It was a strongly held belief – that carrying out any work under government systems is next to impossible, that government structure were too complex to navigate and that institutional mechanisms were ridden with archaic systems. Fortunately, by working on ground with Honourable Member of Parliament, Mr. Dushyant Chautala, I was able to challenge those beliefs. This challenging of beliefs, made me realize how myopic my claims were and how established institutions in the world’s largest democracy uphold the spirit of the Constitution.
The journey of this change began when I landed in Hisar, Haryana, the constituency of Hon’ble Mr. Chautala – one of the oldest and the 3rd largest district in Haryana. I could feel the breeze on my face in the vast landscapes of Hisar and the excitement of being mentored by a parliamentarian left me having butterflies in my stomach. I was excited – both by the place and for my to be mentor. My first meeting with Mr. Chautala involved us having sharp conversations and sharing our opinions on development. One of the statements mentioned by him, struck a chord with me. He said that true development of a region only happens with the development of its villages. His statement “Till the time the farmer of this country is poor, the country will continue to be poor” stuck in my mind. In this regard, I was given the ownership to create a model village under the Saansad Aadarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY). The idea behind this was that one model village could inspire many other surrounding villages and begin a movement of sorts. It was like a dream project for me. I always thought of doing this. This was my chance.
As per the plan, I visited the village of Bhiwani Rohilla, which had been adopted under SAGY by Mr. Chautala. I spent a week inspecting various issues of the village. I interacted with the community and discussed their problems at length. After attaining a deep understanding of the village and its issues, I prepared a Village Development Plan (VDP) alongside all the stakeholders in accordance with the SAGY guidelines. The aim of the VDP was to not just cover the hopes and aspirations of the people, but to use scientific methodologies to create a model socio-economic development model. The next step upon creation of the VDP was to get all the stakeholders to agree on the shortcomings and accept the proposed plan of action. For this, all the concerned officials were called in the village to discuss the issues and the proposed solutions. For the first time in Hisar, 46 Grade A officers visited the village. This was a big achievement in itself as the village came into limelight. The VDP was categorised into 4 sections- Human Development, Economic Development, Environmental Development and Infrastructure Development. A total of 68 tasks were finalised, proceedings were issued and appropriate instructions were sent to respective officers. This was the start to creating a model village and would have set an example of how all the governance cog wheels could be set into motion for better development planning.
Creation of the VDP was half the work. At the MP’s Office, we realized the importance of following through the development strategies and engaging with all stakeholders at various levels – in many cases even providing oversight to key projects. I began meeting various officers and discussed the execution of assigned tasks. From then on, things started moving fast. In the last one month, around 14 camps have been set up, doctors are now visiting the local hospitals on a weekly basis, veterinary surgeons are providing services in the village every Tuesday, awareness camps for digital banking, farmer cooperatives and ITI trainings have been organised. Handloom designing courses have begun in the village to inculcate skills and provide economic independence to women. An extensive survey of the village has been carried out by Executive Engineer (XEN) and a plan for infrastructure development, worth INR 1 crore has been prepared. MNREGA work worth INR 8 Lakh have been finalized. All this activities happening over the course of one month, makes me believe in the institutions of governance in the country and the need for utilizing the available resources to its best.
There is much thrust that the engine of governance in India is capable of. What is needed is some oiling and a kick start. I feel proud and lucky to be a part of this engine. This is our time to #SparcTheChange.
Navneet is a SPARC Associate working with Mr. Dushyant Chautala.