Even as Gujarat has one of the worst human development index ranking among all Indian states,the Modi governments hype about progress and development has adversely hit the NGOs working for the states huge underprivileged population.
Gujarat now no longer figures in the list of international and national aid agencies funding projects for poverty alleviation,child rights,education,health and employment. International funding agencies such as Cordaid,Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation,Ford Foundation,American India Foundation,Oxfam,CRY and CARE are either in the process of withdrawing aid from the NGOs they had bankrolled in Gujarat or have decided to make no more fresh fundings.
Some of the leading NGOs in Gujarat such as the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme,Utthan,Unnati,ActionAid and Disha are either trying to cope up with the withdrawal of the funds or have no idea where the funds will come from this year. The organisations working in Gujarat are increasingly finding it difficult to justify their work in the state because of the hype that has been created, said Nafisa Barot of Utthan.
The Netherlands-based Cordaid and AIF have withdrawn their funding of Utthan. This,the NGO says,will hamper the development process at the grassroots level in the state,especially in central and south Gujarat regions,which have so far remained away from the ambit of the so-called development surge in the state.
Donor agencies say that Gujarat is comparatively a developed state and there are no pressing issues,and therefore funding is no longer required. But many districts,especially in central and south Gujarat region,need urgent attention and funds, said Paulomy Mistry,who manages Disha.
Some US and European agencies,which are already under pressure due to the global financial meltdown,have also curtailed their resources in the state and are focusing more on states like Orissa,Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh. Getting funds is a big issue now. One would have thought that corporates would do as much but they work only in their backyard. Except the Tatas,other corporates are working only where they are located, said Apurva Oza of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. The NGOs are now looking at the government and the corporate funded projects,as funds from aid agencies have dipped by over 50 per cent.
The corporates fund activities they are interested in and limit it to their own backyard. They will do something where they have a presence,which sometimes doesnt make sense, said Oza.
Observations made by Indira Hirway,Director,Centre for Development Alternatives:
* Rural poverty in the state has declined at an annual rate of 0.23 per cent,which is the worst Human Development Index (HDI) improvement record among all states
* According to the Planning Commission,rural poverty in Gujarat declined only by 2.8 per cent during 1993 to 2005 as against the national average of 8.5 per cent during the same period. Instances of poverty in tribal areas in Gujarat increased during the same period. The rural per capita income in the state is half of its urban income
* From 1996 to 2006,Gujarat slipped in education and health indices to eighth and tenth position respectively
* In terms of Infant Mortality Rate,Gujarat is still ranked 13th. The state is also ranked 14th in Child Mortality Rate,13th in TMR,17th in the number of stunted children and 9th in underweight children
* Though Gujarat employs 6.4 per cent of the total employable workforce of India,the rate of unemployment is high. Growth of employment has happened in the unorganised sector,which is unprotected in a quickly globalising scenario where it is open to volatility of the fluctuating international market
As told to Newsline