Responsive Governance and Decentralized Participatory Institutions An Analytical Study in Indian State of Andhra Pradesh

The concept of (good) governance has emerged as the essential part of sustainable development. Experience from different countries has shown that while good governance can help secure human well-being and sustained development, it is equally important to recognize that poor governance could erode individual capabilities as well as institutions and community capabilities to meet even the basic needs of sustenance for large segments of the population, particularly the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized sections. Democratic decentralization is considered vital for overall development. It is argued that decentralization leads to improved governance and better delivery, hence improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty. The relationship between decentralization and governance are manifold. Decentralization leads to transparency in policies, responsiveness of the policy makers, accountability of implementers, openness and enhanced flow of information, and hence reduces corruption. The state of Andhra Pradesh stood second while introducing the Panchayati Raj system in India in order to establish democratic institutions at the grassroots level. In the recent past, however, Andhra Pradesh had adopted different institutional arrangements in the name of participatory institutions as decentralized delivery systems. These emerging institutions effectively by-passed the democratic institutions and are also known as parallel institutions or community based organizations (CBOs) or user committees. Financially these institutions are much stronger than the PRIs. Important issues addressed in the paper include: how do the parallel institutions function and perform in achieving the stated program objectives? Have these institutions improved the delivery of pro-poor policies? What are the linkages between the participatory and the democratic institutions? The basic thrust of my empirical study done in the state of Andhra Pradesh is on accountability of institutions in fostering responsive governance.
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The concept of (good) governance has emerged as the essential part of sustainable development. Experience from different countries has shown that while good governance can help secure human well-being and sustained development, it is equally important to recognize that poor governance could erode individual capabilities as well as institutions and community capabilities to meet even the basic needs of sustenance for large segments of the population, particularly the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized sections. It is a well-established fact that human deprivation and inequalities are not merely the result of economic factors; rather they go hand in hand with social and political factors rooted in poor governance (UNHDR, 2001).      Democratic decentralization is considered vital for overall development. It is argued that decentralization leads to improved governance and better delivery, hence improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty. The relationship between decentralization and governance is manifold. Decentralization leads to transparency in policies, responsiveness of the policy makers, accountability of implementers, openness and enhanced flow of information, and hence reduces corruption. All these aspects are indicators of good governance. Decentralization is often argued to be a more effective and efficient framework for delivering pro-poor programmes1. Though there is diversity on the definition and paradigms of governance (see Box), there is consensus that equity and justice in public decision-making are the objectives of good governance. All men and women deserve equal opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being; and efficiency and effectiveness of public actions. These objectives are promoted through: a) Rule of law; b) Transparency; c) Responsiveness; d) Public Accountability; and e) Participation2.

In fact, decentralized governance relies on local institutional structures especially for the delivery of pro-poor programs. Decentralization is often understood, especially in the Indian context, as devolution of powers to the locally (at district, block and village level) elected constitutional bodies i.e., the Panchayati Raj Institutions3 (PRIs). These democratic institutions played an effective role in the early decades after independence; but over time their powers have been eroded4 probably because of the absence of constitutional mandate, which left the fate of these institutions to the whims and fancies of the state governments. Over the years state governments curtailed their powers in order to centralize governance structures. The 73rd amendment of the Indian Constitution in 1993 made an attempt to resurrect these institutions. While the amendment helped in strengthening and systematizing these institutions in terms of conducting regular elections, constituting state finance commissions, etc., the option of devolution of powers, crucial for their vibrancy, is still in the hands of the state governments. Moreover the 73rd amendment requires devolution of functions (29 in total), functionaries and funds, as per the 11th schedule, in all states. But most of the state governments in India have not implemented this5.

Decentralization of Institutional Setup: Andhra Pradesh

The state of Andhra Pradesh stood second in introducing the Panchayati Raj system in India in order to establish democratic institutions at the grassroots level. In the recent past, however, Andhra Pradesh had adopted different institutional arrangements in the name of participatory institutions as decentralized delivery systems. These emerging institutions effectively by-passed the democratic institutions and are also known as parallel institutions or community based organizations (CBOs) or user committees. Financially, these institutions are much stronger than the PRIs.

