ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

D BandyopadhyaySubscribe to D Bandyopadhyay

The Caucus and the Masses

The Left Front government of West Bengal forgets that legislation is no substitute for action. Kerala's Peopleâ??s Plan campaign did not require any change of law. In West Bengal legislation is creating tier after tier of non-functional panchayati raj bodies without resources, functions and functionaries. The creation of Village Development Committees under the West Bengal Panchayat (Amendment) Act 2003 passed in July this year is a case in point. It is a grand exercise in shadow boxing.

Dependency versus Autonomy

This essay tries to analyse historically the roots of the basic contradictions which have haunted the rural self-governing institutions of India. These contradictions have been further sharpened by the 73rd constitutional amendment. Though the concept of self-government at the local level has been guaranteed by the Constitution, it has been given a go by in practice by the ruling establishment. Institutional changes brought about by the 73rd amendment have helped create a space at the grass roots level for these contradictions to be challenged by disadvantaged sections. This might create a ground swell demanding autonomy of panchayats to ensure responsive and accountable governance at the local level.

Unfinished Tasks

Beneficiaries of Land Reforms: The West Bengal Scenario by Anil K Chakraborti in association with Apurba Kumar Mukhopadhyay and Debesh Roy; State Institute of Panchayats and Rural Development, Kalyani, Nadia, Government of West Bengal, Spandan, Kolkata, 2003; pp 154, Rs 150.

Twelfth Finance Commission and Panchayat Finances

Some issues for the consideration of the Twelfth Finance Commission in regard to its task of making recommendations to augment the Consolidated Fund of the states in order to supplement the resources of panchayats and municipalities.

Land Reforms and Agriculture

The spectacular growth in agricultural production in West Bengal in the 1980s was preceded by a programme of land reforms launched by the state government. This redistributive operation created a favourable ambience that enabled agriculture to thrive. Productivity growth in the 1990s decelerated after that initial spurt. In order to reverse the decline, the state now needs to complete the process of agrarian reforms, and beef up its agricultural infrastructure.

The Forgotten Agenda

The Forgotten Agenda Whose Land? Civil Society Perspectives on Land Reform and Rural Poverty Reduction: Regional Experiences from Africa, Asia and Latin America edited by Krishna B Ghimire; IFAD-The Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty, UNRISD, Rome, September 2001;

Panchayats in Karnataka

The report of the working group on decentralisation appointed by the Karnataka government and the bill to amend the existing panchayat law in the state which has been circulated by the government go against the basic objective of the 73rd Amendment of ensuring 'maximum democracy and maximum devolution'.

Convergence of Programmes by Empowering SHGs and PRIs

The effectiveness of self-help groups (SHGs) would be considerably enhanced if a symbiosis could be worked out between them and panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). The key to this is the integration of SHGs with the democratically elected and empowered panchayats when the requisite devolution of powers, functions and authority to the latter takes place. A proposed scheme which will allow SHGs and PRIs to work in tandem and reinforce each other's work.

Madrasa Education and the Condition of Indian Muslims

The Indian nation cannot march forward with a major segment of its largest minority group remaining backward, illiterate, unenlightened and weak. It is the duty of every section of Indian society to help in the mainstreaming of this section. But the issue of modernisation of madrasa education brings up the vested interests of fundamentalist elements trying to protect their turf and the political system which strives to utilise the backward for electoral gain. Strangely, the interests of the non-secular religious groups and those of the so-called 'secular and progressive' politicians merge, reinforcing one another.

West Bengal : Recipe for Industrial Revival

The report by a group of economists on what ails industry offers an interesting prescription: revitalisation of the small sector following the Chinese model of 'people's capitalism' with a thrust on labourintensive technology throughout the state. Will the new cabinet with a dynamic chief minister pay heed to the voices of reason?

Tebhaga Movement in Bengal: A Retrospect

Operation Barga, the showpiece land-reform package of the Left Front government in West Bengal, was projected as the culmination of the failed Tebhaga movement of the 1940s. But just as in the Tebhaga movement, Operation Barga has left untouched the question of the future of the recorded bargadars and of giving 'land to the tiller'. The author provides a historical perspective of the attempts at land reform in Bengal.

Enclaves of Ancient Society

Enclaves of Ancient Society Greener Pastures: Politics, Markets and Community among a Migrant Pastoral People by Arun Agarwal; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pp I-XVII and 1-219, Rs 495.

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