“Jawahar Rozgar Yojna” is a comprehensive plan for providing jobs to the rural poor. It was Jawahar Lal Nehru who had repeatedly stressed the need of mitigating the distress of the rural poor by providing jobs to the rural unemployed or underemployed. Hence it is in the fitness of things that this massive all-comprehensive plan for providing jobs to the rural unemployed has been named after the architect of modern India. It is also right and proper that the Yojna was launched during the year of the birth centenary celebration of the noble freedom fighter and first Prime Minister of the country, who was also a great visionary and who had his own dreams of the future India, glorious and self-reliant.
The Yojna was launched by Ex-Prime minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi on 28th April 1989, and he announced in Parliament that it had become operational from that very day. In the first year, Central assistance for the implementation of the Yojna would be Rs. 2100 crores. During the last several years when the rural reemployment programmes were launched, only 55 percent of the village panchayats could be covered. But the Jawahar Rozagar Yojna aims at reaching every single Panchayat. The late Prime Minister’s announcement was received with big applause by members of Parliament They repeatedly thumped their tables as an when the late Prime Minister unfolded the salient provisions of the Yojna.
There is no problem before the country so acute as unemployment. There is no segment of our population more disadvantaged than the rural poor. There is no section of our people as much in need of employment as women from poor rural families, specially those with no land of their own. One of the salient features of the Yojna is that of 30 percent of the employment to be generated under the scheme would be reserved for women. The nomadic tribes would also benefit from the scheme. Each Panchayat will get Rs. 80,000 to Rs. 1, 000, 00 a year to implement the Yojna. At least one member of each poor family in the rural areas will be provided employment near the village in which he resides.
The Yojna aims at placing in the hands of village panchayats adequate funds to run their own rural employment scheme in the interest of the vast masses of the rural poor who constitute the bulk of rural India. Central assistance would be 80 percent of the total cost of the programme. In its very first year of operation, central assistance for the programme will be Rs. 2,000 crore, the finances are to be so structured that funds will be allocated to States in proportion to the size of their population which is below the poverty line. Further devaluation of these funds to districts will be determined in terms of criteria of backwardness, such as the proportion of Schedule Castes and tribes, the proportion of agricultural labor and the level of agricultural productivity. Special consideration will be given to meeting the requirement of geographically distinctive areas such as hills, deserts and islands.
On an average a village Panchayat with a population of 3,000 to 4,000 people will receive between 80,000 to 1 lakh a year to implement the Yojna. Through the devolution of this programme to village panchayats, the benefits of this programme directly reaching the people would be significantly higher than in the past. Besides, there is scope for economizing of the cost of administration, and stress is to be laid on such economy.
By devolving the finances to the panchayats and entrusting to them the administration of programme, a much larger proportion of the funds implementation of the programme would be more open and transparent than ever before. Every villager will know how much money is available fro the programme and which are the schemes being financed. He will also know which of his fellow villagers are being employed under the scheme.
Each beneficiary getting employment will know how much remuneration he is receiving and how much others are receiving as also how many days of work he and others are being given. Those who are cheated or deprived will not only have the possibility of demanding immediate redress; they will also have in their hands the ultimate weapon of the vote to turn out of office any panch or sarpanch who abuses the powers and responsibilities developed on him. Democracy will reinforce opportunity to bring the welfare state to doorstep of villager, where he lives and works.
All existing rural employment programmes have been merged into the Yojna. It will reach out all over the country to the 440 lakh families in rural India living below the poverty line. To each one of these families employments will be given- at least to one member- to alleviate something of the hardship which these families face. In particular, the aim is to mitigate the distress which the women of these families have faced for centuries with courage and fortitude. And it is also planned to secure these noble ends through the noble institution of panchayats.
There is no doubt that the plan is comprehensive one and it seeks to provide relief to the rural poor on a massive scale. It seeks to cover up every section of the rural poor, particularly those who have been neglected so far. However, even the noblest schemes and plans come to naught without the will and dedication of those who have to implement them. In this respect, the government personnel have been found entirely wanting. One the whole, they are a corrupt, inefficient and irresponsible lot. No doubt the village Panchayats have been entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the Yojna. No doubt also, the panchas and sarpanchas can be removed through the power of the vote, if there performance is not upto the mark. But the Government personnel would have their own role to play. The success of the Yojna will ultimately depend on the character and will of those who have to implement it. Even the noblest and most clearly thought out schemes fail, owing to the apathy; selfishness and greed of those who are entrusted with the responsibility of implementing them. This is the greatest danger that will have to be faced, if the present Yojna has to b a success.