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

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Affirmative Action and Representation of Weaker Sections

This paper studies the participation of elected representatives belonging to weaker sections in the functioning of four gram panchayats in Orissa's Dhenkanal district in order to observe the extent to which numerical representation has been successful in the actual exercise of power by these sections. It finds that elected representatives were not able to properly articulate group-specific interests or to exercise their own judgment in panchayat decision-making, thus bringing into question the very notion of representation of marginalised groups through affirmative action. The representatives in a majority of cases were answerable to the elites of the village and remained under their control rather than exhibiting any accountability to citizens at large. Affirmative action thus, has not ensured the effective representation of disadvantaged groups in the panchayats with respect to the participation of elected members, their responsiveness to citizens' interests and accountability in local government.

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