It's no longer a job for politician; it's for expert in rural development

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has decided to step down as president of the governing body of the CAPART (Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology) and pave the way for its professional management, besides putting an end to political misuse that has reduced the autonomous body to a storehouse of corruption.

The CAPART executive committee and governing body, at its meeting here on Friday, approved Mr. Ramesh's proposal that divests the Rural Development Minister of presidency. Henceforth, someone other than a politician well versed in rural development would be anointed as president of the governing body.

High-level corruption

Crippled politically, the 25-year-old CAPART has had 28 directors-general, giving rising to allegations of high-level corruption and untold harassment to non-governmental organisations attached to it.

Accepting the report of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) on restructuring the body, Mr. Ramesh directed closure of all nine regional offices, which had allegedly turned into pivots of corruption. These centres will now be governed online from the capital itself.

The restructuring envisages establishment of an independent and autonomous body, on the lines of the Public Health Foundation of India, under the name Rural Development Foundation of India, which will be a public-private partnership endeavour.

While the Union government will contribute to the corpus, funds from donors and philanthropic organisations will form the basic source of revenue to sponsor large-scale activities of civil society organisations in rural areas.

The foundation, to be chaired by a CEO, is expected to scale up activities as private players like the Gates Foundation and the Koradji Tate Foundation are likely to be bulk contributors for the rural cause.

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