Accelerating Pathways out of Poverty by Effective Public Service Delivery in the Sikkim Himalaya
Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim (RMDD) has the overall responsibility of sustainable development of rural areas which involves infrastructure creation, promoting sustainable livelihoods and decentralized governance. The Sikkim Himalaya is the third highest landscape globally and the highest in the country harbouring Mt. Khangchendzonga which towers at 8,586 meters. It has amongst the steepest geographical setting as well, as the width of the Himalaya across its 3,000 km length is narrowest here (80km), resulting in the telescoping of the various eco-zones. Mountain landscapes, with their inherent constraints of remoteness, sensitive ecosystem and marginality, pose unique challenges to development. Before the implementation of this initiative the rural development sector faced the following major problems: Persistence of poverty and inequity: As per the Sikkim Human Development Report (2001), the benefits of growth and human development had not been equitably distributed, resulting in the persistence of high poverty levels and deprivations. This report pointed out that most of the poverty-stricken people are concentrated in rural areas and there was an urban-rural gap in terms of both distribution of income and asset creation. As per the Planning Commission, Government of India estimates for 2004-05, the percentage of poor households was as high as 31%. Gaps in institutional and public delivery systems: The local self government functioned at the village and district level, with each district team catering to about 200 habitations scattered on rugged mountain terrain with limited connectivity. Sikkim HDR (2001) pointed out that the administrative machinery needs to be made more responsive to the needs of the people and decentralization needs to be achieved using innovative mechanisms, as there are serious problems of inaccessibility. There was only one functionary to support the gram panchayats and the funding support was limited to only Rs 10 lakh annually. The district team could not cater to the diverse needs of the several habitations resulting in weak delivery of government programmes and public services. Limited opportunities for women: The role of women in development was limited and they had only one third representation in the local self government. Also, most of the development was controlled by contractors who were all men. The sole employment opportunity for women near their homes was as agriculture labourer, available seasonally on exploitative wages of about Rs 50 per day. Centralized, Contractor-driven approach: Though a small state, the rural areas are highly heterogeneous having a diverse geographical setting. The elevation of the villages ranges from 300 – 4,000 metres, annual rainfall varies from 150-350 cm and there are various combinations of aspect and slope as well. Also the cultural composition is rich and diverse with 14 ethnic groups, each having their own strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. Development planning was centralized at the State level and hence could not take into account these diverse developmental needs. Several key rural development sub-sectors such as housing, sanitation, employment and livelihoods suffered from a centralized, contractor-driven approach with no substantial role provided to the people.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The initiative titled “Accelerating Pathways out of Poverty by Effective Public Service Delivery in the Challenging Physical Environment of the Sikkim Himalaya” was initiated by RMDD in 2008 to address the above problems in a phased manner. The main objectives were shifting from contractor-driven to people centric development, deepening of democracy, promoting need based development, giving primacy to women, enforcing independent social audits to enhance public accountability and promoting convergence with line departments to create durable livelihood assets. 1. People centric development: Regular schemes related to sanitation and housing were transformed into mission mode by adopting a saturation approach. Financial grants were provided to the poorest of the poor directly to convert all the existing katcha (temporary) houses to pucca (permanent) in home owner-driven mode. Functions such as beneficiary selection, program implementation, procurement etc were transferred to the village level. 2. Deepening of democracy was initiated by establishing Gram Panchayat Cluster Support Offices (Gram Vikas Kendra - GVK) to provide administrative, accounts and technical support to a cluster of Gram Panchayats. 31 such centres have been created to cater to the needs of the 176 Gram Panchayats in the State. Each cluster office supports a group of about 6 Gram Panchayats having a population of about 15,000. This cluster facilitation team comprises of about 35 functionaries on deputation from the Panchayat, Rural Development, Education, Forests, Engineering, Horticulture, IT, Personnel and Finance Departments. Substantial funds and functions were devolved to this mini-secretariat thereby strengthening the last mile public delivery. Also, the funding, infrastructure and staffing at the village level office of the Gram Panchayat (Gram Prashashan Kendra GPK) was enhanced significantly. Giving primacy to the local self governments helped in making the administration and development people-centric and also ensured a wider outreach. 