Interview with Jyotsna Singh, Block Development Officer, Ratu Block, Ranchi
Duration: 00:17:02; Aspect Ratio: 1.333:1; Hue: 17.154; Saturation: 0.140; Lightness: 0.603; Volume: 0.125; Cuts per Minute: 0.176; Words per Minute: 98.783
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
This interview with Jyotsna Singh, a block development officer of Ratu Block, Ranchi, Jharkhand as part of the Identity Project’s field work in the state in March 2011 focuses on the administrative set-up of Tarup panchayat which has 7 villages under it and a population of about 5000 villages. 5 of these 7 villages have a majority SC and ST population and of the government schemes NREGA is most popular as farming is a major occupation. From the UIDAI perspective, Tarup panchayat is interesting since the facility of an Introducer provided by the UIDAI to introduce people without documented proof or address or identity has been implemented to a large extent here. Jyotsna Singh explains the process of first enrolling a wide range of state government employees (doctors, anaganwadi workers, NREGA officers, etc.) numbering upto 800 and then designating them as introducers for the residents of the area. She also speaks at length about the creation of bank accounts along with Aadhaar enrolments.
Interviewer: Is the National Population Register exercise also happening here, or just the census?
Jyotsna: NPR was completed in the first phase.
Interviewer: Did you take fingerprints for the NPR registration?
Jyotsna: No, not in NPR. The Adhaar registrations under UID requires fingerprints, eye scans and photographs of the face.
Interviewer: What information do you collect under NPR?
Jyotsna: Under NPR we collected information on 29 points-the number of residents in the house, their caste, their literacy level, who was unemployed, deaths, deliveries, abortion, property related information- all these were collected.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about this Ratu block? The population size, how the administration is divided?
Jyotsna: Tarup panchayat is one of the Ratu headquarters’ 14 panchayats. This panchayat has 7 villages and the population has a majority of SC/ST. There's also a mixed population. The population is within 5000 and a panchayat is instituted only for populations within 5000. In 5 of the 7 villages SC/STs are a majority and 2 have mixed population.
Interviewer: What government programmes ar run here?
Jyotsna: Here the programmes have been undertaken through NREGA. Ours is an agricultural region so digging of wells is one of the projects. Since there isn't a lot of land, the farmers can irrigate 5-6 acres of land from a well. The wells are very important. Our produce goes to the neighbouring states. Agricultural business goes on for 12 months.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about the details of the UID project in this Ratu block? What is your involvement?
Jyotsna: UID programme was launched in the headquarters on October 2nd. The first phase was the Introducer phase. All the government agencies, BDO, all the departments of the Jharkhand governments, their officers and staff were all enrolled here. In our block are the Panchayat officials, the NREGA officials, field staff, doctors from the health department, Anganwadis are under the welfare department, the DPO from there, all their supervisors. Each village has at least 4-5 anganwadi centres for pregnant women and children of ages 0-5 are giving elementary education. All these people were involved in this introducer.
After this phase, about a month and a half later when everyone had their ID cards, we started this in the villages.
In the beginning we started with the panchayats. We made one model panchayat.
The first one was Tarup (village). We began with the entries first. We can't begin this work suddenly.
All the people involved in the introducer, took initiative and helped with the Adhaar. Every day there used to be 30-40 people enrolled from the village.
These people were good at liaising with the villagers, lining them up, identifying them and helping with the documents
The main task of the introducer was to introduce it to them.
Since this was an outside agency programme (outside the panchayats) they had to imbibe faith in the people and explain the purpose of Adhaar cards
The introducers were the mediators. They conducted a Gram Sabha first and told the people about the usage and importance of this card.
The main purpose of the card is to be the first identification.
It is impossible to duplicate a card or make fraudulent ones because the number on each card corresponds to that person's fingerprints which are never the same for 2 people.
Iris scans are also unique even if the face is changed.
Everyone in the village was told in great detail about this procedure and every house has to have it
and every individual over 5 years of age will be given a card, and that the card will be useful for anything
For example admission in school, if one migrates to another state this has their permanent address and it is meant to identify people.
The intoducers worked very well.
They picked one village at a time, one group at a time and gave them the date and time to come for registration.
They were asked to bring photo IDs if there were any and bank account books.
If they didn't have a bank account, then we tied up with the bank and opened accounts for them on the same day.
Interviewer: Did everyone get bank accounts opened?
Jyotsna: People who needed them. For example the women who are labourers under NREGA needed to have accounts since NREGA pays through accounts only. No cash payments are made. So everyone needed to have accounts.
Interviewer: When you said the programme started and you were speaking to people to get them to enrol, you said everyone enrolled themselves. Was there any difficulty or did people have doubts about this? How did people react to this new programme?
