Contemplations of an alternative democratic vision for Rural India through local bodies
Dr. B R Ambedkar's reservations about empowering rural local bodies during the Constituent Assembly debates carried merit – Panchayats were then hotbeds of ignorance and feudal influence. Granting more power to local governments risked reinforcing elite control. However, circumstances have evolved. while villages retain some aspects of the more traditional modes of life, urbanization alone hasn't eradicated ignorance, corruption and communal divides. Moreover, higher level elections increasingly favour the affluent. It is against this backdrop that the 72nd and 73rd Constitutional amendments mandating decentralized governance structures nationwide assume increased significance. In the three decades since they were passed, how has decentralization worked? Can rural local bodies emerge as sights for a radical transformation of Indian democracy? Can they defy centralizing pressures, amplify citizen voices, and reshape power dynamics?
Dr. MR Sharan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He received his PhD from Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Global Development. He has also worked as a researcher and policy economist with Research organizations, state governments and the central government in India.
Topic: Contemplations of an alternative democratic vision for Rural India through local bodies
Time: October 13, 2023 – 19:00 (Timezone: Asia/Calcutta)