3. Promoting Need based development: With the shifting from “contractor driven” to “community driven approach” the development portfolio which was earlier oriented towards construction related works like village footpaths got diversified and many livelihoods interventions like minor irrigation channels, horticulture, forestry and fodder plantations, flood control works, water tanks, farm ponds, cattle sheds, land terracing etc got prioritized. A pioneering springshed development initiative to revive mountain springs was conceptualized and grounded to enhance rural water security. under the Village Development Action Plan (VDAP) initiative, decentralized, bottom up planning was firmly anchored with the preparation of multi-sectoral, perspective plans at the gram panchayat level. 4. Giving primacy to women in governing and participating in development: The Sikkim Panchayat Act 1995, was amended to make 50% representation of women in the Panchayati Raj Institutions statutory. Hence, post the Panchayat Elections 2012, the front face of governance is now dominantly women. Also, as an affirmative action to facilitate participation of women, the developmental planning was downscaled from planning a few macro-works per gram panchayat to promoting several micro-works in every habitation to encourage participation of women who would not prefer venturing too far away from their homes. 5. Enforcing independent social audits to enhance public accountability: Social audits were conducted by independent civil society organizations in which the original expenditure vouchers were read out for validation by the local community (Gram Sabha). The findings of the Social Audit are followed by corrective measures and an Action Taken Report. These independent social audits have helped in making the functionaries and the system accountable to the people. 6. Promoting convergence to create durable livelihood assets: Convergence was made the key strategy to rural development with the department joining hands with the Horticulture and Animal Husbandry Departments to jointly establish quality horticulture orchards and animal shelters in the lands of the poor.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Substantial funds and functions were devolved by decentralizing programs like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Indira Aawas Yojana (IAY), VDAP etc to this new cluster office. Rural housing, which was characterized by a centralized, contractor driven approach was reformed by initiating a mission mode program – the Chief Minister’s Rural Housing Mission (CMRHM) in home owner-driven mode. Need based development was given a fillip by providing substantial untied block grants to the Gram Panchayats, who used to earlier receive only meagre, ear-marked funds. Representation of women was enhanced in governance, revival of mountain springs was pioneered and the new concept of social audits institutionalized to make the public expenditure transparent and functionaries accountable to the people. Along with funds and functions, adequate functionaries were also deputed to enhance the last mile delivery of public programs by creating a unique convergence office (Gram Vikas Kendra) to provide administrative, accounts and technical) support to a cluster of 5-6 Gram Panchayats. Hence, their services were optimally utilized and the service delivery of public programs also improved significantly. To optimize public delivery efforts and effectively address the issue of poverty alleviation, inter-sectoral convergence of development programmes was grounded successfully.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
From 2008 onwards, the following action plan was implemented over the next 6 years as detailed below: 2008 24 Gram Vikas Kendras (GVKs) were established to function as a Gram Panchayat cluster support office. A mission mode initiative was taken up to construct all the remaining toilets in households, schools and child centres by placing it on the top of the development agenda. By Oct, 2008 sanitation was universalized and Sikkim became the first and only State in the country to have achieved this distinction. Posting of additional functionary (Bare Foot Engineer BFE) was done at the village level to maintain the drinking water pipelines. 2009 An additional functionary (Gram Rozgar Sahayak GRS) was provided at the village level to support the employment programs. Following this bank and post office accounts were opened for all the rural households. Sustainable livelihoods were promoted under MGNREGA by shifting the focus from construction activities to income generating ones. Social audits were grounded by partnering with local NGOs to enhance transparency and accountability. 2010 MGNREGA was grounded with micro-works in every habitation and could provide employment to 70% of the rural households mostly women every year. A new functionary (Panchayat Accounts Assistant PAA) was provided to support financial record keeping at the Gram Panchayat level. Capacity of functionaries was developed in geohydrology to revive dying springs under a unique springshed development initiative Gram Panchayat Planning and Budgeting guidelines were prepared by Professor Dafflon, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. 