Mahatma Gandhi once remarked “It is Swaraj when we learn to rule ourselves”. Recent developments in the field of decentralization of power in the state of Jammu and Kashmir have re- affirmed the faith of people of Jammu and Kashmir in Indian democratic setup. Local bodies not only act as a buffer for the state, but also lead to transformation from representative democracy to participatory democracy.
Concentration of power violates the essence of our democracy. Local aspirations are equally important while framing policies and implementing decisions. Gandhi ji dreamed of a parallel village democracy within the ambit of larger democracy to counter any sort of alienation and centralization. People of Jammu and Kashmir were deprived of this opportunity for last 13 years, which otherwise has proved a boon for the rest of India especially in Southern India.
Bottom-up approach is the need of hour for overall development of our state. Many youngsters have tried their luck in local body elections, which is a very progressive development. If youth is ready to take care of the society, then one need not to worry about the future of the state. The dormant forces of progress are getting active now, which will pave a way for more inclusive and sustainable development.
Successful candidates will have larger responsibilities on their head, as they have to start from the scratch. They can make judicious use of resources and policies of the government to reach out the last man of the society. Transferring functions and functionaries of primary health centers, primary schools and anganwari centres to panchayts is a positive sign of the Union government. There are also indications that the financial powers of panchayts will also be enhanced. It is an opportunity not to be missed. It is high time for all of us to be a part of India’s growth story and reap the fruits of development.
(He is an engineering graduate and currently studying Indian and Western philosophical system.)