New Delhi: Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Friday recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s famous quote “India lives in the villages” and said today the challenge is “how do we move forward to ensure the development of villages. Even the dreams of the smallest of villages in the most far flung areas are now huge.”
The Prime Minister was addressing a special function here to mark the National Panchayati Raj Day on Friday.
Modi asked the elected Panchayat representatives: “have you ever thought what you are going to give to your village during your 5-year term; Have you ever thought how your village is going to remember you after five years? Till we do not have the spirit and the commitment, mere allocation of budget will not improve things, the PM went on to observe.
The Prime Minister said if we take a closer look at all the money that has been routed for development of villages over the last 60 years, If we take into consideration the entire amount that has been spent, the question that would immediately surface is: what about the end result? While asserting this point, the Prime Minister gave credit to some states where the panchayats define targets and achieve them within a fixed time frame.
The Prime Minister said there has to be a combination of leasdership and budget to achieve results. Any Panchayat can build a concrete road but only a sarpanch with vision and commitment would go the extra length to see that trees are also planted along the road. This is the kind of vision that will uplift the countryside, said Modi.
The Prime Minister said the Panchayats do not have a role as money comes automatically from the government for running the Anganwadis, primary schools and the primary health centres in the villages. One wonders whether the panchayats pay any attention to see that every child in the village is immunized. What about the ASHA workers and the school teachers and their working or efforts to ensure children attend their school regularly. This kind of initiative does not require any budget – all that is needed is leadership at the grassroot level.
Expressing concern with regard to the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA) that guarantees 100 days of employment to the poor, the Prime Minister said if water management becomes the main focus under this scheme, villages will never face any water crisis.
The Prime Minister also had a word of advice for retired teachers and patwaris, who draw pension from the government. He said that panchayats could ask them to volunteer. For example the retired teachers could tutor students lagging behind in studies, he said.
Our villages, the Prime Minister asserted, cannot develop till we do not build a sense of pride, respect and attachment towards our villages, Modi said adding think of the immense pride of that villager who comes from the native village of Mahatma Gandhi.