The emergence of society in human history has its root in people living together in a community. When in a society, a diverse variety of individual needs and demands has commonality, social problems come into being.
It requires education, research, efforts, strategy and investment to analyse such problem and come up with a solution. In modern days, social intervention by Government has become crucial. Accordingly, combining growth strategies across various sectors of the economy, the Government of Mizoram introduced a comprehensive development Programme – New Economic Development Programme (NEDP) from the year 2016 – 2017.
One of the important components of the NEDP is the Social Sector which encompasses public health, education, nutrition, water supply, sanitation, poverty alleviation etc. Development of this sector will result in improvement in the quality life and well being of the people, achievement of all- round development of human capital, increasing productivity of human resources and ultimately enhance the rate of economic growth.
Hence, investment in social sector development is of vital importance. Mizoram has done fairly well in the social sector. It ranked higher than the national average in terms of Human Development Index(HDI), particularly in the field of nutrition and literacy. However, the State is lagging behind in terms of quality education, employability, skills development, quality health and medical services, access to adequate safe drinking water, modern and hygienic sanitation facilities etc.
Therefore, the Government’s NEDP initiates action to complement efforts taken through existing schemes and programmes in the development of this sector. In the health sector, with the objective of providing affordable and quality healthcare to the people of Mizoram initiatives, such as skill development and training for different levels of health care workers, improvement of Primary Health Centers in convergence with National Health Mission, improvement of district Hospitals as per Indian Public health Standards (IPHS) Mission, support for establishment of reputable Referral Hospital, Food and Drugs Safety Programme, Patient Safety Program (PSP), Bio-Medical Waste Management are undertaken under NEDP. During the year 2016-2018, under this policy, all district hospitals were equipped with modern medical devices such as endoscopy machines, ultrasound machine, motorised operating table, C T scans etc.
Under the scheme, improvement of health care facilities in all district hospitals with an outlay Rs 2,900 lakhs. Trainings for regulatory personnels, drugs dealers and food business operators, awareness programme on food and drugs safety etc, were conducted. Adequate drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to human health.
Depletion of natural fresh water supply coupled with insanitation has become a threat to the health and quality life of the populace. Mizoram is still on its way in achieving National norms of Water Supply level(70lpcd). NEDP supports efforts to provide adequate drinking water and sanitation for all the people in Mizoram in convergence with other schemes, programmes and projects being implemented in the State.
Financial support were given for operation and maintenance of existing water supply and sanitation infrastructure, improvement in water transmission system, improvement in metering and billing system to reduce non-revenue water for better cost recovery, improvement in water supply quality through better and more efficient treatment/monitoring/surveillance.
Operation and maintenance of various water supply schemes were undertaken to ensure continuous water supply and wider coverage of water distribution through out the State. Water treatment plants were equipped with basic mandatory equipments through NEDP funding. For better convenience of the people, Smart Water solution that provides a computerised paperless system starting from application for new connection, meter reading, bill payment, addressing consumer grievances to revenue analysis is being developed under NEDP.
Handheld devices for meter readings that will help in saving time and paper as well as avoiding reading entry errors was also introduced. In the education sector, the Government of Mizoram has set up the Education Reforms Commission (ERCM) to recommend ways and means to raise standards, and improve quality in all sectors of education, namely, pre-school, elementary, tertiary, professional and technical.
The Commission has submitted its recommendation in 2010 and the Government has accepted the report and recommendation. The State Government has been continuously implementing the Commission’s recommendation through various sources of funding. NEDP support implementation of the recommendation of Education Reforms Commission (ERCM) with a focus on enhancing the capacity of competence of teachers and infrastructure development in Education Sector.
Under NEDP initiatives, construction and maintenance of school infrastructures in all districts, establishment of smart classrooms for 24 colleges, upgradation of science laboratories for five colleges, establishment of online exam center in technical wing of H&TE Department, improvement of library for 24 colleges were undertaken. In the field of games and sports, primacy is given to infrastructural development because the challenge faced by the State is not dearth of talents. Inspite of limited resources, Mizoram has excelled in sports discipline like football, boxing and other contact sports both at the National and International level. Utmost effort has been given under NEDP towards development of sports infrastructure. Though NEDP has been implemented by the State only recently and its activities yet confined to a few selected fields, its achievement in the social sector is very encouraging.
This is a result of sound cooperation between political leaders and officials at different stages of the planning, implementation and monitoring of schemes and programmes under the policy. The scope of social sector is far and wide and its effect far reaching and significant, touching on people in all walks of life. Hence, greater efforts, better infrastructure, stronger commitment, and a more adequate fund and active peoples’ participation are required to reach the desired level of achievement.
Though NEDP has been implemented by the State only recently and its activities are still confined to a few selected fields, its achievement in the social sector is encouraging. There still exist a great scope for expansion in terms of coverage and extent.
(Views expressed in this article are of Mary Lalrinchhungi, Research Officer Planning and Implementation,Department, Government of Mizoram)