Government’s ‘Back to Village Programme’

Omkar Dattatray

The father of nation Mahatma Gandhi has said years before that real lives in villages and the salvation of India lies in cottage. India is an agrarian and J&K is no exception to it. Therefore, any transformation in India should begin at villages. So villages should be involved in governance. The maiden initiative of Back to Village Programme of the state government is a welcome and historical development. The state’s pro-active governor S.P Mallik has felt the real pulse of the people of J&K especially the people living in rural areas and so has he embarked on a novel initiative and programme of Back to villages. It in fact is taking of governance to the doorsteps of villagers. It bridges the gap between the government functionaries and the villagers and representatives of Panchayats.
The state government headed by governor has started this maiden initiative of taking governance to villages and the programme was commenced on 20th June and it will culminate on 27th of June but the impact of the novel programme will be felt and experienced in the coming months as it will certainly transform the village life and will in fact help in raising the issues of rural J&K before the administration. The programme implies that officers and officials will go to the doorsteps of villagers and solve their problems and issues. Under the programme governor’s advisors, administrative secretaries, divisional commissioners, DDCs, ADDCs, ADCs, ACs and other important officers visit the villages under their jurisdiction and hear their problems and try to meet the aspirations of the villagers.
The programme has witnessed the cooperation of village people as they took it as their own programme and there is enough enthusiasm among the villagers for the programme. Under this initiative a gazetted officer stays for a night or two in the villages and knows the grievances and demands of the villagers and also acquaints himself with the gross root situation and conditions prevailing in the villages. In fact, the initiative will transform the village life and it has evoked good response from the villagers. It is in fact taking the governance to village level and meeting the problems of villagers and also taking the feedback from the public about the government schemes and projects and giving such feedback to higher levels of bureaucracy for its further refinement in future.
The ‘Back to Village Programme’ is in progress in all the three division of J&K – Jammu, Kashmir and and it has evoked good response in all these divisions. Through this programme the government officers and functionaries go to villages and meet the people and take their suggestions about the development of their villages and about the civic amenities like drinking water, power, , roads, schools et al.
Thus back to village programme connects government officers with the villagers directly and it gives a sense of belongingness and importance to the village people, besides helping in formulating plans for the transformation and development of the villages. It gives opportunity to the officers of the government to know the problems of the villages as they get first hand information about the village life and problems. They then try to solve the problems and also take feedback from villagers, which later on help the administration in the formulation of plans and schemes for villages. J&K government is organizing back to village programme to reach out to the people at gross root level. In its maiden initiative J&K government has commenced an ambitious initiative to reach out to the people at the gross root level through a programme called back to village campaign. As already said programme is being organized from June, 20 to 27 across all the Panchayats of the state.
At the outset chief Secretary B.V.R Subramanyam held a marathon meeting with the administrative secretaries in Civil Secretariat. The divisional commissioners of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh participated in the meeting through video conferencing. Specifying the objectives of the programme Chief Secretary said ‘Back to Village Programme’ will focus on four main goals – energizing panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery on government schemes/programmes, capturing specific economic potential and understanding assessment of the needs of the villages besides affording an opportunity to gazetted officers to visit the villages.
The programme will involve the people of the villages and the government officials/officers in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development across all over rural area. The programme will energize all 4483 panchayats. It will direct development efforts through community participation. The programme will create in rural masses an urge and desire for decent standard of living. As part of the programme each gazetted officer will be assigned a Gram Panchayat where he/she will stay for at least two days including a night halt in the village to interact and get feedback from Panchayat representatives, village elders and other local people about their concerns, developmental needs and economic potential of the area.
The feedback from the villagers will help the administration to tailor the schemes and plans to better the life of the rural people. Under this programme entire administrative set up of the state is visiting all 4483 panchayat halqas to get the gross root level feedback from the general public. Government has deployed one gazette officer as nodal officer in each panchayat halqua who is interacting with panchayat members and general public to get the general feedback. The Back to village programme has picked up momentum in all the 22 districts of the state with the district level officers, tehsil level officers and block level officers and officials visiting their areas to interact with the villagers and knowing their problems and getting the much required feedback. Meanwhile Chief Secretary BVR Subramanyam visited Nadihal – C Panchayat in Bandipore block and interacted with the people. He reviewed the working of panchayats and the implementation of Back to Village Programme.
The Back to Village Programme is in full swing across all the districts of the state. Villages are visited by commissioner secretaries down to village level workers and the problems, needs and complaints of the general public are heard by the government functionaries in an effort to provide best possible amenities to the rural people and better their living standards. One of the aims of the programme is that people should be made aware of the government schemes so that they will reap the benefits of these schemes. The government allotted officers to panchayats across J&K for the implementation of the programme. Panchayats were handed over mid day meal functioning. To cut is short the back to village programme is a novel program started by the governor’s administration and it has been welcomed by the general public as is seen from the enthusiasm from the villagers who take part in this programme and interact with the officers at their door steps. It is in fact taking governance to gross root level and hence a welcome development.
(The writer is a columnist and a social activist)