 The rationale for promoting these institutions include: a) user groups understand the day-to-day problems better than the elected and political representatives, b) PRIs have failed to deliver benefits over the last five decades6 , and c) PRIs are known for being controlled by the local elite (‘elite capture’) and political patronage. However, contradictory views are held on the role of these institutions regarding their effectiveness and their linkages with the PRIs (see GoI, 1998; Sastry, 2000; Manor, 2001 and Sitaram, 2002). It is argued that these institutions have not only weakened the PRI bodies but are also potentially damaging to development. Hence, the convergence of PRIs and CBOs is needed as it (a) improves accountability; (b) addresses the inadequacy of powers and funds of PRIs; and (c) improves the sustainability of programs. It may be noted that PRIs are permanent constitutional bodies unlike the CBOs. Moreover, a comparative study of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh7 observed that DWCRA (Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas), a participatory institution, has delivered pro-poor benefits in a better manner.

It is often argued that CBOs insulate development from politics. Manor (2001) counters: “This notion is a myth - and a dangerous myth at that. ‘Politics’ - that is, the interplay of interests and forces in pursuit of power, resources, status, etc. - is pervasive.” Elite capture was found to be a serious problem even the case of community-driven development in West Africa (Platteau, 2004). To what extent these participatory institutions function above political and class interests (elite capture) and deliver pro-poor benefits is a moot point. This chapter attempts to understand the coverage and nature of impact of some important programs implemented under participatory institutions in AP during the last decade.

Important issues in this regard include: how do the parallel institutions function and perform in achieving the stated program objectives? Have these institutions improved the delivery of pro-poor policies? What are the linkages between participatory and democratic institutions? Is there a need for integration between these two types of institutions? These aspects would be examined in the context of some of the important CBOs in the state. These include: watershed committees and associations, water user associations, joint forest management committees, education committees, mothers and health committees, thrift committees, etc. During the mid-nineties, these initiatives were part of a generic program Janmabhoomi, introduced by the then CM. Though the Janmabhoomi programme has been discontinued by the present government, most of the programs and projects are still in place. A few initiatives like village education committees have been discontinued while others have acquired new names (DPIP or Velugu is now amalgamated with other programs and rechristened as Indiramma) Indira Kranti Pathakam.

Though socially disadvantaged people were elected to offices in PRIs owing to reservation8, there is still an invisible wall between the village elite and other communities particularly in the backward regions. The elite filled the ‘opportunity vacuum’ created by the reservation policy, by parallel bodies where there is no reservation for any group. This contradicts the popular argument that participatory institutions serve the interests of the users and the poor. Moreover, these parallel institutions are not apolitical. These bodies often form a nexus with the political functionaries in PRIs or at higher levels of the political system.

Performance of Democratic and Participatory Institutions: An Assessment

Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)

The Gram Panchayats (GP) stand at the base of the three-tier structure of local governance with the Mandal Parishad at the intermediate level and the Zilla Parishad (ZP) at the district level. Long with 22 Zilla Parishads and 1095 Mandal Parishads, there is 21943 Gram Panchayats in AP covering a population of more than 55 million people. It is necessary to highlight the lack of a clear definition of what a GP is in Andhra Pradesh. The population of a GP varies from 300 to more than 3,000. This does, in fact, raise a question on the economic viability of smaller GPs.

The responsibilities of GP include: a) Implementing land reform measures, including consolidation of land holdings and cooperative management of community lands; b) Implementing programs related to agriculture, animal husbandry, cottage industry, pre-primary and primary education, health and sanitation, women, children, destitute people and people with disabilities; c) Resource planning by preparing an inventory of human and natural resources and other assets at the village level; d) Preparing and prioritizing plans/programs to harness these resources to meet local needs and aspirations; and e) Disseminating technology to increase farm and related production; expanding services like health, veterinary and sanitation services in their jurisdiction. Mandal Parishads co-ordinate rural development activities within their jurisdiction and consolidate panchayat plans into a Mandal Parishad plan. The Zilla Parishad9 organizes data collection and consolidation of Mandal Parishad plans, allocation of funds and approval of Mandal Parishad budgets.

