Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trifurcation destroys decentralisation

Express News ServiceLast Updated : 09 Jun 2011 10:06:56 AM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The trifurcation of the Local Self-Government (LSG) Department raises serious questions on the commitment of the UDF Government to democratic decentralisation, economist Venkatesh Athreya has said. He was inaugurating a seminar on ‘Trifurcation and the future of decentralisation’ organised by the Federation of State Employees and Teachers Organisation (FSETO) in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

The trifurcation destroys the very integrity of decentralisation and leaves no room for public participation, Athreya, who is also the advisor to the Swaminathan Foundation, said. Kerala is a unique model for effective decentralisation, which has given due importance to the process of democratic decentralisation as much as to its outcome. The move of the government disempowers people. The simple file movements would now take at least a month. It must be the coalition compulsions that led to the government’s decision, Athreya said.

"It means the government is not concerned about people’s welfare while deciding its agenda. It is part of the essential loss of democracy in politics over the last 20 years. The trifurcation will obstruct the holistic planning in ground level,’’ he said.

The trifurcation is a move against giving power to the people, which is the basic concept of democratic decentralisation, said George Mathew, Director of the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi. He described the origin of the concept of decentralisation in his speech saying it had first taken off in West Bengal, then copied in Karnataka and spread its wings to Andhra Pradesh.

Mathew said that the 73rd, 74th Amendments of the Constitution giving powers to local self-governments at panchayat level were a milestone in the history of the nation. However, until two weeks back, Kerala was the only State where it was taken up in letter and spirit. Kerala could go a long way since it had carried out land reforms very early.

The State had remained a pilgrimage centre for decentralisation, Mathew said.

He said that though the idea of Grama Swaraj was first mooted by Gandhiji and then though a bit late was owned by Jawaharlal Nehru too, the Congress leaders who followed him have not shown an inclination to decentralisation. While many states and countries are flocking to the State to learn about our model, including a team which is to arrive this month from Brazil’s Porto Alegre (known for participatory budgeting), the State itself is travelling backward, Mathew said

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