|Posted by BHARTI on September 18, 2013 at 6:25 AM|
Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation
(A partnership between Government, Corporate India,Academics and Civil society)
Industry's displeasure with the new land acquisition process isn’t stopping the rural development ministry from reaching out to them for help to counter Naxal influence. Cabinet gave its approval toset up the Bharat Rural Livelihood Foundation-- a partnership betweengovernment, corporate India, academics and civil society.
This is the first major initiative of the government to seriously engage withcorporate India on Naxals. The foundation will work to reduce the gap betweenoutlays and outcomes, ensuring better implementation of government programmes,reduction in leakages from schemes and creating strong institutions ofgovernance at the grassroots. Despitethe strained economic situation, the Cabinet approved a government contributionof Rs 500 crore for the Foundation's corpus. In the first instance, Rs 200crore will be given and the remaining Rs 300 crore after two years. Among thecorporate bigwigs, the Tatas are understood to have signed on.
TheFoundation will focus, at least to begin with, on blocks with tribal populationacross 170 districts in the Central Indian tribal belt-- Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra.
"The Foundation is an essential pillar of our development strategy in Maoist--affected areas, as it is based on the premise that an effective flow of flagship government schemes is the key to rapidly upscaling the most effectiveand proven interventions of civil society organizations to tackle thedevelopment deficit in the region," rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said. For the companies, the government hopes the projects undertaken by the Foundation will give greater depth to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.Convergence with resources from government schemes will provide privateinvestments with greater leverage and richer partnerships with credible civil societyorganizations. Maoistor naxalite violence has become an endemic problem across the country, killingmore people each year than separatist terror. While large tracts of the hinterland remains under the control of naxals, severalcorporate groups have managed to do business in these places, some of them withthe help of goodwill earned by their CSR efforts and sometimes by payingprotection money.
The government is hoping that initiatives such as the Bharat Livelihood Foundation will help reach out to the country's Adivasi or tribal population, which has been mostly excluded from the benefits of growth and, asa result, are vulnerable to Maoist propaganda. "Among those who have most acutely felt the sense of exclusion and alienation are theAdivasis, who perform poorly on every indicator of well-being, whether it bepoverty, health or education," said Ramesh. "What is worse, given the specific demography of Adivasi India, the pockets ofAdivasis concentration have witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in Maoistmilitancy in recent years. This is especially true of what may be described asthe Central Indian Adivasi belt."
Officials say the experience of the past two decades shows that some of the best innovation in improving livelihoods in thetribal areas has come from the civil society and the foundation is an effort tosupport these grassroots initiatives to empower tribals. The foundation is expected to help local people have sustainable livelihoods, haveenhanced access to and control over resources, and provide new opportunitiesfor the youth. The government is also hoping that this initiative will helpbridge development and governance deficits in these areas and boost theefficacy of its various welfare schemes.
"The challenge is to transform systems of administration and levels of awareness at the grassroots to ensure that these well meaning pieces of legislation (Rightto information, Mahatma Gandhi NationalRural Employment Guarantee Act, and the proposed Food Security Act and MineralsAct) have the requisite impact on the ground," said Ramesh. The Bharat Livelihood Foundation's efforts will be geared to reducing the gap between outlays and outcomes, ensuring better implementation of government programmes, reduction in leakages from schemes and creating strong institutionsof governance at the grassroots.
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