Govt schemes: Monitoring key

Former finance minister P Chidambaram while presenting one of the Union Budgets said, “we have no dearth of money but we lack in delivery.” Similar view was expressed by Pranab Mukherjee in his Budget speech. Both the finance ministers echoed what former prime minister Rajeev Gandhi had said: “Hardly 20 per cent of development funds reaches the target groups.”

Had the Union governments in the last 67 years effectively used the development funds, there would not have been so much misery in the country. It’s an irony that hunger, malnutrition, illiteracy and backwardness continue to stalk the streets amid GDP growth. How to monitor the progress of different sectors in a transparent manner is the biggest challenge before us.

Water and soil conservation is the road to agriculture growth. There is no dearth of IT skill, advanced computers and electronic gadgets in the country. The ISRO scientists have developed satellite-based monitoring mechanism to identify even the tiniest water harvesting structure in a village. Monitoring through satellite imagery could have improved the quality of implementation of irrigation projects.

Between 2000 and 2012, the Centre had spent around Rs 3 trillion to develop rural infrastructure. The socio economic caste census on rural areas found only 17.43 per cent of rural households have irrigated land. Indian villages are infested with spurious agriculture inputs, middlemen, relief and subsidy poachers and politico-business-NGO nexus etc. Strict and transparent monitoring of supply chains, input agencies, credit cycle, performance of extension services departments, hospitals, schools and other public service outlets will increase productivity.

Public sector banks share 72 per cent of the total deposits in the banking sector. The majority of the deposit accounts belong to poor and middle class people who cut their expenses towards food, nutrition and entertainment to save money for basic needs: children’s education, health, houses and retired life. The non-performing assets (NPA) rise in banks due to massive money laundering, frauds, aggressive speculation in equity market and willful defaults threaten the depositors’ interest. As on March 2015, the total stressed assets in the Indian banks increased alarmingly to 11.06 per cent of their total advances.

Bankers know the government will recapitalise them to safeguard depositors’ money as deposit erosion could ruin any government. The NDA government, under its seven point action plan “Indradhanush,” has earmarked Rs 70,000 crore for banks capitalisation up to 2019. But pumping capital without identifying people behind NPA growth is like putting the horses before the cart.

Capital flight
The Global Financial Integrity report found that India lost nearly Rs 14 lakh crore in illicit capital flight since independence till 2008. Foreign collaborators of Indian companies run away with hefty royalty leaving behind paltry dividends. Equity investors with huge funds manipulate the stock market and run away with huge profit when the Sensex peaks. Domestic small investors always suffer when the stock market falls suddenly. The revenue loss due to multinationals’ tax evasion is estimated at $100-200 billion per annum globally. In India, the loss due to shifting of corporate profit to low tax destinations has not been estimated. Flight of capital is one of the main reasons for underdevelopment. A dedicated committee of financial experts should monitor the FDI behaviour and capital outflows.

Mining contractors dig out minerals far beyond the area allocated to them. Precious trees like red sanders, sandal woods, tusks, precious stones and hundreds of minor forest products are smuggled out. There is a need for dedicated monitoring of our natural resources.

A leading newspaper reported how black marketers and middlemen collide with private MBBS college managements to black market 30,000-plus MBBS and over 9,600 post graduate seats for Rs 12,000 crore per year. The candidates who enter through back door pay Rs 25 lakh to Rs 3 crore depending upon the reputation of the colleges. The medical colleges have made a mockery of the healthcare system. The products of those colleges have converted this godly profession into money minting business. According to government statistics, an estimated 10 lakh people suffer from organ failure in the country every year. There is no credible monitoring agency to stop the health sector’s decay.

Much of the economic benefits which could be used for removal of poverty are drained out due to spurious religious ideologues who radicalise tender minds for violence. Recently, Britain launched a website “Education against Hate” to protect impressionable minds from radical views. In order to protect the nation’s integrity, investment, people’s lives and livelihood, we have to monitor the activities of those ideologues.

Unfortunately, we don’t have many honest and committed people to fine tune the monitoring mechanism. Unless our schools inculcate discipline, knowledge, morality, physical courage and patriotism in our children, the nation cannot add productive people to its kitty.  The Budget should focus on quality school education.

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