Sunday, 12 August 2012

Panchayats and Democratic Decentralisation: Some studies

Useful for both Public Administration and Sociology and even GS, come to think of it.
Hope your prep is on course and speed. 

Rao, C.B., Manish Gupta, P.R. Jena, ‘Central Flows to Panchayats: A Comparative Study of Madhya Pradesh’, Economic and Political Weekly, XLII (5), February 3, 2007, pp. 365-368.

Panchayati Raj Institutions have emerged as decentralised grassroot level structures for governance in rural areas. With a continuous increase in the magnitude of funds flowing to the panchayats, mainly through Centrally Sponsored Schemes like NREGA, NRHM etc, and the spread of schemes, the PRIs have emerged as decentralised structures of governance functioning in a newfound “culture of faith and freedom”

There are three major mechanisms for transfer of resources from the centre to the states, viz., on the recommendations of
(i) Central Finance Commissions,
(ii) plan grants by the Planning Commission, and
(iii) Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) of various ministries and departments of Government of India.

Some of the significant conclusions of the authors of the paper are :
(1) the PRIs receive resources both directly for some schemes and through state budget for other schemes;
(2) a sizeable part of CSS funds goes directly to the PRIs- an indication of growing importance of PRIs;
(3) another indicator of PRIs as locus of local development is that, they have been entrusted with the
implementation of a number of important schemes, such as SGRY, IAY and NREGS;
(4) existence of an inverse relationship between per capita releases to states and per capita GSDP (Gross State Domestic Product) across major states, possibly to bridge inter-state disparities;
(5) poor level of utilisation of funds under different CSS is a common trend across Indian states.

Singh, Charanjeev, R.K. Sharma and Puja Sharma, ‘Diminishing Male Dominance and Resurgence of Women Leadership in Panchayati Raj Institutions: An Empirical Study of Himachal Pradesh’, Indian Journal of Public Administration, LIII (2), AprilJune 2007, pp. 238-266.

The provision of reservation of seats for women in the 73rd Constitutional Amendment  Act has not only empowered  women, but has also seen them take leadership positions in PRIs, which was earlier an exclusive domain of men. This study supports the idea that provision of reservation will lead to political empowerment of women and will also go a long way in reducing the male domination in the arena of politics.

Limbadri, R., ‘Grassroots Democracy: The Experience of Dalits in PRIs’,  Indian Journal of Public Administration, LIII (4), October/ December, 2007, pp. 788-796.

This article focuses on experience of Dalit elected representatives in the functioning of the PRIs in the post 73rd amendment period. It shows that in spite of the constitutional guarantees, the institutional space provided to Dalits in a caste ridden society is inadequate. 

The relationship between the PRIs and the social classes can be analysed through three stages:
I. The first phase is the early decades of the independence, when the upper castes monopolised these institutions through their traditional caste networks, which lasted up till late 1960’s.
II. The second phase began with the 1970s is marked by slow but steady politicisation of the lower castes.
III. The third phase began in the late 80s with the rise of local politics being dominated by different social movements such as Dalit, OBC, women, tribal and environment movements.
By the 1990s, the local institutions have become a terrain of contestation among these social groups.

After the 73rd constitutional amendment a large number of SCs and STs including women belonging to these groups were elected as members and chairpersons. However, in  places like Madurai district (Pappapatti, Keerippatti, Nattaramangalam and Kottakachiyandal Panchayats) they continued to face discrimination:
- the caste Hindu groups did not allow the Dalits to file their nominations.
- threat not to contest or not giving tickets,
- prevention of functioning;
- forcing to resign the post;
- No-confidence Motion; No protocol;
- Remote control operation;
- non-cooperation from other castes;
- Deliberate discrimination and dehumanising treatment;
- indifferent attitude of bureaucracy towards SC representatives while discharging official duties;

The impediments over the functioning of the Dalit representatives in the PRIs mainly emanate out of the caste–ridden polity. Therefore, unless one addresses this question, the PRIs cannot transform to benefit the Dalit sections.

Srinivasan, K., Chander Shekhar, and P. Arokiasamy: Reviewing Reproductive and Child Health Programs in India. Economic and Political Weekly 42, 27 & 28 (2007): 2931-39.

This article analyzes the effectiveness of the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) programme implemented by the Government of India since 1997, considering both the decentralization and the integration of services. The analysis reveals that it is almost impossible to strengthen district programmes unilaterally without strengthening state-level programmes. The authors conclude that the decentralization of basic healthcare services will not be effective unless backed by fulltime professional, medical and paramedical personnel. Similarly the integration of various services at the field level has to be undertaken with great caution if the outcomes are to meet expectations.


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