Rajesh is posted as a District Nodal Officer for a leading oil marketing company in a certain district. He has been authorized to make the Ujjwala scheme a success in the district. However, he finds that behavioural issues on the part of residents are a big hurdle. Most of the residents have the apprehension that food cooked on LPG is not healthy and is tasteless. They are also apprehensive about the safety of LPG. These challenges persist even after the conduct of LPG Panchayat and safety awareness camps, and residents dismiss these as misleading. Apart from this, other factors that are checking the success of the scheme include the affordable availability of biomass and unaffordability to refill the LPG cylinder. In view of the above situation, identify and evaluate the options before Rajesh so that he can make the Ujjwala scheme successful in the district. (250 words)13 Dec, 2019 GS Paper 4 Case Studies
- Identify the issues involved in the above case
- Identification and evaluation of options
Mapping of issues
Pursuit of effectiveness
Effective implementation of Ujjwala scheme Continuous commitment Even in the face of reluctance by villagers, continuous commitment is needed so that life of villagers can be improved Service excellence As a duty to the nation and organization, one should always strive for excellence in service delivery. Emotional intelligence Establishing empathy with villagers and solving their problems in their frame of reference.
Identification and evaluation of options
Steps Advantages Disadvantages 1. Changing mindset
- Explain the benefits of LPG by engaging peer groups from other villages.
- Engage local celebrities in LPG Panchayat.
- As the LPG Panchayat has not been very successful, peer group from nearby villages will be more emphatic in creating awareness of the benefits of LPG.
- It will have an immediate impact as there is considerable influence of celebrities on young residents of the village which can bring about behavioral change.
- It will be a cumbersome process, as other groups need some motivation factor like pecuniary
- Cooking is generally considered the domain of women. In this context, the impact of youth in changing mindset will be limited.
2. Institutional measures
- Engaging institutional mechanisms like ASHA, ANM (Auxiliary Nurse Midwifery) etc.
- Village level ASHA workers can be roped in to create awareness about the ill effects of traditional chulhas. This will create a bottom up demand for cleaner cooking fuel such as LPG.
- In rural households where men are the sole decision makers and breadwinners, it could be tough to switch to cleaner fuels even if women appreciate the benefits of cleaner cooking fuel.
3. On the qualitative aspect of food
- A civil society organization (like Akshay Patra) can be engaged with a mandate to organize a food-Mela, where food cooked on LPG stove are distributed among the villagers at a very nominal cost.
- The misapprehension about the quality issue can be overcome by such sustained effort. It can be shown to villagers that LPG stoves not only help in quick preparation of food but also there is no change in taste.
- Many even in urban areas feel that food cooked using traditional stoves like “Chulhas” has better taste and nutritional values. Thus it might not be easy to convince the villagers.
4. Delivery aspect
- A synchronized channel between ‘gramin vitarak’—village LPG distributor and the OMC’s (Oil Marketing Companies) distributor can be created.
- Introducing small LPG cylinders of 5 kg. It will cut the middle man as most of the people buy LPG cylinders from grey market.
- This can ease the hindrance in distribution channel. Additionally, frequency of distribution will also be increased.
- The high cost of LPG cylinder and low refill ratio in almost all over India pose a significant challenge.
5. Addressing cheap availability of biomass
- Addressing this will need a coordinated effort by all the stakeholders viz. village panchayats, district administration, civil society organisations
- Efforts such as community-based biogas plants and clean stoves can be undertaken to improve traditional methods of cooking.
- It will reduce the cheap and easy availability of biomass.
- Until the earning capacity is improved, cheap biomass will remain a preferred choice for the villagers and will, thus pose a challenge in the successful implementation of the Ujjwala scheme.
6. Suggesting policy changes
- A rationalized system of subsidy should be suggested to higher authorities under which the cost of initial 3-4 refills should be subsidized.
- This will ensure cheaper LPG availability.
- The misgivings on safety and nutritional efficacy may still pose problem.
Behavioral change is a slow process. However, the values of public service demand continuous commitment from public servants. Dignity of human beings and their choices are very important so that one can live a worthy life. In such case, forceful and hasty decisions should be avoided, and incremental change must be strived for.
Models like Sevottam which provide a framework for organizations to assess and improve the quality of service delivery to citizens can prove helpful in such cases.