Strengthening grass root democracy

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While inaugurating the Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla outlined that the objective of the Outreach Programme is to make our democratic institutions at the grass-root level stronger and more transparent and accountable as these institutions like Gram Panchayats can make people’s lives better. However, he stressed that to achieve that goal, collective and coordinated efforts are needed at the ground level.  This goes without saying that if the three tier panchayati system is mad fully operational, it will make the democracy on the grass roots level much stronger taking the developmental institutions to the basic units of the UT i.e. the villages. The concept of the panchayati ray system is to strengthen the democracy on grass root levels and make the common citizens partner in the process of planning and development.  Panchayati Raj Institutions are the foundation stone of the democracy and should be strengthened and provided more resources. Concept is to plan the development policies on the basis of the needs and inputs of the concerned localities. It is not a babu sitting somewhere in the district hadquarters making plans for the development of a village but the villagers themselves doing that through their panchayats as they are the ones who know what is needed and where.

It may be recalled here that the LG administration of J&K has passed a highest CAPEX budget for this year generating hopes that the entire region will witness a major boost to the developmental process. However, several district development council (DDC) members are complaining that though the budget was passed way back, the money is yet to be spent on different projects, reason being that most of the executing government agencies are under-staffed. Scores of new Niabats were established in the UT but most of them still lack the basic staff that could help executing the developmental works. Recently the UT administration has made a people friendly decision regarding the executiojnm of works on panchayat levels. As per the decision, dvlopmental works upto a certain amount of budget would be tendered only for the contractors living within the said panchayat. This decision would ensure efficiency and would also create jobs for the locals. However, this all is possible only if the administrations makes it sure that the execution of the works is taken up and the concerned agencies have ample staff strength to keep the things moving. Besides, the representatives of these bodies, be that panchs, sarpanchs, BDC or DDC members work honestly and dedicate their services to the welfare of their respective people. The administrations, on its part, should ensure that these grass root workers of democracy are provided a peaceful atmosphere so that they can perform without any threat or intimidation.

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