SCHOOL ON WHEELS

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GOVT LIKELY TO USE AADHAR

A Pilot Project on Direct Cash Transfers to the Poor

 

The Government at both the Centre and States every year formulate number of welfare measures, but couldn’t reach the targeted beneficiaries because of bogus list of benefi­ciaries.

The most ambititious literacy programme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan also couldn’t bring the expected result. Hence, recently, a Rs 2,000 crore saving made by Maharashtra government using Aadhar-based identification to cut down on bogus student enrollments has made government bureaucrats in Delhi optimistic that they can now cut down funds for welfare programmes while improving the delivery mechanism. Besides, the aadhar­linked cash transfer in Alwar, Rajasthan, has also made the officials excited. To do this, the Centre is also planning to get all students registered under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to be provided an Aadhar-based identity. The revamped programme could be rolled out in the next academic year. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan costs the Centre about Rs 25,515 crore each year and about the same from the states to universalise elementary expenditure but like most expend:lure programmes is riddled with leakageS. Maharashtra Pilot Study: The Maharashtra pilot study has revealed that use cf biomet­rics to identify genuine students could save the state over 5 per cent of its annual plan expenditure. These are big numbers that have made other states sit up too. From 2013-14, in Maharashtra, Aadhar numbers wit be a must for teachers and students ‘ as a pre-condition for a school to get grants in aids. Simultaneously the state government has also announced that thanks to this initiative, it will shut down 2.500 schools that had fudged the number of students enrolled with it. Direct cash transfers are Ividely believed to be a efficient way of helping the poor than holding the price line artificially low. This proved to be true in Alwar, a district of Rajasthan, where a pilot project on direct cash transfers to the poor was taken up in December last year and has reportedly yielded positive results. The project on kerosene subsidy, tried out by the Rajasthan Government in Kotkasim village on an invitation from the Union Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, has given the initial indication that the concept can work favourably for the targeted group. Kerosene is sold at Rs.44.50 a litre in fair price shops in Kotkasim which is the open market price set by oil companies. It is sold through the public distribution system (PDS) at the highly subsidized price of Rs.15.25 in other parts of Ra-. jasthan. The Central Go1.76rnment bears the difference and compensates the oil companies. The interim report of the Govern­ment’s Task Force on Direct Transfer of Subsidies on kerosene, LPG and fertilizers pointed out that the use of kerosene for cooking in urban and rural areas has fallen —,proof that subsidized kerosene is diverted for other purposes, including adulterating diesel. Allowing all to purchase at the market rate and then compensating the poor through cash transfers ensures that only the poor receive the entitlement of subsi­dized goods. Of the 25,000 ration card holders in Kotkasim, those with a double gas connection were weeded out. The project now covers around 20,000 ration card holders. All of them were told to open zero-balance, no-frills bank accounts into which the subsidy would be de­posited (even if they had an existing bank account). Till March-end, 16,000 such ac­counts. had been opened. Interestingly, nearly 90 per cent of the card holders did not have a bank account till then. Thus the project has also helped us in financial inclusion. Alwar Collector and District Supply Office spent two months on awareness campaigns hold­ing lengthy sessions with consumers, ration shop owners, wholesale dealers as well as representatives of rural local bodies. Finally, the backing of the Zila Pramukh and the Village Pradhan – both women – saw the project taking off. The amount of subsidy was being received quarterly and being credited to the beneficiary accounts without delay. After the success of the project at Kotkasim, the authorities now propose to introduce it in the district’s Rajgarh and Reini blocks. The administration is also planning to integrate the smart cards issued under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NIGNREGS) with the system so that the subsidy can be transferred directly into the existing IvIGNREGS accounts.

SCHOOL ON WHEELS

The unique initiative of transforming buses into classrooms in Mumbai is educating many slum children. With 5 school buses transformed to classrooms, the “Door step school.’ reaches out to many slum children. Blna Laksharia, a teacher, started this Door Step School in 1997 where a school-bus is converted into a travelling classroom across Mumbai slums. These children are taken for picnics and provided food on special occasions. Today, Door Step school has 5 buses in Mumbai and Pune and hold 3-hour long classes everyday. With 10 teachers on their payroll, the school costs over 6 lakh rupees per year. Learning how to read and write is a dream comes true for these little minds .                 It is hard to believe but the guar crop has changed the standard of living of the guar grower of Nokh village of Rajasthan. The guar grower don’t know what happened but overnight the price of their guar crop, that would often lie discarded around the village, soared. The prices rose almost 10 times from Rs 3,900 a quintal to Rs 30,000. The reason behind this soaring price of guar crop was US’s “frocking boom” or hydraulic fracturing. India’s guar bean has been used by the US Oil and gas companies as a key ingredient used in hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technology that has revolutionized the energy indus­try by opening up vast new fields for production. The extract from guar, a bean predominantly grown in India, produces a gel in frocking fluid that delivers “proppant” to hold open cracks in shale rock when it is fracked. But now the US Oil and gas compa­nies are racing to find a new substitute for India’s guar bean. According to Canadian fracking specialist Trican Vell Service, guar prices shot up 60 per cent in Canada and 80 per cent in the United States between the first and second quar­ters. Trican, which is ranked sixth by frocking capacity in North America, has high hopes for its own guar substitute, now being developed. Demand for guar also comes from the food industry. It is found in a wide range of food products, from sauces to ice cream, in which alternative cellulose gum products are already used

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