2011 The Chief Ministers Rural Housing Mission (CMRHM) was launched by reforming the existing housing programs. Village Development Action Plans (VDAPs) were prepared at the gram panchayat level using PRA tools to identify development priorities including participatory identification of the poor and resource mapping. Pilots were implemented to revive springs, streams and lakes under the springshed development initiative. Three more Gram Vikas Kendras were established taking their number up to 27. While all the Gram Panchayats have a fully functional office (Gram Prashashan Kendra GPK), 45 GPKs were upgraded to brand new offices. Following the devastating 18th Sept, 2011 earthquake of 6.8 magnitude, the assessment of the damage and vulnerability of rural structures was also carried out. 2012 Social audits were institutionalized by establishing an independent social audit unit, and pilots were taken up to build the capacity of the state and district resource persons. The Sikkim Panchayat Act 1995 was amended to ensure 50% reservation for women and the Sikkim Panchayat Elections 2012 were conducted successfully. The springshed development initiative was upscaled to cover 50 springs and 5 lakes. The Reconstruction of Earthquake Damaged Rural Houses Project (REDRH) was launched in mission mode to reconstruct 7,972 fully damaged houses in home owner-driven mode. 2013 Quality social audits were upscaled to all the Gram Panchayats of the State. A Junior Engineer (JE) functionary was provided at the gram panchayat level to support infrastructure creation. Three more Gram Vikas Kendras were established taking their number up to 31. The hydrological contribution of hill top forests was enhanced by taking up ground water recharge under the springshed development initiative. Trainings workshops were held all over the state to train 1,000 masons on earthquake resilient construction techniques. 2014 Under the CMRHM and REDRH housing programs 8,000 houses were completed successfully in home owner driven mode. Another functionary the Panchayat Development Assistant (PDA) was provided at the GP level. Jointly with the Horticulture department large scale horticulture plantations were taken up of large cardamom and mandarin orange in the lands of the poor. Also animal shelters i.e. cattle-shed and pig sty were constructed in the lands of the poor jointly with the animal husbandry department.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Various Ministries of the Government of India namely the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation provided generous financial and technical support to this initiative. The officials of RMDD during this period Shri Anil Ganeriwala (2008-2012), Shri Dilli Ram Nepal (2012-2014) and Shri Sandeep Tambe (2007-2014) provided able leadership. They along with the other functionaries at the state level designed these new initiatives. The implementation was carried out by the cluster support office (Gram Vikas Kendra) and the village office (Gram Prashashan Kendra), while the monitoring was done from the District level and evaluation from the State and National level. Professor Bernard Dafflon, University of Fribourg, Switzerland provided technical assistance on decentralized planning and budgeting and the Village Development Action Plan (VDAP) project with Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) support. The knowledge partner for the training of masons under the rural housing programs (CMRHM and REDRH) to construct earthquake resilient houses was the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT). The knowledge partners for the Springshed development initiative were the following NGOs namely WWF-India, People’s Science Institute, Dehradun and ACWADAM Pune. Independent Social Audits were taken up in partnership with the Voluntary Health Association of Sikkim (VHAS) NGO, who in turn partnered with District level NGOs to ground this initiative. The knowledge partner was the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad and the Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT), Andhra Pradesh. Performance evaluations were done by the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong (IIM), Institute of Rural Management Anand, Gujarat (IRMA), Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc), Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi (IIPA) and the Water and Sanitation Program - South Asia of the World Bank (WSP).
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The financial resources for this initiative were largely contributed by the national programs of the Government of India, while the state government provided supplementary funds. Financial resources to the tune of Rs 1110 crore were utilized during the 6 year period from 2008 to 2014 by making a capital investment of Rs 500 crore under MGNREGA, Rs 230 crore under CMRHM/IAY, Rs 230 crore under REDRH and Rs 150 crore under Panchayati Raj. Since this initiative was implemented in direct partnership with the gram panchayat and the local community it resulted in significant cost savings from beneficiary co-financing, community contribution and local facilitation making the investment sustainable. Adequate human resources, technical support, innovative institutional mechanisms and effective project management was contributed by the State. Five new functionaries (PDA, BFE, GRS, PAA, JE) were provided to supplement the lone functionary at the village level. These new functionaries functioned as a support team for maintenance of drinking water schemes, employment programs, financial record keeping and civil works. Thirty five line department functionaries were innovatively deputed to each of the 31 cluster level - Gram Vikas Kendras to support a cluster of 6 Gram Panchayats. This investment in functionaries helped to bridge the critical human resources gap and facilitated the effective delivery of public programs at the gram panchayat level. Specialized technical resources were sourced from knowledge partnerships forged with the Swiss Development Corporation, India, German Technical Cooperation (GIZ), India, National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Institute of Rural Management Anand, Gujarat, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Indian Institute of Management, Shillong, National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency, Hyderabad, WWF-India, People’s Science Institute, Dehradun and ACWADAM, Pune. Other than these specialized collaborations, partnerships with local institutions and local capacity building to develop para-professionals (master masons, para-geohydrologists, social auditors etc) ensured the sustainability of this initiative.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
