From Representative to Participatory Democracy - Gram Swaraj for a Better Future.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Seminarsaal 20 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
India, the largest and most successful democracy holds periodic and regular elections to the houses of people’s representatives. This is the strength of its representative democracy as a political system.

A nation of over 1 billion population cannot be effectively or efficiently managed by any centralized system, central, state or district level.  The wisdom of Gandhiji is evident in his call for Gram Swaraj.

Traditionally, the Indian village even made and implemented its own laws.  However, post-independence and modernization coupled with urbanization have impacted the ‘independent village’, in ways detrimental to Gram Swaraj.

While the 73rd and 74th amendments were intended to facilitate democratic decentralization, there is little evidence of change in this direction.  The village has been orphaned requiring adoption by government departments and civil society organisations.

Efforts for democratic decentralization have been top down. While Houses of representatives at state and centre are critical for democracy to be alive and functioning, the Gram Sabha at the village is equally critical.  For a successful grassroots democracy, a bottom up approach where representative democracy blossoms in a participatory democracy is required.

Villages in Partnership (VIP), a Civil Society organisation, having experimented and successfully demonstrated the contribution of people’s partnership, has, since the last 6 years, been working on facilitating a vibrant grassroots participatory and responsible democracy. Enhancing people’s self-respect, mutual trust, concern for the village through just and judicious use of public funds, local resources and people’s contribution is the focus

 It is important to strengthen and expedite movement on the development continuum Charity – Participation – Partnership – Ownership – Trusteeship.  In two villages the recently elected Gram Panchayats are involved in making the Village Panchayat the village government. The current experiment, it is hoped will make Gram Panchayats realize the opportunity to unite for establishing Gram Swaraj.