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

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Advocate of the Federal Project

K C Sivaramakrishnan (1935-2015)

K C Sivaramakrishnan, who passed away recently, was the rare bureaucrat who brought his field-level experiences to bear on his understanding of the defi cits of the country's democratic system. A tenacious crusader for decentralisation, Sivaramakrishnan's eye for detail and unwavering commitment to rigour made him stride through university and ministry corridors with equal ease.

When the biography of federal India is written, bookmarked in its pages will be K C Sivaramakrishnan’s indefatigable commitment to the ideals that stand at its core. If there is a single ideal that most defined him and all that he stood for, it was a lifelong commitment to the principle of decentralisation. This was informed by a deeper understanding, honed by field-level experiences as an administrator, of the deficits that plagued democratic systems beneath the safe zone of popular elections. As secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development, Sivaramakrishnan was one of the key drafters of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments that came into force in 1992. It would require five revisions, two Joint Parliamentary Committee reports, and ratification by states before this iconic piece of progressive legislation came into effect.

India’s decentralisation blueprint would redefine the federal idea by passing the baton of governance from states to rural and urban local bodies, confer statutory status on them, mandate regular elections to local bodies as well as stipulate reservation for disadvantaged groups. This one idea would prove to be his lasting legacy; a legacy that he can be justifiably proud of, for its edifice was built with grit and conviction. In his passing away, the federal project has lost one of its most tenacious crusaders.

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