Interview with Pramila Devi, Panch pradhan, Tandu village, Himachal Pradesh
Duration: 00:09:14; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 282.067; Saturation: 0.056; Lightness: 0.441; Volume: 0.200; Cuts per Minute: 3.680; Words per Minute: 114.718
The Identity project emerged as a result of our dissatisfaction at the nature of the debate that was emerging on the area of digital governance in India.
Over the past three years we have conducted numerous field visits in seven Indian states.These visits include numerous video-conversations, some short and others very long, with a diverse number of those who were involved with this entire process of participating in the emergence of a digital ecosystem of governance. These are interviews with people being enrolled into the Aadhaar programme, with district-level Panchayat and other officials, with numerous State government bureaucrats, with private enrollment representatives, representatives of various governmental services, with operators and other members of this digital workforce. Conversations are often long, spontaneous and deliberately unstructured: and the focus is mainly on a vérité style using amateur video.
Some key issues that we shortlisted for detailed inquiry were issues of migrants, both domestic and across international borders, homelessness in cities, and the financially excluded. Each of these areas was discussed in considerable detail at major public consultations held in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore, in partnership with the CSDS, the Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group, and the Urban Research and Policy Programme Initiative of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore. All videos of all presentations made at these events are also available here.
CSCS also has an extensive text archives of material on the field as a whole, available on http://eprints.cscsarchives.org
Interview with Pramila Devi, Panchayat Pradhan of the Gram Panchayat at Tandu, Mandi District, Himachal Pradesh, in July 2011. Ward members and the pradhan help in smooth enrolments of Aadhaar. She also states that Aadhaar will be useful for making ration cards, etc for people who have no identification. The interview also touches upon other services that panchayat offers to the people in the village. She claims that there has not yet been anybody she has encountered without an identity document needing an introducer.
Interviewer: We have heard that in Himachal and especially in Mandi, people don't have enough information and are not aware about Aadhaar. So, the panchayat has begun this promotional and educational drive to assist them and make them aware. Is it happening here?
Speaker: Yes, it is.
Interviewer: What kind of assistance are you providing?
Speaker: We are guiding people. In the panchayat, I've given ward members the specific duty to help people who are illiterate. It's happening ward wise. I think now work's happening in the last ward. I'm also part of this.
Interviewer: We were there now, but nobody was there.
Speaker: Nobody was there? They have their personal chores to do at home also... There's a lot of work, so everyone is pitching in, including the ward members.
Interviewer: Doesn't the ward member do all of it?
Speaker: Yes, but everyone has taken responsibility, members, the head. Everyone keeps coming and going.
Interviewer: What are the responsibilities of the panchayat?
Speaker: A lot. There are secretaries in the Panchayat, but they are on election duty. They're not here now, but they were here yesterday. I was also at the panchayat yesterday. I go on alternate days and we have meetings. We have Gram sabha meetings twice a month.
Interviewer: When people come to you, the panchayat, what grievances do they have? Give us a few examples.
Speaker: Every individual has their unique grievances. Some people come for work...
Interviewer: What kind of work?
Speaker: Anything... like for documents and affidavits. There are other things like disputes and quarrels. They come to us to solve them. They also come for suggestions and advise.
Interviewer: Do you think when this Aadhaar card is done that it will benefit you and make things easier? In the sense when people come to get things done from you, would the card make it simpler to do things?
Speaker: Yes, of course.
Interviewer: Do you feel that you need identification, that there is a problem?
Speaker: There are several people in our panchayat whose ration cards are lost, some people don't have photo IDs and they face problems because of this. So, when the Identification is done it'll be easier for them. It's a good thing that this card is being made. It is very useful.
Interviewer: There must be instances that the documents that come to you are not complete or proper. What do you do in that case?
Speaker: The company reps themselves are telling us what to do in that case. A lot of people come to us to get their photo identity cards and permanent addresses verified and proofed. So, we give it to them.
Interviewer: We have heard in several other states that the NREGA programmes has some problems where the wages and benefits don't go to the people who it is supposed to go to but to others and that there is some kind of a fraud going on.
Speaker: Like what?
Interviewer: Like in NREGA, people below the poverty line don't get work.
Speaker: No, NREGA is for everyone.
Interviewer: So everyone gets work under this programme?
Speaker: It's for everyone. There is no rule that only poor people will get the work.
Interviewer: Anyone can get work?
Speaker: Yes, except those who already are employed.
Interviewer: Has it happened that you get requests for jobs for SCs?
Speaker: No, that hasn't happened.
Interviewer: Were there cases that people who were entitled to the job or money didn't get it?
Speaker: No, that has never happened.
Interviewer: So, if anyone comes to you asking for work , you give it to them?
Speaker: There are rules for this. They have to submit an application to the panchayat. We also have 'NREGA assistants' to help with it. They give their applications to them.
Interviewer: You employed them on a commission basis?
Interviewer: What kind of jobs are given under the NREGA?
Speaker: There are several jobs under NREGA. Like now land development wrok is going on, there's the check dam, bridges, tanks... there are many such projects.
Interviewer: There are many remote houses and small hamlets which are not connected and have difficult pathways. NREGA gets roads made in such places.
Interviewer: So you're saying that there are no problems with NREGA?
Speaker: There are the usual problems with the government. Like the M-form nowadays which has become a problem for us.
Interviewer: What is that?
Speaker: Like when we have to purchase equipment we have to pay taxes on them. I'm not too sure, them say it's getting over but it hasn't come to us yet. We have to bring a lot of material for the roads and tanks like cement and other things.
Interviewer: Where do you get your cement from? Do you have to purchase the cement yourself?
Speaker: From the cement suppliers.
Interviewer: How does the money reach the worker in NREGA? Is it a cash payment or through bank accounts?
Speaker: It goes through the banks only.
Interviewer: Does everyone have a bank account?
Interviewer: If someone does not have a bank account, then?
Speaker: When they get their NREGA cards done, then simultaneously their bank accounts are opened.
Interviewer: What is the process for getting ration card made here?
Speaker: Ration cards are already made. But there are several new families who have to get theirs made.
Interviewer: Adhaar have these introducers, are you one of them?
Interviewer: If someone has no identity proof or address proof, then do they come to you?
Speaker: They have PAN card, Driver's License...
Interviewer: What if they don't have any of these?
Speaker: There's been nobody like that.
Interviewer: When was the first enrollment here? Did you get yours done beforehand or when the enrollement camp was here?
Speaker: When the camp was here.
Interviewer: Who is the introducer then? In this village there is a possiblity of some one not having any sort of identification documents.
Speaker: There's no one like that. At least no one like that has come forward.
Interviewer to AR: If something like that happened then they issue a certificate with a photo and then we get their papers made in the CDO office.
Speaker: Anything else?
Interviewer: When the Census was done here, what was your role?
Speaker: No, not me. The teachers in the schools, they do all the work.
Interviewer: It wasn't through the panchayat?
Speaker: No. The panchayat secretary had duty on the census. That's all.
Interviewer: Please tell us your name.
Speaker: My name is Pramila Devi.
Interviewer: And you're the Pradhan here.
Interviewer: Since when?
Speaker: It's been 7-8 months.
Interviewer: Thank you.
Speaker: Would you like to have some tea?