Monday, October 17, 2016


This blog is now recommended in courses of coveted educational institutions,Think Tanks & Academic Research Papers across the globe.Keep supporting and keep sharing the knowledge.Links provided below:

A) UNIVERSITIES which have referred to this blog:


2) EGYPT UNIVERSITY reference:

3) Dr. T.K. TOPE NIGHT COLLEGE Reference:




B) THINK TANKS which have referred to this blog:














Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The article examines the challenges and issues related to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme in urban settings with specific reference to urban poor and slum population in India. For example, Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) in slums or in urban areas are confronted with multiple issues ranging from infrastructural constraints (buildings, space, water and sanitation facilities); inadequate rental provision to run the AWC properly; unmapped and unrecognised slums and squatters; left out and drop out; increasing migrant and mobile population; difficulty in identifying and reaching out to migrant and working population; lack of convergence with health and allied departments and local bodies, and inadequate access and poor quality of services ;lack of knowledge and capacity among service providers; absence of an effective primary health care system in urban areas; lack of awareness and community participation, issues of gender and self-identity, etc. Further, the article attempts to explore opportunities and next steps to be taken as suggestive recommendations for ICDS programme that may strengthen the actual implementation of ICDS programme in urban areas.

INDIA CONTINUES to have the highest rate of malnutrition and the largest number of undernourished children in the world. This is true, in spite of various policies at national and state levels, and the constant efforts of several international and national voluntary organisations, including that of bilateral and donor agencies (Kumar, 2009). Almost 43 per cent of children under five years of age in India are underweight and 48 per cent are reported as stunted (National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3). The urban poor population (including the slums in urban areas) has a high prevalence of under-nutrition as almost 47 per cent of urban poor children are reported to be underweight and 54 per cent as stunted with almost 60 per cent of urban poor children miss total immunisation before completing one year (NFHS-3). Further, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of India, is still considered as high as 40 per 1,000 live births (Sample Registration System (SRS), 2013) while the Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) is as high as 52 per 1,000 live births (SRS, 2012).

India is home to 121 crore people, out of which 37.71 crore people, who constitute 31.16 per cent of total population reside in urban areas. This is for the first time since Independence, that the absolute increase in population is more in urban areas than in rural areas. Urban growth has led to rapid increase in number of urban poor population, many of whom live in slums and other squatter settlements. India is home to the world’s largest child (0-6 years) population of 158.8 million of which 41.2 million reside in urban areas (Census 2011). The child population in urban areas increased by almost 3.9 million (10.32%) as compared to 2001 Census. The Planning Commission, poverty estimate for 2011-12 (based on the Tendulkar method) designates 13.7 per cent (52.8 million) urban population as ‘poor’, i.e. living below the official poverty line (Planning Commission, 2013).

The main purpose of this policy research article is to examine the challenges and issues related to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Programme in urban settings with specific reference to urban poor and slum population in view of growing urbanisation trend in India. Further, this article also attempts to review the effectiveness of ICDS in addressing the challenges around prevalence of child malnutrition. At the same time, the article attempts to explore opportunities and next steps as suggestive recommendation or a way forward that may strengthen the actual implementation of ICDS programme in urban areas with specific reference to slum and urban poor population.

The nutritional status of children has become an important indicator of the development status of the country. Today, ensuring good nutrition is a matter of international law. This is being fully expressed in the Convention on Rights of Child (1989) which specifies that States must take appropriate measures to reduce infant and child mortality and to combat malnutrition through the provision of nutritious foods. The Constitution of India, in Article 47 shares similar concern as it says that “the state shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and in particular, the state shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.” In Article 39 (f) of Constitution there is an emphatic emphasis on children when it says that “children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment”. The commitment of India to the cause of nutrition can be seen from its ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Child and Signing the World Declaration on Nutrition, at the International Conference on Nutrition held in December 1992 at Rome. Many judicial pronouncements in this regard are noteworthy. The Supreme Court's order dated November 28, 2003 in this regard is a glaring example. The court, through that order, had appointed a Commissioner to review government social security schemes.

Historical Perspective: An Overview of ICDS Scheme in India India’s concern to address the needs of children is evident from the First Five-Year Plan itself when the Planning Commission of India adopted a planned approach by introducing child welfare programmes in the country. Since then, various child welfare programmes were introduced related to education, health, nutrition, welfare and recreation in subsequent FiveYear Plans. Special programmes to meet the needs of children with special needs, destitute and other groups of children were also undertaken. Some of these programmes were related to the growth and development of children, especially children belonging to the pre-school age group of below six years. However, such child care programmes with their inadequate coverage and very limited inputs could not make much dent in the problems of children. As comprehensive and integrated early childhood services were regarded as investment in the future economic and social progress of the country, it was felt that a model plan which would ensure the delivery of maximum benefit to the children in a lasting manner should be evolved. Accordingly, a scheme for integrated child care services named as ICDS was initiated for implementation in all states (Lok Sabha Secretariat report, 2011).

Launched on October 2, 1975, ICDS scheme continues to be one of the largest and unique schemes in the world underpinning holistic development of under-six years of children in the country. Being implemented nationwide under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD), the scheme is a powerful driving force designed to break the vicious cycle of child malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality. The scheme adopts multi-sectoral approach by integrating health; nutrition; water and sanitation; hygiene; and education into one package of services that primarily targets children below six years; women including expectant and nursing mothers; and adolescent girls. The other key element of this scheme is that all the services under ICDS are provided through Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) established at the community level.

While the scheme was launched nationwide, only 42 per cent out of 14 lakh habitations were covered under the scheme by the Ninth FiveYear Plan in the country. With a view to universalising the scheme, the Supreme Court of India in its order of April 29, 2004, and reiterated in its order dated December 13, 2006, has inter-alia, directed the Government of India to sanction and operationalise a minimum of 14 lakh AWCs in a phased and even manner. To comply with the directions of the Supreme Court and to fulfil the commitment of the Government of India (GoI) to universalise the ICDS Scheme, it has been expanded in three phases in the years 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09, so as to cover all habitations, including Scheduled Caste (SC) / Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Minority, across the country (Lok Sabha Secretariat report, 2011).

In pursuance to the order of Supreme Court, rapid universalisation of ICDS has been made across the country. Today, there is near universalisation of ICDS scheme in India, to the extent that the ICDS scheme covers nearly 7067 ICDS projects (99.89%) out of approved 7075 and almost 13.60 lakhs AWCs (97.14%) out of 14 lakh across states of India (MWCD, 2014, Consolidated Report).

While it was essential to universalise ICDS, the rapid expansion resulted into some programmatic, institutional and management gaps that needed redressal. These gaps and shortcomings have been the subject matter of intense discussions at various forums including the mid-term review of the 11th Five-Year Plan. It was felt that the programme needs restructuring and strengthening which was duly endorsed by the Prime Minister's National Council on India's Nutrition Challenges which decided to strengthen and restructure ICDS. Consequently, an InterMinisterial Group (IMG) led by the Member, Planning Commission (In-Charge of WCD), was constituted to suggest restructuring and strengthening of ICDS.

The Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) after holding consultations with different stakeholders submitted the report on restructuring ICDS in 2011 (Hameed, 2011). Accordingly, the proposal to strengthen and restructure the ICDS scheme through a series of programmatic, management and institutional reforms, changes in norms, including putting ICDS in a Mission Mode was considered and approved by Gol for continued implementation of ICDS Scheme in the 12th Five-Year Plan (MWCD, 2012,). In order to achieve the above objectives, ICDS has repackaged its services (relating to health; nutrition; water and sanitation; hygiene; and education) in an integrated manner with an aim to bring in larger impact on the beneficiaries. The new package of services has six major components; ten services and 52 core interventions (MWCD, ICDS Mission, 2012).

