Monday, 25 May 2020

Waking Up To Realities

Updated: August 13, 2015 12:47 pm

Decentralisation is a widely used concept, and it is closely linked with democracy, development and good governance. Many research findings clearly demonstrate that decentralisation provides an institutional mechanism through which citizens at various levels can organise themselves and participate in the decision making process. Decentralisation has to empower the citizens, build capacity of the people, decide priorities of the local needs and make the local populace to participate in the decision making process. Ultimately it has to fix certain responsibilities on them to decide many of the issues which affect their life. The new dispensation of decentralisation of powers makes the communities to assume as much as responsibilities from the state and by which their status of beneficiaries or petitioners has to be changed as participants. Further, the whole process of development has to take place through a process of democratisation.

Local governance gained prominence in the recent decades and eventually became a movement in the world. Contextually it is so imprest to empower the poor and marginalised as globalisation of economy is going to exclude many such segments. As globalisation, decentralisation is also a historical process. Though decentralisation is a world phenomenon, the whole process is top down. Since it is a top down process ‘ political will’ plays a predominant role, but at the same time ‘social will’ is also an imperative need for strengthening grassroots governance, which is a bottom up process. In this scenario, the question which should be asked is whether the weight of the state is on the shoulders of the people or an instrument to reduce the burden of the people.

Against this backdrop, the book, Governance at Community Level in China and India gives a synoptic view of governance and development process at grassroots in China and India. In both countries initiatives have been taken to strengthen the grassroots institutions. In China local bodies have been created through an executive order but powers and resources have been given substantially whereas in India local bodies have been created through Constitutional Amendments.

Yet powers and resources have been not given excepting Kerala. Hence this book presents a comparative analysis between a local governance unit in Jiangsu province in China and Gram Panchayat in Kerala in India. How village life is organised and how people are engaged in governance and development have been described in the book.

For a broader understanding of the readers, both case studies have been compiled in a comparative perspective. The prime aim of this book is to highlight how ‘will of the state’ is more important in strengthening the grassroots institutions through the process of decentralisation.

In a nutshell, this book will be helpful for those people, who have been researching or studying the evolving patterns in this process of decentralisation and devaluation of power.

By Nilabh Krishna

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