“Streamlining the process of fund flow and monitoring of programmes regularly is a challenge and use of ICT can help us to overcome it,” opines Rajeev Arun Ekka. In conversation with Souvik Goswami & Kartik Sharma.
Please give us an overview of the works of your department and also tell us about the scope of ICT initiatives for better service delivery for various schemes?
As you will be aware that Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) was launched in 1975 and at present, we run 38,000 Anganwadi centers. In these we have basically four categories of beneficiaries pregnant mothers, lactating mothers, adolescent girls and the children from 0 to 6 years of age. The major thrust of the department is providing supplementary nutrition to this age group of 6 months to three years and to the pregnant and lactating mothers.
All these Anganwadi centers receive the supplementary nutrition money from the state every month. So, every month they will be procuring the rice, wheat, dal, soya beans, etc., and from these ingredients they will be preparing meals for the children of the age group of three years to six years. So, this is supplementation of the calories and the proteins which are deficient in these categories of children, and also giving take-home rations to the pregnant and lactating mothers. In this context, I think e-governance is very much important for monitoring mechanism, whereby we can monitor the fund flow real time. This is a big area where we can use ICT to better our system to deliver services to the citizens.
In districts levels, we have certain amount of monitoring mechanism in which there are regular reports and monitoring. For example, I can talk about MIS system which regularly gives us feedback about how many children are enrolled, how many are attending, etc. What I am trying to say is that, in reality, we do not have connected link of this data flow where ICT could be used in big way for improving service delivery in this department.
Apart from this under the “Swami Vivakananda Protsahan Yojna,” we give scholarships to the disabled children, and there are also big issues of management of data, fund flow, money going directly into their bank accounts and rest. And here also ICT can play a major role, and we have not yet started, but we have planned to start using ICT for these schemes from 1st April, 2014.
Another area where ICT can play a big role is in the area of payments for 70,000 Anganwadi workers and helpers in the state. They get remuneration from both central and state governments. But, as of today, all these money is drawn from treasury, they go down from district level to block level and then from block level to the accounts of these workers, so there is the issue of delayed payments in all these transactions. Also, there can be issues of malpractices, leakages and we cannot deny that fact. So, the Chief Secretary has very rightly directed us, and the department is thinking on the same line. We have decided to delink the sanctioning process from disbursement from 1st April, 2014 and we will be linking these workers’ account to Aadhar-based bank accounts in phased manner. This would ensure the speedy disbursement of payments to these persons. ICT will play a major role in this endeavor.
You talked about the areas where ICT can play a major role for better delivery of services. What about the on-going schemes in which the ICT initiatives have been undertaken by your department?
If you see the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS), there we have one programme for the missing children and there is a website where cases are registered. Also, we have a website where people can lodge complaints and grievances. We are trying to do multiple things. I can tell you that we are still not using ICT in a big way, but we are planning to do it as early as possible.
Real Time Monitoring Cell
The integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme is a centrally-sponsored scheme, which aims to improve the nutritional and health status of children and enhance the capability of mothers through proper neutrino and health education to look after the normal health and nutritional needs of their children. It is the symbol of India’s commitment to its children and response to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition, morbidity, reduced learning capacity and mortality. As the importance of ICDS programme, it’s observed that a strong monitoring mechanism for better implementation of programme is need of the hour. Therefore, in the month of October 2011, “Real Time State Monitoring Cell” came to the existence at Directorate of Social Welfare, Ranchi with the help of UNICEF. Principal Secretary of the department officially inaugurated the Monitoring Cell. Organizational set up of Real Time Monitoring Cell• The Principal Secretary of Social Welfare Women and Child Development, Government of Jharkhand is controlling officer of Monitoring Cell.• Director, WCD is Reporting officer of Monitoring Cell.
• Assistant Director of the directorate is in-charge of this cell.
• One State Coordinator of Real Time Monitoring Cell is responsible for daily monitoring, supported by six monitoring assistant.
• Findings of Monitoring Cell shared with District Social Welfare Officer (24), C.D.P.Os (204), and all L.S for corrective steps.Objective of Monitoring Cell
• Implementation of ICDS scheme towards the achievement of the scheme objectives and universalisation of the schemes.
• Regular Functioning of AWC as time fixed by the government of Jharkhand for AWC.
• Timely distribution of SNP.
• Effectively implementation of pre-school non-formal education.
• Timely and regular flow of fund of SNP and payment of honorarium of AWW.
• Ensure the quality, and available sufficient quantity of food for SNP at AWC Level.
• Availability of essential items at AWC level i.e. medicine kit, pre-school education kit, WHO growth chart etc.
• Adequate infrastructure facility of AWC for effective delivery of service.
• Availability of water sources at AWC level.
• Complete sanitation care of the children.
• Regular immunization, distribution of Vitamin A, IFA tablet, etc., among beneficiaries.
• Maximum attendance of the eligible age group child, adolescent girl and lactating women at AWC.
• Special care of undernourished child and their improvement.
• Regular visit of official at AWC.
• Coverage of habitation of the state in respect of universalisation of ICDS.
What are the challenges for your department?
The main challenge which I see for the department is streamlining the process of fund flow and monitoring of programmes regularly. As you know our Anganwadi centers have to be open every day, money has to reach the Anganwadi centers every month, ingredients have to be procured, supplementary nutrition has to be disbursed on daily basis as the Supreme Court is monitoring it. So, if a mechanism helps us in better fund flowing and monitoring, it would take care much of our problems, as we face it, and will bring more transparency. It will also ensure better delivery of services.
Please share with us your vision for the Social Welfare, Woman and Child Development Department of the Jharkhand Government?
We wish to pursue child protection in a big way under the ICPS programme. That is one of the major area of concern for us in a state like Jharkhand, where we grapple with issues like trafficking and children migrating in large numbers. The second concern which the department wishes to tackle is the problem of malnutrition. If we streamline the supplementary nutrition programme, then we can bring down the malnutrition level in the state. Lastly, we wish to make this Woman Development programme a big one, whereby women are empowered at village levels. We lack in the area of women-centric programmes. If we take the example of various MGNAREGA, animal husbandry, fisheries, agricultural schemes, most of the schemes are generic without making any special provisions for woman. I think if women are empowered to develop and implement schemes, it will lead to employment generation at village levels, reduction of trafficking and migrating. May be that will bring overall development of the village and that is my vision.