The imagination of a strong nation is incomplete without making the villages prosperous and empowered in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always been a strong votary of bringing villages into the mainstream of development for an advanced and capable nation. Prosperous villages can be reckoned only when there are enough resources of employment and people do not migrate to the cities in search of employment. Increasing population has led to the diminishing holdings for agriculture which pose serious questions for livelihood in the villages. But it is a matter of satisfaction that sincere efforts have been made in this regard in the last seven years under the leadership of the Prime Minister and positive results are also visible. Self-employment is a powerful means which can tackle the problem of increasing unemployment to a great extent and fulfill the resolve of the AatmaNirbhar Bharat. Gram Panchayats and the cooperative sector have an important role for consolidating self-employment in villages. Gram Panchayats have been empowered for the effective implementation of local planning and schemes related to 29 subjects enlisted in the Eleventh Schedule of Article 243 of the Constitution to ensure economic development and social justice in the villages. Today, Gram Panchayats are playing an important role in the transformation of rural India. Constitutionally, Gram Panchayats are the units of self-government at the local level as well as the final convergence point for the implementation of all the schemes of the Central and State Governments. Gram Panchayats are directly or indirectly responsible for the successful implementation of all the schemes of the government in the villages. Therefore, Panchayats play an important role in generating employment in rural areas. Here we will first discuss the issue of availability of self-employment means through Panchayats and rural development and then the implication of the power of the cooperative sector. Since Gram Panchayat is the last but important convergence point for successful implementation of all the schemes in the villages, it has huge potential in creating self-employment. Gram Panchayats can play the role of an important agency to take self-employment schemes of many central and state ministries and departments like agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture etc at the grassroot level in the villages. Comprehensive public awareness programs can also be conducted through Panchayats so that villagers can make the maximum benefit of these schemes. Currently, Panchayats are discharging their responsibility in this direction, but it needs to be made more energetic in future. Acting on the recommendations of the 14th Central Finance Commission, provision has been made for the formulation and implementation of the Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) for the use of funds. Identifying local needs, future development prospects and employment prospects in the villages, Gram Panchayats are already preparing development plans and implementing them successfully.
For the last three years, guidelines under the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) and advisories by the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development have helped self-help groups and institutions of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) in participating in the annual GPDP planning process and preparing annual Village Poverty Reduction Plan (VPRP). Through VPRP, the self-employment needs and livelihood means of self-help groups are included in the Gram Panchayat Development Plan, which is imperative for the growth of the villages. This year also, the process of VPRP has been started in all the Gram Panchayats of the country through Gram Sabhas on the occasion of the Independence Day. The joint efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and the Ministry of Rural Development for women empowerment by providing livelihood to them are set to yield meaningful and remarkable results. Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Livelihood Mission, run by the Ministry of Rural Development, is an innovative effort in eradicating poverty in rural areas by providing women with livelihood. Under this program, more than 70 lakh self-help groups have been formed in the country so far, in which more than 7.80 crore women have ensured prosperity for their families through self-employment. Launched on 25th September 2014 on the birth anniversary of Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay, Deendayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushal Yojana aims to skill the youth of rural areas in the age group of 15 to 35 years for self-employment. So far, more than 11.26 lakh youth have received skill training across the country under this scheme, and 6.61 lakh youth have also got employment. The Swamitva Scheme launched by the Prime Minister on National Panchayati Raj Day on 24th April 2020 is very ambitious as it seeks to establish a new chapter in the building of a new rural India. Under this scheme, all the people living in the villages are being provided the ownership of their houses in the form of property cards which have helped the villagers to make commercial and economic use of their property. The villagers can now start self-employment by pledging their property documents with a bank for loans. The Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission launched by the Ministry of Rural Development with the motto of ‘Atma Gaon Ki, Suvidhayen Shahar Ki’ is a truly innovative initiative to bridge the gap between villages and cities on the issue of economic development and basic facilities. Under the Rurban Mission, 300 clusters are being set up in rural areas across the country which will not be less than cities in every sphere of development. The Rurban Mission has opened many avenues for self-employment in villages. Cooperative is a vast field and development of any sector is easily possible with the spirit of cooperation. The cooperative sector can also play an important role for self-employment in rural areas. About 10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) are being set up across the country. The youth of farming families can not only get self-employment through these FPOs but can also generate good income from advanced and profitable agriculture. Cooperatives can be helpful in food processing, warehousing, logistics, agro marketing, horticulture, fisheries in rural areas. Significant work is also being done in many states in this direction. In the modern era, means of self-employment can also be created by linking technology and skill with the local rural requirement. Sixty-five percent of our country’s population lives in villages. The migration from villages to cities for livelihood has created a new crisis which can be described as ‘desolated villages, degenerated cities’. The solution to this crisis lies in self-employment. Self-employment will not only ensure prosperity in villages, but help maintain fine balance between villages and cities and strengthen the nation.
( The author is Minister of State, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India. Press Information Bureau Srinagar has mailed this article to “Kashmir Horizon” for publication in this newspaper. Views are his own)