Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NGO run Rural and Family Planning Centres: A Valueless Suggestion for Population Control and Rural Employment Generation for India!

India is the world's second most populous country .Any time in the recent future it could overtake the present number one, China. The population growth in India is happening at a tremendous rate of about 20% every decade.

Ever since the aggressive population control misadventure of the government of India during the emergency rule during the 1970's , the successive governments apparently lost their courage and interest to include population control under any serious governmental agenda. As a result there has been an explosive growth of population from about 890 million (1981 census) to 1210 million (2011 census). That is more than 300 million additional people in three decades! Thus, the present day India is a country of youngsters and youths with more than 50 percent under the age 40!

Well-to-do Indians are more and more adopting the one-child-per-couple norm while average and below average Indians still follow the many-children norm. Thus, in the near future, the population of below average Indians would keep rising. This situation is potentially dangerous and could trigger envious enmities gripping the minds of the less privileged people.

Rise of population should  not be something that could be a worry for India, had India knew how to manage its resources efficiently. India is one of the best lands in the world with regard to natural resources. Unfortunately, its resource management systems and resource administration have not been very good. Thus, unprecedented rise in absolute population under poor administrative systems would naturally enhance the problems of the Indian people. Some may directly feel the pinch while many others may not directly feel it for quite some time until they themselves face some problems. 

Rising population and shrinking job opportunities are the two main problems of India. These two problems cause other problems to rise as well.

Considering the above, the first priority of all right thinking leaders (political, administrative, social and religious) of India should have been the following:
  • How to bring down the population growth?
  • How to enhance the opportunities for employment and jobs?
In my humble opinion, when the above two things are addressed, many of the ills of India would automatically get reduced to a great extent.

I have some suggestions to all leaders to think and act. I do not know whether they ever hear the words of people like me or not! Chances for that are very remote as the Indian leaders of all kinds are known for their impatience, arrogance and I-know-it-all attitudes! Over and above, once a leader, there are enough mundane things that keep them permanently occupied that they would not get any time to think and act of their own!

Now, let me discuss about the suggestions that I have. 

First, about population control. In my opinion, the governments need not become proactive or aggressive in this regard. Rather they should not. They should not do any thing that make the people becoming antagonistic just as what had happened during the emergency days with Mr Sanjay Gandhi's compulsory sterilization program or what had recently happened in Chhattisgarh state in a government sponsored women sterilization program.

The government should only be an educator and facilitator in this context. The government should not directly get involved with any family planning or population control program. But the government should be a dedicated facilitator.

How do they do it? The following could be a possible approach:

Let the government announce a program and guidelines for social groups, companies and religious organizations to set up non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGO) that are responsible for the promotion of family planning, health and hygiene, sanitation, women welfare, child care and other related areas. 

Let these NGO's be allowed to create physical infrastructure and trained welfare staff organizations under them for the said purpose.

Let them be registered with the government (state or central). 

Let them be provided with grants and be allowed to accept donations from the public and also charge nominal service charges for their services from those who can pay.

Let these NGO managed Rural and Family Planning Centers (RFPC) be treated as quasi-government organizations which are autonomous, but responsible to the public with regard to their functions.

Let their accounts be fully transparent and in the public domain through their own websites.

Let them be free to plan their action plans and implement them using their staff and volunteers. Let them also be free to appoint their staff and fix their remunerations. 

Let this be first tried for the rural areas as that is the priority sector for population growth and employment generation. 72% of Indian people live in the villages. Let each of these NGO managed RFPC's be responsible for at least 1000 families and let them be allowed to register families for the management of all governmental welfare schemes. Let these RFPC's also be allowed to interact with the rural folks regularly and also build up demographic information and data.

Every RFPC should have a staff strength of one for every 100 family. Thus, an RFPC that caters to a rural population of about 6000 (approximately 1000 families) should have a staff strength of 10 people besides its voluntary director board. At least one staff member of an RFPC should be a medically trained person.

There are over 600,000 villages in India with an average population of over 1000. If an RFPC caters to about one thousand families or about 6000 people, there could be over 100,000 RFPCs. 

With every RFPC employing at least 10 people, the rural employment generation through this would be 1,000,000 or one million.

Now let us see how much money is required to establish and run one RFPC. 

Ideally, an RFPC should have about 1000 square meters of land and about 200 sq.m of building space of its own. For any rural area, this would cost on the average the following:
  • Land cost :      1000000 @ Rs. 1000/- per sq.m
  • Building cost:  2000000 @ Rs. 10,000/- per sq.m
  • Other:              1000000 
That is about 40 lakh rupees ( 4 million rupees) for the essential infrastructure to be created for each of the RFPC. Remember, these are not to be managed by the government departments. If the government ever tries to do it directly, the costs would be much higher and they would make a mess out of it. These RFPCs are to be managed by private NGOs registered under the Societies Act or by any separate act that the government may enact appropriately. 

