In a first of its kind, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has embarked on an ambitious
and extensive programme of reaching out to the people at the grassroots level to create
in the rural masses an earnest desire for decent standard of living. The ‘Back to Village’ programme is aimed to involve the people of the state and
government officials in a joint effort to deliver the mission of equitable development.
The programme is aimed at energizing Panchayats and directing development efforts
in rural areas through community participation.
As part of this programme, civil servants will have to reach out to each Panchayat of the State, where they will stay for a specific period to interact and obtain feedback from the grassroots so as to tailor government efforts in improving delivery of village-specific services. The ‘Back to Village’ programme has been conceived with the objective of ensuring that developmental initiatives are built on the feedback and cooperation of the people, thus being more result oriented with greater probability of success than those which are top down.
The programme revolves around the concept that while the official machinery has to guide and assist, the primary responsibility to improve local conditions rests with the people themselves. Therefore, they must be encouraged to own a programme so that benefits are maximized. The life of a person living in a rural area is not cut into segments in the way the Government activities are prone to be. The approach at the village level, therefore, has to be a coordinated, touching all aspects of village life. Such an approach has to be made, not through a multiplicity of departmental officials, but through Panchayats.
The essence of the ‘Back to Village’ programme is to emphasize the importance of ensuring, right from the beginning, people’s participation, not merely as an agent in the execution of the development works but as owners of the entire programme.