13 House panels reflect Centre’s commitment to Ladakh: Speaker Om Birla

Leh: Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Om Birla said that recently thirteen parliamentary standing committees of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with more than two hundred Members have visited the UT of Ladakh which speaks about the committeemen of the Parliament of India to further the development of Ladakh without compromising its identity and culture. With these words, Om Birla inaugurated the Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Union Territory of Ladakh at the Sindhu Sanskritik Kendra, Leh.

Referring to the just-concluded Monsoon Session, Shri Birla observed that Parliament is the supreme democratic institution and it is the responsibility of the Parliament to strengthen democracy at all levels including at the Panchayat level. Emphasising on the role of Parliament as a forum of discussion, Shri Birla shared that Parliament, as the supreme democratic institution, should be the center of discussion and not disruption. He appealed the Members to maintain the sanctity of the House.

Speaking about the depth of grassroots democracy in the region, Shri Birla said that Democracy is reflected in the tradition of Ladakh. The region traditionally has had a system of self-government in the villages. Gob and churp traditionally have been chief officers, who managed the distribution of water and other resources and looked after matters of agriculture and other works on the basis of mutual cooperation. He further said that Panchayati Raj institutions are directly connected with the people due to which they can take care of peoples’ problems and provide solutions as well.

Emphasizing active participation of people in the democratic processes and legislation process to make democracy more successful and stronger, Shri Birla said that democracy is the basis of socio-economic development and empowerment of people. It should always be the endeavor to have regular discussions and dialogue among democratic institutions. He added that through regular discussion and constructive dialogue, the faith of the people in a democracy will be strengthened. Sharing of best practices among democratic institutions will make them more accountable and transparent, noted Shri Birla.

Underlining the importance of the spirit of solidarity and collective efforts for development, Shri Birla spoke about the role of local representatives in the process of development. In this regard, Shri Birla also spoke about the region’s immense tourism potential and enumerated the unique architecture of the territory, to handicrafts and other products that can become the basis of self-reliance and development for the people in the longer term. The Speaker urged the local representatives to involve themselves in the process to realize the economic potential of the region.

Shri Birla appreciated the beauty and serenity of Ladakh and its peace-loving people. The Speaker also commended the spirit of the Ladakhi people, saying that the way Ladakh is emerging as a self-reliant (Aatma Nirbhar) entity in the face of adverse geographical and other challenges is an example for the rest of the nation.

Lauding the contributions and valor of the people of Ladakh in India’s defense, Shri Birla underlined that the people of Ladakh have set an important example for others.

The program was also attended by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai; Minister of State for the Ministries of New and Renewable Energy and Chemical and Fertilisers, Shri Bhagwant Khuba; Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh, Shri Radha Krishna Mathur; Member of Parliament from Ladakh, Shri Jamyang Tsering Namgyal; Chairperson, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, Shri Tashi Gyalson; Chairperson LAHDC Kargil, Shri Feroz Ahmed Khan, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries.

Panel discussions were held on (i) Parliament and grass-root level institutions: stepping stone towards leadership, (ii) Panchayat: Social Change, Economic Development and Empowerment of women in rural areas, and ( iii) Role of Panchayats in promotion of tourism, culture & handicrafts in Ladakh

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Nityanand Rai, delivered the valedictory address. In his address, Shri Rai said that this Outreach Programme is a first-of-its-kind initiative by Parliament to promote democracy at the grass-root level. He outlined the development initiatives of the government after the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh. The Minister also emphasized on promotion of the export of local products of Ladakh and the involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions in such endeavor.

Secretary General, Lok Sabha, Shri Utpal Kumar Singh, presented the Vote of Thanks.