Bangalore: National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day on 8th and 9th November 2019. Around 140 elected women representatives across India are participating in this event. NIRDPR is a platform to collaborate with national and international thinkers, researchers, practitioners in rural eco-system with a view to eradicating poverty. Such collaboration is the need of the hour to achieve sustainable development goals.
Foundation Day Lectures are held at the NIRDPR Campus, which will be followed by a month-long celebration including a Film Festival (19th November 2019) and a Rural Technology Park Crafts Mela (29th November 2019 to 3rd December 2019), among other activities.
Delivering the Foundation Day Lecture on ‘Role of Transparency and Accountability in Local Economic Development of Gram Panchayats,’ Mr. T.R. Raghunandan, IAS (Retd), Former Joint Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Government of India, said, “In Switzerland, Rado and Omega watches, which are internationally well-known brands, are manufactured by micro and small enterprises in rural hinterland of the country for the last 100 years. In Odisha, weavers are getting direct orders from consumers for traditional sarees. This will improve the rural livelihoods if such efforts are sustained and supported to protect the traditional artforms.”
Further, Mr. T.R. Raghunandan said, “Traditional goods manufactured in modern ways by upscaling the production with proper market linkages through e-commerce can help sustain the rural industries in a big way. Rural youth are having access to latest technologies and marketing, which will transform Gram Panchayats in the near future, if they nurture traditional arts.”
NIRDPR is recognized as a premier centre for excellence in Rural Development and Panchayati Raj by UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). The Institute has been undertaking various research, action research, capacity building and technology extension activities for the last six decades with a view to promote integrated rural development.
Delivering the Welcome Address, Dr. W.R. Reddy IAS, Director General, NIRDPR, said, “The main topic for NIRDPR during its 61st Foundation Day celebrations is how can we achieve economic development through Gram Panchayats. There are about 2.50 lakh panchayats in the country. In Kerala, majority of the Gram Panchayats are ISO-Certified because they follow the best practices with regard to funds, functions and functionaries.”
Further, Dr. Reddy added, “If we can assist women sarpanches and mentor them, I think wonderful things are going to happen in rural landscape. NIRDPR and many other voluntary and corporate agencies are working on unique and innovative development models in this direction to help Gram Panchayats in solving their problems.”
Speaking on ‘Skilling for Development of Gram Panchayats’, Special Guest of Honour Ms. Alka Upadhyayam, IAS, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, said, “NIRDPR is not just a training institute but transformed itself into a professional support agency for many Government programs under the leadership of Director General Dr. Reddy. The Institute has helped rollout projects in rural development arena substantially at a lower cost compared with private contractors.”
Ms. Alka Upadhyaya added, “China and South Korea are following the ‘Cluster Village Development’ model by promoting micro and small enterprises, thereby improving the livelihoods of the local populace. India can also implement this model for sustainable economic development of Gram Panchayats”.
Further, Ms. Alka Upadhyaya said, “Today, it is a matter of great pride that NIRDPR is celebrating its 61st Foundation Day. It provides great organizational support to the Government and I congratulate the Institute and the team on this occasion.”
Currently, every five years, about 3.4 million representatives are elected by the people, of whom one million are women. Women head about 175 district panchayats, more than 2,000 block panchayats and about 85,000 gram panchayats. Likewise, more than 30 city corporations and about 600 town municipalities have women chairpersons.
Delivering the Special Guest of Honour Address on ‘Sustainable Agri-based Livelihoods in Rural India,’ Dr. S K Pattanayak, IAS (Retd), Director General, Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad, said, “Electronic National Agricultural Market (eNAM) is providing remunerative prices to the farmers by establishing viable market linkages. This will change the rural income levels across the country in the near future.”
NIRDPR has taken up several initiatives towards the active participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs). It is working on the following initiatives and training programmes, which have to be adopted to improve the participation and decision making power of women even at the grass root level of governance and enhance their number in the PRIs:
Ø Measures to enhance the participation of women in higher numbers, especially in governance
Ø The elected leaders of these institutions need to be at least literate, so that they could guide the villagers about the various provisions of the Panchayati Raj Act
Ø Measures to improve female literacy in rural areas
Ø Need to develop women’s leadership capabilities and communication skills for enhancing social mobilization
Ø The rural women leaders have to be adequately trained based on their local experience and capabilities, elicit their involvement in preparing a framework that will enable them to analyse and understand their roles and responsibilities in accordance with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment
Ø There should not be any factions and party politics in terms of planning i.e. selection and location of schemes rather genuine implementation of the projects are necessary for strengthening the decentralized planning
Ø To empower them to identify and break cultural barriers and improve their socio-economic condition
Ø Systematic awareness is needed for enhancing rural women’s capacity to take up their new responsibilities as local legislators
Ø All the guidelines of rural/women/child development programmes of State and Central governments should be made available to gram panchayats leaders and common villagers
Ø In the ongoing e-Era, a broad and wide scope of importance has to be given to technology while making women empowered in all fields
In the context of Digital India, women representatives of PRIs should also be actively involved in harnessing the technology for their own self and village development. It is pertinent to mention here that Government of India introduced some projects for women:
Ø Mahila E-Hat,
Ø Beti Bacho Beti Padhao,
Ø One stop centre scheme (Nirbhaya),
Ø Working women hostel,
Ø Swadhar Greh,
Ø Nari Shakti Puraskar,
Ø STEP (Support to Training & Employment Programme for Women) etc.