The present status of functional devolution in AP shows that its position is lowest among a few important states. Out of 29 items specified in the 11th schedule, it transferred functions in respect to sixteen (16) subjects of which five (05) subjects are with funds (agriculture, drinking water supply, minor irrigation tanks, social forestry, primary and secondary education and khadi and village industries) and only two subjects are with functionaries (drinking water supply and minor irrigation tanks). Thirteen (13) functions still remain to be transferred; twenty-four (24) subjects with funds; and twenty-seven (27) subjects with functionaries. By contrast, in Karnataka all the 29 subjects/departments have been transferred to panchayats with funds, functions and functionaries. Kerala comes next, followed by West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh (Report of the Tenth Five Year Plan Working Group 2001).

Status of Activity Mapping in States and UTs

The key objective of Article 243G is to ensure that panchayats at all levels function as institutions of self-government. To this end, an essential step is to undertake activity mapping relating to developed functions with a view to attributing each activity to the appropriate level of Panchayat, keeping in mind the principle of subsidiarity. It was agreed during the first Round Table in Kolkata that all states and UTs would undertake activity mapping by the end of 2004-05, using the activity mapping model evolved by the Union Ministry of Rural Development. It was also recommended that a measure of irrevocability could bear on devolution through legislative measure or, alternatively, by providing a strong legislative framework for devolution through executive orders. The progress of activity mapping, as on March 2006, indicates that AP is at the lower end of the spectrum as far as devolution and activity mapping are concerned. AP is also among the 11 states that signed a MoU with the centre for completing activity mapping within a specified time frame.

Participatory Institutions

Andhra Pradesh has had a long history of informal financial services purely as a local initiative. Women’s savings and credit movement gathered momentum in 1993, in Nellore district. Social mobilization enables the poor to build their organizations at the grass roots level, in which they participate fully and directly, and take decisions on all developmental issues. These emerging participatory groups known as community based organizations (CBOs), user groups (UGs) or parallel institutions (PIs) are some times also referred to by the generic term Self Help Groups (SHGs). The development of these groups or institutions has been phenomenal in Andhra Pradesh, accounting for 60 per cent of the groups in India. These groups have become almost an integral part in the program design for the entire spectrum of development efforts in the state since the late nineties. While the PRIs provide only limited scope for creating user or functional groups10, there are more groups now than ever before. Each village now has 7 to 10 groups on an average and each group has 10 to 15 members. As a result, at least 150 people would have their own identity as a group member: in PRIs it is limited to 7 to 15 people (ward members). Regular meetings of these groups facilitate opportunities for people to interact and discuss various issues11.

 Based on their activity profile the groups are organized under three categories viz., a) Natural resource based (Water Users’ Association -WUA; Watershed Development Committees - WDC; and Vana Samrakshana Samithis - VSS); b) Employment generation (Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas - DWCRA; Development of Women and Children in Urban Areas - DWCUA and Chief Minister’s Empowerment of Youth – CMEY), and c) Human resources development (Mothers’ Committee and School Education Committees).

The general impact or performance of some of the important CBOs is examined below with specific focus on human resource development. Aspects like conduct of meetings, attendance in the meetings, issues discussed, etc., are also considered as part of human resource development along with education, training, skills and health aspects.

Watershed Development Program (WDP)

The 1994 watershed guidelines have spelled out that the responsibility of watershed management should be shifted to village panchayats once the 73rd amendment 162 Andhra Pradesh Human Development Report 2007 comes into force. However, only a very few states Have delegated the authority and a few other states have made considerable progress but the state of Andhra Pradesh has done little on this. On the other hand, it is spearheading the spread of watershed through the framework which ensures that the control and command mechanisms remains in the hands of the state (for a review, see Reddy, et al. 2001).

