Democracy works when citizens have the right to ask questions, seek accountability and participate in the development process. Democracy involves dignity, diversity, dissent, development, participation and accountability and thus until every last person can celebrate his/her sense of dignity, exercise democratic dissent, be informed and involve in the process of development, democracy remains an empty rhetoric. Democracy dies where discrimination begins and the politics of favouritism, exclusion starts.
At the very core of the rights-based approach to development is the obligatory role of the state to respect, protect and fulfil human rights. At the same time, the promotion of just and democratic governance involves the empowerment of citizens, and particularly the excluded, to intervene in governance processes; claiming their rights and demanding accountability. A rights-based approach and just and democratic governance work can therefore be seen as two sides of the same coin. While empowerment is at the core of all governance work, a focused promotion of just and democratic governance will require a strong knowledge base and a clear set of tools and processes.
But the real challenge in democratic governance or PRI at grass root today is that the process of governance is undermined by economic and political elites and middlemen. The other problem concerning the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) is the need to transfer functions, funds and functionaries without which the Panchayats cannot function effectively as the third tier of democratic government.
There has been a significant progress on the front of women's empowerment, but there are many hurdles in the way of elected women including the age-old male domination leading to cases of proxy roles played by the male members of the family. The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates are duly elected but face stiff opposition and discrimination from the dominant castes to allow them to fully exercise their rights. The gram sabha which were to function as a forum of genuine democratic participation, in most cases, do not function in the right spirit. They are often looked upon as a ritual to fulfil the formal requirement. The MLAs and MPs, along with the local bureaucracy, treat the PRIs as a threat to their authority and privilege and do everything in their power to scuttle them.
There is a hope for the PRIs to progress further if they meet these challenges with confidence and determination. They will have to work for genuine participation, fight against the opponents of the PRIs, and imbibe the spirit of democratic decentralisation. Thus, there is a clear demand for capacity building efforts for accountable and transparent governance institutions. There is increasing awareness and space for monitoring governance through new tools like budget analysis, use of the right to information, social audits and people's tribunals.
Goal- Grassroots governance is transparent and accountable for the development of the people
- Ensure capacity building of at least 100 PRI members on democratic governance, rule of law, development schemes and programs and its legal procedures.
- Capacitate 200 women and Youths from CBOs for political participation at grass root governance.
- Enable 2000 community members (adults) to claim their social security entitlements and development rights.