Uttar Pradesh’s majority population resides in rural UP. Considering this glaring fact, the Akhilesh Government wanted to revolutionize the UP villages and implement progressive thinking at the grassroots as well. To remedy this problem, on 30 March 2016, Uttar Pradesh chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has launched I-SPARSH Smart and self-sufficient village scheme. This initiative is backed up strongly by a staggering 300-crore funding, sanctioned by the UP Government in the budgetary proposal of 2016-17 discussed in the state cabinet meeting.
However, apart from trying to make the villages ‘Smart’, the keyword for this scheme coined by CM Akhilesh Yadav, is ‘SPARSH’. This word signifies that there are plenty of essential facilities like sanitation, health and education, which have not yet touched upon these remote locations.
What is I-SPARSH?
The aim being changing the face of rural India, the acronym I-SPARSH actually represents the following core values:
I – Inclusive (Growth), Income (Enhancement), IT (Solutions)
S – Skill (Development), Social (Cohesion/Justice), Simple (Solutions)
P – Participation, People, Panchayati Raj
A – Adaption, Agriculture (Smart and Precise), Allied Activities
R – Responsive (Governance), Resilience, Recycle
S – Safety and Security, Sanitation, Sustainable
H – Health, Hygiene, Housing
The I-Sparsh scheme launched by the UP Government is aiming to create a smarter and sustainable model for its villages, which will in turn help in maintaining a direct synergy between the villages and the government. Modern techniques, climate-smart activities and digital applications will play a predominant role in achieving this goal, which will be made possible due to the mutual collaboration between the Gram Sabha and the state government. Under the plan, the Village Level Implementation Committee under the chairmanship of deputy collector, approval and monitoring district level committee headed by the District Magistrate and State Level Monitoring Committee headed by Chief Secretary will be constituted.
Major Focus on Rural Development
This scheme encompasses numerous tasks and initiatives which can be categorized into four different avenues: specialized tasks designed according to the specific needs of the targeted villages, modern/innovative tasks designed according to the specific needs of the targeted villages, the tasks which are already being implemented under the Janeshwar Mishra Village development scheme and the tasks which are already being implemented under the development schemes of other regions in UP.
CM Akhilesh Yadav, while addressing the public at the announcement, explained how I-SPARSH is going to set up progressive developmental schemes by analysing the specific needs and challenges faced by these villages. Improving the lifestyle parameters, providing adequate employment opportunities, establishing accessible health services—such as the 108-helpline for the Samajwadi Health Service and the Asha Jyoti 181 Helpline for women—are some of the measures that will be implemented under this scheme. Education, health and road infrastructure will be given prime importance in the development plans of such rural villages.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is an indispensable metric for the lifestyle standards of any region such as life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators. The I-SPARSH initiative aims to not only quantitatively increase the rankings of the Human Development Index (HDI) across numerous villages in UP, but also qualitatively uplift the standard of living in rural areas.
Many villages, especially students, have to short-change their dreams due to the technology-oriented or digitalization techniques being inaccessible in the rural areas. As a means of bridging the technological gap in the education of students, the UP Government has planned to distribute solar lanterns to meritorious students. Additionally, the disabled students will be provided the crucial equipment/devices which will help to customize their learning based on their special needs. This scheme also talks about having solar operated RO Water systems, water ATMs in schools and planting trees in public places to make the social environment, cleaner and greener. Also, the state government would equip the villages with solar power which includes solar lights and dynamo to charge a cell phone, provide toilets, and low cost housing for everyone in the villages selected for the implementation of scheme.
Also on the agenda under the I-SPARSH scheme, is the tourism development of rural areas. The state government has shown special interest to endorse and develop the small-scale businesses in these villages dealing with handicrafts, agro-products, etc. This will not only help to put these villages on the map through attracting tourists, but will also generate revenue and make the villagers self-sufficient.
After all, in India— where the rural population constitutes almost 70% of the total population—the prosperity and growth of our country is a mere reflection of the prosperity of its villages. It is truly refreshing to see that the Uttar Pradesh administration is focusing on “planned development of both rural and urban areas”. Urban city planning would not reach its maximum potential, if these small towns and villages interconnecting the larger cities are left undeveloped. And, the Uttar Pradesh government has definitely taken stringent strides in the direction of rural development. These steps will eventually help Uttar Pradesh, under the leadership of CM Akhilesh Yadav, to embark itself on the journey of becoming a model example of nurturing “smart and sustainable villages”.