Anuradha Das/Delhi based TV Journalist and Anchor|
India is fraught with corruption even in areas where one is expected not to indulge in such activities. What can be a more important domain than that of abandoned children, and poor women, and distressed sections of society where presence of corruption cannot be even dreamt of. But the reality is harsh.
Newborn babies die untimely death when left abandoned on train tracks, rivers and bushes. What is more disturbing is that those who handle adoption of babies often confront malpractices and middlemen. To combat to combat child hunger and malnutrition, the Anganwadi system works as rural mother and child care centres. The system of feeding the children under the Anganwadi system has been area ridden with leakages and siphoning. At times there are issues with adulterated and even poisoned food.
Corruption, leakages, middlemen and a complete neglect of a humane approach to the impoverished and marginalized sections of our country, urgent action was an imperative.
It is in this context, that the recent initiatives taken by the Women and Child Development Ministry assume great importance. Taking a lead in bringing about transparency in the functioning of the Women and Child Development Ministry, several crucial initiatives have been taken by its Minister Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi.
The Ministry has launched the CARINGS website under CARA which has completely automated the adoption process. Now all legally free children and parents wanting to adopt them are in a single database and the matching is done by the system itself. The WCD Minister said that all the erstwhile malpractices and middlemen have been eliminated by this path breaking measure. The department’s statutory body, Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), functions as the nodal agency for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate adoptions in India as well as abroad.
On the Anganwadi front, the Ministry has inducted massive use of technology for real time monitoring so that these leakages can be removed. As a first step, 50,000 Anganwadis have been enabled to use smart phones for Aadhar based registration, daily attendance, record of feeding, record of health etc. The system generates alerts for non-attendance and malnutrition. This has not only eliminated ghost beneficiaries but also removed the corrupt practices. This is a revolutionary step, as rightly emphasized by the Minister.
On the occasion of Anti Black Money Day, 8th November 2017, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi highlighted the initiatives taken by the WCD Ministry in promoting transparency, e-governance, preventing leakages in the system as well as eliminating areas of corruption. The WCD Ministry was the first Ministry to start procurement through the GEM Portal in a way that the entire procurement, from a pencil to a computer, is done through this portal. Even hiring of some of the services is being undertaken on this portal, avoiding corruption.
The Ministry is currently operating 14 different schemes where funds/ services are given to individuals as well as institutional beneficiaries. All the schemes have been put under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) System which is Aadhar seeded. This is one of the largest DBT systems of the Government of India today, led by the Ministry. This not only enables all funds to be transferred directly to the target bank accounts but also monitor the utilization of these funds centrally.
Other important measures taken to promote transparency and improve management of finances include implementation of e-office in the WCD Ministry, 87% recovery of loans of Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, having a strong grievances redressal mechanism, physical check of Child Care Institutions among others. In order to streamline the process of receipt of proposals as well as disbursal of funds, the Ministry has created an NGO portal and each and every NGO has to apply only through this portal. This portal is also linked to the Darpan portal of Niti Aayog.
These initiatives suggest that technology can be put to effective use towards eliminating corruption, while making development ‘with a human face’, too!