Balwant Singh Bhau
Probably for the first time, someone in New Delhi has accepted boldly that people in Kashmir valley are cynical about Government intervention and perceive every initiative as just another showpiece.
This has been admitted by the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the concerned department in Union Ministry for rural development. The Ministry has categorically stated that when it was implemented Himayat in Jammu & Kashmir, the major bottleneck was lack of trust and faith of people of Kashmir in government policies.
Ministry has said that such was the fear that people in Kashmir valley felt that it was Micro driven initiative and proxy for conversion by Christian missionaries. Ministry has said that it took them several months to convince people that Himayat was a noble initiative aimed at boosting the morale of people of Kashmir valley and making them part of the growth story of India.
It has added that lack of trust in the state was also a challenge. “These apprehensions were addressed by highlighting the fact that it was a government initiative, more importantly a central government initiative which carried more credibility in the eyes of people. Trainees who had completed the training would also speak in support of the initiative, and the involvement of local people at all levels earned Himayat a lot of acceptability and trust,” the ministry has claimed in its report.
It has further said that the use of external agencies for carrying out community mobilization also posed challenges. “External agencies would provide incorrect information and make false promises to the trainees, leading to a loss of credibility of Himayat. Fixing accountability became difficult as villages were not always saturated and comprehensively mobilized,” the ministry has further said.
It has noted with concern that multiple agencies carrying out mobilization in a single village also led to several problems. “To solve this, the responsibility of mobilization was given to the training agencies which ran the training centres. Most importantly, in cases where trainees went out of the state alone or in small groups, they were easily demoralized in the new city, and dropped out,” added the ministry.
Ministry has stated that this issue was resolved by ensuring that a minimum of eight candidates from each village go out of the state together so that they form a support system for each other, thus enabling better retention. “Low retention rates was the main challenge faced initially as trainees who went out of the state would return home because the salary provided would often be inadequate to sustain themselves. Interviewees also spoke of discrimination, especially when finding accommodation,” says the Himayat report.
It stresses that the opening of bank accounts for trainees was difficult due to the absence of necessary documents. Thus, during the initial stages of implementation, the dropout rate was as high as 70%. “To resolve this problem, monetary and non-monetary post-placement support was introduced. Following this, dropout rates reduced to 30% but remain a challenge. Effective community mobilization was also a big challenge. People’s fixation with only taking up jobs in the public sector, which was especially strong in rural areas, had to be broken,” said the report.
The ministry further said that this was solved by explaining that the comparatively low-qualified trainees of Himayat are assured a minimum salary of Rs. 4,000 in the private sector, which is more than what higher-qualified applicants are offered in the public sector. It has said that Himayat is to be in operation only for five years, and is slated to end in 2016.
“There is a strong demand from the grassroots – the beneficiaries themselves, project implementers and local elected representatives – for the scheme continue for the coming 15 to 20 years, so that it has a truly transformative impact. An initiative such as Himayat is necessary, at least till the time a favorable climate for private investment and entrepreneurship is created,” the ministry said.