The report of a study undertaken jointly by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development (OKDISCD) of Guwahati and the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi on the state of governce in Assam since 2001 was published recently. The report, titled “Maging Diversities, Achieving Human Development” was based on responses from 40,000 households (1.9 lakh people) in the State that focused on health, education, income and governce. It revealed that 77 per cent of the people in the State were unsatisfied with the governce in the past 15 years, while the overall human development was only half the desired level. Assam Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal, who released the report on Monday, said, “The human development index in the State was 0.557—indicating that the level of overall human development is just about half the desired level. However, it has been observed that the overall level of human development in the State has increased from 0.386 in 2001.” Chief Minister Sonowal refrained from making any unkind references to a 15 year-period of governce in Assam related to his predecessor Tarun Gogoi. However, not many people in the State are likely to be as kind or considerate of a chief minister who had the rare privilege of serving his State for 15 years without interruption and who failed to achieve anything very positive. This is what Joydeep Baruah, Principal coorditor of the report and Associate Professor of Omeo Kumar Das Institute has to say about the findings of the report: “The report found that nearly 30 per cent of potential human development is lost due to the prevailing inequalities underlying achievements in education, health and income. The loss was the highest due to income dimension (about 44 per cent) followed by health (32 per cent) and education (nine per cent). It also found that general human development of women, in general, is lower than that of men by nearly 14 per cent.” The very finding that only 23 per cent of the people were “satisfied”with the governce in the past 15 years prompted Chief Minister Sonowal and the State’s Health, Education, Planning and Development Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to emphasize that the new government’s development schemes needed to adopt more innovation to ensure that the benefits reached the common people. He drew attention to the fact that he was also Minister in the last (Congress) government and that they had taken up a large number of schemes thinking that they would improve the people’s condition. “But this report has proved us wrong, as only 23 per cent of them were satisfied. It is time we do a lot of innovation to scale up our efforts and increase the level of human development,” Sarma said at Monday’s function. He added that the Chief Minister’s Samagra Gramya Unyan Yoja, a Rs 30,000 crore scheme announced by the new BJP-led government would adopt innovative means to address the people’s problems. Nearly Rs 1.5 crore would be invested in each of the 25,000 revenue villages in the State to double farm production in the next five years. The scheme focuses on agriculture, land magement, fishery, dairy, poultry, piggery and other schemes.
What needs to be recalled with gratitude is that much of the actual assessment and alysis of human development in recent decades stems from the initiation of the ‘Human Development Report’ by the United tions. This is something that has induced member countries of the United tions as well as States to replicate this healthy exercise of actually assessing and alysing all performance of the government related to development instead of relying entirely on claims made by politicians to reap their benefits at the elections. And no matter what Tarun Gogoi might have to say about 77 per cent of the people of his State being unsatisfied with his governce, that is the finding of a study and not just the outpouring of a fevered imagition. The sooner politicians get used to the findings of such reports, the better it is likely to be for the public assessment of their governce.