Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday made a strong pitch for strengthening democracy at the grassroots level as he asked the gram panchayats to play active role in developmental activities, taking advantage of the immense resources and schemes of his government.
On the ‘Panchayat Day’, he said the country’s progress depends hugely on the development of villages and emphasised the need for bridging the gulf between cities and rural areas by ensuring that all modern day facilities reach even the far off places.
While laying thrust on progress of rural areas, with particular focus on farmers, women-folk and child care, Modi said he wants to leave a legacy after his five-year tenure which would be talked about in terms of exceptional achievement in the years to come.
“We need to strengthen panchayats. The gram sabhas are as important as Parliament,” he said addressing a programme on the culmination of 10-day ‘Gram Uday Se Bharat Uday’ campaign here in the tribal-dominated state of Jharkhand.
“We have to work shoulder-to-shoulder to fulfill the dreams,” Modi said, underlining the need for cooperation between gram panchayats and the central government.
Pitching for progress of villages, he asked the village heads to take a lead in undertaking developmental activities, including infrastructure development, construction of toilets to ensure end to open defecation, ensuring proper healthcare to prevent child birth mortality and provision of better education to ensure there is no school dropouts.
“Earlier there was shortage of funds. Now there are lot of finances available…There is no dearth of funds. There is no dearth of schemes. But there is a need for dedication by those who work at the grassroots level,” Modi said.
“Be aware, remain alert. Lead from the front. Then officers will also do their work,” he told the village heads.
In this context, he particularly emphasised the role of women panchayat representatives, who constitute 40 per cent of the 30 lakh representatives.
“Ensure that open defecation of our mothers and sisters is brought to an end. Ensure construction of toilets. Take a pledge in this regard. There is nothing more shameful than our mothers and sisters defecating in the open,” Modi told the women representatives of panchayats.
Asking the women representatives to take a lead in bringing about changes in social lives, he said they should see to it that there is proper utilisation of funds.
The women representatives also look into the aspects like child nutrition and pregnancy-related issues, he said.
He suggested that each village should take up one task each year like ensuring all farmers get crop insurance, ensuring preservation of water, ensuring digitalisation, and ensuring adequate attention to children.