Context and Challenges The Global Context The global population reached seven billion in 2011 and will continue to grow, albeit at a decelerating rate, to reach a projected nine billion in 2050 (United Nations (UN), Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2011). “...For many countries, the current rate of expansion of urban agglomerations has brought about severe challenges for provision of basic services such as adequate housing, water and sanitation systems as well as provision of health clinics and schools. There are many factors specific to life in urban environments which impact household food and nutrition security” [Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), UN, 2010]

The United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) statement of 2012, which builds on the 2006 statement (The double burden of malnutrition: a challenge for cities worldwide) clearly reflects its view on nutrition security of urban population when it states that “Now more than half of the global population lives in cities which are therefore hosting more poor... growing urban populations increase vulnerability and the risk of humanitarian crises. All countries, high as well as low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), are experiencing the double burden of malnutrition which is rooted in poverty and inequality. Vulnerable households require social protection, adult education including nutrition education and legal protection to realise and protect optimal nutrition. A wide variety of local innovative initiatives is taking place, both in LMIC as in wealthy nations. But cities need to be empowered to do more, better and now. The UNSCN through this statement of 2012 calls for increased attention, awareness and research on urban nutrition as well as for an effective engagement and Inter-sectoral and Multi-stakeholder collaboration leading to an efficient use of urban resources. Rural-urban linkages need to be enhanced. Successful urban nutrition initiatives need to be better documented and more widely shared” (UNSCN Statement, 2012).

The National Context As per the Census Report of 2011, India is home to 121 crore people, out of which, 37.71 crore people, which constitute 31.16 per cent of total population residing in urban areas. This is for the first time since independence, that the absolute increase in population is more in urban areas than in rural areas. The level of urbanisation has increased from 25.7 per cent in 1991 to 27.81 per cent in 2001 and 31.16 per cent in 2011. In fact, the proportion of rural population, declined from 72.19 per cent in 2001 to 68.84 in 2011 (Census of India, 2011). Within 25 years, another 30-40 crore people are expected to be added to Indian towns and cities (Planning Commission, 2010). The UN estimates that by 2030 about 583 million Indians will live in cities (United Nations, 2014).

Urban growth has led to rapid increase in number of urban poor population, many of whom live in slums and other squatter settlements. As per Census 2011, approx. 6.5 crore people live in slums as compared to 2001 census when 5.24 crore people lived in slums. Out of 4,041 Statutory’ Towns in Census 2011, 2543 Towns (63%) were reported as Slums. The total Slum Enumeration Blocks (SEBs) in Census 2011 is about 1.08 lakh in the country and the largest number of SEBs are reported from the State of Maharashtra (21,359). Out of 789 lakh urban households, almost 137.49 lakh (17.4 % households) live in slums in India. Interestingly, out of these 52 lakh slums household (38.1%) reported to live in Millions Plus Cities, which are 46 in number, across India. The increase in urban poor population including people living in slums is putting greater strain on the urban infrastructure.

Unlike in rural areas, urban poor economy is cash-based making an impoverished urban poor family more vulnerable to food insecurity. Poor environmental conditions in urban slums result in frequent episodes of morbidity, particularly diarrhoea, putting families especially children in a vicious cycle of malnutrition. As many of the urban poor live in temporary settlements and slums not included in the official government lists they are often excluded from basic amenities/government services and they constantly struggle for housing, livelihood and health care. Further, due to long delays in updating official slum lists many often remain unlisted/unrecognised for years. Being unrecognised they are not even entitled to basic health and nutrition services (Agarwal, Taneja, 2005). Improving health outcomes for urban populations is a challenge, particularly for residents of slum areas. In addition to the general level of poverty, unique factors contribute to poor health in urban slums and make the provision of health services in those areas more difficult. These include lack of regular employment, lack of tenure and the threat of eviction, migration, poor access to water and sanitation, extreme crowding, and a host of social issues including discrimination (Kamla Gupta, Fred Arnold, and H. Lhungdim. 2009).

An overview of State-wise ICDS Projects/Anganwadi Centres in Rural and Urban Areas of India:
Though, originally designed to reach rural communities, ICDS now has a substantial presence in urban areas, particularly in poor slum settlements. AWCs are increasingly playing a crucial role in providing health and nutrition services to children and women in the urban landscape. Today, there is near universalisation of ICDS in India, to the extent that the ICDS scheme covers nearly 7067 ICDS projects (99.89%) out of approved 7075 and almost 13.60 lakh AWCs (97.14%) out of 14 lakh across states of India

However, of these, there are just 755 ICDS projects and 11, 7411 AWCs sanctioned for urban areas across the country. The national average of urban ICDS projects in India is just about 11 per cent, whereas the urban population in India has reached up to 31 per cent. In fact, more or less similar is the situation of states except NCT of Delhi, where percentage of urban population is almost 97.50.

Emerging Issues and Gaps (Problem of Health and Undernutrition in Urban Areas) India is home to the world’s largest child (0-6 years) population of 158.8 million (Census 2011), of which 41.2 million reside in urban areas. The child population in urban areas increased by almost 3.9 million (10.32%) while the corresponding rural child population decreased by five million (7.04%) as compared to 2001 Census. Demographic trends indicate that urban areas will see exponential population increase over time. The Child Sex Ratio (0-6) in the country in Census 2011 has declined by 13 points from 927 in 2001. In Rural areas the fall is significant as it has declined by 15 points from 934 in 2001 to 919 in 2011 and in Urban areas the decline is limited to four points from 906 in 2001 to 902 in 2011.

The urban poor suffer from poor health and nutrition status (NUHM, MoHFW, 2013). Almost 43 per cent of children under five years of age in India are underweight and 48 per cent are reported as stunted (NFHS- 3). The urban poor population (including the slums in urban areas) has a high prevalence of under nutrition as almost 47 per cent of urban poor children are reported to be underweight and 54 per cent as stunted with almost 60 per cent of urban poor children miss total immunisation before completing one year (NUHM, MoHFW, 2013; NFHS-3, 2005-06). Further, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of India, is still considered as high as 40 per 1,000 live births (Sample Registration System (SRS), 2013) while the Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) is as high as 52 per 1,000 live births (SRS, 2012).

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) Report, released in October, 2014, has reported that underweight children in India fell by almost 13 percentage points between 2005-06 and 2013-14, this means underweight in children in India stands as 30.7 per cent. India now ranks 55th out of 76 countries, before Bangladesh and Pakistan, but still trails behind neighbouring Nepal (rank 44) and Sri Lanka (rank 39). While no longer in the “alarming” category, India’s hunger status is still classified as “serious”, (GHI, 2014). Even if we go by this figure, this 30.7 per cent is still very high and much has to be done to contain malnutrition in India, without losing our focus from policy perspective. In fact, before arriving at any conclusion based on GHI report on reduction in malnutrition for India, one should also wait for National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) data to come out by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Government of India for clearer policy direction.

