Author: L C Jain
Editor(s): L C Jain
Publisher: Orient Longman
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8125027076
This collection of essays offers an examination of decentralized governance, particularly in the context of a dynamic, globalizing world. It contains detailed analyses, by eminent scholars and administrators, based on empirical studies and decentralization paradigms and models of developed and developing countries, with an overarching focus on India’s panchayati raj institutions.
Anwar Shah argues how globalization has caused a shift from centralized unitary governments to decentralized federal polities where the role of central government is more as agent of its member units than as a centralized, controlling authority. Globalisation has, thus, tended to reinforce localization. But, for any effective administrative decentralization, fiscal decentralization is an integral component. In this context, Kerala is discussed as an outstanding example of decentralization for having devolved 40 per cent of its plan outlay to the panchayats.
In India, the Constitution (Seventy-third Amendment) Act-1992 was the culmination of a historic political move towards deepening democracy and advancing development through decentralization by making panchayati raj institutions mandatory. In a comparative study, Shandana Khan Mohmand examines Pakistan’s decentralization plan and finds that owing to some basic structural flaws in the plan, decentralization in Pakistan though representative is not necessarily participatory. Similarly, Nico Steytler’s review of South Africa’s attempt at local governance demonstrates that its present system is in need of revision.
Reservation of seats for women and weaker sections in the panchayati raj institutions has increased the visibility of women and the disadvantaged, but whether this political equation has been translated into a social equation is an area of considerable academic query.
The book reviews the strengths and weaknesses of panchayati raj institutions, as per the 73rd Constitution Amendment, through a broad canvas of multiperspective and interdisciplinary presentations. It offers a comprehensive account of development and governance at the grassroots. This book is a tribute to Dr George Mathew for his dedication to the cause of panchayati raj.