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Redesigning Local Governance in India: Lessons from the Kerala Experiment

  • K. N. Harilal

Abstract

Studies on the Kerala model of development attribute its widely acclaimed achievements in human development, realized as they were in spite of the region’s development deficit, to the legacy of “public action” (Dreaze and Sen 1989; Franke and Chasin 1992; Ramachandran 1996). The experiment of democratic decentralization launched in the mode of a People’s Campaign in 1996 represents a certain continuity in this history of democratization of Kerala society.1 The essence of democratic decentralization is to deepen democracy by augmenting the space for “public action” and peoples’ participation in governance, in general, and planning, in particular. The Campaign was initiated by the left front government with a historical decision to devolve 35 to 40% of the state’s plan funds to the local governments.2 The local governments were given the right to use grant-in-aid, and resources mobilized locally, for formulating and implementing local development plans. The process and outcomes of the experiment in Kerala vary significantly among local governments (LGs) belonging to the same level/tier, across different tiers, between regions, and across different development sectors. The LGs in Kerala, therefore, have become interesting sites for studies on participatory local-level planning (Bandhopadyaya 1997; Franke and Chasin 1997; Isaac Thomas and Franke 2000). (While the term “local self governments” (LSGs) is legally correct, this chapter uses the term “local governments” (LGs) as a more conventional expression.)

Keywords

Local Government Public Action Local Plan Participatory Planning Fourth Amendment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. N. Harilal
    • 1
  1. 1.Kerala State Planning BoardGovernment of KeralaKerala

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