The perusal of above data that relate to urban poor for slums and nonslums from cities, namely, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, and Pune reflects that on an average only 32 per cent of children weights were measured across slums in these cities. Further, more than 60 per cent mothers of these children who were weighed in these slums reported that they have not been counselled. In fact, the issues of mother receiving supplementary nutrition from AWCs is very low, on an average it is just 27 per cent across three cities except Bhubaneswar, where this percentage is 37. The data further reveals that only 42 per cent of children aged 12-23 months were fully immunised across slums in these cities. However, the data shows that on an average about 69 per cent of children were breastfed within an hour of birth of child except Jaipur where this percentage is just 37. Also, on an average more than 85 per cent of children were exclusively breastfed across these cities except Jaipur where the per cent is just 60. Further, almost 62 per cent of married women in these slums reported to have had consumed IFA for 90 days or more, except in Jaipur where this percentage is just 42. On the issue of community interaction with ICDS and Health field functionaries, on an average, about 41 per cent of married women across slums in these cities reported that they had interacted with AWW and ANM at AWCs,

The households in slum areas lack toilet facilities and use open spaces for defecation. For example, almost, 23 per cent of households in Bhubaneswar, 13 per cent in Jaipur and six per cent in Pune do not have toilet facilities and use open spaces for defecation. In fact, on an average only about three per cent of households in these slums across cities reported to have access to water in their own dwelling. However, in Bhubaneswar about 23 per cent, Jaipur, four per cent and Pune, 25 per cent of households in slums reported of getting drinking water from their own yards/plots. In fact, more than two thirds of the households source of drinking water is located elsewhere. Majority of slum households reported to storing of drinking water. (HUP, Baseline Report, 2011, IIPS, Mumbai).

The constraints of space, proper infrastructure, sanitation, town planning without giving adequate provision for childcare plague the functioning of urban ICDS. “The ICDS runs very poorly in urban slums areas, the urban Anganwadis are in terrible conditions... Whether winter or summer, they make the kids sit on a paper-thin durrie and even if they soil themselves they are made to sit like that for hours. All they get is a meal but no personal touch. Most women here who go out for work leave their children with private care providers... In urban slums, the problem of appallingly low rent allocations for hiring of spaces and non-availability of government buildings needs to be addressed urgently to fill the gap in universalising services for slum populations” (Saxena, 2012). Action Aid, a study done in 2010 on the homeless in Chennai and discovered that 66 per cent of children under five years were not availing of ICDS facilities. Many were opting for creches services of private players. The worst affected are those in the unorganised sectors-constructions workers, domestic helps, vendors and so on. They take their children along with them and make them work by pulling them away from schools (Saxena, 2012).

Despite the supposed proximity of the urban poor to urban health facilities their access to them is severely restricted. This is on account of their being “crowded out” because of the inadequacy of the urban public health delivery system. Ineffective outreach and weak referral system also limits the access of urban poor to health care services. Social exclusion and lack of information and assistance at the secondary and tertiary hospitals makes them unfamiliar to the modern environment of hospitals, thus restricting their access. The lack of economic resources inhibits/ restricts their access to the available private facilities. Further, the lack of standards and norms for the urban health delivery system when contrasted with the rural network makes the urban poor more vulnerable and worse off than their rural counterparts (NUHM, MoHFW, 2013)

Poor environmental condition in the slums along with high population density makes them vulnerable to lung diseases like asthma, tuberculosis (TB) etc. Slums also have a high-incidence of vector-borne diseases (VBDs) and cases of malaria among the urban poor are twice as high as other urbanites ((NUHM, MoHFW, 2013). The multiplicity of providers, agencies, and programmes addressing similar developmental issues, often without synergy, is a complexity unique to urban areas, rendering some populations “over reached” and perhaps the most vulnerable populations, “under reached” (Urban Health Initiatives, India, 2012).

Overall urban health and well-being metrics is weak in terms of its ability to highlight inequities within urban areas. Practice of using simple tools to understand deprivations and of spatially mapping inequities and vulnerable pockets is yet to be adequately developed. Despite physical proximity of service delivery points, cities are the locus of inequitable access and reach of healthcare services. There is poor social cohesion and collective self-efficacy to seek essential services among the urban underserved. Coordinated efforts of multiple stakeholders in responding to urban inequities have been limited. While there is growing recognition of the magnitude, growth and significance of urban poverty in India, the response of governments, donors and other agencies in addressing urban health inequities has been lukewarm (Agarwal, Sethi, UHRC, 2012).

An order of Supreme Court dated October 7, 2004, with regards to urban slum and urban ICDS, stated that “Efforts must be made to ensure that all Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs & STs) habitation in the country shall, as early as possible, have operational AWCs. Similar efforts shall also be made to ascertain that all urban slums have AWCs. Further, the order says: “All States and Union Territories shall make earnest efforts to ensure that slums are covered by the ICDS Programme” (Mander, 2012).

Mindful of all these growing problems and complex challenges in urban settings with specific reference to functioning of ICDS programme in urban areas, the MWCD, Gol, in July, 2012, organised a two-day workshop on ‘Strengthening Maternal and Child Care, Nutrition and Health Services in Urban Settings’ attended by senior representatives of the allied department of Gol, several state governments including that of the representatives of Municipal Corporations, NGOs, etc. Probably, these challenges were discussed for the first time at such a national forum comprising of galaxy of participants and experts from different corners of the country. The MWCD during deliberations recognised and acknowledged that urban ICDS is faced with a multitude of constraints and further noted that “in view of multidimensional challenges of providing maternal and child care nutrition and health services in urban settings, there is pressing need for identifying the key issues and to arrive at workable solutions along with short and long term strategies for ICDS programme in urban areas” (Workshop Report, MWCD, NIPCCD, 2012).

However, the recent policy decisions by Central Government with regards to drastic reduction in budget on ICDS and what impact it would have on ongoing ICDS restructuring and strengthening process initiated and mandated under 12th Five-Year Plan period requires some discussion. The budgetary allocation for ICDS scheme this financial year (FY) 15-16, by Gol is reduced to almost 50 per cent as compared to last two financial year period. This financial year, the allocation is just Rs. 8335.7 crore as Gol share, whereas, the budgetary allocation amount for FY 13-14 & FY 14-15 for the ICDS scheme was Rs. 16,312 crore and Rs. 16,561 crore respectively (Press Information Bureau, MWCD reply to Rajya Sabha, March 19, 2015).

The recent decision leading to drastic reductions in ICDS budget may impact the ongoing strengthening and restructuring of ICDS scheme which had already started a series of programmatic, management and institutional reforms, including putting ICDS in Mission mode as envisioned and approved under 12th Five-Year Plan period. Under 12th Five-Year Plan period, the total approved budget allocation for ICDS by Government of India for implementation of restructured and strengthened ICDS scheme in Mission mode was Rs 1,23,580 crore as GoI shares. In addition, the provision of funding from other sources and convergence with other programme/schemes including the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was agreed to be pursued (MWCD, 2012, letter no.1-8/2012-CD-1, October 22, 2012).

However, Government of India maintains that the reduction in the Budgetary allocations in Financial Year 2015-16 for all planned schemes, including ICDS, have been made against the backdrop of the 14th Finance Commission ‘recommendations of higher devolution of taxes to the tune of 42 per cent of the divisible pool to the states which in their view is much higher than the 32 per cent devolved to states in the previous five years. The GoI argues that this decision is made to give more flexibility to states in implementation of centrally sponsored schemes with higher share from the states (Expenditure Budget, Plan Outlay 2015-2016). But so far states have not come up with clearer response on that as whether they will really enhance their shares to these social schemes or in this case ICDS in line with objectives of restructured and strengthened ICDS and whether they will implement the programme in mission mode as envisioned. Further Gol, should clarify that major activities under restructured and strengthened ICDS that was supposed to be undertaken at central level should be supported with required budgetary allocations to support the rolling out ICDS mission in effective manner.

