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1 Rural Development Through Democratic Decentralization Prof. R. Suryanarayana Reddy Center Head, CDP&A AMR-APARD.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Rural Development Through Democratic Decentralization Prof. R. Suryanarayana Reddy Center Head, CDP&A AMR-APARD."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Rural Development Through Democratic Decentralization Prof. R. Suryanarayana Reddy Center Head, CDP&A AMR-APARD

2 2 Initially, a two-tier planning was initiated at the National and State levels. The planners and policy-makers did, however, realise the limitations of this system for a country as big in size and diversity as India. They felt that multi- level planning was meeded if the fruits of development were to reach the grass-root level, otherwise there was always a possibility of losing sight of problems, requirements and potentials of the local areas while planning form the State headquarter.

3 3 Under the Constitutional arrangements, various subjects were divided into three categories-Central, State and Concurrent.

4 4 Rural Development is a concurrent subject, wherein the national policies are framed with the consensus of all the States.

5 5 The idea of decentralised planning below the State level has featured consistently in all the Five-Year Plans. The First Five-Year Plan talked about breaking the National and State plans into local units based on district, town and villages. It did not, however, elaborate the way decentralisation would be put into operation.

6 6 First experiment in this regard, the Community Development Blocks were established so that infrastructure was created at the block level for integration of the administrative and development functions. The block level staff was entrusted with the responsibility of initiating all round development of the villages. However, it certainly lacked the popular involvement, as its scope was limited. The programme was empowered only with economic and administrative decentralisation and not with political decentralisation, which was vital for its success.

7 7 Second Five –Year Plan, It was clearly stated that district would be the pivot of the structure of democratic planning. In emphasising planning at the district level and below, the objective was to carry the district and State plans as close to the people as possible through local community participation and co- operative self-help.

8 8 Balwantrai Mehata Committee constituted by Government in 1958 on community development and plan projects, recommended decentralisation of administration and democratization of power. Under the scheme of democratic decentralisation, a democratic body in each development block for all the development activities at that level was suggested, i.e. A three-tier integrated organic structure with Gram Panchayats at the base, Zilla Panchayat (ZP) at the apex and Panchayat Samities or Kshetra Samities in-between.

9 9 Acceptance of these recommendations by the National Development Council (NDC)

10 10 The State legislatures passed legislations to create these bodies in their states. These legislations provided for development of districts as their main unit. Simultaneously, these bodies were given enough powers not only to raise resources but also to requisition the machinery at the district and lower levels to implement development plans to Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs)

11 11 Third Five-Year Plan and it was proposed that the States should formulate their annual plans, at least in the following activities on the basis of district and block level plans. 1. Agriculture, including minor irrigation, soil conservation, village forests, animal husbandry, dairying, etc., 2. Development of co-operatives; 3. Village industries;

12 12 4. Elementary education, especially provision of school buildings for local communities; 5. Rural water supply, programme of minimum rural amenities, including construction of approach roads linking each village to the nearest road or rail head; and. 6. Works/programmes for fuller utilisation of manpower resources in rural areas

13 13 The Administrative Reform Commission in 1967 examined the question of planning at the district level. Thereafter the Planning Commission issued a set of detailed guidelines for preparation of district plans. These guidelines also visualised preparation of a perspective plan along with medium-term and annual plans. On the basis of Planning Commissions guidelines, the State of Maharashtra started preparation of district plans in It not only identified the schemes for district planning boards known as District Development and Planning Councils at the district level. Gujarat initiated district planning in Karnataka was the third state to start district level planning around this time. All these States evolved their own procedures of devolution of plan funds to the districts as well as formulation of plans.

14 14 The new Government at the Union Level in 1977 set-up a Working Group under the Chairmanship of M.L.Dantwala to draw up guidelines for the block-level planning. The Working Group noted that the remoteness of the planning agencies from the areas of implementation and vastness of geographical coverage hamper matching of sectoral financial allocations with location-specific needs as well as potential for regulating the distribution of the developmental gains.

15 15 Another committee, headed by Ashok Mehta, was appointed to inquire into the working of the panchayat Raj Institutions and to suggest measures to strenghten them so as to enable the decentralised system of planning and development to be effective. Ashok Mehta Committee felt that development work in future needs intricate designing and greater co- ordination, which would be unwise to attempt at the State level. It also suggested that district planning unit consisting of a professionally qualified team should be placed with the ZP.

16 16 The Planning Commission again set-up a Working Group on district planning under the chairmanship of C.H.1984, recommending the stage approach to district planning.

17 17 The Seventh Plan document ( ) re-affirmed its faith in the process of decentralisation and resolved to follow the process on the lines suggested by the Rao Committee.

18 18 In 1985, the Planning Commission appointed a committee under the chairmanship of G.V.K. Rao to review existing administrative arrangements for rural development and to suggest appropriate structural mechanism to activate PRIs.

19 19 The Eighth Five-Year Plan ( ) was launched from 1 st April 1992 against the background of two years of poor economic performance. It offered a package of structural adjustments in the form of economic liberalisation, privatisation and fiscal disciplinary reforms. The Government recognised that under the evolved system, people have become mere passive observers and receivers of doles. Hence, the emphasis Institutions (PRIs) as the focal point for organising and implementing rural development programmes. Tjis approach was consistent with the views of Mahatma Gandhi and the Recommendations of Ashok Mehta Committee on PRIs. The socio-economic activities like education and literacy, health and family planning, land improvement, minor irrigation, recovery and development of waste-land and afforestation were treated as core activities in which peoples participation could be maximum and more fruitful. It would also result in lowering financial outlays on these activities. Government envisaged a happy marriage between integrated area development approach and democratic decentralisation of rural development.

