In what is being billed as a unique initiative at grassroots socio-economic empowerment of institutions, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday inaugurated the third Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the empowerment of Panchayat Raj Institutions in the newly constituted Union Territory of Ladakh.
The theme of the programme was – “Parliamentary Outreach Programme for the Empowerment of the Panchayati Raj Institutions”. The event was attended among others by about 195 representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai; Minister of State for the Ministries of New and Renewable Energy and Chemical and Fertilisers, Bhagwant Khuba; Lieutenant Governor of Union Territory of Ladakh, Radha Krishna Mathur; Member of Parliament from Ladakh, Jamyang Tsering Namgyal; Chairperson, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC) Leh, Tashi Gyalson; Chairperson LAHDC Kargil, Feroz Ahmed Khan, Members of Parliament were also present.
Speaking on the occasion Om Birla recalled the time-tested traditions of local self-governance in Ladakh. ‘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,’ the Lok Sabha Speaker said.
Birla pointed out 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. He stressed on the active participation of people in the democratic processes and legislation process to make democracy more successful and stronger for ‘socio-economic development and empowerment of people.’
Highlighting the region’s immense tourism potential the Speaker said, ‘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. He urged the local representatives to involve themselves in the process to realize the economic potential of the region.
The Speaker appreciated the beauty and serenity of Ladakh and its peace-loving people. He 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 of the rest of the nation’ to emulate. He also lauded the valour of the people of Ladakh in India’s defence and underlined that the people of Ladakh have set an important example for others in this regard.
The broad objectives of the outreach programme are to create mass awareness/mass participation, create self-confidence/self-respect for the ground level leaders, creation of a sense of ownership of the assets that have been created, fuelling the ambitions for grass root political leaders for democratic values, creating the awareness about the various schemes and the doorstep delivery – opportunities for development work, opportunity to develop a network and push the aspirational level of the ground level leadership.
Referring to the just-concluded Monsoon Session of Parliament, Birla pointed out that Parliament is the supreme democratic institution. He said it is the responsibility of the Parliament to strengthen democracy at all levels including at the Panchayat level. He stressed the role of Parliament as a forum of discussion. ‘Parliament, as the supreme democratic institution, should be the centre of discussion and not disruption,’ the Speaker said appealing to the Members to maintain the sanctity of the House.
The Lok Sabha Speaker also said that recently thirteen parliamentary standing committees of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha with more than two hundred Members had visited the UT of Ladakh. He said this speaks volumes about the committeemen of the Parliament of India to further the development of Ladakh without compromising its identity and culture.
Earlier, Union Minister of State for the Ministries of New and Renewable Energy and Chemical and Fertilisers, Bhagwant Khuba, speaking on the occasion appealed to the local representatives from Kargil and Ladakh to actively involve themselves in the development initiatives in the interest of the people.
Lt. Governor of Ladakh Radha Krishna Mathur spoke about the new development initiatives undertaken after the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh. He said a new movement had begun to rebuild the three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions in Ladakh and from that perspective, this outreach program has immense relevance. Mathur said that under the Jal Jeevan Mission piped drinking water will be made available by 15 August 2022.
Jamyang Tsering Namgyal, MP from Ladakh welcomed Birla as the first-ever Lok Sabha Speaker to visit Ladakh since independence. He spoke about the massive infrastructure development initiatives being undertaken in the UT of Ladakh and appealed to the local representatives to rededicate themselves in the all-around development of the region.
Chairpersons of Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Kargil and Leh, welcoming Birla at the beginning of the programme appreciated his noble initiative of organizing the Outreach Programme for the Panchayati Raj Institutions of the Union Territory if Ladakh and expressed their optimism that this will strengthen grassroots democracy in the region.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai in his valedictory address said that this Outreach Programme is a first of its kind initiative by Parliament to promote democracy at the grass-root level. He emphasized on promotion of the export of local products of Ladakh and the involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions in such endeavour.
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.