Interestingly, the perusal of the draft concept note of widely discussed Smart City Scheme suggests that ICDS scheme is not incorporated in Smart City Strategy. Although, there is focus on health, sanitation and social infrastructure in draft proposal but without any reference of ICDS services or tackling of under-nutrition among urban poor and slum settlements (Draft Concept Note on Smart City Scheme, 3-12-14, MoUD, Gol).

Conclusion and Recommendations The foregoing discussion and analysis clearly depicts the challenges that ICDS programme in urban areas is presently confronted with and augur the need to strengthen the ICDS programme in urban areas. The analysis clearly reflects services related to ICDS in urban areas are not without serious limitation and challenges especially in the wake of increase in urban population and slum settlements and inclusion of new areas under urban settings. The discussion also brings forth the gap between the policy intentions of ICDS and its actual implementation at field and raises serious concerns on functioning of ICDS programme in urban areas. For example, the AWCs in slum or in urban areas is confronted with issues ranging from infrastructural constraints for AWCs (buildings, space, water and sanitation facilities, inadequate rental provision to run the AWC properly; unmapped and unrecognised slums and squatters; left out and drop out; increasing migrant and mobile population; difficulty in identifying and reaching out to migrant and working population; lack of convergence with health and allied departments and local bodies, lack of knowledge and capacity among service provider; absence of an effective primary health care system in urban areas; lack of awareness and community participation, issues of gender, self-identity and inadequate access and poor quality of services, etc

In the context of foregoing analysis and objectives of this article, it is important to highlight some recommendations for ICDS programme, in urban areas that have emerged from discussion. Over all, the trend emerging out of this discussion in the form of immediate and intermediate recommendations are summarised in following points: There is a need to think about AWCs cum-day-care centres/Creche in urban settings to facilitate working mothers; establishing mobile AWC; mapping and reallocation of left-out listed slums; use of temporary structures such as Porta Cabins or other temporary structures as AWCs; co-location of AWCs in schools wherever feasible, provision of wage loss to mothers and collective efforts for services like water and sanitation; AWC rent options to be linked to different categories of cities/towns and the rent approved under ICDS restructuring and strengthening under 12th Five-Year Plan should be strictly adhered to; ensure quality of service delivery to urban poor settlements and pockets with focus on highly vulnerable settlements.’ Increased involvement of community in managing and organising AWC activities in urban settings; need for proper capacity building and skill development of ICDS staffs in the context of urban challenges; need for convergence and coordination and multi-sectoral partnership and need for co-micro planning with multisectoral agencies viz. MoHUPA to improve AWC infrastructure; with MoHFW to improve outreach points, mobile service teams, helplines and referral linkage; with community based organisations to improve household counselling and community mobilisation; with NGO partners to manage urban ICDS particularly delivery of supplementary nutrition and Early Child Education; with Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to implement and monitor ICDS projects. Need for private sectors participation and leverage of CSR funds for strengthening of the ICDS in urban areas.

Further, there is need for the growth-monitoring activities at AWCs to be performed with greater regularity with an emphasis on using this process to help parents understand how to improve their children’s health and nutrition and at the same time the monitoring and evaluation activities need strengthening through the collection of timely, relevant, accessible, high-quality information to inform decision, improve performance, quality and increase accountability.

Addressing the health and nutrition of urban poor children is both a right and an equity issue. In terms of long-term planning, there is an opportunity for policy makers to identify and explore for various localised models and workable solution along with existing best practices keeping in view the strengths of their reliability, which can support urban ICDS programme in effective and meaningful ways. There is pressing need to design and initiate urban pilot interventions aimed at improving the availability, accessibility and quality of child development services to effectively address the nutritional and health concerns in urban setting of the urban poor population


Monday, August 29, 2016


Social Welfare in India:

CENTRAL SOCIAL WELFARE BOARD: The Department of Social Welfare was created in 1964 and elevated to an independent Ministry of Welfare under Central Govt. and is responsible for general Social welfare.

The Central Social Welfare Board which is an autonomous body set up in August 1953 for distributing funds to voluntary social service organisations to strengthen,improve ad extend its existing activities in the field of social welfare and developing new programmes and carrying out pilot projects. It is also manning the task of exploring the need for and the possibility of implementing new welfare activities.

DEPARTMENT OF WOMEN AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT: Created in 1985, it formulates and implements policies and programmes relating to women and child welfare.


1) Integrated Child Development Services ( ICDS) scheme: It was introduced on Oct 2, 1975. Main objectives are:
a) improve nutrition and health status of children for age group 0-6 years.
b) To reduce incidence of mortality,morbidity,malnutrition,school drop outs
c) To achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation amongst various departments to promote through proper nutrition and health education, for looking after the normal health and nutritional needs of the child.

It also covers expectant and nursing mothers and other women in age group 15-44 years belonging to poor families. It works through anganwadi in every village or a ward of an urban slum area. Anganwadi workers are supervised by Mukhyasevika or Supervisor. The administrative unit of an ICDS project is a block/taluk in rural/tribal areas and a group of wards/slums in urban areas. Child Development Project Officer is incharge of an ICDS project and he/she has number of Anganwadi Workers and Mukhyasevikas under him/her. If the number of Anganwadi's are more then one or more Asst or Addl CDPOs are sanctioned to assist the head officer.

ICDS places great emphasis and relies greatly on involvement of local communities and coordinated efforts of different Ministries/Depts and organisations at all levels. A Central Technical Committee has been set up in AIIMS to study and monitor the benefits of social components of ICDS, also a Monitoring and evaluation Division exists in National Instt of Public Cooperation and Child Development. Eleven Technical Institutions like Home Science Colleges and Colleges of Social Work are associated for the same

2) Other Programmes:
Other Important activities and programmes of welfare dept for child welfare are:

1) Creches/Day Care Centre for children of working and ailing women
2) Early Childhood education centre
3) Anand Pattern Integrated Family Welfare Programme
4) National Award for child welfare
5) Mid Day Meal scheme
6) Children's film society, Bal Bhawans, children libraries, etc.

The Dept gives grants in aids to institutions engaged in field of child and women welfare. Children acts have been enacted to reduce child delinquency and reform them. Indian Council for child welfare has been set up to formulate and monitor child welfare programmes.

1) Pension
2) Provident Fund Scheme
3) Medical Allowances
4) Dept of Pension and Pensioners Welfare under govt. of India looks after problems related to its field of activity.
5) Old Age Homes

Voluntary Organisations involved: HelpAge India, Age Care India,etc.


1) National Institutes for the disabled under the Ministry of Welfare - National Instt for Orthopaedically handicapped at Kolkata, National Instt for Visually handicapped  at Dehradun, National Instt for mentally handicapped at Secundrabad, and Ali Yavar Jung National Instt for hearing handicapped at Mumbai.

2) Rehabilitation Council: Under the Ministry of Welfare and prescribes syllabus for various training programmes, recognize training instts and maintains rehabilitation registers. The voluntary organisations like Spastic Society of India, etc. get grants from the Ministry.

3) District Rehabilitation Centres under the Ministry of Welfare who work in coordination with local voluntary organisations.

4) Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation under the Govt of India at Kanpur.


