Saturday, February 22, 2014

My Experiment For Good Governance: Jai-Jawan Jai-Kisan.

India enjoyed good GDP growth rate, but the boom has bypassed many rural areas. Farmers' distress and suicides have made newspaper headlines. Various attempts to provide relief (MNREGA, PDS etc) have madelittle impact. So, many economists think that the loan waiver is a worthwhile alternative to provide relief.
The aim is worthy. But IRDP loans to the rural poor in the 1980s demonstrated that crooked officials demanded bribes amounting to around one-third the intended benefits.The UP government issued a government order (GO) to waive farmers' loan on December 12, 2012. The scheme is named as ‘Debt waiver scheme’ for farmers with flowing criteria to realise its benefits:
1.    Farmer has mortgaged his productive agricultural land to raise the farm loan.
2.    Upper limit of loan is fifty thousand.
3.    Minimum repayment by farmer must be 10% of the loan amount.
        The UP Sahkari Gram Vikas Bank Private Limited waived loans worth 1650 crores of approximately 7,10,000 farmers in the above mentioned scheme. Clause five of the GO says that all benefited farmers will get a certificate as proof to this effect. The certificates would be provided by the bank head office at Lucknow.
This scheme sounds many merits. But poor implementation is a big hurdle to send the real and intended benefits to the targeted farmers. As per provisions, no certificate of loan waiving was given to the farmers for long-more than a year. Illiterate, Poor and less aware farmers don’t have any proof. Hence, chances of their blackmailing by vicious circles are bright.
The share of district Firozabad is 12026 farmers amounting 34,55,89,246 rupees. Most of the small farmers who took loan are not in a position to repay. Hence, they have to sell their mortgaged productive land to clear their debts.  This situation would make them landless.

This small help to farmers in the form of loan waiving minimized the corruption. Most of the farmers are not able to approach directly to bankers and deal without any middleman.  So, they take loans via some middleman who operates between them and bankers.
They are known by different names. They are famous as authorized dealers of bank, facilitators, deed writers, touts (Dalal). They do have the patronage of branch officials as they act as link between banks & loanees.
In the name of managing, processing and sanctioning loan, they charge fee in the name of documentation and to oblige officials. This fee varies depending upon the loan amount. In a very rough estimation, on an average Rs 2500/per loanee in code name of fee, amounts approximately Rs 3.0 crores (bribe included) was saved by the certificate distribution in a single shot.

          District President of ruling party called for details of loan distribution on February 1, 2014. I collected the detail and I found that loan waiving certificate was not given to debtor whose loan was waived off about one year back. Hence, they don’t have any proof or document to prove their case of loan waive off. Hence, they are prey (soft target) to the so called Link between them and banks.
          On my request, assistant registrar (co-operative) contact head office of bank at Lucknow. He got information that printed certificates were ready for distribution. We collected the printed certificates within two days from General Manager Alok Dixit of the bank posted at HQ Lucknow and in charge of this scheme at state level. Bank officials informed that no certificate was given in any district.
 I decided to take lead in my District Firozabad (UP).  We planned a distribution ceremony to give all 12026 certificates in one day at one place. To achieve this aim, we started preparation.
The six branches distributed loans to 12026 loanees. District has  9 blocks. I appointed Block Development Officers (BDO’s) as nodal for this. One district level official from Agricultural department was attached with each block to assist BDOs. All six Branch managers were directed to prepare certificates and handover them to BDOs. At the level of each block ,a team under BDOs was entrusted with the task of successful distribution.
Distribution plan was architected. For each farmer, two slips were prepared. One was sent to farmer as invitation and other onw was pasted on chair at distribution site in allocated block space. A team of village secretary, Sereatary Sadhan Sahkari Samiti, Kisan Sahayak under village Pradhan was formed to follow and execute the direction of BDO. BDO acted as link between me and village team headed by Pradhan.
         The village team under pradhan was directed to work under full control of BDO’s and in coordination with branch managers. Team was entrusted with responsibilities of invitation, bringing and sending back farmers safely and respectfully from their village to distribution site Ram Lila ground, Shikohabad.                   
Distribution site was divided into nine blocks with display cards. Each block has seating arrangements for each loanee with peculiar slip number. They came and went to their block and sat on their chair matching with their invitation slip number.  To assist them block level workers were employed to facilitate them.
After lectures of guests and chief guests, certificates were distributed in one shot. A public representative MLA, MP and party officials along with Block Pramukh distributed certificates simultaneously in each block as planned, while Chief guest distributed to 45 farmers on stage. Farmers got proof in their hand about their loan waive off in the form of this certificate.

This is now a model. The general manger Mr Alok Dixit who came and represented the head office told other district officials are contacting him to know its details to organize this program in their districts. Many district officials contacted me to know whole process. Kannauj, Sambhal, Manpuri, Allahabad and Badaun are in the process to replicate this model.
          This is social as well as political product. It helped the last man of the society/line- poor and unaware farmers. The best part is that all are farmers.
          Seeing a gathering of 12026 farmers from 506 villages along with their Pradhan gave me an immense pleasure and I felt elated.
Serving such a big crowd of farmers was a lifetime event and  a great achievement for me. Well organized and properly managed distribution ceremony was praised by all stakeholders.
Public representatives, media persons, farmers and officials, all were quite happy with the methodology and management of the program. We created huge happiness and a win-win situation for all involved and stakeholders.
Farmers were the focus of all activities. All actions conducted around farmers. This program liberated them form clutches of touts. Certificate is proof with them to avoid future blackmail. They got a chance to be part of debt waive fair. They saved their fee to acquire this certificate. Hence, it helped in reducing the corruption.
Therefore, it is a part of experimenting good governance.Whatever could not be done in a year, happened in a day. Jai-Jawan Jai-Kisan.

Heera Lal (Views are personal and based on different sources)