Jyotsna: Whenever a new thing is launched, people are very curious about it. About how it is useful for them and why is it necessary. Nobody does anything unless it is beneficial to them. Like, the NREGA project that is going on our block, there were no problems in labour payments. The wages for the 100 days' work goes into their accounts. The first reason given to them was that all the rural labourers had to get their accounts opened. The main problem that arises while opening an account is of introduction. So, one of the reasons was if one has the Adhaar card, and then there is no necessity for an introduction at the banks.
Here for the accounts they ask them to get signature from the BDO. In fact for any department, for pensioners they need a life certificate. Since this card is there, then we can work with only this. Everyone does not have all these documents.
Interviewer: When these people have to access their accounts, they have to go to their banks, so what about the branches?
Jyotsna: While the enrolment was underway for 3 months, our District Commissioner has passed the order that we collaborate with Bank of India, the leading bank in Ranchi. So in every headquarters where this enrolment was happening, the bank officials were also asked to work simultaneously. So both these tasks began together and got done together. 100% population have bank accounts.
Interviewer: Everyone in a family gets a number you said and if there are 4 members all 4 would not have an account. So how does this work?
Jyotsna: The family system here was joint families earlier where the parents, sons and daughter-in-laws lived together, of course now families are becoming nuclear slowly, but there will be someone in a family who has access to the banks, like the sons or grandchildren can help the older people with their bank work...
Interviewer: So every person has a bank account?
Jyotsna: We've tried to get everyone working under MNREGA as labourers get an account, people working as maids, so that anyone who works for wages or government payments - like the stipends highschool children get. We've tried to get all these people accounts. So that their stipends go only through the banks. So for this purpose, the introducing was very important.
Interviewer: Is there a connection between the ration and Aadhaar?
Jyotsna: People can use it for ration, to identify themselves since the card has both a photograph and name. These days everything runs on Identification so one can use it for anything. People would assume you were an outsider. Only this card identifies us as being from this region.
Interviewer: You mentioned how collaboration has happened in Jharkhand with several schemes. Have there been others apart from MNREGA?
Jyotsna: Yes, several others like SGSY fund, Jayanti Rozgaar Yojna.
Interviewer: What is SGSY?
Jyotsna: Loans are given in SGSY fund. We've started drip irrigation in Ratu. 25 hectare fields are worked on with drip irrigation. Rs.35,000 is the loan and there's a subsidy of 50% from the government since this is agricultural land and the rest is from the loan of the farmer at 8% interest.
Interviewer: So who pays?
Jyotsna: The borrower... For example, a woman has a BPL number and 25 hectare land. She'll come under the SGSY scheme within the Grameen Vikas. In this scheme, first the woman has to have account. If the government gives her 35,000, using that money when she works on her farm, she makes a profit of 1 lac in a year. Last year we had about 40 farmers who earned one lac to a lakh and a quarter,in a year, 55-60,000 in 6 months. They planted only chillies at the time when its price is high, or cabbage. So they made good profit. Tomatoes were 60 rupees a kilo at one point in the market and this farm (with drip irrigation) made 35,000 in a day.
So due to Aadhaar, they have connected to this, the bank, and they can profit more through all this links.
Interviewer: What other programmes are there?
Jyotsna: SGSY, Indira Awaaz gives us funds from the central government. The beneficiaries are no longer payed through cash. It operates through accounts only. The main thing here is to have an account and through Aadhaar accounts can be opened immediately.
Earlier, we had to give a reference for each programme in the banks and we had 200 of them. And we had to be physically present there to get accounts opened and us VLWs were overworked. Now these peopel have their own IDs and the bank officials also know them because the opened their accounts right here. We only give them a list now to open accounts. It's all clear now and there's no waste of time. Now payments are made within 15 days of the arrival of funds and the clearance also is quick.
Interviewer: Any other schemes?
Jyotsna: For the time being this is it. Stipends are there, given from the welfare department.
Interviewer: Who is entitled to these stipends?
Jyotsna: Children of class 1 to 10 have three phases - 1-4, 5-7 and 8-10. Sc/St, OBC and Muslims benefit from this. According to category they get a fixed amount every three months through their accounts.
Interviewer: Only for school going children?
Jyotsna: Yes, children studying in government schools and semi government schools also sponsored schools.
Interviewer: How many introducers are there?
Jyotsna: Close to 800. We've had enrolments as of yesterday close to 65,000. Everyone has been registered except children below 5.
Interviewer: Why not them?
Jyotsna: We haven't started for them yet. The programming now has only 5 and upwards. It will start later on.