Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent some time elaborating upon work happening in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in his Mann Ki Baat on July 28, 2019. He specifically mentioned a programme called ‘Back to Village’ that began this year and said, “It shows how keen people of the state are on joining the mainstream of development. Such programmes and people’s participation show that people of Kashmir want good governance. This also proves that the power of development is stronger than the might of bullets and bombs.”
Terror and the political uncertainty have long been part of the state’s situation. But the Modi government seems to have ensured that development no longer takes the backseat whatever be the political developments in the state.
Over the years, there seems to be a popular belief that the path of development opens for Jammu & Kashmir only after cracking down the terror in the state. The Modi government at the Centre seems to be finding success in tackling terror, but what is equally important is that it has also found a way to ensure that day to day administration of the state is attended to while all the efforts to bring peace to the valley are underway.
Panchayats – It All Started from Here
Currently, Jammu & Kashmir is under the President’s rule. But that has not created any hindrance to the administrative and development work. In a way, the Abdullah and the Mufti brand of politics in the valley is arguably losing relevance.
How this has been made possible?
In the months of November-December in 2018 elections were held to 35,000 Panchayats after the gap of seven years. 74 percent voter turnout (out of total 58 Lakh voters) was witnessed in the Panchayat elections. Elections to 1,100 Urban Local Body wards were also held after a gap of 13 years.
An amendment brought by the Modi government to the J & K Panchayat Act has ensured that the Centrally Sponsored Schemes will reach the beneficiaries in the state irrespective of the state government.
- The J&K Panchayat Act was passed in 1989, but only three of the allotted 25 functions under the Act were actually provided budgetary support.
- The Government amended the act and transferred Rs 2,000 crore per annum to the Panchayats. Another Rs 1,200 crore has been made available to the Urban Local Bodies.
- The Panchayats will directly monitor activities pertaining to 19 departments/subjects and carry out audits of government schemes and projects.
Back to Village
Once the local administration system was firmly put in place and strengthened, it has paved way to conduct innovative programmes. The programme ‘Back to Village’ lauded by the Prime Minister serves as an illustrious example. This initiative that was started in the month of June has further strengthened the administration at the village level as the focus was laid on four elements namely energizing panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery of government schemes/programmes, capturing specific economic potential and undertaking assessment of needs of the villages besides providing an opportunity to gazetted officers to know the problems at the grassroots.
As the government officials started visiting the villages, people gathered in huge numbers to discuss their grievances. Perhaps for the first time the administration went to the doorsteps of almost every village of the state, purely based on the issues of development and public good.
In conclusion, it is obvious that the efforts of the Modi government in Jammu and Kashmir is an all encompassing one. On the one hand you can see a tough stance on terror and separatism, initiating discussion on abrogation of article 370 etc and on the other hand easing the lives of common people has also gained priority through many measures. Some of the articles we have produced tracking the development in the valley ever since the Modi government came to power may give you an account of the journey so far.