Empowering Local Governments

Empowering Local Governments -Presentation made to Tulasi Reddy, 22 Jan, 03

Empowering Local Governments

Empowering Local Governments - 30-31July,2004, Pune (by sanjay)

Freedom - for Whom?


Soon we celebrate one more republic day. Instead of the usual symbolic flag hoisting and traditional invocation to Ghandiji, can we take a few concrete steps and make some sincere attempts to realize his dreams? Ever since independence, every leader of our country has been paying lip service to Gandhiji’s concept of Gram Swaraj. But this continues to remain only an ideal with decentralization of power and local government empowerment turning out to be a mere mirage.

Yes to Empowerment – No to Diktats

“If large-scale corruption is detected in any municipality, the government will not hesitate to initiate severe action, including dissolving the elected body. Public representatives are mistaken if they think they can fleece the people and remain indifferent to their problems” – this is a report of CM’s outburst carried in a newspaper. The CM was understandably annoyed on seeing garbage strewn all over the place on his surprise visit to Rajendra Nagar. He hauled up both the municipal chairman and the Municipal commissioner.

People’s Mandate Delinked from Power

Recently, we had the privilege of interacting with a number of leaders who were former local government heads in the state. A few of them who served as heads of the district panchayat (Zilla Parishad) in the 60’s and 70’s were commenting that they turned down positions in the state cabinet as they wielded more authority than that of a cabinet minister! In fact the norm used to be that a MLA or minister from any district had to request the ZP chairperson for any assistance that their constituents needed.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose!


I was amazed to read news reports that the government had issued show cause notices to Gram Sarpanchs’ (in some instances suspending them!) holding them accountable for the slow pace of implementation of drought relief works through the food for work (FFW) scheme. Under this scheme the village governments are supposed to provide daily employment to the landless labour and pay them wages in the form of grain (rice) and utilize them for any development activity in the village. The state government is supplying the food stocks with liberal assistance from the union government.