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 Organizations 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 or Panchayati Raj. Participants will be provided a holistic 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 Organizations 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 transacted in English. It shall utilize published texts, videos and class presentations followed by interactive classroom sessions to explore the issues that will be discussed. The course will be conducted face-to-face only.

Azim Premji University was established as a not-for-profit, private university under the Azim Premji University Act 2010. The University has a clear social purpose of working towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. Azim Premji University plays a critical role in developing new talent, building capacity in existing functionaries and creating domain knowledge in the fields of education and development. The Azim Premji Foundation is the sponsor of the University. The roots of Azim Premji University lie in the learning and experience of a decade of work in elementary education by Azim Premji Foundation. The University is one of the Foundation’s key responses to the challenges confronting the education and development sectors in India. The University offers Bachelors’ degrees in Physics, Biology, Maths, Economics and Humanities and Masters’ degrees in Education, Development, Public Policy and Governance, LLM (Law and Development), and MA-Economics and Development.

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