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Janmabhoomi Program in Andhra Pradesh – History and Roots

The origins of the concept of ‘Janmabhoomi’ program implemented by Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh have been traced to the different sources. The South Korean model of ‘Saemaul Undong’ is said to have provided inspiration to the young leadership of Andhra Pradesh in launching the Janmabhoomi programme. Though the Korean model provided the modus operandi for the programme, it has its moorings in Gandhian philosophy also. Gandhian concepts of Gram Swaraj, Sarvodaya as well as the community development programmes, all of which have stressed on development through self-help, self-effort and self-regulation as well as active citizen participation in public affairs, have their influence on the programme.

A document titled ‘Janmabhooomi: A People’s Movement’, released by the President of India on the occasion of A.P. formation day celebrations on November 1st, 1997, points that Gandhian ideas form the basis of the programme. It quoted the ideas of Gandhi in relation to democracy and decentralisation by saying, “Democracy must, in essence, mean the art and science of mobilising the entire physical, economic and spiritual resources of all various sections of the people in the service of the common good of all”. It has also taken into consideration of the importance of people’s participation in decision making process by quoting the Gandhian idea, “Democracy cannot be worked by twenty men sitting at the centre. It has to be worked from below by the people of every village”.

On the occasion of the inauguration of Janmabhoomi programme, the Chief Minister explained that “Janmabhoomi (one's land of birth) gave everything to its people and that people are indebted to it”. In addition to these interpretations, the basic values Janmabhoomi have got much inspiration from the fast grown countries of South East Asia like South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Israel from Middle East and China from Asia.

It is evident from the analysis given in the Janmabhoomi document on the ranks of these countries in the Human Development Report: 1996, which occupied first twenty ranks. The JB document also shows the position of Andhra Pradesh with in India. It mentions that, “AP is unfortunately below the national average in several key development indicators such as per-capita income, literacy and health status”. While tracing the causes for the brunt of poverty and adversity, the document criticised the approach and institutional response towards implementing social welfare programmes by the past governments also. This is evident in saying, “Government institutions and local bodies could not succeed to the extent expected. The common man perceives the government as inaccessible. We have not succeeded in effectively harnessing the latent creativity of the people in formulating and implementing schemes for their own development”. And it further notes that, “people were driven toward dependency on government because of the paternalistic approach of government, instead of becoming ‘partners in development’ the people particularly the poor have became passive beneficiaries”.

The Janmabhoomi programm is distinguished by the government from the past social welfare programmes also, in terms of the centralisation in planing and decision making process. As the document mentions “the excessive centralisation in planning and decision-making has dampened the initiatives of the people. Government programmes and activities have remained largely ineffective in fostering the positive elements of collective good, teamwork, honesty, dedication and hard work”.

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