Modern village administration

K Lhouvum
Folks, we all know how the tide of time changes everything. During the days of yore, life in the village was adorned with much positivism.The villagers enjoyed the bounty of nature in the form of surplus foods, large tract of land for cultivation, lots of green vegetation, tight bonding, thin population, less societal tension, communal harmony, sincerity, discipline, compassion, etc. Life was simple, virtuous, with lots of freedom and little complication.
Today, we have seen a sea change on all fronts of life. We can ignore the changing times only at our peril. We need to start life afresh and prepare ourselves to meet the challenges posed both by men and nature. Therefore, a need is felt to create awareness amongst the public and our leadership for acta non verba (action not verbal). This article is designed to gear us up to the various challenges in our villages, towns or cities for safety, security, progress and communal harmony.
The need to evolve the necessary instruments for a welfare administration is laid bare herewith briefly for our active introspection.
Components of Village-Town Administration                                                                              We shall touch the main points without delving into the details.
1.Governing Body
Every village/municipality must have a governing body governed by the rule of law and strengthen by a civilized conduct. Governance must be based on the foundation of democracy and NOT autocracy. Towards this end, the governing body must be chosen through election and NOT by selection. The procedure for the administration must be codified which may outlined the various departments along with its procedures of administration.This governing body must provide the size of Elected Members / Ward Members depending on the population of the village, periodicity of governing meetings, service of agenda or agendum to the Members within defined number of days, quorum, dissent note, recording of minutes with signature, distribution of minutes, its implementation, review, etc.
2. Sanitation Deptt.
We know cleanliness is next to godliness. This deptt. should have adequate equipment, conservancy vehicles and employees to maintain the area in good sanitary condition. Roadside cleaning, watering of roads through tankers, cleaning of drainage and sewerage lines, painting of public properties like signboards, culverts, speed-breakers, poles, dustbins, hoardings, etc. needed regular maintenance. The menace of mosquitoes can be reducing by spraying the area with fogging machines at least 2-3 times during summer.
Procurement of machines for trimming tree branches, suction machine mounted on truck to suck out waste from septic tanks, wheel barrows to collect garbage and deposit in public dustbins, collection of garbage at source by providing two coloured buckets to every households for collection of degradable and non-degradable waste and deposit it in garbage bins located at different places and then transported by Tipper vehicles duly covered to the designated trenching ground located outside the village for recycling in keeping with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016. Also, sale of meat for public consumption by authorised licensees in designated location after certification by Veterinary doctors should only be permitted and monitored regularly.
3. Engineering Deptt.
This deptt. may not be a major concern in small villages due to paucity of funds or topography. However, we cannot afford to be ignorant of its future necessity. The duties of the technical team are multifarious. They shall look after public works whether its repairing or new works like roads, drainage, sewer lines, maintenance of street lights, measures for low-cost power consumption via use of CFL bulbs only, installation of solar panels in every roof tops, power supply to every households or public buildings fitted with meter system that cannot be tempered with, sewerage treatment plants (STP) before its discharge into rivers, maintenance of safe public water supply after filtration, proper selection of sites for hoardings and its maintenance to avoid a messy look, sanction of building plans as per approved Building Bye-Law of the village, etc.
Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t have building bye-laws for village. As of now, anyone can construct any type of house according to his pocket or taste. In developed urban locations in mainland India including hill Cantonments, we’ve Building Bye-Laws with elaborate procedure for construction. You can’t construct your own house as you like otherwise you can be prosecuted and penalty imposed.
4. Public Health
Hospital-PHC-Dispensary must be maintained up to the public expectation. Within the constraints of allocated funds, it must strive to deliver public health services.
To achieve this objective, the managing authorities must monitor the various activities of the Hospital staff regularly: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Half-annually or Yearly.
The inspection/monitoring system may include:
i) Checking Attendance Register or taking bio-metric attendance of employees daily
ii) Inventories of medicines – inflow and outflow of all items especially medicines must be recorded with signature of Pharmacist / Storekeeper /Accountant.
iii) To purchase generic medicines being cheaper than branded drugs which are costly though it has the same chemical properties and with the same effectiveness.
iv) Proper usage of costly instruments & equipment duly accounted and audited to avoid pilferage as also water supply, electricity incl. generators, furniture, signboards, etc.
v) To ensure availability of medical staff beyond the call of duty for emergency services
vi) Sanitation should be maintained at its best always. For, a clean environment is a contributory factor of healing patients.
