3 years on, a mere 30% of Poshan Abhiyaan funds used
Barring three States, none of the governments used even half of the sum
The State governments and the Union Territories utilized a mere 30% of the funds released under the Poshan Abhiyaan, or the National Nutrition Mission, since it was launched in 2017.
Barring Mizoram, Lakshadweep, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar, none of the governments used even half of the sum granted in the past three years, according to an analysis of the data shared in Parliament.
The Poshan Abhiyaan, the Centre’s flagship programme, is aimed at improving nutritional outcomes among pregnant women, lactating mothers and children by reducing the level of stunting, underweight, anaemia and low birth weight by 2022.
It is meant to benefit more than 10 crore people and was launched after a Cabinet decision on December 1, 2017, with a total budget of ₹9,046.17 crore for three years, 50% of which is through budgetary support, which is further divided into 60:40 between the Centre and the States, 90:10 for the north-eastern region and the Himalayan States and 100% for the Union Territories without legislature.
A grim picture The remaining 50% is from the World Bank or other multilateral development banks. As a result, the Centre’s total share will be ₹2,849.54 crore.
With the three-year period drawing to a close, an analysis of the funds utilized paints a grim picture.
According to the information given by Minister for Women and Child Development in the recent session of Parliament, a total of ₹4,283 crore was disbursed by the Centre to different States and Union Territories.
Of this, ₹1,283.89 crore, or only 29.97% of the funds granted, were utilized until October 31, 2019.
Mizoram on top
The five best performers were Mizoram (65.12%), Lakshadweep (61.08%), Bihar (55.17%), Himachal Pradesh (53.29%) and Meghalaya (48.37%).
The worst five performers were Punjab (0.45%), Karnataka (0.74%), Kerala (8.75%), Jharkhand (13.94%) and Assam (23.01%).
During 2019-20, funds were released for 19 States, though 12 of them had used less than a third of the funds released in the previous two years.
“The programme was conceptualized as one to be implemented in phases. It is, thus, expected that utilization will increase over years. A number of activities had a slow start but are now picking up. These include the Integrated Child Development Services-Common Application Software meant to monitor anganwadis ... However, given the stiff targets, translating the activities into outcomes will be critical,” says Avani Kapur, Fellow of the Centre for Policy Research and Director at the Accountability Initiative.
The CNNS, released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in October, showed that 35% of children under the age of 5 are stunted and in this age group, 17% are wasted (low weight for height) and 33% underweight (low weight for age).
CDS will be the single-point military adviser to the government as suggested by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.
He will be a Five-star General, Not eligible to hold any Government office after demitting the office of CDS.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has approved the creation of a chief of defence staff (CDS).
He will be the single-point military adviser to the governmentas suggested by the Kargil Review Committee in 1999.
CDS oversees and coordinates the working of the three Services.
He will be a Four-star General.
Not eligible to hold any Government office after demitting the office of CDS.
No private employment without prior approval for a period of five years after demitting the office of CDS.
Roles and functions:
CDS will provide “single-point military advice”to the government, inject synergy in planning, procurements and logistics in the armed forces.
It will ensure integration of land-air-sea operations through the eventual setting up of theatre commands.
The CDS will also function as the military advisor to the PM-led Nuclear Command Authority,as also have direct command of tri-Service organizations to handle the new warfare domains of space and cyberspace.
Arms and the man
General Rawat crossed the lines of military propriety in making political comments
If a diplomat should think twice before saying nothing, an army general should not think of saying anything at all. The Chief of Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat, should have known better than to offer his views on political controversies and agitations of the day. In making thinly veiled comments on the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the General crossed the line of military propriety. The egregious remarks on student protests and leadership of agitations constitute a serious error in judgment. If the task of a leader is to lead by example, and in the ‘right direction’, as he himself put it, then Rawat, who heads nearly fifteen lakh men in uniform, sent out all the wrong signals. The Army Chief’s remarks could have been discounted as an unfortunate slip of the tongue or a one-off instance, if it were not for the frequency with which he weighed in on matters he ought to have been extremely circumspect about, in public at least. Berating students from a seminar podium is bad enough but last year, Gen. Rawat felt compelled to point out, at yet another seminar, that the All India United Democratic Front (AIDUF) — led by Badrudin Ajmal — had grown much faster than the BJP in Assam. “Finally, what will be the state of Assam, we have to take a call,” he had said, throwing in the politically incorrect word “lebensraum”into the mix for good measure, while referring to migration in the region. On matters such as education in Kashmir too, the General’s unsolicited views have stirred controversies.
