In a unique experiment, the Government has taken governance and human dignity to a level of a philosophy. People’s concern and interest in contributing to the social infrastructure is back in order. The manner in which the Babu Government has gone about the task of bringing a change in the scenario is in itself an encouraging experiment in human action. He always believed that no development or welfare programme is meaningful without the participation of people and the local bodies. The State will function as a facilitator and provide the infrastructure and support. The seeds of the movement were doubtlessly sown with the concept of Prajala Vaddaku Palana (PVP), `Administration at the people’s door step’ was surely an institutional shift.
Once the idea caught up, people were coming out to openly question their local representatives and officials about the follow up on the work, he also inspired the people to voluntarily donate their time and effort for taking up community works. Gaining experience from the implementation of PVP, the next logical step was to have more involvement. Accordingly, the Shramdaan scheme was launched. It brought out the hitherto latent potential of the village communities taking up developmental programmes with a proud sense of ownership and participation.
In the context of this comes the committed experiment of Janmabhoomi. The Government took upon itself the task of reconstructing the roads to the people. The manner in which self help groups were placed centre-stage became a clear indication of the Government’s priority. Being essentially a public grievances redressal mechanism, officials visit every single village and conduct meetings with the people directly. The local bodies and nodal officials coordinate the meetings and Action taken Reports for the previous round are provided.
The frequent people contact programme achieves the twin goals of reforming both the role of bureaucracy and the democratically elected leaders. On the one hand, the officials no longer view people as subjects and instead with a transformed mindset, treat them as stake holders to whom they are accountable. Even the approach of elected representatives in dealing with public has changed vastly.
The programme also empowers the local officials and powers have been delegated by the government to clear all non financial issues without a delay. It also ensures that people are told the reasons for rejecting their representations which cannot be considered favourably.
The call of Naidu, has become the call of Andhra Pradesh – Jai Janmabhoomi. A specially designed Janbhoomi cap on the head and a unique janmabhoomi logo with the human chain highlighting the strength of togetherness, has become the spirit of the people of the state.
The Chief Minister has displayed good political sense in strengthening the institution of functional democracy at the people’s end. The initial cynicism has given way to acceptance. Chandrababu Naidu stood by it. Almost he reflected what Thomas Paine said, ” There is a natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude.”
Four States have adopted the Janmabhoomi programme, a massive Citizen-Government collaborative program for rural development., this is in keeping with his corporate style of governance in which people are treated as stakeholders in the State’s development giving it their own names, impressed by its impact in Andhra Pradesh and the underlying concept — stakeholders’ participation in development by fulfilling the felt-needs through self-help and cooperation.
Gujarat has grounded its own version of Janmabhoomi under the name “Gokul Grama Yojana,” while Rajasthan is implementing the programme under the name “Apna Gaon Apna Kam.” It has been rechristened “Gram Sampark Abhiyan” in Madhya Pradesh and “Namakku Name Thittam” in Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh itself borrowed the concept from Korea’s Saemaul Undog, rural reconstruction through self-help and cooperation. However, the implementation in the four States was restricted to a limited extent compared to the full-scale operation in Andhra Pradesh.
In a nut shell, janmabhoomi taken up during 1998-2004 created a platform where people, public representatives and the government come together to initiate development programmes at a micro level and create an inverted pyramid model for progress.