Cabinet Minister (Finance, Planning, and Forest) for the Government of Maharashtra, as well as Guardian Minister for the district of Chandrapur in Maharashtra, Sudhir Mungantiwar talks about the vision behind the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana and the role data and technology can play in measuring and understanding socioeconomic dynamics and development challenges of each village.
Watch the full interview above or read through edited excerpts below.
“If we have to turn any village into a model village, I feel data lies at the core of this exercise.”
Q1. What is the vision behind the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana? What obstacles were in the way?
Ans. We (the Government in Chandrapur with the Tata Trusts) decided to transform 27 of Chandrapur’s villages into model villages. The objective behind this transformation was clear: developed infrastructure, cultural evolution, spiritual awakening and economic upliftment will lead to a better standard of living.
To do any of this, we require data. If we want to usher in even a small welfare program around water benefits, we have to know how fast is the population increasing, and by what percentage. This information will help us outline the program better.
If we do not base a future welfare program on the numbers and statistics of the present, then I feel, even though we are moving forward, we are also taking along mistakes from our past which would lead us towards the wrong outcomes. If we have the data, we can go in the right direction. If not, there won’t be wholesome development and our transformation efforts would be incomplete and directionless.
Q2. How did data intelligence affect your daily decisions?
Ans. If we have to turn any village into a model village, I feel data lies at the core of this exercise.
Today, in the 21st century, there are households that still do not have access to electricity — they use oil lamps. This is the data we need.
In Chandrapur, we assessed the needs of every household, collected data at an individual — based on which we were able to understand how many individuals have access to clean drinking water and how many don’t; how many people use LPG cooking gas in their homes and how many still rely on chulhas and unclean cooking fuels; how many individuals are employed and can earn a livelihood and the ones who can’t. All of these are insights revealed by the data we collected.
Thus the way forward for transforming these 27 villages was apparent. We know how many unused community centres there are, and then we can turn them into centres for cultural and spiritual learning. We know how many senior citizens reside here, so we can use it to plan and introduce a welfare program for them. We know how many widows live here who do not have a source of income, so they can enroll in employment programs and sustain themselves independently.
“Technology can play a pivotal role in not only model village development but also transforming the lives of economically weaker individuals.”
Q3. How will data and technology affect the future of governance in India?
Ans. I strongly feel that technology can play a pivotal role in not only model village development but also transforming the lives of economically weaker individuals.
While making decisions of any sort, if the decisions are backed by the right data and numbers, then these decisions become more accurate. When we have this data, it facilitates better decision-making. There is less scope for mistakes in our decisions.
We partnered with the Tata Trusts and Government of Maharashtra to drive rapid development for 290 villages in Chandrapur. Our data intelligence platform was used to create model village development plans to improve budgeting, program implementation, and department planning. Read the full case study here!
Want to know how the Government of Maharashtra used data intelligence to drive rapid model village development? Learn more about our platform here!