1) Loans available from banks at concessional ROI for handicapped persons to set up self employment ventures
2) 3 percent vacancies in group C and D posts in govt. and PSU reserved for disabled persons
3) ten year relaxation in age given to take advantage of reservation
4) Govt. special concessions for travel by bus,train and air to disabled govt/PSU staff as well as petrol subsidy for own vehicle.
5) Reservation by Ministry for allotment of petrol pump/gas agencies and oil depots to handicapped persons as well as for running STD ISD booths.
6) Priority to them in allotting govt. homes
7)  Scholarships for school students and professional education
8) HMT produces braille watches
9) Free prosthetic aids or subsidy for the same
10) grants in aids to voluntary org working in these fields
11) Braille libraries run by govt or supported voluntary org.
12) Homes for mentally retarded and blind children have been set up in several states.
13) Sorts competitions organised and winners awarded prizes
14) Govt gives awards to social workers for their contribution in this field of work.

Ministry of Finance ( Dept of Revenue) is responsible for enforcement of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act,1985.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare concerned with medical treatment of addicts. Publicity and media coverage is taken care of by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Dept of Education, Youth affairs and sports in the Ministry of HRD are also engaged in tackling this problem.

Various de-addiction centres and programmes are being carried out and also to provide employment to rehabilitated addicts by the govt. in coordination with voluntary organisations.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Research Methods - An Overview

DEFINITION & IMPORTANCE: Research in simple terms is the quest for knowledge. It is the process of logical and coordinated enquiry into materials, circumstances and phenomenon to establish new facts and conclusions for the purpose of further action/improvement in important matters for the benefit of the society.

The importance of research can never be undermined as it is the tool through which anything substantial can be found for enhancing and improving knowledge and taking the next step of advancement for the better.

QUANTITATIVE METHODS OF RESEARCH: Quantitative research is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or computational techniques.

1) Fundamental, Pure or Theoretical Research:  Research that looks to discover something new or undiscovered till date for enrichment of the human knowledge fundamentally is known as Fundamental/Pure of Theoretical Research.

The ways in which it is done is belowmentioned:

a) Discovering a New Theory

b) Development of an existing theory by adding or refuting facts pertaining to the same

2) Applied Research: It is based on application of known theories and models to the actual operational fields or populations. It is to test the empirical and basic assumptions  or validity of a theory under given conditions. Thus, it helps in helps in providing further evidence to continue or discontinue a theory and its validity as well as develop and utilize techniques to serve the research and speed up the process of generalization.


1) Ex- Post Facto Research: Empirical enquiry where the scientist does not have direct control over the independent variable as their manifestations have already occurred or because they are inherently not  manipulable. Relations among variables are made without direct intervention from con-commitment variation of independent and dependent variables.  The strengths and importance of this are many, but lets take a look at some of its weaknesses too.

Weakness of this type of research:
a) Inability to control changing patterns of independent variables.
b) Owe the risk of improper interpretations due to the abovementioned reason.
c) It may not have a particular hypothesis as it may predict a spurious relationship between independent and dependent variables.

2) Laboratory or Experimental Research

3) Field Investigation Research

4) Survey Research

5) Evaluation Research: It is further classified in to a) Concurrent Evaluation, b) Phasic or Periodic Evaluation, c) Terminal Evaluation

6) Action Research: It is a research through launching of a direct action with the objective of attaining workable solutions to the given problems. Methods used are generally personal interviews and survey method. 


Major steps:

a) Selection and statement of research problem
b) Formulation of Hypothesis
c) Methodology and definitions of concepts and variables
d) Data collection

Sources of a Hypothesis: General culture, scientific theory,analogies,personal experience


It is social research based on field observations analyzed without statistics. It is to explore basically to get a good grip on the basis of the reason and causes and effects of a phenomenon. It helps develop hypothesis for further deeper research into the subject.

1) Focus group
2) In-depth interview (IDI, one-on-one)
3) Dyads, triads
4) Paired interviews


1) Ethics
2) Techniques
3) Recording Data
4) Analysis
5) Validity

Friday, June 24, 2016

Successful UPSC and UGC/CBSE NET top rankers attributing their feat to this BLOG's guidance.

Successful UPSC - IAS and NET top rankers attributing their feat to this BLOG's guidance.

Their heartfelt praises & gratitude are heartwarming, which further motivates to carry on the same with even more vigor and sincerity.

The links to the interviews: 1)


Monday, May 30, 2016


THIS PAGE'S BLOG - HAS BEEN RECENTLY REFERRED TO AND RECOMMENDED BY ANOTHER BRILLIANT ACADEMIC PUBLICATION " Foundations of Comparative Politics - Third Edition. Here is the link for reference:…/foundations-comparative-politics…

Keep your best wishes coming, keep reading & learning! All the best!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) in India have been given the Constitutional status under the 73rd amendment to the Constitution in 1992. Since then better functioning of this institution is one of the most important consequences for this mechanism of democratic devolution of the powers which this institution was made for. Under this imperative, the Government of India has established number of specialised committees to submit recommendations for proper functioning of PRIs in the country. One of such efforts is the formation of the Mani Shankar Aiyar Committee. This article reviews the recommendations made by the Committee for better functioning of the PRIs in India. Since the article has been written with special reference to the committee, it does not carry much wider survey of the literature. The Committee has done an intensive study containing four volumes, about various aspects of the PRIs. This article, however, analyses only one aspect, i.e., the section on devolution of powers in PRIs.

