Local Democracy in India: Theory, Policy, and Practice

Gram Sabha Meeting for LD


Despite efforts by some state governments and civil society organisations (CSO), the practice of local democracy in India has not been impressive. The Union government and the State governments, despite the promise of the Constitution, have more often than not treated the Panchayati Raj Institutions as their agencies rather than as local governments. Much remains to be done before the promise of the Constitution is fulfilled. 

The Civil Society Organisations of India, as some outstanding examples have shown in the past, can play a crucial role to develop a vibrant local democracy in the country. Fortunately, there are many CSOs which are willing to devote themselves to the cause, but do not have the domain knowledge to work on local democracy issues. The course has been designed to equip them with knowledge and understanding of the key issues related to local democracy.

The course explores the theory, policy, and practice of local democracy in India, with a focus on rural local government, i.e., Panchayati Raj Institutions. Participants will be provided an overview of various ideas and policies that has informed India’s local democracy initiatives. Then the field experience of various issues related to local democracy such as participatory planning, poverty alleviation, empowerment of women and Dalits will be discussed. Case studies of successful collaboration between local governments and Civil Society Organisations will be highlighted. Finally, the participants will be guided to develop their own vision and projects related to strengthening of local democracy in their respective field areas.

The course will be delivered in three modules. Each module will have three units of two days duration. The total duration of the course is 108 hours. The modules will be transacted in combination of face to face and online deliveries. The first module will be delivered through face-to-face; the second will be delivered online and the third one will be transacted face-to-face. 

Module 1 ( face-to-face — 6 days; Dates: Feb 7 – 12, 2022)

Local Democracy in India – History, Theory, Policy

Unit 1 – Theoretical Foundations

Unit 2 – Structures, Duties and Responsibilities

Unit 3 – Local Democracy and Bureaucracy

Module 2 (online — 6 days; one day a week, Every Saturday, Dates: Apr 2 to May 7, 2022)

Local Democratic Institutions in Practice

Unit 1 – Welfare and Development

Unit 2 – Representation and Participation

Unit 3 — A few exemplars 

Module 3 (face-to-face — 6 days; Dates: Jun 13 – 18, 2022)

Local development action through CSO-PRI collaboration

Unit 1 — Case Studies of CSOPRI collaboration from different parts of the country.

Unit 2 — A design workshop in which the participating NGOs will arrive at a definite proposal for intervention in their respective field areas.

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Course Faculty