Quality of Governance in Gram Panchayats: Evidence from Karnataka
Keywords:Decentralisation Governance in Karnataka, Participation in Gram Sabha, Participatory Planning
The argument for decentralised governance has emerged on the premise that local government, located close to the people and thus having information advantage, is able to assess the situation of the people, identify and prioritise their needs, formulate plans that reflect the needs and aspirations of the people and implement them in an effective manner. In the Indian context, the Gram Sabha is an important institutional mechanism that will enable the people to participate in the identification and prioritisation of needs, preparation of plans according to needs and preferences of the people. In other words, quality of governance is promoted through the regular meetings of the Gram Sabha and other institutions. In this context, the paper discusses the quality of governance at the Gram Panchayat level in Karnataka with the help of data collected from five districts that are different in agro-climatic features and development status. The quality of governance is measured in terms of functioning of various statutory institutions in the Gram Panchayats such as Ward and Gram Sabha meetings, constitution and functioning of standing and other sub-committees, conduct of Panchayat meetings, etc. The paper concludes that there is some improvement in the governance in the last one decade or so. At the same time, there is much to be improved in terms of functioning of local institutions, awareness on these institutions and peopleâ€™s participation.
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