THE EXPERIENCE of Panchayat Raj Institutions even twenty years after having constitutional status through 73rd amendment suggests that they have not emerged as genuine institutions for decentralised local selfgovernance. The Government of India is trying to find out its drawbacks through a number of committees, workshops and seminars, etc., to ensure better functioning by adequate funds, proper power devolution mechanism and increased participation of the people, etc. One of such efforts, was the constitution of an expert committee under the chairmanship of Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar in the Ministry of Panchayat Raj on August 27, 2012, which has submitted its report on April 24, 2013 entitled Towards Holistic Panchayat Raj. The day was the eve of the 20th anniversary year of the constitutional provision of Part IX of the Panchayat Raj and its notification in the Gazette of India on April 24, 1993. Although the Expert Committee was notified in the Gazette of India on August 27, 2012, it took the Chairman a few weeks, as a Member of Parliament, to secure from the Joint Committee on Offices of Profit, the required clearance to take up his duties as Chairman. The basic objective of the committee was to examine how the PRIs might be leveraged to secure more efficient delivery of public goods and services. In its four-volume report, the Committee has reviewed the status of Panchayat Raj, its present state, devolution of power to PRIs by the Central and state governments and collateral measures.
Further, it has examined the provisions of decentralised planning through PRIs and District Planning Committees, Training, Competency Building and Capacity Development. Moreover, the committee has also taken the issues of women, weaker sections and backward regions in PRIs in poverty alleviation and livelihood programmes, productive sectors of the rural economy, rural infrastructure, education, skill development, culture and sports, health and family welfare, nutrition and food security schemes etc., for the weaker sections and backward regions. The report entitled Towards Holistic Panchayat Raj discusses collateral measures to be acted on simultaneously to enforce all dimensions of local self-governance. This will ensure the devolution of powers, authority and responsibility for economic development and social justice as intended by the Constitution, rather than becoming the vehicle for the devolution of corruption (Aiyar, et al. 2013: xv-14). The Committee begins with the issues related to the actual empowerment of the PRIs. It says that although 99 per cent of the mandatory provisions of Panchayat Raj have been implemented by the state governments, but the actual empowerment of these institutions has not been taken place. Therefore, it focuses on the mechanisms for effective allocation of resources to deliver the goods and services of the Centre. Moreover, the Central Government releases Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) for the development plan of the villages. This includes two-thirds to three-quarters of all the funds and programmes that go to the villages. However, these village development plans are not implemented by Panchayats, but by the government officials who are accountable to their superiors, not to beneficiaries, that is, people of the villages.
That not only breeds corruption but also siphons off the funds (Tehelka Magazine, 2013. Vol.10, Issues 20, May 18, 2013). The CSSs tend to bypass PRIs by setting up committees that not only impaired the functioning of village Panchayats but also provided overlapping membership of several committees that isolate them from accountability to the local communities. The Committee stresses that only local institutions of self-government can be held statutorily responsible to Gram/Ward Sabhas. Accordingly, a fundamental principle of grassroots governance must be there for all schemes falling within the domain of the Eleventh Schedule, any committee (by whatever name) must be either embedded in the PRI system or established with an organic link to PRIs, particularly the Village Panchayat, which, in turn, will be responsible and accountable to the community as a whole in the Gram Sabha/Ward. In this light, the Committee recommended that PRIs, particularly Village Panchayats, be empowered through CSS guidelines to network (Aiyar, et al. 2013: 58). The functionaries of the PRIs need training and capacity building measures for its representatives, bureaucrats and technocracy to reorient their attitude towards political governance. This will overcome the excuses for not devolving functions and funds to PRIs because of the lack of administrative skill and restoring the parallel bodies which are not accountable to PRIs or Gram Sabhas. And they owe their loyalty and responsiveness to the line departments who have created them.
Moreover, orientation programmes will make the officials conscious that they are servants, not masters, of the elected grassroots institutions. Above all, it should be made obligatory for line department officials to hold frequent and regular interactive sessions with elected PRI representatives at each level of the Panchayat Raj system to intensively brief them about the line department work (Ibid: 70). This would be the most practical and sustained way of capacity-building for PRIs and training for PRI representatives. Because, without civil service support under their overall political direction, Central and State Ministers would be quite lost as PRI representatives tend to be. Rotation of Reserved Seats As the Constitution provides reservation of seats for women, SCs and STs, however, it does not require rotation of reserved seats to take place at every successive round of elections. This could be constitutionally extended to three terms or more, even as rotation of reserved seats in the Central and State legislatures, but this has been taking place only once in three decades or so, thereby giving SC/ST representatives tremendous opportunity for “learning on the job.” Longer tenures for women, especially SC and ST women, and SCs/STs in general will ensure both efficient performance and effective empowerment of them. It will also reduce the practice of ‘sarpanch patis’ especially under 50 per cent reservation for women. 180 / INDIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 180 / VOL. LXI, NO. 1, JANUARY-MARCH 2015 Institutional Recommendations The Expert Committee strongly recommends the constitution of a single Ministry of Panchayats and Nagarpalikas, howsoever named, to jointly promote the elaboration and implementation of the 73rd and 74th amendments together. This will adhere to the constitutional ideal of local self-government into a single constitutional amendment, so that the artificial distinction between urban and rural local self-government that prevent looking at the district as an integrated unit for interlocking rural-urban economic progress is removed (lbid:96). Ministry for
Local Self-government at the Centre would encourage the establishment of similar departments in the states. The institution like District Planning Committee (under Article 243 ZD) could undertake the function of buckling the urban centres of each district to their respective rural hinterland. It will be possible only if state governments voluntarily bring the DPC under the District Panchayat, as the Ministry of Rural Development stated to integrate the District Rural Development Administration (DRDA) with the District Panchayats. This institutional amelioration will ensure rural development, especially in those villages which are in transition from Panchayat to Municipality status are, often, the worst affected by reclassification. Further, the Committee proposes the establishment of a statutory National Commission on Panchayat Raj (with state level Commissions wherever state governments agree to setting up such Commissions) on the pattern of the National Commissions for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Minorities, etc. for the implementation of the provisions of Part IX (and Part IXA) of the Constitution. These Constitutional provisions need to be continuously overseen by a National Commission on Panchayat Raj, and its state branches. Such a statutory National Commission would ensure rights-based entitlements to PRIs and individual citizens, as has been so successfully demonstrated with regard to Rights-based Information and Rights-based Women and Child Rights. The ambit of Public Interest Litigation and the Right to Information Act might be taken into account by the proposed National Commission on Panchayat Raj in addressing citizen and civil society grievances of PRIs (and against PRIs) in the light of the relevant mandatory and recommendatory constitutional provisions read with the provisions of the relevant State legislation, as also relevant government orders. Collateral Measures at State Level/ Devolution of Power at State Level Besides, the Committee has broadly outlined the measures for the devolution of power at the state level for better functioning of PRIs as it is enlisted in the State subject of Part VII of the Constitution. Accordingly, the states should also devolve by law the powers and responsibilities to the Panchayats to let them function as units of “local self-government” (Aslam, 2011:7).
Devolution to local government essentially has three components: devolution of appropriate functions with authority to make related expenditure decisions, fiscal devolution for availability of funds to perform devolved functions, and administrative devolution of putting in place functionaries. There could be several reasons for such a failure of which the important ones are: Lack of political will to devolve power to lower level elected governments, lack of administrative will to bestow authority by the bureaucracy, state’s inability to create required posts in Panchayats and reluctance by State employees to work under the Panchayats, departmental opposition to part with their budgetary allocation in favour of the Panchayats which have been devolved to the Panchayats, which is partly due to the compulsion of bearing the share of Centrally Sponsored Scheme out of their own budget. Local governments are still considered subordinate entities to States largely entrusted with agency functions, predominantly funded by tied revenue transfers from above, and critically dependent upon deputed State government staff with little accountability to the Panchayats for implementation of their schemes (Aiyar, et al., 2013:79). Moreover, Panchayats are subordinated or bypassed by other State institutions, in which the bulk of local governance responsibilities are entrusted. Such faulty design of devolution, practised so far in most States, is the main reason for the weakness in the present Panchayat system. Without correcting these systemic defects, the Panchayats cannot be leveraged to improve delivery of local goods and services, comparable to a local government. In view of the above factors, the Aiyar Committee has analysed the means to strengthen the local self-government by the state governments. Keeping in mind the existing framework of functioning of the Panchayats, its deficiencies and inconsistencies, the Commmitte suggests corrective measures to overcome these and make the Panchayat Raj system a vibrant local government. The following are the main points: Devolution of Functions The better functioning of PRIs is based on the assignment of clearly defined roles to efficient delivery of services as also for people to hold them accountable for their performance. Because the ordinary people have little understanding of the delivery system and view themselves as beneficiaries to receive benefits rather than as right-bearers who can demand service. In such a situation, Panchayats need to function effectively. 182 / INDIAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 182 / VOL. LXI, NO. 1, JANUARY-MARCH 2015 Activity mapping should be done by all States, as a prior exercise for devolution for the major areas of service delivery, such as health, education, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, various other civic services, employment generation, poverty alleviation and local economic development, livelihoods, agriculture and allied sectors, social security and disaster management, etc. Activity mapping should also clearly state where the function is a devolved core function, where the Panchayats function as agencies, and where they have a mediating role. Besides the constitutional provisions, the Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) should come out with incentives for the States to take up the process and facilitate the same by organising professional support (Ibid: 98).
Activity mapping should be linked to budget envelopes with a separate statement of funds allocated to PRIs in an annexure to the budget. Mediating Role for Delivery of Goods and Services Panchayats are also ideally positioned to improve delivery of goods and services by higher tiers of the government, public utilities and even private providers by mediating with the providers of goods and services at higher level on behalf of local residents as being a representative body. Any Panchayat could take cognisance of failure of such delivery of its own without any public resentment/complaint and can mediate with appropriate government/public authority for rectifying such failures. Fiscal Decentralisation The Constitution has made adequate provisions for financial availability of PRIs that includes Central and State grants to the Panchayat as well as their own sources of revenues. Under Central grants, the Committee has recommended two separate incentivisation grants, first a grant to incentivise States to devolve more powers and authorities to the PRIs and second a grant to incentivise PRIs to be more transparent and accountable in their economic affairs (lbid:90). Panchayat transactions should be more transparent and to be more alert in demanding accountability from the elected representatives and officialdom in the Gram Sabha. Further, in raising their own resources it stresses for independence of action, transparency of transactions and accountability towards community. Having full right for appropriation of taxation and revenues will enable them to explain their respective communities that taxes are raised to meet the specific needs of the communities. This will help PRIs to acquire the political strength and political will to act as fiscal authorities for both raising and spending community revenues. Moreover, technological support for availability of data regarding taxable properties will help to generate more taxes and will be more up-to-date in maintaining records over several years and in having their accounts duly audited.
Under its constitutional responsibilities the Central Government gives as “The Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF)” whose appropriation is a subject of scrutiny and supervision of Gram Sabha under integrated planning. Accordingly, the CSS should provide necessary guidelines for the vast sum of money that is being sent for rural development and poverty alleviation. Another CSS scheme known as Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), a provision of cash to beneficiaries, such as pensions and scholarships, etc., cannot be a substitute for Panchayat Raj. It also suggests that Gram Panchayats should be appointed as business correspondents for banks (in addition to individuals) and provided with mini-ATMs for the dispersal of cash benefits, including MNREGA wages, to beneficiaries, preferably in the presence of Gram Sabhas, especially where PRIs are not located conveniently near a bank branch. Own revenue of the PRIs are elaborated in the Constitution; accordingly local government has to collect these. However, these are very limited and most of these taxes are less elastic and not capable of generating significant quantum of own revenue. Further, the full potential for taxation remains untapped due to outdated tax estimation systems, discretionary power with tax estimation and lack of collection agencies, or disregarding existing norms, low ceiling limits on taxes that can be collected, or legislative abolition of local taxes, non-revision of taxes at regular intervals according to the law, poor coverage of taxable properties, inability to take action against big defaulters, lack of well-trained staff, etc. Provisions which raise the tax revenues of Panchayats include: assignment of tax and non-tax revenue and its collection powers to Pachayats, capacity building of Panchayat in tax administration, incentive for collection, data collection and analysis, etc. Further, in order to facilitate the funding of PRIs from higher levels of governments, in the long run, should only be provided as topping up grants, on the presumption that local revenue are deemed to have been collected. These must be untied, as only then will local planning and prioritisations have any real meaning. To strengthen the Accounting and Auditing of PRIs accounting classification may be adopted forthwith by all the states. Besides, a separate classification in the budget books of both the state and the Central government will need to be adopted for devolved funds. Such heads of account may be describe as “devolved” Heads of Account and further classified into “revenue” or “capital” heads. The revenue head would have a separate subhead to deal with transfer of funds to meet the salary requirement of deputed staff. Devolution of Functionaries Strong administrative set-up of Panchayats includes having adequate number of qualified employees with relevant expertise, clear accountability of the elected body, laying well-defined administrative rules and regulations and putting in place a system for monitoring their performance and enforcing compliance to rules and regulations in their functioning. In most States, there is neither adequate number of employees having due capacity to perform their tasks, nor is there clear accountability of those employees to the Panchayats. In addition to that, the rules and regulations are not always clearly defined; there is poor oversight function to check if the existing rules are being violated.
Administrative experience and education level of the elected functionaries in Panchayats, particularly in the GPs, are not always adequate to comprehend the bureaucratic processes and they rather look forward to the employees for guidance (lbid: 106). To ensure the proper devolution of functionaries the committee has made the recommendation for creation of Panchayat cadres of employees at the block, district, and State level, surplus number of staff in one department, procedure for convergence and cross-departmental movement particularly of Group D and Group C levels, who are non-technical in nature, such as assistants, superintendents and office staff, etc.. A Panchayat Service Commission may be established in each State for recruitment of various cadres of Panchayat employees, unless the State Public Service Commission is entrusted with that responsibility. There must be an emphasis on recruitment of women to the posts of Secretaries of Gram Panchayats. Government of India should provide support for creation of posts and other related issues for the permanent employees of the Panchayat, where the State should have such freedom to create posts at Gram and Intermediate Panchayats depending on their population coverage for proper utilisation of those personnel. Physical infrastructures of Panchayats are also necessary. Free and Fair Election State Election Commissions (SECs) should be authorised to decide the date of elections, the number of phases required, security law and order, financial independence, and control over election staff, as is the case with the Central Election Commission, as also authorised to undertake delimitation and operationalisation of the Task Force, etc. Further, preparation of a common voters list for Parliament, Assembly and Panchayat elections, innovations such as e-voting, use of mobiles for rear time transmission of information relating to disruption of free and fair elections, etc., should be under the domain of SECs. Moreover, after anyone is elected to an office, s/he should be allowed to continue in office without disqualifying the person on flimsy grounds. The power to disqualify any elected representative should, therefore, not remain with anyone who is a part of the State government and ideally should rest with the SECs. Also, once any member is disqualified and the seat falls vacant, the legal process of disposal of the charges against the member must be completed fast enough so that, if the member is acquitted from the charge leading to his/her disposal, he/she gets the opportunity to contest again in the election to be held for filling the post. The process of removal and resignation of different elected officials should be well-defined and safeguarded that there is no arbitrariness or scope for manipulation or coercion.
The State Election Commission should be empowered to conduct Panchayat elections as these are fought at very grassroots level where issues of social stratification such as class and caste are very intense; there is higher voter turnout there and ruling party influence is very likely. Longer cycle of delimitation will be appropriate for free and fair election as well as healthy governance at Panchayat rather than having delimitation in every five years. Several funding streams for Panchayats now prescribe the constitution of elected Panchayats at all three levels as a pre-condition for the release of funds. Deepening Decentralisation and Participation Regular meeting of Gram Sabha is necessary because the body of voters are living in the village and are supposed to review all development programmes of the village, selection of beneficiaries for different programmes are transferred to the PRIs and preparing plans for local development, including minimum needs, welfare and production-oriented programmes. Meeting of Gram Sabha could be inclusive and participative if the date, time and location for the Gram Sabha meetings should be convenient for all to participate. There should be enough publicity for Gram Sabha meetings through the local media and local communication methods. In meetings, freedom of expression should be encouraged so that no single group dominates the proceedings. NGOs may be encouraged to promote awareness and people’s participation and common interest groups, such as Self-Help Groups (SHGs), etc. should also be incorporated. To sustain interest in Gram Sabha meetings, agendas must be circulated in advance and full disclosures of budgets and resources available for planning and implementation should be provided. Video recording of the proceedings of the Gram Sabha will be helpful. Large-size Panchayats may have meeting of the voters constituency-wise or at the neighbourhood level. That helps in better participation of the people and those bodies become quite important in providing inputs for village-specific development plans for being included in the GP plans.

