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

Governance and Development in KarnatakaSubscribe to Governance and Development in Karnataka

Political Economy of Panchayats in South India

Based on a study of some 500 villages in the four southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, this paper examines how the functioning of the panchayat system mandated by the 73rd amendment to the Constitution has had an impact on the economic status of villages and the households within them. The study finds that gram panchayats, created by this massive experiment in democratic decentralisation, have had an effect on the delivery of public services, for example, in the targeting of beneficiaries of welfare programmes, but also that positive outcomes are linked to the political elites thrown up by the system.

Dynamics of Local Governance in Karnataka

Informal local governance institutions such as caste panchayats, street panchayats and customary village councils are often neglected in discussions about local government and are assumed to have lost their relevance after the introduction of panchayati raj institutions. The author takes a close look at these institutions in Karnataka and finds that, in particular, CVCs have not been marginalised by the formal elected bodies. On the contrary, they continue to play an active role. There are also strong interactions between the two sets of institutions, and CVCs have an influence on village politics and grama panchayats with positive as well as negative elements.

Federalism, Urban Decentralisation and Citizen Participation

While panchayati raj institutions for the rural areas, created after great and prolonged struggle, have given rural dwellers their self-governance structures and a fair degree of empowerment, nothing similar has been done for urban dwellers. Participatory involvement of citizens in and accountability of local self-governance structures are almost totally absent in urban areas. The author discusses the work of a non-governmental organisation in which he is actively involved in attempting to create informal structures that seek to redress this shortcoming and offers a charter for more formally recognised structures that could be organised on a wider scale to give the urban dweller a voice.

Governance and the 'Karnataka Model of Development'

This paper considers the idea of a 'Karnataka model of development', with its emphasis on technology and governance-led development. It is the introduction to the papers in this issue of EPW on 'Governance and Development in Karnataka'. Based on the papers in the symposium, and on the wider literature, it explores the interpretation and application of the idea. It argues that while some of Karnataka's experience does indeed conform to the model and thus holds out lessons for development, there are significant gaps between reality and the model, and these gaps have lessons for development as well.

Systematic Hierarchies and Systemic Failures

This paper examines the realationship between gender and inequities in Koppal district of north-eastern Karnataka. The paper, based on the work of the Gender and Health Equity project in two taluks of the district, among the more backward in the state, finds a gender bias both in health-seeking behaviour in families, especially among the poorer households, and in the healthcare delivery system. Girls' and women's health suffers disproportionately as a result of this bias.

To Be or Not to Be

This paper discusses some of the problems women face in gendering public policy. The paper elaborates on how women's collective identity can be forceful politically when backed by knowledge and gives examples of this from Karnataka. New developments in decentralisation of governance have opened possibilities for women's agency at the local level. Paradoxically, developments at the global level have the possibility of undermining this process. The author argues that we can only therefore confront this not by integrating into the existing development paradigm and attempting small changes at the local level but by evolving a different development paradigm that will ensure justice for the majority of the poor and women.

Change in Karnataka over the Last Generation

This paper looks at the social and political changes in, and relevant to, rural Karnataka over the last few decades. It finds that the changes have been incremental but have added up to something of significance. Karnataka politics has been characterised by rainbow coalitions of social groups, irrespective of which party is in power, and this has given its institutions some continuity, social life some cohesiveness, and governance comparative freedom from excesses and corruption. But there are signs that social relations are coming under strain.
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