Regressive Development

In 2008 the Government of Odisha started including a number of women’s self-help groups in the management of Mid Day Meal Schemes in the state. Four years down the line, many of the groups that could have benefitted from the system have perished because they didn’t receive any of the money promised to them. The women from one such group now face the daunting prospect of having to pay off a loan, one which they cannot afford. The women from the Maa Indira Devi self-help group were excited at the prospect of boosting their income when the scheme had been announced. Till now they had been farming but this scheme promised a hefty sum at the end of each month. The prospects were endless. They started putting in money to run the Mid Day Meal Scheme at the Mathiapada Primary School. After the first few months of running the show, they had not received any of the money they were promised. The block level officials told them to not worry; they would be paid soon, they were reassured. The main problem here is a loan that looms over their heads. All of these women are from families that live below the poverty line and support their families by working as labourers and through subsistence farming. Unless they get paid the money they are owed, they have no way of repaying that loan. “Even if you take a minimum amount of Rs.1000 a month, at the end of 3 years they would have earned about Rs.50,000 to 60,000. They’ve seen none of it. They have been visiting different officials for some time now and all they get in return are false promises. After making the video, I have talked to the Block Officer as well and asked about the status of their payment. I got a similar response but I am determined to get this group their money,” says IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Abhishek Kumar Dash “It’s not just one group that has faced this problem, there are around 200 groups in Gumna Block alone which have met a similar fate. All of these groups including the Maa Indira Devi SHG were doing all right; they made just about enough to sustain themselves. After joining this scheme they have all suffered losses and are in a worse off condition than when they started. This video is illustrative of a wider problem in the implementation of government schemes in our country. The plans get made far far away from where they are implemented. There is a serious need for a bottom up approach. What good are schemes and systems that make people regress into economic dependence rather than leading to their progress?” asks Abhishek. Call to Action: Abhishek asks all the viewers of this video to call the School Inspector of Gumna Block, Mr. Susil Sabar 9556186201 and ask him to release the money owed the women of the Maa Indira Devi self-help group immediately.   Article By: Kayonaaz Kalyanwala  

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