The potentials of Watershed Development Program (WDP) appear to be quite high in attaining financial capital (as a result of better wages and employment) that has a direct bearing on poverty. The benefits of watershed development in rain-fed regions come from in situ moisture availability, which indicates that the impact is expected to be moderate in fragile resource regions. WDP seems to be improving the status of education, health and gender, although these are not directly intended in the program. There is, however, a clear bias against the poor when it comes to access to livelihood capital.

In the case of social capital (measured in terms of membership in SHGs) poor households are better off as SHGs are meant for the poor. Social capital, in fact, has a weak relationship with all other capitals except human capital, especially for poor households. This indicates that higher social capital can lead to better human resource development viz., education and health and may also lead to empowerment of vulnerable sections like women and the poor. Strengthening the social capital base and ensuring community participation is a difficult job demanding a lot of time and effort from the implementing agencies. Only the best projects are found to have devoted substantial time towards social mobilization when compared to two to three months spent on social mobilization in others. More importantly, preparing the villages for enhanced potential, especially social mobilization, to receive and absorb technology is a prerequisite for the sustainability of watershed program. The new guidelines or approach should provide at least 12 months for this preparatory phase. Recognition of the importance of the total involvement of local communities in the implementation and also ensuring their cooperation is critical to the success and sustainability of the program.

In general watersheds implementation requires calling for grama sabha (GS) meetings and watershed committee (WC) meetings. Though the number of GS meetings varies across watersheds, WC meetings are more regular in most cases (Reddy, et al. 2005). Participation is quite good in both meetings. As far as the implementation phase is concerned, there are variations across watersheds depending on the program implementation agency. For instance, the focus of the Rural Development Trust (Anantapur district NGO) was more on the WSA (Watershed Association)/ WSC (Watershed Committee), while the Krishi Vignana Kendra (Medak district NGO) focused more on the WDT (Watershed Development Team) and the GO PIAs (Project Implementing Agency) on the GS. WSA and WSC are the main implementing arms at the village level, and WDT is largely a technical advisory body to the WSC and the PIA while the GS is more of an opinion / consensus builder. This indicates that the approach of the RDT is directed towards greater participation of the local community in the implementation process than the other two. On the other hand, KVK seems to have followed the conventional approach of emphasizing technicalities. The other NGO, PIA in Prakasam district, has followed neither, due to conflicts in the village. In fact, the local contractors did not allow the PIA to carry out any work in the village, as they were not given the works. Therefore, the impact of WDP on human development is dependent on the PIA on the one hand and the existing socio-political conditions at the village level on the other.

A recent study conducted in nine districts of A.P. (Vizianagaram, East Godavari, Prakasam, Chittoor, Anantapur, Karimnagar, Khammam, Medak and Mahabubnagar) on the functioning of watershed committees said: In Telangana districts the functionality of the WCs is poor both in terms of investments made in the processes and the impact of the program. On the contrary, in Coastal Andhra, the overall performance of WCs is better in the sense that stakeholders are more knowledgeable about the functioning of WCs and actively participate in the program. In Rayalaseema districts the programme is implemented in an intensive way largely through the support of local NGOs which helped in better functioning of committees in these areas (DRS Survey, 2006).

Water User Associations (WUA)

The objective of WUAs which were introduced during the late 1990s is to improve production, efficiency and equity. WUAs are expected to have a direct bearing on water availability and crop production. If there is a positive impact, there is a possibility of secondary effects like employment, income, and human resource development. Water users refer to any individual or society using water for domestic, non-domestic, agriculture, power or any other industrial purpose. Each water user area is further divided into 6-12 territorial constituencies (TC). There are 10292 WUAs, of which 9797 are working. Second term elections were held for WUAs in 17 districts in 2003 and in the remaining districts in 2004 and 2005.

