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

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Decentralised Government and NGOs

Issues, Strategies and Ways Forward edited by D Rajasekhar; Concept Publishing Company, New Delhi, 1999; pp 180, Rs 300. 

In the world’s largest democracy and second most populous country, the largeness of the poor section, coupled with widening economic disparities, makes for a continuous state of anxiety and enquiry – no matter that the percentage of the poor might well have gone down from a third to one-quarter of the total population. Because Indians’ crossing the billion mark means the officially categorised poor still constitute 250 million, larger than most countries of the world. When this number is added to another 250 million still poor by any universal standards, it certainly makes for a potentially explosive situation. We should be proud of our good fortune and remarkable ability to have a working democracy which has been ticking so well for five decades. But is it either safe or ethical to have such widening disparities? Aren’t casteist and communitarian politics – to which even the rational leftists are increasingly kowtowing – a sure sign that people are seeking to expand their democratic solutions?

The moot question addressed so interestingly by this collection of papers edited by D Rajasekhar is not merely how to help the poor but even beyond – how to help the poor help themselves. That is, the poor benefit not so much by a downflow of benefits, as by empowerment; decision-making powers in essence enable the poor to obtain justice. And this is best done by marrying the structure of decentralised government with the myriad NGOs.

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