In 2008, Sikkim became the first and only Nirmal Rajya in the country having achieved 100% open defecation free status in all the gram panchayats. As per Census of India (2011 compared to 2001), 87% of the houses have toilets (increased from 36% in 2001), 85% have access to running tap water (increased from 70% in 2001), 93% of the households have electricity (increased from 78% in 2001) and the thatched roof houses have reduced to 6% (from 17% in 2001). Of the total 93,000 rural households in the State (Census of India, 2011), 63,000 households (mostly women) were provided employment of more than 70 days under MGNREGA during 2013-14. Hence, the programme was able to enhance the annual income of 70% of the rural households (mostly mother’s) by about Rs 9,000/-. While during 2007-08, only 19,787 households were provided 43 days of employment. Also, earlier the total wage payment was released in cash, while by 2014 hundred percent of the wages were released in the newly opened bank and post office accounts thereby heralding financial inclusion. Till 2008, village footpaths dominated the shelf of projects, now diversified investments are being made on minor irrigation channels, plantations (horticulture, forestry and fodder), torrent training, land terracing, water tanks, farm ponds, cattle sheds etc to strengthen livelihoods. Consequently the footpaths have declined from 52% in 2008 to less than 25% now. The springshed development initiative resulted in an annual ground water recharge of 1000 million litres leading to the revival of 50 springs and 4 lakes. As per the Planning Commission, Government of India (2012) estimates, the percentage of poor households has come down significantly from 31% to 8% during the period 2004-05 to 2011-12. Consequently, the population of the poor in the State has come down from 1,70,000 in 2004-05 to 51,000 in 2011-12. A sizeable poor population of 1,19,000 (23,000 households) have been lifted out of poverty over this seven year period. This 70% poverty reduction over the last 7 years is amongst the best in the country. Also, based on the devolution index constructed by the Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi, Sikkim has judged as amongst the best states in the country in empowerment and accountability of the Panchayati Raj institutions. A total of 2,147 ha of horticulture plantations were established covering 9,000 beneficiaries in which 46 lakh horticulture plants were planted in the lands of the poor jointly with the Horticulture Department.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Internal monitoring systems and independent evaluations by reputed agencies have been taken up regularly. Based on these independent assessments by various Ministries of the Government of India, RMDD was conferred 25 national awards over the last 6 years as provided below: Ministry of Personnel, Government of India (2013): Carried out the assessment jointly with Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, for conferring the more prestigious award for civil service in the country – “Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration” for the initiative titled “Excellence in Rural Management and Development in the Challenging Physical Environment of the Sikkim Himalaya”. The Rural Management and Development Department (RM&DD), Government of Sikkim, was conferred this award by the Prime Minister - Dr. Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the Civil Service Day on 21st April, 2013. The citation of this award can be accessed at: Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India (2008-2014): Under MGNREGA the Department has bagged seven national awards in the category of best performing panchayat, district and social audits. These awards can be accessed at: Nirmal Rajya Puraskar by Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, 2008 A Decade of the Total Sanitation Campaign, Rapid Assessment of Processes and Outcomes by the Water and Sanitation Program, The World Bank Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India (2012): National Groundwater Augmentation Award to WWF-India for technical support to the MGNREGA-Dhara Vikas of RM&DD by, 2010-11. Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India (2009-2014): Based on devolution index constructed by the Indian Institute of Public Adminstration (IIPA), Sikkim was judged as the 2nd Best State in Panchayati Raj in 2009-10 and 3rd Best State in 2010-11. In the year 2011, Melli Dara Paiyong Gram Panchayat Unit was awarded the "Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Purashkar - 2011". In 2012, Sikkim bagged the best performing District Panchayat award (South District), best performing Gram Panchayat award (Gerethang and Aritar), Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Award (Sanga Dorjee). Again in 2013, the Yangang Rangang Gram Panchayat was awarded the Rashtriya Gaurav Gram Sabha Award and in 2014 this award was bagged by the Samdong Gram Panchayat. These awards can be accessed at:, Greening Rural Development in India Report by UNDP India, 2013: In a recent report released by UNDP-India on Greening Rural Development in India, the success story of “Reviving Springs in Sikkim” is highlighted. This report can be accessed at: Inclusion in SAARC success stories 2014: The springshed development initiative was selected as a success story at SAARC level in a report titled “Success Stories in Mountain Ecosystem Management, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation” by Mountain Ecology Division, SAARC Forestry Centre, Thimpu, Bhutan, March 2014.