The impact of WUA shows that there has been an increase in the average area irrigated of the sample households in the canal systems. The increase in area irrigated is more in the case of middle and tail reaches which were suffering from water shortages prior to the WUAs. But the qualitative impact observed in terms of improved productivity of paddy, appears to be more in the middle and head reaches12. A sharp decline is observed in tank irrigation WUAs and the secular decline in tank irrigation could not be checked.

The democratic process is measured in terms of conducting and attending meetings and the decision-making process (collective / majority). Though General Body (GB) meetings should be held once a year and Executive Committee meetings twice a year, they are not conducted regularly. While GB meeting was conducted only at the beginning of the formation of WUA, on an average only one EC meeting was conducted in a year. The EC meets whenever the need arises. Participation in the meetings is very poor. The issues discussed mainly pertain to crop or system development. Democratic decision-making is more or less absent in the canal systems. Important issues like fund collection and allocation are rarely discussed. Even on simple issues, in a majority of cases decisions were made either by the irrigation department or the Presidents themselves. In tank systems also the Presidents mainly took decisions, though the democratic process was adopted occasionally. Further, the role of the irrigation department is marginal in the tank systems when compared to canal systems. Nevertheless, in most cases, farmers stated that the decisions taken in the meetings were implemented.

A recent study (DRS Survey, 2006) noted in its assessment of the performance of WUAs that there is wide variation across regions not only in terms of the type of source of irrigation, but also in terms of institutional capacities and processes in place. It is generally observed that WUAs under canal irrigation system are functioning better as compared to tank irrigation systems. Across the regions, it is observed that statutory General Body Meetings are held as per the norms and the water cess is also collected annually in both canal and tank areas. Penalty for defaulters of payment of cess is not found across all the regions.

Vana Samarakshana Samithis (VSS)

In compliance with National Forest Policy of 1988, Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS) were introduced under Joint Forest Management (JFM) Program for the management and protection of forest resources13. There are 8343 VSS (2005-06) in the state managing 23.18 lakh hectares of forest area. About 7.85 lakh hectares of degraded forests have been treated through these VSS14. Around 15 lakh people, including 7.5 lakh women and 7.87 lakh SCs/STs, are benefiting from the programme15.

The JFM program, in its present form, in fact, falls short of expectations in ensuring better livelihood opportunities to the poor dependent on forests. Primarily, the focus of JFM is not livelihoods, but forest regeneration. Income gains from forest related activities are not substantial16, irrespective of the status of the forests. There is a gain in wage employment but it may not be sustainable in the long run. A distinct improvement has been observed in the educational and health status of the households. But the improvements are not only through JFM but also owing to government intervention programs like "back to school" and improved chullas, etc. Capacity building of VSS members in terms of skill development was not up to the expected levels. In the absence of any systematic approach in this direction, the improvements and impact appear to be marginal. On the other hand, social cohesion and cooperation are generally strong in the forest areas and becoming stronger with intervention. However, social cohesion between the villages has declined due to boundary conflicts arising over demarcation of VSS land. Social status and self-esteem of women are found to be on the rise17. JFM has had a positive impact on migration and there is a decline in migration across land-owning households of all size classes. The improved social capital conditions have a potential to enhance human capital.

Chief Minister’s Empowerment of Youth (CMEY)

The Chief Minister’s Empowerment of Youth Programme18 (CMEY) was launched during 1996-97 primarily with the objective of generating employment opportunities for unemployed youth. The program is based on “Group Strategy”. A group of 15 or more young people between the age of 18 and 35 years may form a “Youth Association” to take up economic activities suited to their educational background, skills, aptitude, local resources and needs. Under the scheme the unemployed youth are extended financial assistance for taking up self-employment. The objective of the movement19 is to empower youth to participate effectively in the development of rural youth, by providing opportunities for employment and creating in them a sense of accomplishment. This ultimately should result in the improvement of their quality of life. The program covers the entire state to cover all habitations including urban areas.

