ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Decentralisation, Development and ‘Elite Capture’

Decentralised Governance, Development Programmes and Elite Capture by D Rajasekhar, M Devendra Babu and R Manjula, Singapore: Springer Nature, 2018; pp 169, Price not mentioned.


The reforms in the panchayati raj and introduction of the 73rd Amendment to the Constitution in 1993, and its subsequent implementation were done primarily on the premise that the rural governance system that existed prior to that was taken over by the local elites. In order to deepen the democracy and widen its scope, as well as to reduce the grip/influence of the local, upper caste, and landed power holders on the panchayati raj, many provisions of the constitutional amendment were introduced. It was hoped that with the new panchayat system in place, the rural governance would become more democratic by overruling the local power hierarchies. Ever since the implementation of the amendment in all the Indian states, the changes in the scenario of ­rural governance have been dramatic, if not radical. Also, since that time, there has been a steady efflorescence of literature on the different provisions of the act and the problems inherent in implementing them. These implementation problems, inter alia, largely were of three categories: the problems of reservation and its effectiveness in panchayats; the problems of the empowerment of women in panchayats; and the problems of finances and their devolution. This is broadly the problematique of the analysis for many studies that have come up since the promulgation of the amendment. This is broadly the case given the policy commitment of the Indian states to implement the new panchayat system.

The book under review resuscitates the argument of the influence of the local elites on the local governance and local development. Published in 2018, and dealing with one of the most progressive states in panchayati raj, that is, Karnataka, the book argues that panchayats and the local development schemes implemented by them, such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the housing schemes, are still prone to ‘‘elite capture.’’ The book falls in the intersection of the local government/decentralisation and development studies.

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Updated On : 17th May, 2021
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