India launches $600m “Vibrant Villages” programme along Chinese border

The ancient Indian village of Dhangka (Nomad Bikers/Unsplash)
The government of India has launched its $600m “Vibrant Villages” programme to develop homes and roads in Himalayan states, India Express reports.

This scheme, which was announced in the 2022 budget, is intended to improve the quality of life in villages close to India’s contested border with China in order to reduce migration and improve security.

The Express comments that a 2018 report from a standing committee of the Indian parliament drew attention to villages’ “backwardness, illiteracy, and lack of basic facilities and infrastructure”.

It is also intended to counter China’s “every village” scheme, aimed at ending rural poverty by giving every village and household access to transport, power and water infrastructure.

The programme was launched by Amit Shah, minister for home affairs, in the village of Kibithoo.

Altogether, 2,967 villages will be eligible for modernisation. They are spread over five states bordering China, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Some 662 villages have been identified for priority coverage, and they will be tackled in the first phase of the scheme.

About half the investment will be dedicated to road building, but there will also be projects aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and giving vocational training to women and young people.

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