Some of activities include: a) Imparting of six modules of Training Programs on Health Awareness and AIDS Control, Environmental Awareness on Clean and Green, Education for all, Functioning of Schools, Social Reconstruction, Leadership, Personality Development and skill Development; b) Generation of thrift - a total minimum thrift amount of Rs.5000/- accumulated over 6 months in regular intervals collected from all the group members during the weekly meetings and deposited in the group savings bank account. The common monthly minimum effective thrift (COMMET) of the Youth Association is calculated by taking the least amount saved and rotated in a month in the given six-month period20 ; c) Group behavior - spread over a period of six months to be evaluated on a marks system; d) Release of financial assistance for taking up self- employment21.

Mothers Committee (MC)

The Mothers Committee (MC) was started in 1998 in the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), which was introduced in India in 1975. Mothers Committees22 are formed with mothers of ICDS beneficiaries. There are about 54000 MCs in the state. The prime objective of ICDS and MC is to achieve reduction in infant and child mortality rates and the achievement of optimal physical, mental and psychosocial development of children. As part of the community mobilization exercise, MCs have been formed in villages with mothers of children enrolled in Anganwadis / Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centers as members. These committees actively participate in the developmental activities of the school. They conduct periodic meetings to discuss the activities of ECCE Centers and take necessary steps for the enrolment and retention of girls in primary school. One recent study commissioned by UNICEF23 on the working of Mothers Committees observes that low prestige, limited political influence and the labor intensive nature of MCs did not create a sufficiently attractive incentive structure to ensure active participation. (Jones et al, 2007).

School/Village Educational Committees and Parent Teachers Associations

The commitment to universal elementary education recognized the need for decentralized planning and management of school education and for active community participation in the management of education at the village level. In pursuance of community participation, The Andhra Pradesh School Education (Community Participation) Act, 1998 was passed and School Committees (at present 72,919) constituted in every government and government-aided school in the state. The School Committee consists of five members of whom four should be parents (from different socio-economic backgrounds) of the children enrolled in the school and the Headmaster as the Member Convener24. A parent shall cease to be a member of the committee when he has no child enrolled in the school.

Village Education Committees (VEC) were visualized as part of the decentralized management structures under District Primary Education Program (DPEP) to establish a link between the school and the community. The VEC is expected to take up the task of management for ensuring community participation25. The role of Village Education Committees has been predominantly in areas related to accessibility and participation of children, particularly girls. It is found that in all the surveyed districts that the VECs: a) do not hold meetings regularly; b) that members, particularly the dalit members, are not aware of the decisions of VEC; c) record maintenance of minutes is poor and that there is no follow-up action; d) Chairman/Panchayat President often takes up contract works for school buildings; e) where a woman is chairman of VEC, the HM and Sarpanch take a lead role; f) minutes of meetings are never circulated. Instead, the Head Master obtains signatures of the members before the decision is arrived at; g) There is no control over teachers who were absent from duty unofficially. Unfortunately VECs were given up in 2005 and now efforts are being made to revive them26.

A recent survey in nine districts of AP observed that people in hamlets were unaware of the existence of such (SEC) committees (DRS, 2006). The PTAs are practically non-functional in all the surveyed districts. The HM of the school takes care of maintaining the records of such minutes/agenda as chairman of PTAs in all the places. The common points of agenda that were separately discussed in the PTA meeting across these nine districts (PTA mandated meet two times usually) are: a) The enrolment of children who have dropped out; b) Regular attendance of children; c) School uniform and strengthening mid-day meals; d) To conduct health camps for students and the responsibility of parents for keeping their children clean when sending them to the school; and e) Parents are requested to give preference to the education of girl children. Though it is recorded that such meetings have taken place three to four times in a year, in reality nothing has happened. Parents do not show any interest, nor do they receive information about PTA meetings. However, they remain on paper and occasionally a rally would be taken out for enrolment of drop-outs.

Self-Help Groups and Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)27

Because of the problem of distribution of the benefits of macro-economic growth at the household level, micro-level strategies like micro-finance have been initiated at the grass root level. It has generally been observed that organizing women around thrift and credit services is effective in alleviating poverty and empowering women. The government of Andhra Pradesh responded to the need and provided a space for women’s self-help groups28 (SHGs) under the program Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA). SHGs are functioning not only in DWCRA but also in other government programmes and NGO initiatives.