20 20 The Ninth Plan ( ) provides that the PRIs should prepare plans for economic development and social justice for an integrated development of the district.

21 21 Certain broad principles are laid down for assigning a role to each of the three-tiers; the actual devolution could be based on the rule that what can be done at a lower level should be done at that level, and not at a higher level. Initially, the Gram Sabha would list out developmental priorities and assist in the fair selection of beneficiaries under various programmes and schemes. Thereafter, the planning process would begin from below with the preparation of village plans, which would be incorporated into the intermediate level Block plans and finally merged into a District Plan.

22 22 Union Government has set apart 41 per cent of plan resources for decentralised planning, including un-tied funds andincentive grants to match the contributions raised by PRIs. Thereafter sectoral allocations at the State level should be on the basis of demands made from below by the districts and in keeping with the national priorities. In this way, it would be possible to bring about both a vertical and a horizontal integration of resources and services.

23 23 The Ninth Plan aslo lays emphasis on a comprehensive time bound training policy for the functionaries, in order to equip them with updated information and modern technologies, which in turn have to be disseminated amongst the rural people.

24 24 Hitherto, the question of decentralised planning has been restricted to one of planning techniques but it needs to be extended to the whole process of socio- political changes.

25 25 The electorate, elected representatives and the bureaucracy, has to jointly create an environment conducive for these institutions to take roots.

26 26 There are at least six areas where local government empowerment is sought to be achieved through constitutional means. These are: (i) typology and size, (ii) electoral representation, (iii) institutional existence and autonomy, (iv) local functions, (v) local finance, and (vi) external accountability.

27 27 While social audit and transparency in the functioning of PRIs is crucial for evoking peoples participation, the institutional structure should support financial and administrative devolution of power. While rural development necessitates decentralisation, political compulsions, many a times, pull towards centralisation.

28 28 Political parties in power are always uncertain of their position. So they tend to resist and resent any attempt at setting up of local organisations outside their control. The Central and Stae leaderships look with suspicion at the emergence of any strong decentralised institutional political leadership and hence evolve ways and means of controlling the power and authority of the lower tiers.

29 29 Despite the obvious struggle for power and control. The Central Government has shown the political will to constitutionalise the status of PRIs in larger public interest, the Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 has therefore been cherished as a watershed event for achieving rural development through democratic decentralisation. It has laid down certain mandatory provisions in terms of structural organisation of PRIs while the functional aspects are left to the option of respective states.

30 30 The catch lies in the areas where each state has to frame its own laws to operationalise the mandate given in favour of strengthening the PRIs.

31 31 Provisions of 73 rd Amendment MandatoryOptional 2-3 tier structureDirect election of GP chairperson Direct ElectionsRole and scope of Gram Sabha Reservations for weaker sectionsPowers and functions of each tier Fixed TenureFinancial devolution State Finance CommissionMaintenance and Audit of Accounts State Election CommissionComposition and functions of DPC District Planning Committees(DPCs)Reservation to Adhyakshas posts at GP, TP and ZP level by rotation.

32 32 Rural development so far has been characterised by centralised planning withemphasis on macro-level targets than on ground level realities and felt needs of the people. The bureaucratic system sought little involvement of the community for whom these programmes were not evaluated against the end objectives viz., removal of poverty or improvement of standards of living in the rural areas.

33 33 Based on the Directive Principles enshrined in the Constitution, various Governments made attempts towards setting-up of multi-structured Panchayat Raj system, but did not endow it with requisite powers and resources.

34 34 It is only now, after more than 45 years of independence, that 73 rd Amendment of the Constitution enables Panchayats to play a substantial role in the local self-government.

35 35 The emergence of PRIs is leading to changes in rural poor structure as well as the equation between the officials and non- officials. Within the Panchayat Raj set-up there is a grim fight, directly or indirectly, among the political parties, to capture power, as it facilitates their political power struggle, at higher levels, as well as among different tiers of PRIs for appropriating maximum resources. PR system has to surmount many challenges by evolving consensus in the long-run, if it has to survive and play an important role in ensuring growth and equity in rural areas.

36 36 With the 73 rd Amendment to the Constitution envisaging the establishment of Panchayats as units of local government, it is mandatory for the States to devolve adequate powers and responsibilities upon the PIRs. The success of this system essentially depends upon the external as well as the internal politico-administrative set-up. Although political will is said to have been demonstrated by away of constitutional amendment at the Centre and through the State legislation, yet it needs to be further reiterated in terms of devolution of funds, functions and functionaries to the PRIs.

37 37 The aspirations and expectations of the community though raised by the PRIs have not been fulfilled to a great extent due to paucity of resources. This has eroded the faith of the common man in the local government. The alienation of people thus shadows their active participation in developmental process.

38 38 At the State government level, it is apprehended that non-empowerment of Gram Sabhas with inadequate devolution of powers, finances and top-down approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation, manipulation of the pattern of reservation for the posts of Adhyakshas by the ruling party would degenerate the democractic and decentralised character of the PRIs. Further, vesting of major powers, functions and funds at ZP/TP level could impoverish the GP in reaching the goal of self-reliance or empowerment of the poor and weak.

39 39 Delay in constitution of District Planning Committees (DPCs) would bring the process of rural-urban synchronization, to stand still. This, in short, may take away the representative character of the PRIs and weaken the instrument of checks and balance in the system.

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