Monday, July 23, 2007

Democracy in action?

An SMS conversation.
July 22, 2007, 2 pm at VHSC School, PMG.

1. My SMS to Biren, Divya and Baiju Sir :

Am I seeing democracy in action? I'm in ward sabha of kunnukuzhi ward on behalf of my principal. More than 90% here are women.
2. Reply from Baiju Sir :
Its not for nothing that India is hailed as the biggest democracy.
3. Reply from Biren :
Let us not glorify it seeing it as a surprise. In Kerala at least, we know democracy is in action at ground level. It is only that we never participate in it. So its a time to pity on us.
4. My reply to Baiju Sir, Copy to Biren :
I'm hunting in the terrains of my memory to recollect even one meeting that i have seen in which women outnumbered men.
5. Reply to Biren :
Ya true. I pity you. And you can pity me.
6. Reply from Biren to 4 :
Almost all saksharatha classes were like that.
7. Reply from Biren to 5 :
May be its time u are out of that US. Keep it up. I have to go a long way to be out of that. So let me pity myself.
8. From Biren :
BTW, who is the councilor there? Kunnukuzhi Manoharan?
9. Reply to Biren :
Ya. This is some experience da. And I know, this too won't contribute to any action from my part.

And it didn't. My headache defeated my excitement, and I left the place at 4pm after the meeting, but before the group discussions.

For those not familiar with the process of decision making under janakeeyasootranam :- Ward sabha in corporations and grama sabha in panchayaths are the most basic units of democracy. Its a place where direct democracy is supposed to be exercised. All the residents of that ward can attend the meeting and put forward their requirements from the government for the next year. This would include things like road to their place, electricity, water, employment opportunity etc. These requirements have to be made into informal project proposals. The councilor will take all these projects to the corporation where joint projects would me made out of it.

Naga, I know these kind of gatherings will be a routine for you. Thats why I didn't SMS you.


b v n said...

People's plan is back? Onnum kettilla....was this ongoing?

b v n said...

is it just within the corporation wards...sakhavinte sthalathokke undo ithu?

Deepak said...

1. I think the people's plan was never scrapped in paper. The share of state budget allocated (40%) for LSGs hadn't changed during the 2001-2006 UDF term. What had changed was the name and introduction of some more stringent norms to get approval for the projects. (The new name was Kerala Development Project). The present LDF government had also categorically stated that the State would follow the People's Plan Campaign mode in implementing the 11th Plan. (2007-12)

2. I believe it should happening in panchayats too. Hmm, but thats the irony of me. I just don't know anything about it.

nasia said...

:-( ..
i liked the pity bit..
On behalf of ur prinicipal means?? which principal..

Are u ever gonna do my tag? u can thank the Govt if u want to :-)... In fact i feel u can write it the best..

Deepak said...

Principal, Government Engineering College Bartonhill. Presently it is Dr. P. S. Chandramohan.

About your tag. Let me see. No promise.

nasia said...

u neednt name a single person.. u know tat right.. :-)

Kurien said...

Sir reading your blog i wanted to mention about one thing that i have seen in my place.My mom is a teacher in Vattiyoorkavu Govt. High School.
My mom is the senior most there so she also had to go to the same meeting as u did last day..the thing was that in my mom's school there was a retaining wall built for the school premises it would cost a max of 2lacs.But the councilor here laid out a cost of 4.5 lacs for the whole where did the rest of the money go????
So with the whole look of the matter it is a very sad fact that janakeeyasootranam hasn't obtained the result as most of the money alloted for this purpose is being lost in the hands of these councillors and all with which only the local committees prosper.
Sir i also participated with my mother for this function..and it is a very sad fact that no one raised their voice against this financial anomaly even though all the teachers knew that much of the money was not spend for the skool.
Even my mother and head mistress was silent hearing all this.

Deepak said...

So who all can we hold responsible for the financial anomaly if any? The councilor alone or the entire members of the ward who now directly comes to know about the anomaly and who can raise their voice.

Corruption is not a product of janakeeyasootranam. It was there even in centralized planning. Only that it too was centralized and hence less conspicuous.

Nagasubramanian said...


If you remember the study that two of my IRMA batch mates had done on Pulpally Panchayat in Wayanad District abt the effectiveness of the decentralisation campaign then they had mentioned the lack of ppl participation in the gram sabhas. I had then countered them that you cannot expect everyone in the village to attend these meetings and that only the interested ones would make it and this more often than not are the needy ones. So we need to keep an eye on such meetings from this angle; are the participants the needy ones, what's the profile of the participants; what kind of issues are getting raised; are they their important concerns; are they getting addressed etc..It would be a really good study!!

May be I am jumping the gun and it would be too early on my part to suggest this but sill; Can the Tvm Corporation or District panchayat host some of the IRMA students for some such study..Help identify some gaps and things like that..

For Kurien,
One grand thing abt this decentralisation is that it actually poses this qn to ppl whether they have it in them to root out corruption at their level !! You get to see corruption happening right in front of your eyes; you better act...

I know at a pragmatic level things ain't as easy as I made it sound but things were never this easier earlier either!!


nasia said...

Post sumthing new sir! or are u very busy?