There are about 6.35 lakh women SHGs in Andhra Pradesh with a membership of 80.21 lakh rural poor women and 2,01,732 SHG’s that were formed under the Department of Women Empowerment and Self-Employment. Several schemes under DRDA have helped women earn an additional income of up to Rs.2000/- per month depending on the economic activities they take up. For taking up various income-generating activities, DWCRA women are given special training on skill up-gradation. The SHG groups are assisted under DWCRA/SGSY scheme in the form of revolving funds to each group. Between 1998-99 and 2003-04 about Rs. 170 crores were provided as assistance to 1.93 lakh groups. NABARD, commercial banks and Regional Rural Banks are also providing credit at a concessional rate of interest to the groups under “SHG-Bank linkage” program for taking up income generating activities. The assistance per group ranges from Rs.20000 to Rs. 1,00,000. Between 1998-99 and 2003-04 about Rs.1500 crores was mobilized as credit, covering 1,65,093 groups. The groups are liable for repaying the credit amount within the repayment period.

SHGs of DWCRA have helped in reducing dependence on money- lenders in rural areas though there are variations across the districts. SHGs seem to have performed better in developed districts like East Godavari when compared to a backward district like Mahabubnagar. Credit has enabled women to undertake production-oriented economic activities related to agriculture, animal husbandry, and Industry Service and Business (ISB) sectors. One reason for this could be that a large proportion of women from traditional artisan families have become members of the groups to further strengthen and expand their on-going economic activities. In fact, such groups are observed to be more successful (BASIX, 1999). The net result is that some members who were working for wages or were unemployed have become self-employed with the help of SHGs. An additional income to the tune of Rs. 10-30 per day on an average has contributed to a considerable improvement in the incomes of the poorest of the poor and enabled the near poor to cross the poverty line. But targeting of poor households is quite low at 56 percent (Reddy and Prakash, 2003). A large proportion of beneficiary adult female family members have full employment under the DWCRA scheme and in addition are providing employment to some male members. Many of the beneficiaries have taken up kitchen garden activities near their homes. This has brought changes in the quality of consumption that would improve the nutritional status of children, pregnant and lactating mothers among the DWCRA families (YFA, 1996). Similarly, part of the additional income is also spent on the health of the family (Kanchanya, 1998). Most of the eligible DWCRA members have undergone family planning. In fact, the dramatic decline in the decadal growth rate of population has also been attributed to the phenomenal growth of SHGs in the state (Dev, 2002). A majority of the children of the beneficiaries are going to school as the women have become aware of the need for basic education. Thus, women are able to improve their access to health care and education to some extent. However, the groups in more remote villages and Scheduled Tribes have not benefited as much as villages in more accessible areas and other caste beneficiary households (YFA, 1996; Kanchanya, 1998).

SHGs have helped women to take up tasks like marketing and non-traditional enterprises. Women are now in better control over their labour, resources (saving, credit and income), freedom to move and interact, and reproductive choices. They are also able to handle some of the issues relating to their lives independently. This indicates that the ‘power within’ dimension of empowerment has been strengthened to some extent due to participation in SHGs. However, the absence of collective initiatives by women members to negotiate their gender, caste, class and other interests vis-à-vis institutions of the market, the state, the community and family reveals that empowerment is still limited when dealing with the external world.     