It is possible to argue that since the Army is so heavily and continually deployed in these areas, the north east and Kashmir, where the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act operates, the Army Chief can make comments on other aspects of governance and politics as well. The argument that the Army has a political voice in these States will not travel far, though. Among other things, it reflects the failure of the political class to keep the Army confined to duties that they are meant to carry out. If what Gen. Rawat said was deplorable, what V.K. Singh, the Minister of State for Road Transport, spoke in his support was most unfortunate. Especially since he himself was the Army Chief not so long ago. It is likely to encourage soldiers in the making and those in uniform to move in wrong directions. But it is also notable that not many others have flocked to Gen. Rawat’s defence. Allowing chiefs of the three services to make political statements undermines the civil leadership in the long run. It is to be hoped the government makes the lines clear to them so that such incidents do not recur
Marking States on different parameters can incentivise performance
The nation-wide comparative study of States on governance carried out by the Government of India, as seen in the Good Governance Index (GGI), is a welcome exercise to incentivise States to competitively deliver on public services to the citizens. This is not the first time that benchmarking of States has been carried out. Different agencies including NITI Aayog, the government’s policy think-tank, are evaluating the States on different parameters. The findings of the GGI’s inaugural edition are significant in many respects. Although Tamil Nadu has always had the reputation of being a better-run State, it is only now that it is ranked first in any study of this kind. Its strength has been the ability to ensure stable and smooth delivery of services without much ado. But it is not the only southern State to have put up an impressive performance. Three of its neighbours are among the top 10 of the big 18 States, one of the three groups formed for the study with the north-east and hill States and Union Territories being the other two. Of course, traditionally, the south has been ahead of others in several parameters of development. What is more significant about the GGI is that the dubiously-labelled “BIMARU” States are seeking to catch up with others in development.
Of the nine sectors, Rajasthan, a “BIMARU” State, has finished within the top 10 in five sectors, Madhya Pradesh in four and Uttar Pradesh in three.
In agriculture and allied sectors, almost all the “BIMARU” States are within the top 10 category and in human resources development, U.P. and Bihar figure.
In the composite ranking, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are ranked fourth and ninth, respectively. The key message is that these northern States can catch up with others in due course of time, if the political leadership shows the will to overcome historical obstacles and stays focused on development.
Any index of this nature is bound to have some shortcomings, at least in the first round, a feature that the framers of the GGI have acknowledged.
Some indicators — farmers’ income, prevalence of micro irrigation or water conservation systems and inflow of industrial investment — have been left out.
The indicator, “ease of doing business”, has been given disproportionate weight in the sector of commerce and industries, to the virtual exclusion of growth rate of major and micro, small and medium enterprises.
Moreover, there will always be an unending debate over which indicators — process-based or outcome-based — should get more importance in the design of such a study.
Notwithstanding these shortcomings, what is noteworthy is that the Centre has made an attempt to address the problem of the absence of a credible and uniform index for an objective evaluation of the States and Union Territories. It goes without saying that the GGI requires fine-tuning and improvement. But that does not take away the inherent strength of the work that has been accomplished, keeping in mind India’s size and complexity.
The GGI takes into consideration 10 sectors —agriculture and allied sectors, commerce and industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure and utilities, economic governance, social welfare & development, judicial and public security, environment and citizen-centric governance.
These 10 governance sectors are further measured on a total of 50 indicators. These indicators are given different weightage under one governance sector to calculate the value.
The states and UTs are divided into three groups —
North-east and hill states, and
Key Findings of the first GGI Report:
Top performers among the big states:Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The bottom six states are Odisha, Bihar, Goa, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Among the North-East & Hill States:Top 3 states are Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Tripura. The bottom 3 states are Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
Pondicherry leads among the UTs followed closely by Chandigarh with Delhi bagging the third spot. Lakshadweep is at the bottom among the UTs.
