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Integrated Rural Development Programme in Eastern UP

Programme in Eastern UP Kripa Shankar Official evaluation and other studies of IRDP show that a very small percentage of the intended beneficiaries have succeeded in deriving any real benefit In all probability the successful cases are those who belong to the better off categories and who are really not eligible for the scheme WHEN the Integrated Rural Development Programme was launched with great fanfare it was thought that something spectacular was going to happen in rural India. But it turned out to be a miserable scheme of giving loans to the poor with an element of subsidy for some small asset like a buffalo. In the beginning the poor were not even aware of it and better-off farmers got the buffaloes in the name of their servants who were just asked to affix their signature/thumb impression on the application form. There were cases when corrupt lower functionaries at the block level misappropriated the loan on the basis of fake applications. When the racket assumed serious proportions it became mandatory to affix a photograph of the applicant but this did not end the mischief In rural areas there are indigent persons who need small sums to meet their daily requirements or to repay small consumption loans. A small amount used to be paid to them for signing the application form; the loan amount would be withdrawn; the subsidy, usually 331/3 per cent of the loan, would be pocketed and the rest paid back to the bank. Thus targets were fulfilled and the recovery was cent per cent as also speedy and the corrupt village development officer (VDO) would get approbation for overfulfilment of targets and more importantly for quick recovery of loans. Incidentally, VDOs were previously known as 'gram sewaks', i.e, village servants. They resented being called 'gram sewaks' and considered it derogatory. They agitated for a change in their designation and now they are known as village development officers. One can understand the commitment of such functionaries who have descended on the rural areas.

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