Local self-governance is guaranteed by Indian constitution

Local self-governance is guaranteed by Indian constitution, said Ravi Kiran Jain, a highly acclaimed senior advocate of UP High Court and also a member of state presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch. Development by the people means a decentralized system of governance where the people genuinely participate in its process - something which was conceived by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments of Article 243 of Indian Constitution in 1993, providing for governance by locally elected representatives at the urban and rural grassroots, said Jain. But it has been literally rendered ineffective on account of the centralized political authority.

Ravi Kiran Jain has demonstrated exceptional leadership for human rights and peace over the past decades. He was speaking in the plenary of Panchayati Raj Sammelan organized by Lok Rajniti Manch in Lucknow on 20th February 2011.

The implications of placing people at the centre of political and economic change are profound. What is needed is a profound human revolution that makes people's participation the central objective in all parts of governance. As for fixing the priorities, they must include preservation of ecology, eradication of poverty and hunger, primary education, employment, improved health, and environment sustainability of land, water and air.

People's participation in governance can alone ensure achievement of the goals, and this would call for accelerating the process of emergence of a civil society in the country, based on issue-based politics in the coming years, said Jain. The amended Article 243 has provided for endowing the panchayats at the village, intermediary, and district levels as also the municipalities to prepare plans for economic development and social justice for the people living in their respective areas. Sadly it hasn’t taken place in most places in India.

He made a poignant remark that India is undoubtedly the biggest democracy in the world, but is also the biggest home to the poor and undernourished. The challenge in front of us is how to transform the present democracy into a democracy of peoples’ participatory democracy, said Jain.

Over two dozen elected representatives from recently conducted Panchayat elections in UP state and more than hundred political and social activists participated in the Sammelan. Magsaysay Awardee and senior social activist Dr Sandeep Pandey, retired senior police officer and member, state presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch SR Darapuri, Magsaysay Awardee and noted right-to-information activist Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi University faculty and member of national presidium of Lok Rajniti Manch Ajit Jha, human rights and peace activist Mazhar Hussain, Editor of Sachchi Muchchi Arvind Murti, were some of the other luminaries who addressed the Panchayati Raj Sammelan.

Bobby Ramakant - CNS