Centre for Local Democracy

Enriching local democracy initiatives through public participation

The Union government, some state governments and civil society organisations (CSOs) have taken efforts towards the practice of local democracy in India. Local democracy is often considered a means to facilitate public participation, improve service delivery, strengthen communities, end marginalisation and improve development outcomes.

Discussions on participatory planning, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women and Dalits contribute to a better understanding of local democracy. However, it is a long road ahead. Much remains to be done before the promise of the Constitution is fulfilled. 

About the Centre 

The Centre for Local Democracy supports Azim Premji Foundation’s work on deepening and widening local democratic institutions and processes on the ground through partners in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Odisha, Gujarat and Uttarakhand.

The Centre came into existence in 2020. It is a collaborative initiative between Azim Premji University, the Philanthropy, Field Institutes and various partners engaged in the Field. 

Research Grants

The Centre hosts the research grants of the Foundation on the same subject; the first cycle of the grant has already been released in 2021, and the second cycle in 2022

First Cycle (Research Funding Programme 2020)

Sl. No.Name of the studyName of the Researchers (PI/​Co PI) and the Institution (if any) 
1Study of the institution of Gram Kachahari in Bihar, IndiaManabendra Nath Roy, Principal Investigator(PI) and Sabari Bandyopadhaya, Co-Principal Investigator (Co PI), Sigma Foundation
2Unpacking indigenous self-governance amidst FRA: Comparative insights from Nilambur and Sigur areas of the Nilgiri Biosphere ReserveJyotsna Krishnakumar (PI), Keystone Foundation
3Adaptive management practices in the governance of CFR areas in Tadoba TR bufferPoorva Joshi (PI), Independent Researcher

Second Cycle (Research Funding Programme 2021)

Sl. No.Name of the studyName of the Researchers (PI/​Co PI) and the Institution (if any) 
1Local democracy in the woods: Understanding decentralised forest governance through Forests Rights Act, 2006Satyapriya Rout (PI), University of Hyderabad
2Does identity politics subsume local governance? A study of the Darjeeling hillsGorky Chakraborty (PI) and Biswanath Saha (Co-PI), Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata
3Functioning of tribal political structure: Interaction in traditional tribal self-governance and constitutional panchayats in selected tribal villages of south GujaratJames Dabhi (PI), Kanchan Bharati (Co-PI) and Dhananjay Kumar (Co-PI), Centre for Culture and Development
4Gender-sharing between local leaders and frontline workers: Implications for public servicesDeepak Singhania (PI) and Anupam Sharma (Co-PI), Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar; Soledad Prillaman (Co-PI)

Continuing Education Course: Local Democracy: Theory, Policy and Practice

The Centre offers a continuing education course named Local Democracy: Theory, Policy and Practice. The course is designed to equip learners with knowledge and understanding of the key issues related to local democracy.

The course is intended for individuals and organisations working on or interested in local democracy/​Panchayati Raj issues. The course explores the theory, policy, and practice of local democracy in India, with a focus on Panchayati Raj, Forest Rights and PESA areas.

Participants are provided an overview of various ideas and policies that informs India’s local democracy initiatives. Case studies of successful collaborations between local governments and CSOs guide participants in understanding present scenarios and develop their own vision and projects related to the strengthening of local democracy in their respective field areas.

For more details about the course, check here.

Gram Sabha Ki Kahani: A local democracy narrative exercise

The initiative focuses on building stories that focus on the importance of strong local democratic institutions showcasing change stories, stories promoting innovation, and best practices from various parts of the country to inform public discourse and action and create a conducive ecosystem.

Recent Event

Watch videos →


Study of the Institution of Gram Kachahari in Bihar, 2022

The state of Bihar has a unique system of elected judiciary, called Gram Kachahari. The Kachahari provides access to judicial services related to petty offences of both criminal and civil nature to the rural people. This report studies the system functions, the type of disputes which are reported for settlement, the quality of judicial services delivered, the bottlenecks and barriers faced and possible improvements to the system. 

Read full report →