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

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Social Institutions and Development Challenges

A recent seminar in Mumbai attempted to adjudge the direction of change in existing social institutions and those established after independence, as well as the obstacles to forming effective social institutions in the country. In spite of the disheartening picture that emerges, of an iniquitous process in terms of development and empowerment, there are hopeful signs of fruitful alliances in various segments of society as well as of audible articulation of alternatives.

Enabling Participatory Democracy

Democracy Deepening Democracy edited by Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright; Verso Publications, London, 2003; paperback, pp 310, $ 22.

Musharraf's 'Silent Revolution'

Pakistan's local/district government system is being seriously undermined by the provincial governments, casting doubts on the prospects of success for Musharraf's devolution plan. The tussle indicates a systematic problem preventing the coexistence of these systems of government, and also shows that the survival of the devolution plan is in peril unless it is brought into the mainstream of democratic politics.

Public-Private Partnership in Local Self-Governance

The near-breakdown of public services in the metropolitan and other urban areas in India and the inability of the municipalities in providing satisfactory level of services is leading to the redrawing of the trajectory of public goods provision and its management in recent years. A case in point is the experiment undertaken by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation in its largest wholesale fruit market Falpatti, to involve the private sector in market waste management.

Strengthening Local Governments

This paper evaluates the fiscal success of recent efforts towards reforming and strengthening rural governments in India through the process of rural decentralisation initiated with the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1992. It measures the extent of fiscal decentralisation that has taken place in order to evaluate how far the rural governments have effective control over expenditure decision-making. The analysis is based on budget data of rural governments in seven Indian states for the decade of the 1990s and presents recommendations to make fiscal decentralisation more effective.

Challenges of Rural-Urban Classification for Decentralised Governance

Rural and urban areas under the new panchayat raj amendments will not only have to make their own plans but also generate some resources locally. This brings into sharp focus the many problems thrown up by the existing definitions of rural and urban areas which impinge on effective local governance.

From People's Plan to Plan sans People

The people's planning programme, launched in Kerala in 1997, heralded a new approach towards decentralised planning and the participation of people in development programmes, especially by women and backward classes. However, the UDF, which took over government last year, has diluted many of the provisions of this programme, including funding, which may prove to be a setback to the functioning of this unique plan.

Panchayati Raj : Unnecessary Confusion

Out of plan funds devolved to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in Kerala some amounts have been found to have been deposited with certain government institutions for works which the PRIs want them to take up in their areas. These institutions are government bodies such as the electricity board or the water authority. The PRIs in Kerala were doing this under direction from the state government. Now the making of these deposits has been objected to as a financial irregularity by the audit department.
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