Empowering Panchayats constitutionally

Wheels have been set into motion for Panchayats and Municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir for coming under the constitutional umbrella in respect of reaping the benefits of 73rd and 74th amendments. The implementation process, however, shall start immediately after the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh come into existence by November 1, 2019. Hence a long pending demand of the people as also of the elected representatives of the grass root democratic institutions is fulfilled which for obvious reasons, though applicable to the whole of the country was, however, not relevant and germane to Jammu and Kashmir . The immediate benefit to these institutions is in the form of massive financial support both under the award of the 14th Finance Commission amounting to Rs.3700 crore as well as extra amount of Rs.3000 crore. This was going to result in massive development in and around villages as also in the respective areas of the Municipalities . The benefits under the changed political scenario were, thus going to be felt from the grass root village levels which meant real infrastructural turnaround. Enthused over the aftermaths of the elections to Panchayats and ULBs last year, the Central Government was eager to have in the State, elections to the Block Development Councils (BDCs) at an early date. The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has sent into motion the process for BDC polls yesterday.
The premise of Panchayati Raj is deeply entrenched in the process of strengthening the basics of democracy at the grass root level by massive participation of the people. Constitutional status is sought to be provided to Panchayati Raj Institutions under the above mentioned constitutional amendments in Jammu and Kashmir. Previously, it was left to the whims of the State Government to decide and conduct elections to these bodies without following any mandatory provisions. Now, under the ambit of the constitutional amendments (73rd and 74th), elections are mandatorily going to be held every five years and provisions for reservations for women etc too going to be strictly followed. Democratic decentralisation being the basis has potential of showing considerable positive results on comparable basis on this vital front.
It is heartening to see massive zeal and enthusiasm among the elected representatives of these institutions, some of whom in a delegation recently met the Home Minister where various measures to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system were deliberated upon. The delegation which had submitted a memorandum to the Home Minister highlighting certain issues and the need to address them, was given a patient hearing and in the meantime it was decided that five Government jobs for unemployed youth in each village would be provided purely on the basis of merit which was going to infuse more positive and hopeful perspective in the entire scenario taking into account number of villages across Jammu and Kashmir. Separately, the State Government had recently announced 50000 jobs , the posts of which were slated to be filled within a period of 2 to 3 months. Combined, this was to be seen as a massive employment package for the State which was going to further remove and neutralise any negative and uncalled for narrative from certain vested political elements.
Since the Sarpanchs at certain places were facing some security problems , that part too was going to be taken care of fully and it was conveyed to the delegation that conditions (of peace and order) would be such in the very near future in Jammu and Kashmir that the need of seeking any protection would not arise at all . That speaks for the resolute and decisive will to fight and neutralise terrorism and violence to its utter decisive demise. In the meantime, an insurance cover of Rs.2 lacs has been decided for the elected representatives of the Panchayats. As regards increase in the honorarium of Sarpanchs and Panchs, that too was going to be favourably considered.