The rural local bodies have to be revitalized by empowering them to have a healthy and holistic India which lives in its villages. When Vice President of the country- M M. Venkaiah Naidu says this in his address to the ‘National Stakeholders Conference on Localization of Sustainable Development Goals’, it has far reaching meaning for the country and the larger population. As per the 2011 census, the rural population formed 68.84% of the total population. If the World Bank is to be believed for the latest figure, in 2020 they constitute around 65% of the total population.
Participation of the larger population
Clearly, the participation of the larger population in the economic and democratic processes is a must for all round development of the country. The seminar gave out several central messages for the holistic development of the villages which are more than 6.5 lakh in number. All participants were unanimous in their views that to make the country poverty free, villages should be provided with connectivity, education, employment opportunity and entertainment. All round development of villages is also essential to stop migration, which is making the situation worse not only for the migrants but also for the place where they reach.
3 Fs – Funds, Functions and Functionaries
On the occasion, Naidu also urged the Union and various state governments to facilitate the devolution of the 3 Fs – Funds, Functions and Functionaries to Panchayati Raj Institutions for efficient and effective functioning of local self-governments so that rural areas could realize and harness their true potential and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Keeping these in mind, over the years, the government at the Centre has taken several effective measures and introduced ambitious schemes to help improve the economic well being of the rural people. Several skill, education and income enhancement programmes have been launched to put them in better condition in recent years.
villages is the crux of development
Union Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Giriraj Singh, Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and others also expressed similar views, saying empowering of villages is the crux of development, quoting Mahatma Gandhi’s famous statement- ‘Ram Rajya is incomplete without Gram Rajya’.
Increased fund allocation
It is heartening that the increase in fund allocation to the rural local bodies from Rs.100 per capita per annum in the 10th Finance Commission has been raised to Rs.674 per capita per annum in the 15th Finance Commission, thanks to the growing focus of the present dispensation on the rural populace. Now Central Finance Commission funds are directly transferred to the bank accounts of Panchayats, leaving little or no scope for any diversion, dilution and deviation in the process. Similarly, now efforts are also being made to ensure that every grant meant for people should directly go to the eligible beneficiaries.
Education to all
Providing education to all boys and girls and ensuring delivery of critical services like safe drinking water and creating adequate employment opportunities, are also essential other than making the country poverty-free. Fortunately, the government is taking effective measures in this direction also.
Critical role of Gram Sabha
Referring to the critical role of Gram Sabhas in enabling direct participation of the people in local governance, appreciated the consistent efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj for strengthening and empowerment the Gram Sabha.
Programmes at the grassroots level
People’s participation in implementation of all the schemes and programmes at the grassroots level and the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to ensure comprehensive and all-round development of the Panchayats and achieve various targets in local context and empowerment of women were also said to be essential to bring about sustainable development in rural life.
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