Jammu and Kashmir government is restarting back to the village programme from October 2 for a period of 10 days. As per the government, 4,000 gazetted officers visited “every panchayat” in the J&K in Phase-I and Phase-II of the B2V. The former was an introductory and interactive programme to understand the people’s grievances and demands, the latter, as per the government, focused on the devolution of powers to panchayats and tried to understand how these panchayats are functioning and what are the grievances and demands. Both the phases were started when Jammu and Kashmir existed as J&K was still a state.
The Phase-III has been designed on the format for “grievance redressal.” The phase comes amid upheaval caused by the novel coronavirus and the pandemic is as strong as it was in the beginning. It also comes as first exercise to reach people in villages in more than a year after Article 370 and Article 35A revocation and consequential lockdown.
The B2V is undoubtedly an innovative measure and a most important in the sense that it aims to access, assess and address basic issues facing the people in villages. The phase-III also comes as J&K faces a gap between the ruled and the rulers in absence of democratically elected government, or one could say amid democratic vacuum.
In erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State, there has always been administrative and governance deficit despite several good experiments like Single Line Administration and posting of additional Development Commissioner in districts for development. There are arguments that these experiments were bureaucratic without delivering good governance at the doorstep of people as villagers continue to suffer due to administrative and bureaucratic apathy.
Through the B2V, the government is embarking on what is actually the real meaning of democracy –listening to the people at their doorsteps, understanding the circumstances in which they are living and find a way out of it. While Phases I and II are over, the latest phase is very important in the sense it would test official machinery in delivering governance at the doorsteps and whether the administration follows it up in letter and spirit. The government has found a way but there is need to carry it forward with sincerity. It is important to understand that all Government employees, whether locals or from outside J&K, are engaged to serve the people and not rule them. The public is under distress and there is nothing better than understanding their grievances and redressing them within a reasonable dispatch.