11 November, 2012
State Politics and Panchayats in India
By- Buddhadeb Ghosh and Girish Kumar
Since independence several attempts were made to find a space for the panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) in Indian polity. However, barring Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal, the PRIs could never survive elsewhere in the country. This led to the necessity of constitutionalizing panchayats in 1992, an attempt which also met with limited success.
Why were PRIs retained in certain states even without a constitutional mandate? Conversely, why did others lag behind? These facts draw attention to the question of ‘political will’. But what prompts certain political regimes to adopt a pro-panchayat approach and others to oppose them, even though all states are operating within the same democratic system?
In their quest to answer theses questions, the authors have tried to look into the linkages between the panchayats and state level politics. This, in turn, has enabled them to identify the political factors that have so far determined the course of decentralization in this country. Their findings are based on the case studies of four states, namely, Maharashtra, Gujarat, West Bengal and Bihar. Apart from highlighting the political variables whose presence or absence make or mar the prospects of panchayats, this volume also raises serious questions about the capacity of the present political system to provide genuine support to the project of decentralization and local democracy.
Buddhadeb Ghosh is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. Earlier, he served the Government of West Bengal in various capacities including a stint as Director, State Institute of Panchayats.
Girish Kumar is a Fellow in Political Science at the Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi. Earlier, he worked with the Institute of Social Sciences and also at the LBS National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.
ISBN 81-7304-487-2 2003 244p. Rs.475/Pounds 40
Social and Political Change in Uttar Pradesh : European Perspectives
By- Roger Jeffery and Jens Lerche (eds)
The state of Uttar Pradesh—India’s most populous, but also one of its poorest—is in crisis, lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of social development, economic growth, and women’s empowerment, with inefficient and ineffective democratic institutions. In this timely book, established scholars and new voices from Europe reflect on aspects of the perilous condition of UP, addressing a range of issues, all drawing on intensive and extended fieldwork.
What used to be UP’s strength has turned into its weakness. Its position in India—as the quintessential Indian state – is unique, but no specific UP-identity has been developed. In papers discussing people’s own perceptions of core social and political issues, local ideas of what is needed for development are discussed. Gender relations are a central concern of two papers, one on customary marriage and divorce practices at village level and the other on changing notions of education for girls and the images of the UP plains held by those in the hills. Other papers deal with the social bases and ideology of the separatist movement in the UP hills; with Dalits and farmers, and the political organizations aiming to represent their interests; with farmers, and how far the BKU is articulating their demands in western UP; and with how Jats in western UP are changing the way they maintain their dominance. The two final papers discuss how modern mass media—TV and newspapers—are shaping developments in UP.
The book—a major advance in our understanding of contemporary patterns of social change in UP—will be essential reading for concerned citizens, students and academics alike.
Roger Jeffery holds a personal chair in the Sociology of South Asia in the University of Edinburgh. His research interests are in social demography, rural social change, social aspects of forestry and education and social inequality. Since 1982 he has carried out three extended periods of research in Bijnor district, each concerned with gender relationships.
Jens Lerche has taught Development Studies at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) since 1994. His main research interests are rural labour relations and the role of government institutions in India and Nepal. He has researched Uttar Pradesh since 1992, investigating socio-economic and political processes influenceing the livelihoods of the rural poor, the feminization of agricultural labour; emergence of new types of labour relations within modern agriculture; and violent dominance of rural workers.
ISBN 81-7304-500-3 2003 318p. Rs.625/Pounds 50