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The social audits were implemented from 2010 onwards and resulted in the functionaries and the elected representatives becoming answerable to the people in the gram sabha forum. Initially they were reluctant as they felt that they were only answerable to their higher ups and not to the people. Hence, there was discontent amongst the functionaries as they were afraid that they may get humiliated in public. However, a strong political will and persistence of this effort paid off and the mid-course correction brought about by these social audits could be sustained and institutionalized. The corruption identified during the social audit gram sabhas was picked up by the media and it gave rise to a popular perception that corruption levels were rising in rural development programs. Earlier these delivery issues were hidden in government files, and did not make it to the public domain giving in a false sense of well being. Mass media was used to convey the message that these social audits were initiated by the Department itself to uncover corrupt practises and to improve program delivery. Also, press releases were re-positioned to present the social audit findings as an improvement that was needed rather than as a fault finding exercise. During the initial stages, imperfections in the decentralized approaches were highlighted in the media and reverting back to the contractor-driven approach was touted as the way forward. E.g. Construction of few houses in the home owner-driven approach got stalled as the money was diverted by the owner and in a few cases the prescribed core design of the house was not adhered to. Monitoring from the state and district level was strengthened and once the new houses in good quality started getting completed the initial criticism was soon forgotten.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
As per the impact assessment of MGNREGA-Sikkim by the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Gujarat (2010), this additional wage income mostly earned by the mothers is being used to purchase better food, clothes, household items, in health treatment and in quality education of their children. Thereby resulting in a jump in the Human Development Indicator (HDI) in the rural areas thus promoting inclusive growth. Research and Studies As per the study findings of MGNREGA-Sikkim by Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (2012), the livelihood interventions have resulted in an average 18% increase in crop yields. Crop yield of dry land crops such as Maize, Ginger, Soyabeans and Pulses increased by about 11%. There is an increase in crop yields by about 25% for irrigated crops such as Paddy, Tomato and vegetables like Beans, Radish, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Chilly. Further, household incomes have increased by an average of 30% due to employment provided under MGNREGA. Normal wage rates have been reported to have increased by Rs. 50/day, post inception of MGNREGA. Migration of landless or unskilled labourers has decreased by 100%. The villages showed lower vulnerability in the post-MGNREGA scenario in the range of 20 to 41%. This reduction in vulnerability is largely due to land development and water related MGNREGA works. The science, policy and practice of reviving mountain springs was successfully demonstrated by conceptualizing, implementing and monitoring a new, scientific, ground water recharge initiative - Springshed Development using rainwater harvesting, geohydrology and watershed techniques. Earlier due to the declining lean period discharge of springs and streams, women had to travel longer distances to fetch water, which increased their drudgery, while compromising their ability to perform livelihood functions. Reduced access to water and sanitation in turn impacts public health, hygiene, dignity and the continued education enrolment of teenage girls. The funds available at the local level could be invested in the sustainable livelihoods sector only due to the institutional transformation brought about by the GVK resulting in the local availability of technical functionaries. The decentralization of various rural development programs became feasible since local level planning, implementation and monitoring could be supported by the GVK which is housed in the last mile itself. The innovative idea of having social audits resulted in public expenditure being booked “as per actuals” rather than “as per the estimate”. Schemes started getting completed at less than the estimated cost, resulting in sizeable savings in public money. Else, these savings would have been siphoned off by making fake bills. These social audits resulted in a better delivery of government programs, as losing face in pubic proved to be a strong deterrent for the functionaries. It empowered the people to audit a government program, thereby making the program and the functionaries accountable to them. Hence, the social audits received overwhelming response from the people and they participated in large numbers.