After the successful completion of three phases of the Back to Village scheme, which was first launched in June 2019, the Union Territory Government of Jammu and Kashmir has launched its fourth edition of the Back to Village scheme on October 27, which was scheduled to run until November 3, with a focus on youth, skills and self-employment, good governance and strengthening Panchayati Raj at the grassroots level. The initiative was to continue with the aim of bridging the communication gap between the administration and the citizens.
When the UT government of Jammu and Kashmir launched its Back to Village program modeled after the Indian government’s national program which included Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana, they might not have been sure of his early success. , but the initiative and enthusiasm behind the concept has made it so popular among the masses, that even the recently completed fourth edition of the program has been very successful and well appreciated.
The bottom-up approach of the “B2V4 program”, like the three previous editions, has again succeeded in building trust and strengthening the links between the population and the administration.
The government has met its ambitious target for this year with over 2 lakh certificates issued, and 65,000 self-employment cases have been supported by the government. A large number of 1 lakh youths have been identified for vocational training. The administration has partnered with J&K Bank to provide its credit-related programs.
In addition, IT-based Common Service Centers (CSCs) have been set up, demonstrations and training camps have been organized to help citizens access 225 online services, including 70 G2C services.
To deliberate on potable water supply in remote areas, 4200 Paani Samitis have been instituted and more than 10 lakh land books have been issued to eligible farmers.
To encourage youth sports, the government aims to build at least one playground in each Panchayat. Special camps will provide support for people with special disabilities and the quality of public service delivery will be considered in the delivery process to facilitate service delivery.
The visiting officers were designated as Panchayat Prabharis whose roles were designated to act as mentor officers for the Panchayats. The main objective of this program is to strengthen the newly constituted Panchayats. Led by District Commissioners, more than 25,000 government employees at all levels participated, including 4,500 officials who were directly deployed to these Panchayats, helping the administration reach the doorsteps of citizens to register their grievances and respond to them promptly.
The “B2V4” program, as in the past, received a massive response, especially from residents of areas infested with militancy. The objective of the program was to bridge the gap between achievable and achieved development goals, bring governance to the doorsteps of rural and inaccessible areas, and generate credible and empirical feedback.
Innovation is an important aspect of democracy. The most important part of any democratic organization is how the basic issues of the people are consulted, assessed and dealt with. Jammu and Kashmir has faced this problem the most as there is a big gap between the ruled and the ruled.
Undoubtedly, elected representatives have a clear responsibility to do what their constituents want, but over the decades it has been observed that the ruling classes have ignored this vital concept of connecting with the masses. It is perhaps because of this gap that the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir has emerged. This situation is quite threatening for the very democratic fabric of the state, and it also has an impact on the overall assessment of democracy in the country.
Democracy means listening to the people at their doorstep, understanding the circumstances in which they live, feeling the difficulties that affect their lives and finding a way out. This was the very essence of the “Return to the Village” initiative. If it continues and if its reactions are positive, this concept can change the whole dynamic of the governance in the State.
The “Return to the Village” program aims to engage the people of the state and government officials in a joint effort to achieve the mission of equitable development. The main aim of the program is to guide development efforts in rural areas through community participation and to create among the rural masses a sincere desire for a decent standard of living.
The ambitious program has four main objectives: to strongly energize the panchayats, to gather information on the implementation of government projects and programs, to capture the specific economic potential and to undertake a needs assessment of the villages.
Energizing the panchayats: Giving an energizing boost to the panchayats by empowering the Gram Sabha will provide a much needed boost in the direction of good governance. Gram Sabha can be an effective forum for sharing information on programs, programs, good practices and issues of common interest.
Collect feedback on the implementation of government schemes and programs: Feedback obtained directly from the population will help to design government schemes, central and state, according to their needs. This will also contribute to the smooth implementation of government programs such as PM-KISAN. Obtaining comprehensive feedback by deploying up to 4,500 duty officers in the villages is a much needed task.
Capturing specific economic potential: The return to the village program will help provide tailored solutions tailored to local needs. There must be an economic program specific to the region to take advantage of the potential of natural resources, geography, etc. of the region.
Undertake village needs assessments: Village needs assessments are essential as there may be issues specific to the region and demographics, particularly in the case of people living in remote areas whose Connectivity is more acute than few others, or indeed such regions have health and education facilities far from their reach.
Before the introduction of the Return to the Village programme, a general problem in addressing the issue of rural development was the lack of concepts and visions on the future of the villages. In many parts of the world, rural areas and village life have been weakened or destroyed by ill-conceived policies based on misleading concepts and theories. But the people of UT of Jammu and Kashmir are blessed with the redress of their problems and this fourth edition of the Back to Village program is the continuous process in this field.
(The author is Secretary of State and responsible
Office of the President, BJP Jammu & Kashmir UT)