Sector-wise ranking: In the environment sector:
The top three states are West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The bottom 3 states are Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Goa.
Judicial and public security ranking:West Bengal is at the bottom two in the judicial and public security ranking. Tamil Nadu tops the chart here.
Economic governance:Karnataka is at the top under the economic governance category.
Health: Kerala is at the top in the public health sector.
Protests and demonstrations no doubt form the core of democracy and are unexceptionable as long as they do not disrupt the life of the common man or cause damage to public property.
In an ideal world, we may expect this clear-cut theoretical proposition to work perfectly. But in the raw, emotion-ridden and violence-prone streets of the present times, this clinical allocation of respective space has, however, repeatedly proved to be mere pontification.
This is established by events of the past few days in the national capital. Some media reporting has tended to be one-sided, tending to portray the police as the villain of the piece and the protesters as harmless and pacifist. This binary picture is deceptive and misleading, because it is blind to the truism that the police do enjoy a measure of operational autonomy, free from the dictates of other state agencies.
Shadow of politics
Public opinion has been built around a few gross misconceptions about modern policing. It is too simplistic and facile to look upon the police as merely an agency that has been caught in the crossfire between the establishment and protesters.
Gone are the halcyon days when life was more orderly and civilized, and the police just received orders from above to be executed as faithfully as they could/can and not necessarily at the speed of lightning. The vicissitudes of politics over the decades have deprived the guardians of law the luxury of resting on the statute book and responding to a developing situation.
They will now have to be proactive and react — and react within split seconds to an incendiary situation arising from contentious political situations. While doing so they are bound to overstep the contours of law. This reminds a reader of the classic situation summed up as: (You’re) damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
It is fallacy to argue that the police cannot enter campuses unless they are invited to do so by heads of institutions. Nothing can be a greater incentive to violence. I am happy that the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University has been honest enough to admit that he permitted the police to enter his campus to prevent an already ugly situation from becoming worse.
In Jamia Millia, Delhi, the police appeared to have taken the initiative when no such invitation was forthcoming. There is no law that prohibits such police entry on their own, and any attempt to frame such a law will be preposterous to the core. The police are obligated under law to intervene wherever and whenever they apprehend danger to lives. Imagine the not-so-imaginary and improbable situation where the vice-chancellor is himself besieged and threatened by a mob of students and others and is unable to communicate with the police. Can the police wait for a nod from those facing danger? If they did and if the VC was attacked or grievously hurt, the police would be hauled over the coals.
I am reminded here of the statement of the English jurist, Lord Denning, in Regina v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (1968): “... (it) is for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, or the chief constable, as the case may be, .......to decide on the disposition of his force and the concentration of his resources on any particular crime or area. No court can or should give him direction on such a matter... And ‘No Minister of the Crown can tell him that he must, or must not, keep observation on this place or that;... The responsibility for law enforcement is on him. He is answerable to the law and to the law alone.”
I do not think the position is different in India. If some police leaders have surrendered their autonomy to the Executive, it is their fault and not of the Executive.
On the measure of force
Another bone of contention relates to the quantum of force that the police can use in quelling disorder. Some astonishing statements have been made in this context. There is no scientific formula that applies to explosive scenes that have become routine in the national capital.
“How much is too much?” is a question that is impossible to answer.
The amount of force used in such situations can vary significantly, and will be related mainly to the strength of the mob, its composition, its mood and the kind of weapons it has at its command. Use of stones has become the most favourite, because of ease of availability and potency. To say that the police or any security agency should not overreact to this kind of barbarity is grossly unfair. Ultimately, it is the decision of the police commander in the field.
Mob control techniques are a part of the police curriculum in major training institutions. Their impact depends on the imaginative nature of the instruction. In the wake of violence across the country, the police leadership would do well to concentrate on this important aspect of policing, even if it means according a lower priority to other areas of routine.
In a democracy such as ours we certainly need a civilized and humane police. This should not, however, dilute the need to have a potent force that will not hesitate to use the resources at its command in order to re-emphasize the dictum that democracy can flourish only when violence is checked and not allowed to hold sway.
There is a crucial need for senior police officers to devote time to improving the quality of policing in the field, instead of frittering away their energies in concentrating on “politician management”.