Now let us see what is the essential employment cost for each RFPC employing 10 staff members. As the staff would be rural based, let us assume that they be paid a monthly gross salary of average Rs.8000 per month in the range 5,000- 12,000. That is about one million rupees yearly. It might require another about 3 million to carry out the family planning and family welfare measures to the families it serves per year taking about 3000 rupees average per family per year.

So, a fully functional RFPC needs about 4 million rupees as its initial capital cost and another 4 million per year as the recurring cost. To make the scheme to run without any financial difficulties, let us for a moment assume that the 4 million recurring cost of an RFPC is coming from a suitable endowment fund constituted and deposited in the treasury or any banks as long term fixed deposits. To gain an interest of 4 million per year, the endowment fund to be deposited as FD would be about 46 million rupees. The endowment fund should only be allowed for generating regular income for meeting the cost of running the organization.

Thus, a workable rural RFPC set up and made functional this way would require about 50 Million rupees- four million for its infrastructure and 46 million to be created as an endowment fund to be kept in government treasuries or with banks. For full funding of all the 100,000 RFPCs a total of 5000,000 million rupees may be required in case the RFPCs are to be made self sustainable perpetually with major incomes generated from their endowment funds. The more this kind of NGO run RFPCs the more the governments could do away with their own field staffing and unyielding staff costs. The governments can divert those activities to these NGO run RFPCs.

The scope and extent of these RFPCs could be further extended to include other developmental activities as well.

Now from where this money would come? Some years ago, the government of India began the Local Area Development (LAD) Scheme for the members of the parliament (MP) called the MPLADS. As per this scheme, every MP has been given a budgetary allocation of Rs.50 million per year to be spent on any scheme of his or her choice in their respective localities or constituencies. There are 776 MPs in India. In an year, they could get 776 x 50 = Rs. 38800 million as MPLAD. 

The members of the state legislative assemblies (MLA) also has their own LAD which is about 20 million per year. There are about 4120 MLAs in India. Their total allocation potential is 4120 x 20 = Rs. 82400 million per year. 

Both MP and MLAs together have been provided with 38800+82400 = Rs.121200 million per year of fund to be spend for their area development. For total cost for a sustainable RFPC as mentioned earlier which will give permanent employment to 10 rural people would be 50 million. Thus, the MPs and MLAs can either fund 30000 RFPCs in an year with regard to their infrastructure and finance all the RFPCs in about three year' time. They can also part finance the initial recurring costs till they become capable of self sustainable with regard to their own generation of funds through various means. 

As I have mentioned, the funds to set up and run these RFPCs can also come from other sources, such as the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds of the companies, transfer from surplus funded educational societies, individuals, etc.

What is essential is the policy and the statutory guidance of the government. The policies and the guidelines should not be too stringent in which case those volunteering to make it would find it a headache. On the other hand, it should not be a platform for some people to pilferage public money without proper accountability. The government could also consider the NGOs as purely non-profit and exempt their incomes from income tax and service taxes.

Such an initiative not only creates more than one million rural jobs, but also helps substantially in making the rural masses the necessary guidance in a variety of much needed actions such as:

  • Awareness for population control
  • Extending family planning facilities 
  • Awareness on public health and disease control
  • Awareness creation for sanitation
  • Program implementation for sanitation
  • Program implementation for drinking water
  • Program implementation for rural area pollution control
  • Program implementation for non-conventional energy use
  • Program implementation for composting and bio-gas production
  • Rural self employment generation
  • Rural road development
  • Adult literacy enhancement and informal education
  • Agricultural product sourcing and marketing, etc 
It is not that the state and the central governments of India are not doing these. They are doing, but incurring perhaps a higher cost and also without much visible effects. There are also many NGOs in the work but there is little public awareness and visibility. Family planning and employment generation are apparently not in their priorities. There is much duplication of work without much coordination and accountability.

The time has come for the governments to get away from direct departmental actions and to assume the role of facilitators rather than actual doers in areas like these. At the same time, it is the governments' responsibility to ensure that long term actions do not break and sink midway!

Let the MPLADS and MLALADS funds be utilized efficiently which ensure more and more permanent job creation rather than spending it for improperly planned construction works here and there. 

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has urged the MPs and MLAs to use their funds for Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign). This too could be well managed if these funds are transferred to the NGOs for setting up and managing the RFPCs under proper policy guidance. 

The Rural and Family Planning Centers set up and managed by various NGOs could be monitored by the MPs and MLAs and also by national and state level bureaucratic coordination departments. However, such acts should not become over control acts by the government. Diversion of funds for private gains other than for the purpose of the NGO or the RFPC should be made a punishable act.

An NGO may be permitted to set up more than one RFPC under their management control. However, such an act should not cause a top heavy organization which eats away the funds for spending towards employing highly paid managers, some thing presently happens with many NGOs in India.

This is only a suggestion and as I have already stated, India does not work as per the ideas of ordinary citizens. It has several celebrity advisers who keep moving in the power corridors seeking to sell their advises for benefits!

You really need heavy and 'valuable' suggestions and advises for getting it implemented in India!

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