In large States, Village/habitation level committees will be helpful to deal with the specific issues of the people. Effective social audit of Gram Panchayat, may require voluntary council of experts and eminent citizens ideally constituted by the Gram Sabhas. The practice of various community-based organisations such as Watershed Development Committees, Village Water Supply and Sanitation Committees, Village Education Committees, Joint Forest Management Committees, etc., should submit their reports before the Gram Sabha and this must be promoted. This will also greatly aid in their eventual integration into the Panchayats. Selection of beneficiaries such as below poverty line people, (BPL), etc., requires surveys data with names and faces that can be conducted through multipurpose household survey under the supervision of the GP. Collegiate Functioning of the PRIs Besides, vertical decentralisation, it is necessary to have horizontal decentralisation of responsibilities among the different elected members of each body. This can be done by formation of subject-specific Standing Committees (SC). However, detailed guidelines are required for the functioning of these committees. There must be arrangements for preserving all resolutions, budget documents and published literature in any designated public library and giving soft copies of the same to the Common Service Centres. Each tier of Panchayat will have one public library earmarked for that purpose. Panchayats, NGOs and CBOs Functioning of NGOs and CBOs at village level should be collaborative to PRIs rather than undermining the Constitutional authority of PRIs. NGOs can play many roles like building voter awareness, use of Right to Information Act, capacity building of Panchayats through training, exchange programmes, visits to successful Panchayats, building networks and lobby bodies and information sharing, etc. NGOs can assist District Planning Committees to take up evaluation studies on Panchayat performance and educate people periodically so that they can better hold their Panchayats account, etc. They can also take up difficulties faced by Panchayats because of various constraints beyond their control with higher tiers of government and drawing attention of the civil society at large for removing the constraints faced by the PRIs. Other Collateral Measures The appellate authorities for the Panchayat are mainly two: the Intermediate Panchayat and Zila Parishad (ZP), and finally the District Magistrate and the state.
While setting up an appellate tribunal system, like Kerala, would be adequate to hear appeals from the exercise of regulatory powers by the Panchayats. And an Ombudsman system to investigate against law breakers and mal-administration in the field of administrative activity will be appropriate. This will take care of the citizen’s grievances relating to due process being disregarded in rendering a service or deciding on a claim. This will provide a strong system of checks and balances required to make the system work with greater efficiency that will be different from Lokayukta which is much focused on corruption and punishment. The body could be headed by a judicial officer of the rank of a High Court Judge and other Ombudsmen could be selected from a panel of judicial officers of the rank of District Judges and administrative officers of the rank of Secretary to the State government. The Ombudsman can act on complaints from elected members or citizens or on reference by audit authorities of government or initiate proceedings suo motu (lbid:132). Accountability Mechanism Like GP at village level, there is a need of such authorities at intermediate and District levels. These bodies at district and the intermediate Panchayat levels may be called Zilla Sansad and the Block Sansad, respectively. Apart from elected bodies who are members of the ZP, all chairpersons of intermediate Panchayats along with vice-chairpersons/ chairpersons of intermediate Panchayat may be made members of the Zilla Sansad. Officials from the State level may remain present as invitees. Important officials of district and block levels may also be invitees to attend the meetings without having any voting right. The Block Sansad may consist of all members of the intermediate Panchayats, the ZP members from within the block area, the Pradhans and members of all the SCs at the GP level. Important officials at block and GP level may also attend as invited members.
Such Sansads should be held at least twice a year and there should be certain norms and rules of functioning. Examination of Accounts related to devolved fund to be arranged at the district level Panchayats should provide a simple Utilisation Certificate (UC) that fund has been received and utilised, following all norms. A District Public Accounts Committee (DPAC) should be constituted at each Zila Parishad (ZP). The DPAC may be constituted under the chairmanship of the Leader of the Opposition of the ZP, with proportionate representation from all political parties represented in the ZP. It may be given the authority for checking compliance to rules in respect of all expenditure made by any Panchayat within the district. An Accountant General should prepare a status report on Panchayat Accounts, which should be laid before Legislative Assembly which will also examine all expenditure being made by the Panchayats of the district, irrespective of whether fund available is out of own resources or devolved fund or any fund transferred to execute any specific work (lbid:134). Forum for Discussion on Devolution Establishment of a common forum on which the State and the Panchayats can participate is desirable which would cover important matters such as the inter-governmental fiscal and administrative architecture and a mechanism to resolve disputes that may arise between levels of government. Some States have provided for a State Development Council or a Panchayat Council as such a forum. Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) may take necessary advocacy and facilitation.
The Panchayat Directorate, district Panchayat office and the block level Panchayat Unit (Panchayat Development Officer, Audit Officer, etc.), are to be strengthened appropriately for functioning of the Panchayats and provide necessary support to the Panchayats when needed. The State Government should prepare a format for self-assessment by Panchayats and prescribe that they will give their self-appraisals within a given time every year to analyse the strength and weaknesses of the Panchayats for appropriate correction and facilitation. This will help each tier for improving their performances (lbid:135). The State government must disclose the analysis on various aspects of functioning of the Panchayats in the public domain for information of the Panchayats as well as for people for their better understanding about the Panchayats. It should also encourage every Panchayat to assess and improve their performance. The Panchayat Directorate should measure and monitor institutional aspects of functioning of Panchayats on a regular basis, possibly once in a quarter at block and district level. There should be legal professionals available at district Panchayat office for assisting all Panchayats on legal issues in the course of their functionings. To fulfill the pre-requisites of good political leadership for smooth functioning of Panchayats the committee suggests forming a Panchayat Cell within political parties to supervise activities of their members as functionaries of Panchayats and ensure accountability towards Panchayat, rather than their political higher-ups. The cell may have at least 10 per cent or more share of the total elected posts. Constitutional Amendment for Strengthening Devolution The Committee has made several suggestions for Constitutional amendments.

