal officers starting from panchayat-level to block, and district-level officers attached here. The villagers can register their complaints about land issues, deeds, scheme-related queries and pensions and all other administrative services.”

Bastar has a large tribal population and Kumar said the administration was “also trying to boost our connection with the tribal population through this. There are awareness campaigns happening, too”.

Meanwhile, in militancy-hit Shopian in J&K, the district administration launched an employment generation programme, DASTAQ-E- Shophian (Development of a Seamless Tool for Achieving Quality Employment in Shophian).

“The initiative led to 1.360 per cent increase in business ventures and four-fold increase in job applications. A total of 1,700 applications were approved till September 30, with 360 per cent of the cases approved last year. The initiative has resulted in the employment of over 5,400 people,” stated the note by Sophian district collector. 

Lauding the efforts made by the districts, Srinivas said that over 200 district collectors have also drawn up the Modi government’s Vision India@2047 documents.

“The Vision India@2047 documents were drawn up by district collectors in 288 districts. The Good Governance Week’ 22 campaign was implemented on a dedicated digital portal, and aimed to bring citizens and government closer using technology. A compendium of achievements of GGW 2022 is being prepared for dissemination,” he added.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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