Redesign of the model town scheme | HT Editorial – Editorials
A study commissioned by the Union’s rural development ministry on Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY), launched by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi in 2014, has said the scheme has had “no significant impact” and “not achieving the desired purpose.” Prime Minister Modi had urged Members of Parliament (MP) to adopt one or more villages in his constituency and make them “model villages”.
While SAGY is a good idea in principle. But there are political and structural flaws in its design. You fail to appreciate a basic reality. Any member of parliament will have difficulties, if not impossible, in prioritizing one village over another. An Lok Sabha MP represents, on average, more than 1.5 million voters from different castes, religion, gender and age groups, each with their own set of demands. For a deputy, choosing some villages can be politically counterproductive and can upset the delicate social balance in the villages / constituencies. Furthermore, the scheme has no separate budget allocation and MPs are unwilling to allocate funds from the MP local area development scheme for projects in the model villages.
However, with the Covid-19 pandemic destroying lives and livelihoods, and fueling an exodus of workers from cities to villages, a new and redesigned SAGY, with funds, can work. To do this, expand the scope of a village to a group of villages. Follow up with mapping resident skill sets and upgrading / updating skills; invest in farms and related infrastructure such as cold chains and food processing units; and construction of critical infrastructure. This is politically more feasible for elected representatives and can create economic opportunities within villages.