Sensing the need of the hour during the grave crisis that the pandemic wreaked and stepping in to help villagers access social entitlements, by providing them knowledge as well as assistance in completing procedural formalities, required focus, clarity, dedication and sustained handholding
Realizing that it was staring at a deadly crisis of immense magnitude and proportions, the PRADAN team swung into action, collaborating with the local administration and institutions, to care for the survival and well-being of all members of the community
We asked ourselves — is there another way to engage with communities? Where ultimately, they can unlock the social capital that they have built, exercise their agency without external help, and where they themselves can decide on their development agenda.
Recognizing the idea of the Panchayati Raj as crucial for the foundation of the Indian political system, the 73rd Constitution Amendment was passed by Parliament in 1992, giving Constitutional power to local elected bodies, leading to a decentralized form of governance in which each and every village is responsible for its own affairs
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The best, the quickest and the most efficient way is to build up from the bottom...Every village has to become a self-sufficient republic. This does not require brave resolutions. It requires brave, corporate, intelligent work...”
Implementing MGNREGA in its fullness is a movement to establish local democracy and instruments of local governance, honour local wisdom and knowledge, promote power decentralization to panchayats and encourage participatory decision-making. Jharkhand’s experience warrants telling.
Evolving a process-centric Gram Panchayat Organization Development framework, the Anode Lab, in collaboration with PRADAN, focussed on building the organizational capacity of gram panchayats, knowing that if the local body is capable and its members and staff are inspired to perform, it can impact sustainable change in key development spheres
Encouraging women to stand for elections to the local bodies is one step forward; empowering them with knowledge and skills in planning and decision-making must necessarily follow if women need to be active creators of their own future and not figure-heads and proxy figures for the men in their families