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September 03, 2006
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September 03, 2006

Page: 6/30

Home > 2006 Issues > September 03, 2006

First Person

Set and fulfill targets by people?s participation

Exclusive to Organiser
This column is about state and political stagecraft. Leaders who shape the social environment by their grassroot personal touch discuss their experience.

By Vasundhara Raje

At the end of the day it?s very sad to see that 60 years on, there are still people who are looking for education, there are people whose health problems are not taken care of. Basic facilities like electricity and drinking water are not available.

We knew that we would win the election. So we had our Vision Document ready. We set our priorities. Eradication of poverty, support to the backwards and downtrodden and women empowerment, human resources development and providing infrastructure for social facilities like roti, kapada and makan, creation of employment opportunities for the youth, preservation of natural and cultural heritage, good governance and fiscal management of the state. On the basis of above points we created programmes.

One of the main problems was disconnection between Jaipur and the district headquarters. People must be met to feel that they are part of the running of the state. I am always of the opinion that we are here to serve the people not just to govern them. Keeping that in mind we decided to stress on the public contact programmes. We undertook many programmes in the last two and half years to understand the problems faced by the people. Almost in every two months we organise mass contact programmes to share with the people their problems. Recently we went to the remote tribal areas for four to five days and stayed there in the night also. We spent our time with the people in the dense areas and never returned back to the circuit house or district headquarters in the evening.

But the most important thing we did was the water programme, which is known as Jal Abhiyan, started on December 8, 2005. It became an intense programme in which the Chief Minister downwards all the elected representatives and Chief Secretary downwards all the bureaucrats and even the DG Police downwards all the police personnel, all of them went to the districts, almost two lakh Adhikaris were in the field. I would imagine that in Rajasthan?s history it was the largest public movement. We contacted almost 20 thousand villages out of total 40 thousand villages and talked to the people, and the problems coming to us are about salinity of drinking water, Fluoride in the water, methods of saving water, going to lift-irrigation, sprinkle irrigation, digging of ponds in each farm so that some water can be saved. We ended up the mass contact programme in Ajmer.

We knew Buda Puskar existed in Ajmer but no one could see it. Because over the years Buda Puskar was covered with dirt, mud and wastes. It is one of the major pilgrimages of Rajasthan. We cleaned it, and did a major repair on it. We decided to rejuvenate it with the help of the masses. Everybody from the government was there. No money from the Government of Rajasthan was used, no official help was taken. No government vehicles were used. Everybody put his own money and his own labour. Today proudly, Buda Puskar is completely opened up and cleared. We are proud to say that at the end of the big Jal Abhiyan that we did, an awareness has been created throughout the state, which brought enough people from each district to Puskar to clean up and make Buda Puskar all over again. We are very happy with that programme and we think that this is a Abhiyan which would be taken up on a serious note every year, because this is something which is linked very closely with the lives of the people. So next year also we probably will be doing that.

We have exceeded all the targets. For example we had set target for one lakh water structures and we had fulfilled one lakh twenty five water structures. Seeds were distributed to farmers in a single month which are required for the whole year. Like that we have made contact with so many people and have established a rapport with them. We felt very good about it and this is something we want to do on a large scale time and again.

Now rains have started. During the rains since travelling long distances is difficult we are planning to create better cohesion at the party level. Elected representatives from the districts and the party Adhikaris will come to Jaipur and would discuss about the problems of various areas: what were the expectations? What were the targets? Have those targets been met? If they have not been met, what do we need to meet those targets? And what do the people look forward to in the next six months? This is very important for us and we do it every year.

At the end of the day it?s very sad to see that 60 years on, there are still people who are looking for education, there are people whose health problems are not taken care of. Basic facilities like electricity and drinking water are not available. I don?t know if we could do five to ten times more than what was done under normal circumstances. So keeping that in mind we contacted the people, and they were very happy that somebody is bothered to come down and stay with them, listen to them and has tried to sort out their problems. This is one of the reasons in the tribal areas that inroads have been made by the communists and naxalites. It?s because after 60 years they have nowhere else to go. If they are going to be treated in such a fashion then they are left with no other option. So I believe that at the right time we were in the right place. This thing is happening not only in Madhya Pradesh or in other neighboring states but it is taking root right in our state. It is very important to be sensitive to their problems, and sort out them. Now for example the tribals involved in some petty cases, undergoing punishments for six months even after completing the period are made to go to courts. It is not only six months periods but two years, four years or six years may have passed and they are still visiting the courts frequently. It is because they are ignorant and are not properly briefed. They don?t know that cases should have been sorted out long time ago. For them we sat down and made a complete set of list to solve it out. We have already dismissed seven thousand cases of that nature. Small things were taken care of by the government. We feel it is very important to bring them in regular touch with us. They live in the forest and yet the new rules of the forest are as such that they are unable to leave them. So we said that it is important to make them partners in this, otherwise the forest will not be protected. They will be protected only if the people who live in the forest understand the worth of them. We have certain forest closure schemes which bring the tribals closer to the government. They are told that the lands are not on lease to them but are sold to them. Almost like a license they have got it. They have come into a partnership with the government and look after the blocks, like their own areas, at the same time the minor forest produce are for them. And we have got a very good deal of success in it. In the Saharia areas, for example, we have started the Mahabari scheme, and is doing very well. The Saharias are educated up to a certain level like 8th pass. We have given them a small jobs and told them to educate the whole area, and that is also doing very well.

So slowly we came up with new schemes like keeping the girl child in school, and it is very successful. In fact when I was on a trip, many girls came smilingly carrying the bicycles. We told the people that any girl child who successfully completes the 7th, 8th or 9th class will get a bycycle each and then if she stays on for the next three years and secures 70 per cent marks then she can go back with a scooter. So the girl children are being kept in the school. We have also arranged for hot mid-day meals for all the children up to 5th class. We have involved NGOs and Self Help Groups in this scheme so that we can run it more effectively.

For farmers we are making arrangements for marketing their produce with better remunerative price. We want more public-private partnership with the farmers so that they will have the flexibility and do not totally depend upon the government. The agricultural areas have economy of their own. If you are able to create a market for them there is an economy, if you bring in high value crops there is an economy for the farmers. We have created lots of agricultural export zones. Now after almost 35 years we had mandi elections. This government is clear that governments have to stay back and allow people to guide their own economies. This was probably one of the reasons why Rajasthan became a Bimaru state, because people were not allowed to take their own decision. Time has come when farmers should decide what they want to grow. Let them decide the kind of markets they want; the government will only be their support system. We have allowed people to take their own decision, the state is a facilitator. The economy in the end may get a direction from the government but actually would be worked out by the people. This is the direction that we are taking.

(The writer is the Chief Minister of Rajasthan.)

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