Overlapping social schemes a major challenge

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India’s social sector spending has been increasing, but the target groups are yet to benefit. Inadequate schemes, improper fund allocation and inefficient delivery mechanisms could be blamed for the slow progress of human development programmes. What is needed is a ‘zero budgeting’ approach with reorganization, convergence and revamp of social sector schemes.

Providing jobs and a decent standard of living to all are the government’s major challenges, stated the economic survey. India with its advantages of demographic dividend can overcome the challenges, if key infrastructure services are provided, said Mohit Gupta, director and co-founder of TeamLease Services.

“On a broader perspective, for job creation, you have got to take people to the jobs and not the jobs to the people. This implies creation of more cities and related services. For example, work mobility in Delhi improved substantially because of the Metro. Only when this happens can job creation be achieved to the desired extent,” he said.

Dealing with multiple and sometimes overlapping programmes is another challenge. While India has not compromised on expenditures on welfare activities despite global shocks, the outlays have not fully translated into outcomes. A mere markup each year in the budget for existing programmes or starting some new programmes will not be sufficient. Proper accountability is required for the schemes.

“There are a number of schemes by different ministries targeting the same set of beneficiary. For example, target audience of the National Health Mission and the Integrated Child Development Scheme overlaps. Similar is the case with several skill development schemes. A multi-sector approach will help in better use of financial resources as well as the efficient delivery of schemes,” said Ashok Varma, PwC executive director for government reforms and infrastructure development.

“Skill gap issues are being discussed for a long time as India’s demographic dividend is a key lever for growth. With 12 million youth joining the workforce each year, there is a need for radical thinking about skill and human resources development,” said Aditya N Mishra, president (staffing) at Randstad India.

Avanish Kumar, chairman of public policy, MDI, said, “India’s demographic dividend will result in divide and end of hope, unless the government prioritises social sector investment and governance. It’s the quality of human resources that creates opportunity.”

(With inputs from Shishir Parasher in New Delhi)

shyamalaseetharaman@mydigitalfc.com

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