Vibrant Village Programme: A step towards securing Himalayan borders

I come from the border state of Uttarakhand. Before 2014, whenever I used to visit remote villages in the border districts like Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Champawat, I used to shudder upon witnessing mass exodus from villages bordering China. People living in these remote villages have always acted as an important source to report the Chinese army’s suspicious activities along our borders. This phenomenon is not just confined to the border districts of Uttarakhand, other Himalayan states in the Northeast also faced similar challenges. Unfortunately, the UPA government’s policy to shy away from developing our border areas cost us dearly.

Since this issue is related to our national security, Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded to it in earnest. He not only focused his government’s attention towards developing infrastructure in the border areas, he also conceived the Vibrant Village Programme, which focuses on the development of our border villages. This will be a milestone in the development of border villages and the progress of the Himalayan states. BJP cadre are committed to making this highly innovative programme a grand success.

The Vibrant Village Programme aims to strengthen and enhance basic infrastructure in the villages along the LAC so that migration can be stemmed. Border villages are being provided with all basic amenities including modern housing and good roads; water and electricity supply; good education, health and communication facilities; access to Doordarshan channels, etc. This initiative will soon transform our border villages neighbouring China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar, and address the problem of migration. A total of 2,962 border villages in five states will be developed under this scheme.

The scheme will also develop growth centres on the “hub-and-spoke model” through the promotion of social entrepreneurship, empowerment of youth and women through skill development and entrepreneurship and leverage the tourism potential through the promotion of local culture and traditional knowledge. It will also develop sustainable eco-agribusinesses through the “One village-One product” concept.

For decades our border villages remained untouched by development. Our enemies took advantage of these lapses and strengthened their position along our borders. Sensing an opportunity, China increased its influence along our borders by rapidly developing its infrastructure and increasing the presence of its army. India also suffered similar setbacks along the Pakistan border due to serious lapses of the Congress governments. Terror activities also increased along the Myanmar border.

Immediately after taking over, PM Modi tweaked the PM Gram Sadak Yojna to connect remote villages with all-weather roads. It started with the construction of concrete roads in all villages with over 250 inhabitants. Remote villages were also connected with a robust optical fibre network. Similarly, under PM Awas Yojna, pucca houses were constructed in remote villages. People were provided with water and electricity connections and given toilets. Under the Ayushman Bharat Yojna, villagers were covered under the world’s largest health insurance scheme. The PM then embarked upon the Vibrant Village Programme.

In 2018, the Parliamentary Standing Committee pointed towards illiteracy, backwardness and lack of basic facilities in our border areas. The Vibrant Village Programme is an important and commendable initiative that will address all these issues.

The BJP is contributing to making the initiative a grand success. As a result, under the leadership of its president, J P Nadda, the party has planned various programmes to step up its communication outreach in border villages. The party will also hold various programmes, ensure the effective implementation of various government schemes and promote art and cultural activities in these villages.

People living in border villages are the first line of our defence; they are our sentinels.

Under the Prime Minister’s leadership, our border areas are undergoing a social and economic transformation. This will not only make our borders safe and secure, it will also bring remote and border villages into the national mainstream, and make them more vibrant, developed and self-sufficient.

The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP and national media head, BJP