Last week, the government constituted a committee for ‘successful conduct’ of fourth phase of Back to Village Programme (B2V-4)”. No date has been fixed yet but as per the order informing about the constitution of the committee, the programme will be started “soon” with focus on generating awareness about all prominent schemes of various departments, Digital J&K, online services, generation of employment in villages, besides taking stock of the grievances of the people and their redressal on priority. Last year the programme was restarted from October 2 for a period of 10 days and it seems that B2V-4 will begin on the same date.
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. These two phases were started when Jammu and Kashmir existed as a State.
The Phase-III was designed on the format for “grievance redressal.” The phase came amid upheaval caused by the novel coronavirus and was the first such 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.
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 finding a way out of it. While earlier Phases 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 administration has found a way but there is a 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 grievances need to be addressed within a reasonable dispatch. There is a need for top officers to be effectively part of the programme and besides ensuring successful conduct, they must also see and fix responsibility as regards implementation or otherwise of the previous phases.