Back to the Village: Democratic Innovation | So Good News


In the April 1931 edition of the weekly edition of “Young India”, the father of the country, the late Sh. Mohan Dass Karam Chand Gandhi. The message states, “Cities are capable of taking care of themselves. We have to address these villages. We must rid ourselves of their evil thoughts, superstitions, and narrow views, and we cannot do this except by staying among them, sharing their joys and sorrows, and imparting knowledge and intellectual information among them. It is worth mentioning here that the weekly magazine Young India was published by Mahatma Gandhi from 1919 to 1931 and used to spread the ideology of non-violence and resistance against the British Empire.

Late Lala Lajpat Rai, another prominent leader during India’s freedom struggle, wrote Young India during his stay in the US and it was first published there in 1916. Back to the Village was also a national campaign of the Panchayat regime in Nepal. From 1967 to 1975. It aims to focus development efforts on rural areas, where the majority of Nepal’s population lives. The program, originally known as the National Campaign for the Village, sent government employees and students from cities to live in rural areas and participate in development work and serve as teachers in rural schools. It was one of the main initiatives of King Mahendra of Nepal, who ruled the country from 1955 to 1972.

The nation-building process can only be completed by starting from the bottom of the pyramid. Mahatma Gandhi said that India lives in its villages and if India’s rural areas are to be transformed, the people at the bottom should be empowered. Rural development has been entrusted to local self-government institutions in the form of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). The 73rd Constitutional Amendment (1992) aimed at creating a three-tier Panchayati rai structure at the district, block and village levels. Unfortunately, the provisions of the 73rd Amendment have not been implemented in many states in letter or spirit. Many states and UTs have not provided adequate allocation of funds and officials to Panchayats at district, block and village levels as mandated by the 73rd Amendment, all 29 entities listed in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution.

The third level of government should enable effective governance, equity, socio-economic justice and the all-round welfare of the rural population. People should be given the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes using equality, liberty, fraternity, fundamental rights and basic human needs. Constitutional provisions must be complemented by adequate checks and balances under vigilant, responsible and honest political leadership. Following our Father of the Nation’s philosophy of caring for villages and empowering basic institutions, the Union Territory Administration of Jammu and Kashmir has introduced the Back to Village (B2V) programme. The program aims to increase awareness, transparency and delivery by engaging the people of the state and government officials in a collaborative effort to realize the mission of equitable development.

The program aims to empower Panchayats and channel development efforts in rural areas through community participation. To date, three phases of B2V have been completed and at the time of writing, preparations for the fourth phase of B2V are in full swing. Phase I was an introductory and interactive program to understand the grievances and demands of the people. Phase II focused on devolution of powers to Panchayats and sought to understand how these Panchayats functioned and what the grievances and demands were. Phase III was developed in the format of complaints review. All the twenty deputy commissioners have been instructed by the UT administration to ensure effective coordination at all levels thus making the 4th phase a huge success of the previous three phases. Around 70 Union Ministers of India will visit various and far-flung places of UT to instill a sense of inclusiveness and confidence among the masses.

In addition to the Union Ministers, the Central Government employees may also participate in the events held within the framework of the program. Administrative Secretaries who are mentors of various districts of the Union Territory have been asked to visit their respective districts in Phase 4 of the B2V programme. The name and fame of this public awareness-raising program is such that even the Honorable Prime Minister of the country Sh. Narendra Modi brings together the ‘Mann-Ki-Baat’ series in his monthly group. His Excellency the Prime Minister celebrated it as a festival of development, community participation and awareness.

October 15-26 has been set as the preparatory phase for the fourth phase of the government’s Back to Village (B2V) program under Jan Abhiyan, which will begin on October 27. Each department was asked to decide on at least one specific issue. Achievable during Jan Abhiyan. This specific result includes the completion of any scheme or activity or ensuring the full implementation of a project or the cancellation of a major initiative or the initiation of a new initiative or major project or activity. The 11-day action-packed preparation phase in the form of Jan Abhiyan, currently in full swing across 35 departments across the Union, aims to deliver centralized schemes to 85 people, including issuance of eight lakh Ayushman cards, 2.5 lakh UDID cards, two lakh e-Shram cards and 30,000 land titles to applicants.

The company has also focused on youth, their skill and entrepreneurship development, self-employment, good governance and Panchayati Raj, along with ‘Nasha Mukt’ and ‘Rozgar Yukt’ in Jammu and Kashmir. During the campaign, residents received online residence certificates, self-employment loans, Health Gold Cards, pension payments and digital certificates in addition to land inspections. Digital camps were conducted at J&K Bank counters in each Panchayat and each block. Several important activities were completed during the Jan Abhiyan campaign as well. For the fourth phase of B2V, UT Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta also suggested 12 points for planning activities. These items include functioning of Nasha Mukt Abhiyan, Patwaris and Village Level Workers (VLWs), presence of officers in Panchayats, functioning of school complex system, Amrit Sarovars, Swach Gram, convergence meetings (once a month in villages where all departments participate). ).

The institute associated with the author has also left no stone unturned in ensuring that the vision and mission of B2V is fulfilled through its various frontline extension institutes, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVKs). SQUAST-Kashmir under the dynamic leadership of Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor Prof. Nazir Ahmed Ganaei and worthy Director Extension Prof. Dil Mohammad Makhdumi ensured the organization of Kisan Mela, fruit shows, awareness and sensitization programs to promote integrated farming systems, natural. Agriculture, organic farming and climate resilient technologies, skill development drives, promotion of various collective organizations like FPOs, various programs for women farmers and youth of the region and other activities related to agriculture and other sectors through various KVKs located in different districts. valley.

Gone are the days of waiting in line for hours at government institutions. Companies like ‘Jan Abhiyan’ and programs like ‘Back to the Village’ are next generation service delivery mechanisms that truly empower people by removing all barriers to effective service delivery. A successful democracy depends on how the masses participate in the development process, how they are reached and valued, how their grievances are addressed, and how much their voice is heard at the highest levels of the hierarchy. Unfortunately, democracies often suffer from a large gap between the administration and the masses. Outreach, inclusion and public participation are still pressing issues in many democracies.

Democracy means listening to the people at the threshold, understanding their living conditions, feeling a pinch of the difficulties that affect their lives, and finding a way out of them. This is the essence of the “Return to the Village” program. An initiative of Jammu and Kashmir UT. The feedback of such initiatives, if properly addressed, will allow to change the entire dynamics of the Union Territory. At the same time, the administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir must ensure that the official commitments made in the previous three rounds of B2V regarding the previous phases are fulfilled, otherwise the trust deficit between the people and the officials will widen. .

The program has been completed with four main objectives of empowering panchayats, assessing village needs, gathering feedback on implementation of government schemes/programmes, covering real economic potential along with allowing newspaper staff to visit villages. to be a unique mission, a catalyst for development and a revolutionary step in community-centered governance. As the Mahatma turns 150, his mission and vision for rural development as enunciated in ‘Young India (1931)’ is reflected through this prestigious ‘Back to Village (B2V)’ program of the Union Territory Administration. In fact, it laid a solid foundation for a system where those at the top of governance and those at the grass roots work closely together to ultimately empower the people.

(Author is Faculty of SKUAST-K; can be contacted at [email protected])


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