Local-Self Government, Democratic Decentralisation and Devolution of Power with Reference to Tribal Women’s Participation in Village Panchayat

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Umesh SAHOO, KISS University, Bhubaneswar, India
Unlike many of the modern nation states in the World, India has adopted the path of democratic decentralisation to realise the principles of equality, fraternity and prosperity. Especially, since 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act 1992 such process develops more people centric approach with incorporation of women participation in all development programmes say water, sanitation, health, education, child development, environment, etc under three tier Panchayati Raj system (PRIs) of local governance i.e. District, Block and Village level. A study of a village panchayat located in Scheduled Area of backward Sundargarh district, Odisha, India reveals that tribal women participate in any developmental activities as ‘manipulative’ rather than ‘authentic’ because of centralised bureaucratic system, influence of remote controlled political master and above all domination of patriarchal structure in socio- cultural system. Besides, tribal woman in village struggle for survival absorbs much of their time and energy that minimises their chance of participation. Of course, their active participation largely depends upon their belongingness of community, clan, educational attainment, income, employment opportunity, holding assets and position in local social structure which appears dismal. During panchayat election they are mobilised in pretext of gender justice to come out to public life as matter of right. But no policy, so far, guarantee their minimum subsistence round the year. Unless and until tribal women are independent of earning their livelihood and least or no dependant on their men folk, no policy of empowerment could ease the problems of their life. Hence, need for improvement of fabrics of human development system within which they live and survive, alertness tribal women, political will of the State, equity in grass root governance, social justice and holistic approach could ease the problem of tribal women life situation, otherwise, the women empowerment system, objectivity of democratic decentralisation and participation will be in dead lock.