Back to village initiative Make Block as fulcrum of development

Th. K P Singh
3rd and much acclaimed Back to Village 3 (B2V3) Jan Abhiyan/Awami Muhim programme of the govt for reaching out to the people at their doorstep is said to be targetted at 100% population of J&K. It is meant to ascertain our problems, which are immense. To address them speedily is the aim of this programme. Looking at it minutely shows that govt is fully aware of public woes particularily now during the Corona Pandemic. Since the example has been set by the Lt. Governor himself by meeting public of Khanmoh Block in Srinagar District on 16th September 2020, no apprehensions are left in its seriouness. During this public interaction he announced that District Development Plans will be made with the feedback of the local populace whereas the officers of the govt will act as facilitators in overall development process. It will be a titianic shift in development model of J&K. Hence B2V3 District Development Model introduced by the new incumbant can become a landmark intiative in the UT provided Block is considered as fulcrum of economic development instead of the district and it promotes Aatam Nirbhar Bharat.
Before proceeding further I will like to appprise the Lt Governor that public concerns raised over inadequate medical/health facilities in Dispensaries & PHC, projected in ealrier back to village interactions, have not been addressed as would be seen on the ground as well as media reports. Better not talk about Bijli-Pani. Still I see general public inspired with B2V3. Public inspiration can be sustained provided efficient and hassle-free medical services are delivered at the dispensary level and Bijli-Pani is provided not as a favour.
Recalling my appeal to the administartion, through the aegis of Daily Excelsior dated 30th August 2020, to reach out to public during the Covid 19 Pandemic to assess crops and live stock damage caused in flash floods. Announcement of B2V3 as 3rd initiative soon after that, to provide administration at the doorsteps, is seen as a landmark initiative in addressing public problems and minimising trust-deficit.
Objective of the Jan Abhiyan is to focus on energizing Panchayats, collecting feedback on delivery of govt schemes, capturing specific economic potential of the area and undertaking assessment of needs of the villagers by involving them in a mission of equitable development. Seeing Covid 19 fast spreading and taking heavy toll, the objective needs review. It should keep public health in the forefront. We have been taught in schools, “Health is Wealth”. Healthy life, physical fitness and healthy living has been the focus of prime minister Modi in recently held ‘Fit India’ event. If all live well during the pandemic, rest of the problems will fall in line. Health therefore is more important. We will live well privided we get satisfatory medical services at Dispensary & PHC level. After resignation announcement by Principal GMC, for whatever reason, alarm bells set ringing. Central Medical Team rushed to Jammu. Due attention is now being paid to improve health facilities in the hospitals. ‘Better late than never’, has also been taught to us. India will be fit and healthy provided there is distinct improvement in capacity, capabilities and performance of dispensaries and PHCs.
J&K was reorganised on 5th August 2019. It was seen to improve lives of common man. Jammu was happy of having come out of Kashmiri stanglehold. A lot changed politcally but administratively things remained the same. The work culture has not changed. Union Ministers visited J&K after its coming under central rule. The intention was good. But no major development project(s) has started in J&K after its reorganistaion where large number of unemployed youth and others could get jobs and make their living. Infrastructure development is key to public well-being. It can happen provided govt is serious about public woes and focus is on rural areas. In the UT, development model should also focus on providing urban facilities in rural areas.
A public servant is supposed to be committed to the job for which he is paid for. He is supposed to be faithful to the chair and loyal to the department. He is expecetd to be helpful, forthcoming, honest and transparent in public dealing. But during my public life of 50 years, I have seen Babus turning lackadiasical in their public dealing making people run around and compel them to bribe or invoke ‘Safarsh’; bureaucracy, which was non-partisan, becoming partisan and toeing the line of political party in power, breeding nepotism. We are at a stage when clients other than party in power are ignored and many a time harassed. As the time passed, various govt officials got into the business of making fast buck. Police looked the other away while the crime increased. Development works were executed on papers and funds manipulated. No compalints heard. Many times we learnt that J&K crossed Bihar in corruption. While the common man suffered, Politicians and Babus had a hey-day. In corruption ridden and lackadiasical administrative system, back to village was seen as a silver lining. Yet nothing changed. Change will come provided change is made objective of B2V3.
We as parents give best education and good sanskars to our children. When they get govt jobs, they start working hard to serve public and earn respect for us and themselves. But some miracle happens and they get engulfed into a non-functional and corrupt ecosystem and become either non-performer or corrupt. This menace can be eradicated provided LG addresses it himself.
But now I see a sea change coming into the society. The educated and awakened Youth is not prepared to accept the status-quo. They do not accept poor response from the public servants. Right to Information Act (RTI) has empowered them. The masses are also emboldened and seek transparency. Corressponding change is the need of the hour. It can be done provided the Crime Branch of the Police completes investigations in a time bound manner; ACB puts corrupt people in jails including big Sharks; Courts fast-track corruption cases; J&K High Court takes so-motto view of lackadiasical attitude of the employees and Babus become responsive and the rule of law pervails.
I am reminded of a renowned socialist late Bansi Lal Kohstani, an eminent legislator, who was an ardent anti corruption crusader. He was of the firm belief that Panchayati Raj system was the only way to develop rural areas. Due to his remarkable educational record and development vision, Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, the prime minister of J&K, utilized his services in Panchayat and Revenue departments by making him Inspector of Panchayats. Due to his compassion for the poor of remote areas, he was elevated to Dy. Director in Social Welfare Dept in 1960. He resigned on being appointed MLC by Bakshi Sahib in 1962. Thereafter twice he was MLA from Reasi. He involved people in the development of rural areas by making them contribute financially, materially or in workforce. This way he made them participants in construction of Schools and Dispensaries which he would get regularized. He created a work model which inspired politicians, bureaucrats and the common man to work together as a team. This work culture also helped the poor and needy. There is extensive agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, animal husbandry and mining potential in each Block in Jammu region. Hence Panchayat Blocks should be made ‘nucleus of development’ with the involvement of locals as done by Kohstani Sahib. Overall economic development of the UT can be done provided the economic potential of rural areas are exploited. Hope the Administration, PRIs and Polity works together to make ‘back to village initiative’ a great success. Rural Areas will develop faster provided the Hon’ble Lt Governor and Bureaucrats study ‘Kohsatni Model’ of rural development.
Somehow I see strong executive will and unflinching detrmination in the new ‘back to village’ development model and delivery pattern in J&K. It is time the administartion remains sensitive to the public woes lest a social unrest starts in already disturbed and Covid 19 alarmed society.