Development of Border villages

It needs to be believed that there are as many 19 such villages along the border in Ladakh that have no or namesake communication facilities and it needs to be visualised as to how much difficult shall it be there for the people to carry on with their usual activities and catering to emerging needs especially of the nature of an emergency. Again, out of 236 habitable villages only 172 have telecom infrastructure and out of those too, only a few with 3G and 4G internet connectivity . Though with the process of laying of National Optical Fibre cables to connect 193 Gram Panchayats being currently in progress in Ladakh , the situation is expected to vastly improve , yet lot is still got to be done for example in electrification of more and more villages to usher in the connected economic development and comfortable way of living of people as also to generate employment opportunities within, to stop migration of people for work.
Agreed, villages are unevenly spread and separated from one another by longer distances and geographical and topographical constraints in Ladakh , yet such a strategically important and sensitive area has not partaken fruits of economic development according to its due all these years as the biggest part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. A balanced analysis would deduce a sea change having taken place during the last couple of years , more so on account of Ladakh becoming a Union Territory. However, lot more is still required to be done in respect of providing and strengthening basic infrastructure in villages . That may shortly be done under a mission known as “Vibrant Villages Programme”. Even other states along the LAC need such an economic ”uplifting”.
Let us look at what the other side is doing not only in strengthening its border infrastructure strategically but exploring all possible avenues through tourism to bring about economic development of its villages. Unless in this world of all types of challenges and competitiveness in devising economic models of development are in equal measure to be attempted to be initiated progressively and in planned way by this side too, India cannot help itself in remaining far behind the race in both the aspects, viz from the defence point of view as well as from economic one. It is , therefore, quit satisfying that these aspects have been well realised to be of utmost importance hence focus on promoting and developing border tourism by opening and developing border villages all along our states with China. Commonality between all these border villages is tourism and culture specific needing to be developed and showcased.
Why should India not be concerned about China in developing several villages adjoining Arunachal Pradesh for the last several years and, therefore, take a cue as well from that country in developing similarly our villages along the LAC. In fact, the choice of and the mode of developing villages by China on its side is that of making them as “Model Villages”. Government of India , therefore, has done quite right, even if belatedly, in responding to necessarily not what and how China is doing with its villages but to develop our villages in our own way and requirements even if we may not ape that country in the pattern of giving the same name to this vital exercise. Unless residents of targeted villages in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand and Sikkim are taken into confidence as also their opinions sought and relevant critical information collected, perhaps , results on expected lines may elude projections of planning even after investing expertise, resources and money in promotion of tourism of different hues , rich culture and heritage, arts and crafts of these villages. In this connection, such an exercise has been undertaken in the form of meeting by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs with the representatives of these villages.
New finds and surveys conducted have found out new avenues of tourism , both of adventure and of academic import in Ladadh villages which could be turned into what is called as dark sky destinations. In this connection, villages in Changthang to attract persons having interest and enthusiasm in astronomy is worth noting and of great interest. However, a proper infrastructure conducive to attracting and making available the canvas for such an interest shall have to be raised as also intensive awakening made about such a novel type of tourism. In the same way , each and every village under the “Vibrant Villages Programme” can have its own speciality which needs to be tapped for tourism angle . This scheme may take a few years to get fully implemented but along with doing it progressively , tourism may also be attempted to be promoted proportionately. Similar innovative ideas, tapping potential and promising areas for promoting activities that have direct bearing on economic development especially of border villages should continue to be cultivated. We should not lag behind even with limited resources but with unlimited determination in such pursuits which even have political connotations as the targeted villages being along the LAC.