Strong Panchayats will further strengthen our democracy: Lok Sabha Speaker

SRINAGAR: Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla today inaugurated the Parliamentary Outreach Program for Empowerment of Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre, Srinagar. He emphasized that the outreach program aims to make our grassroots democratic institutions stronger and more transparent and accountable.

Shri Birla said that democratic institutions like Gram Panchayats can improve the lives of the people and for this collective and coordinated efforts are needed at the grassroots level. He said, “The empowered Panchayats will further strengthen our democracy and give people confidence in democracy. Shri Birla lauded the development taking place in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and said that the Union Territory is on the path of peace, progress and development.”

Lok Sabha Speaker said that with the collective and coordinated efforts of the democratic institutions at the grassroots level, the benefits of development will reach the last person of the society. He emphasized that democratic institutions should fulfill their responsibilities as an instrument of development to make the entire country self-reliant, including the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. He further said that Jammu and Kashmir have immense potential and suitable skills in the field of tourism, handicrafts and agricultural products, so the grassroots democratic institutions should work towards promoting their marketing at the national and international levels. He expressed the hope that J&K would lead the country in terms of development and employment.

On this occasion, he also assured those elaborate arrangements would be made by the Lok Sabha Secretariat to organize capacity-building programs for the representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions in the Union Territory. He hoped that properly trained representatives would be able to do better work which would result in a qualitative change in the lives of the people. Mr. Birla further said that he would suggest to the Parliamentary Standing Committees to undertake regular study visits to the remote areas of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh to understand the real situation and mitigate the problems of the local people.

Besides Mr. Birla, the Lt. Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Manoj Sinha; Union Minister of State for Jal Shakti and Food Processing Industries, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel; Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Ramdas Athawale; Union Minister of State for Education, Smt. Annapurna Devi; Member of Parliament from Srinagar, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Former Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Nirmal Kumar Singh, Member of Parliament and other dignitaries attended.

Referring to the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav programs, Shri Birla said that democracy in India has strengthened over time. He expressed satisfaction that the hopes and aspirations of the people have been met to a great extent and India is now leading the world community in the journey of democracy. Shri Birla also said that it is through democracy that we have unity in diversity and we are a collective power. He emphasized that only this collective strength of ours can help us to overcome the adversities that hinder the progress of the country.

Shri Birla also said that the need of the hour is to prepare standard operating procedures for democratic institutions so that their functioning can be run smoothly. He appealed to the democratic institutions working at the grassroots level in Jammu and Kashmir to develop their own rules and procedures for more orderly functioning to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the people. He expressed the belief that if these institutions function properly and adopt best practices, the development process will get a new impetus.

Later, (i) Indian Parliament and grassroots institutions: Capacity and Challenges – Early Stages of Leadership, (ii) Panchayat Leadership: Social Transformation, Economic Development and Empowerment of Women in Rural Areas, and (iii) Jammu and Kashmir Three panel discussions were organized on the topics of the role of Panchayats in promotion of tourism, culture and handicrafts. During these panel discussions, the delegates shared their experiences and ideas to improve their work in their respective fields. Member of Parliament, Shri Rampreet Mandal and Advisor to the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Baseer Ahmed Khan delivered the concluding remarks.