However, the Part IX of the Constitution is an elaborate one, but it should be implemented in letter and spirit. The Committee that in fullness of term and time and when political conditions permit, an amendment can be done in Article 243-1 to strengthen the Fiscal Devolution Framework, to ensure smooth functioning of the State Finance Commissions in terms of acceptance of its recommendation, to remove inordinate delays in placing action taken reports before the State legislature for the smooth flow of Central revenue shares to Panchayats. In view of increasing urbanisation, a District Council may be formed by constitutional provision but not as an alternative to the Zila Parishad (District Panchayat). The Council will comprise constituencies from both urban and rural areas and will thus have jurisdiction over both areas of the district. A unified local government at the district level, will take care of all district sector activities of department (e.g., education, health, drinking water supply, etc.) irrespective of rural or urban areas, and provide better rural-urban convergence and ensure similar standards of living for both rural and urban population (lbid:138). Implementation of the above mentioned provisions will deliberately speed up the fulfilment of the aims and objects of the constitutional provisions of democratic decentralisation. This would also propel such significant leveraging of PRIs as to ensure exponential improvement in efficiency in the delivery of public goods and services, thus bringing social equity in line with the growth of the economy for “Faster, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth” the overarching goal of the 12th FiveYear Plan (2102-07) (lbid:75).

CONCLUSION While submitting its report, the Committee expressed its hope that Government will find it possible to place this report before a follow-up Conference of Chief Ministers. The Committee recommended, that as, the National Development Council (NDC) is the most important forum that brings the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers together on a common platform, the Planning Commission be required to inscribe Panchayat Raj as a permanent item on the NDC agenda, so that progress is kept under continuous review for the national priority of “Inclusive Growth” to be promoted through “Inclusive Governance.” The report is neither yet approved by the Government nor has it been placed before the Chief Ministers' Conference or a NDC meeting as suggested by the Committee. Therefore, strong and firm political commitments are required to implement it and to realise the Gandhian notion of Gram Swaraj by devolving the powers to the Panchayats.