ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rejection of Kerala’s Fifth State Finance Commission Recommendations

The recent large-scale rejection of the devolution recommendations of the Fifth State Finance Commission by the Kerala government reflects a reversal of past progress, and a move towards fiscal centralisation.

Federalism in a Globalising World

Federalism is indeed in ferment. Pressures have been generated for decentralisation of powers and functions of governments from national to lower levels paving the way for competitive federalism on the one hand and on the other for inter-governmental cooperation to regulate or resolve the conflicts and externalities that such competition creates. How to get India's federalism to respond positively and adapt to the needs of a globalising world was the theme of a seminar in Delhi last month. A report.

Kerala's Decentralisation

This paper attempts to comprehend and analyse the successes and shortcomings of the People's Campaign in Kerala. Although Keralaâ??s socio-economic context and political culture have placed it in a unique position to realise the goal of democratic decentralisation, and the campaign itself is a remarkable example of the state's capacity for intelligent public mobilisation, it was found that the plan implementation faced some major hurdles. On the basis of a case study conducted in Palakkad district, the author also looks at the actual follow-up events and the impact of political affiliations, staffing issues, and lack of technical expertise on the course of project implementation. The paper argues that the discourse on decentralisation in Kerala also has relevance for the whole country, as the People's Campaign has offered a new paradigm for participatory planning. The issues it has thrown up can help to focus attention on what needs to be done to make decentralisation a meaningful exercise in other states.

Madhya Pradesh: Towards Elections- Disaffection and Co-Option

Caste still defines social and political identity and oppressed groups are represented by tiny sections from each group that are more or less integrated into the existing political system. The panchayat system serves as one of the instruments of this integration by opening the doors of opportunity for that tiny elite. They, in turn, mobilise votes for the major political parties. Whether the Congress wins the coming assembly elections or not, the utility of political decentralisation for the ruling class has been well and truly proved.

Aggrandiser Government and Local Governance

'Aggrandiser government', in most states, continues to hold on to most powers, even as they have been formally devolved to local government through conformity legislations. Deficiencies in facilitating the potential of panchayati raj persist at three levels - state, panchayati raj institutions and societal levels. Big government at the state level with a patrimonial perception of self and aggrandiser instincts has pushed the 'self-governance participatory model' of the panchayats to the periphery, both at the level of discourse and praxis. This coupled with conceptual inadequacies, epistemic and operational constraints, poor finances, and political interference have posed a serious challenge to the realisation of the potential role envisaged for panchayats in the 73rd Amendment. If panchayati raj has to fulfil its foundational tenets of empowering the community there is need to recognise the primacy of societal good over individual or political goals. PRIs have to transform themselves into community institutions fulfilling a social contract with an all inclusive participatory planning and associationalism as essential methodologies.

Grass Roots Politics and 'Second Wave of Decentralisation' in Andhra Pradesh

This article considers the impact of multiple channels of village level participation from the perspective of the macro political motives and micro political dynamics. Recent fieldwork from Andhra Pradesh shows that party politics plays an important role in elections to local bodies and that a subset of rural voters, that the author calls the 'political stratum', is emerging. The article goes on to consider the importance of newly created political party structures in the state, and their role in establishing de facto horizontal and vertical linkages that have to date been insufficiently accounted for in studies of the matrix of grass roots development associations.

Cooperatising Medical Care

Andhra Pradesh government's move to transfer the running of government hospitals to cooperative societies is not based on the actual experience of the working of medical cooperatives in India. The sustainability and cost-effectiveness of health cooperatives are yet to be studied systematically. Kerala's experience at any rate is distinctly discouraging.

Madhya Pradesh: Experiment with Direct Democracy

The potential space for change provided by gram swaraj remains underutilised and the new system has languished, partly because of inconsistent support from the state government.

Education Guarantee Scheme and Primary Schooling in Madhya Pradesh

This paper presents the results of a field study of public schools in Betul and Dewas districts of Madhya Pradesh. The study aims to document the functioning of public schools, whether created by the Education Guarantee Scheme or not and to understand the consequences of the reforms on the links between education and rural society and on the development of private schools. While the results may not be representative of all of rural Madhya Pradesh, they provide an accurate picture of the situation in two areas atypical of the settings targeted by EGS, viz, adivasi villages and dalit hamlets.

Taxation and Poverty Eradication

Development, Poverty and Fiscal Policy: Decentralisation of Institutions edited by M Govinda Rao; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2002; pp xvi+358, Rs 595 .

Comparative Panchayat Systems

State Politics and Panchayats in India by Buddhadeb Ghosh and Girish Kumar; Manohar Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2003; pp 243, Rs 475

Five Years of Participatory Planning in Kerala

Kerala's uniquely successful experiment in participatory planning has seen the mobilisation of several thousands of people in the implementation of the Ninth Five-Year Plan. The process had its problems that arose essentially from the absence of a clear perspective about decentralisation. The impact of changing policies following a change of government also has its effect on decentralised planning. An objective assessment of the plan campaign is hampered if viewed through the prism of partisan politics. This paper is also an attempt to look at the plan process from the perspective of decentralisation, rather than from the perspective of planning.

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