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Gram Vikas Kendra (GVK) approach to provide support to the Gram Panchayats has stabilized as an institution and has become the hub or the program office for several development programs in the State. Now, even at the national level the concept of Cluster Support Office (CSO) and Cluster Facilitation Teams (CFT) is being promoted under various national rural development programs such as the National Rural Livelihoods Mission and MGNREGA The spring shed development initiative was pioneered in Sikkim and the upscaling and sustainability of this new initiative has been assured by building a cadre of trained para-geohydrologists. Documentation of the impacts has also resulted in policy advocacy resulting in positive changes in the national policy and knowledge sharing with other mountain regions. Based on the learnings of this initiative, springshed development was included in the expanded list of permissible works under MGNREGA on the recommendation of the Planning Commission, Government of India in 2012. This has paved the way for upscaling this program across the larger Himalayan landscape. Teams from WWF Nepal, Bhutan Government and 7 mountain states have visited Sikkim on a study tour to learn more about this initiative and implement similar programs in their respective states. The Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India declared Sikkim as a resource state for social audit for the north east states. Regional social audit trainings have also been organized in Sikkim so that other states could learn from the Sikkim model of social audit. This initiative has also been documented and published to ensure wider dissemination of the learnings: 1. Tambe, S, Arrawatia, M.L. and Ganeriwala, A. (2012). Managing Rural Development in the Mountain State of Sikkim, India. Mountain Research and Development Vol 32(2): pp 242–252. May 2012. 2. Tambe, S., Kumar, R., Arrawatia, M.L. and Ganeriwala, A. (2012). How safe are our rural structures? Lessons from the Sikkim Earthquake 2011. Current Science, Vol 102(10): pp 1392-1397. 25 May 2012. 3. Tambe, S., Kharel, G., Arrawatia, M.L., Kulkarni, H., Mahamuni, K. and Ganeriwala, A. (2012). Reviving Dying Springs: Climate Change Adaptation Experiments from the Sikkim Himalaya. Mountain Research and Development, 32(1):62-72. 2012. 4. Tambe, S., Arrawatia, M.L., Bhutia, N.T. and Swaroop, B. (2011). Rapid, Cost Effective and High Resolution Assessment of Climate-Related Vulnerability of Rural Communities of Sikkim Himalaya, India. Current Science, Vol. 101(2), 25 July 2011.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Delivery of public programs becomes effective only when we bring people to the centre stage of development. This is possible when sufficient funds, adequate functionaries, key functions and transparency and accountability are devolved to the local self governments. At times the 3Fs (Functions, Functionaries and Funds) of decentralization are not adequately transferred to the local level resulting in gaps in public delivery, for which often the local self governments are unduly blamed. Decentralization is perceived as an end in itself, and substantial funds are provided to the local self governments without adequate functionaries or accountability mechanisms. In this scenario, functions such as beneficiary identification, sectoral prioritization of development works and transparent utilization of public funds are centralized at the local self government level with limited involvement of the people. The local self governments need to be looked upon as a means to provide a responsive and effective governance mechanism and need to be subjected to adequate transparency safeguards and made accountable to the people. Public programs should be designed such that people are brought to the centre of planning, implementation and social audit. A strong political will is needed to enforce accountability mechanisms on public representatives and functionaries. Corruption and leakages in public delivery are best rooted out top down with the backing of a strong policy directive. While decentralized implementation approaches which are community-driven will largely outperform the contractor-driven model, however there will be a few instances in the initial phases when this model will have teething problems or may even break down. Care needs to be taken to have a backup plan for these outliers so that they are not used by the centralization lobby to discredit the decentralization drive. Programs are made up of people and good people result in good programs. Providing a larger role to women in governance and public delivery is the way forward. It brings in sensitivity, compassion and responsiveness in program delivery. Building local capacity (e.g. master masons, para-hydrogeologists, social auditors etc) and strengthening local institutions is the secret behind the long term sustainability of programs. This approach may take more time, will have its teething difficulties during the initial phases, but once on track will outperform and outlive other models of governance. The future plan in the days to come is to make Sikkim a model State boasting of a governance system which is a hall mark of excellence, transparency and people sensitive in the days ahead. We need to further improve the quality and delivery of public services to achieve the deepening and widening of rural prosperity and well being. Nelson Mandela said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is manmade, and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.” We need to work still harder with greater perseverance in our pursuit of eliminating poverty and achieving the mission of a poverty free Sikkim.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Rural Management and Development Department, Government of Sikkim
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Sandeep Tambe
Title:   Dr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   +91-3592-203852
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Gram Vikas Bhawan
Postal Code:   737101
City:   Gangtok
State/Province:   Sikkim

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