5. Education
Today, the management and standard of many Govt.-owned educational institutions are felt not satisfactory. Instead of students, stray cattle are more regular in attending these schools!! As such, we need to confront the Govt. to provide: basic infrastructure, teaching equipment, regular maintenance of schools, regular workshop for the teaching staff to sharpen their teaching skills, regular inspection, to deploy sanctioned strength of teaching and non-teaching staff and other assistance. Strict implementation of rules including No work No Pay principle needs to be implemented to produce pillars of our future society.
The standard of Private Institutions is much better. However, it’s costly for many people who depend on daily wages or petty business. For the marginalised segments of the society, good private schools are not readily affordable. Also, many private schools tend to commercialise the temple of learning.
The authorities must emphasise on how to nurture the talents of students both in academic and extra-curricular activities. The mental and physical growth of the students must be assess periodically and rectify their short comings. When we improve the standard of these institutions, migration to other States would be cut down considerably thereby saving the financial, mental and physical hardships faced by our students. It will also reduce the outflow of our scarce financial resources.
6. Natural Disaster Managements
The following are the known natural disasters : Earthquake, Volcanoes, Storm, Lightening, Famine, Unseasonal rains spoiling crops and loss of working hours, Flooded rivers, Landslides, Bridge collapse, House Fire, contagious Diseases, Diabolical creature entering the village, etc. Our preparedness or response to these natural calamity needed practical assessment. Even if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet these disasters, we must possess its basic information to be semper paratus (always prepared) to deal such eventuality. Govt. has a role to play here by creating public awareness and utilize modern technology system to secure for timely warning thereby lessen if not eliminates colossal loss of life and property.
We all must know how to live with Nature. Otherwise, Nature will react in a way that we won’t have answers. Let’s maintain our Eco-systems, maintain at least 60% of our land with forest like Bhutan! If the forest is left naked, the wilds will march toward our habitation and displace us! Elephants have started to visit villages frequently for food due to our reckless deforestation. If we pollute the atmosphere, we will be awarded with pollution, diseases and global warming. The consequences of environmental imbalance are enormous. Unseasonable rains, blistering temperature, flooded rivers, loss of crops, soil erosion, etc will follow. Natural vegetation in the forest including production of jongchak has dwindle.What other proof do we need for our ecological recklessness? For how long do we need to depend on the mercy of God for the miraculous protection since ages?
7. Skill Development Training
Every villager is gifted with different talents. Even differently- abled boys/girls can write with their feet if they lost their hands. All kids cannot be Officers, Pilots, Doctors, Engineers, acclaimed Speakers, Politicians, successful business Persons, etc. So, a village can establish skill or semi-skill institutions for the villagers to earn their livelihood or for self-confidence. This will reduce pressure on the Govt. on the mounting unemployment.
There are many NGOs recognised by Govt. of India who imparts skills. State/Centre Govts. are providing subsidy on fees /free courses to trainees. After successful completion of the courses, they are issued certificates which are their passport to secure employment. Govt. is even providing loans to successful trainees to purchase equipment so they can start their own business. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Govt. of India is the umbrella on this matter. For start-up, please check details on this link: The Industry Deptt. of State Govt. can also play a pivotal role to nurture the talent of the youth.
These skill-training courses can be tuned to the needs of the villagers. Generally the courses include: Tailoring, Carpentry, Embroidery, Beautician, Handicraft, Bakery, Computer courses, Mason, Plumber, Electrician, Driving, Mechanic, Designing, etc. The skills training period can be of 3, 6, 12 months or 2 yrs duration. Our youth must be provided avenues for their gainful employment.
8. Village Economy                                                                                                                   
i) Agriculture
Today, agriculture is still the backbone of our economy and source of livelihood. It supports many households. Of late, we saw migration to urban centers for better avenues. This trend of migration will continue as our cultivable land is shrinking giving way to creation of various infrastructural needs due to the burgeoning population.
We need to think of replacing our paddy cultivation as it’s most unproductive, labour intensive and economically nonviable. If you calculate the Time, Labour and Money invested on paddy cultivation, we realised that we’re no better than our folklore legend Pu Benglam !! So, remedial measures are: double cropping, growing other cash crops or jump to other occupational venture for better income and less labour or study hard to get central govt. jobs.
To be contd
The author is working in the Defence Estates Deptt, MoD, Govt. of India and has working experience of seven Cantonments as the Chief Executive Officer. He can be contacted @ his email id : [email protected]