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Activating panchayat leadership in Khunti

The change

The Model Anganwadi center in Ganaliya panchayat, Murhu block stands out for more reasons. The children are exuberant like the colourfully painted walls resting under the canopy of a Mahua tree. They excitedly want to show you the different animals and vegetables on the walls. The beaming Anganwadi Sevika is the testament of the standards maintained in the center. She passionately explains how Village Health Sanitation and Nutrition Days (VHSND) are done bimonthly in the centre to enhance the health and nutrition services. A few kilometres away, in similar high spirits are the students and teachers of a model high school where students are busy learning in Tab lab with excellent classroom infrastructure which is comparable with private school infrastructure.

The common link to both the model centers is the panchayat Mukhya Mrs. Hanna Dodrai. She believes that schools and Anganwadis are temples of learning and one should place the value on education which brings out the positive character of a person and facilitates harmony in the community. 

Meeting the financial needs for the change

The Mukhya used funds from the Fourteenth Finance Commission (FFC) to transform these spaces. The FFC grants for Gram Panchayats are released by Ministry of Finance to panchayat accounts (local government) as they are directly responsible for delivery of basic services and solving critical gaps. The grants are distributed to Gram Panchayats as per the approved formula. However in Jharkhand, the basic grant is distributed to local bodies as per guidelines of the Fourteenth Central Finance Commission, namely 90% weight for population and 10% weight for area. 

The change agents

Mrs. Hanna Dodrai had access to Rs. 14 lakh in FCC funds & usually this money is used to build maintenance of community assets, maintenance of roads, PCC road, street-lighting, burial and cremation ground. The trigger came from the district collector, Shri. Suraj Kumar IAS, when he organized a meeting with all Mukhyas to discuss effective utilisation of funds and suggested many innovative ideas such as improving schools, health sub centers and anganwadis for effective service delivery by the government.

Khunti district is known for LWE and the collector emphasized to bring back community’s confidence in the system and these model centers would provide increased visibility of the Mukhiya’s efforts for the next panchayat elections. 

The Aspirational District Fellows who are working with the district collector have also been instrumental in mobilising the Mukhyas in the district for the meetings with their requirements. Moreover they have provided technical inputs in refurbishment of model Anganwadis in cost effective ways. Fellows have incorporated their learning’s from previous experience in making model schools and Anganwadis which were taken by the district administration through SCA funds during 2018 and the best practices from Tata Trusts’ The India Nutrition initiative. They have also been a key part of ensuring timely payment, technical inputs and monitoring the completion of the centers as per specifications.

The nudge provided by the District collector motivated the Mukhyas to conduct gram sabha meetings with the community to understand their specific requirements as an effort to improve community participation in the decision making process. Now, with his assured faith in the Mukhyas, Shri. Suraj Kumar, with the aid of the fellows plans to further broaden their horizons by creating library corners in schools, strengthening school management committees and introducing ICT in education. Furthermore, activating the leadership of Mukhiyas like Mrs. Hanna Dodrai, who are a crucial link between the community and the public system, is an essential step towards reaffirming the people’s faith in the system

Source : Public System Strengthening in Aspirational Districts



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