How widespread and sustainable this process is, is a moot point. Though attendance in meetings is quite high (76 percent) (Reddy and Prakash, 2003), about 39 percent of groups do not hold meetings while 23 percent of the groups are not maintaining accounts. Though the illiteracy of members is the main reason, groups do not see the need for maintaining accounts because external grants and funds are equally distributed. While 78 percent of SHGs save regularly, some groups discontinue savings, once the revolving fund is availed by the group. The selection of leaders is democratic in 87 percent of the groups. Leaders were imposed when the members did not show the initiative to become leaders. Leadership rotation was absent and hence development of leadership among members is lacking. The leader manages all activities regarding accounts, loans and attendance and the involvement of members is marginal. The grading of DWCRA groups according to their functioning by the Government of Andhra Pradesh has brought out that 18, 63 and 19 percent of the groups are found to be in A, B and C categories respectively. Thus, only 18 percent of the groups are functioning very well. Only the extensive and intensive participation of women in the process can sustain the movement. The cost of such participation needs to be compensated in one form or other. Besides, initiatives such as piped water supply and LPG would reduce time and drudgery in fetching water and fuel wood.

Another interesting study on the politics of policies in Andhra Pradesh has analyzed DWCRA and made the following observation: “DWCRA can probably be called a successful scheme as it has helped to empower women in the sense of making them more self-confident and financially stronger and more independent”. However, it pointed out that “the weakness of the program is that it has proved to be very difficult to generate sustainable and profitable self-employment for women”. Moreover, the age-old tradition of patriarchy is not questioned in the programme. Important issues such as literacy and family planning are taken up – and quite successfully in some districts but other strategic gender needs such as child marriages and dowry are not addressed at all (Mooij, 2002).

District Poverty Initiatives Program (DPIP)

Andhra Pradesh District Poverty Initiatives Project (APDPIP) and Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Project (APRPRP) in the most backward mandals of all the districts in the state cover the former South Asia Poverty Alleviation Program (SAPAP) groups and also DWCRA groups in these mandals. The Mid Term Appraisal (MTA) to assess the impact of District Poverty Initiatives Program (DPIP) interventions on the different dimensions of poverty for the target communities has focused on the contribution of DPIP interventions in key areas of which women empowerment is one. While assessing the impact of the project29 on empowerment of women, the MTA report observes: “The logic of the project to use improved access to resources to empower women and overcome social barriers is corroborated by the fact that the change in the share of women who receive high respect in their family and who were not subject to domestic violence was indeed significantly lower in control than in intervention areas where women also have significantly higher participation in family matters relating to income generating activities, debt and savings, as well as family planning. In fact, the improvements in women’s participation seem to transcend the realm of the family and extend to the community level: the change in the share of women who always know or participate in village assemblies, who are aware of other types of community institutions, and who are able to freely interact with government officials and villagers of other caste or religion is significantly higher in intervention than in control villages.” (Dev et al. 2003).

Linkages between Democratic and Participatory institutions

At present, the linkages between democratic and participatory institutions are rather formal in nature. PRI representation is mandatory in all the participatory institutions though there are no functional linkages between them. In villages that are politically active, however, a lot of groundwork was necessary for formulating the mutually agreeable participatory institutional structures such as WCs, WUAs, etc. Relationships between democratic (PR bodies) and participatory institutions can be broadly described as, a) conflict ridden, b) competitive checking, c) political nexus and, d) passive observation. Conflict-ridden villages are always torn between two party-affiliated political groups or factions. Development programs are rarely introduced in these villages. Even if they are, they will be forced to be withdrawn due to persistent conflict. Initial compromises brokered by the officials often fail to hold firm as factions are deep-rooted.

In some villages political groups work in a competitive situation (competitive politics). The competition is for gaining maximum credit for their developmental activities. In such situations, panchayats seek involvement in the day-to-day activities of the participatory institutions, especially when the leaders of the panchayats and these bodies belong to different parties. The purpose is to check whether the benefits favor the party followers. Our broad finding, based on the information from across a range of cases is that this takes place more often in the villages where a shift in power has taken place. In some cases there is a nexus between PR bodies and participatory institutions irrespective of the control over positions by different groups. There are many variations on this theme, but it takes two main forms. One is the division of spoils (contracts) between the groups i.e., works were shared in 50:50 ratios between the two groups. This type of arrangement tends to occur more frequently in ‘reserved’ (for social groups or women) PR constituencies. Allocation of posts between groups depends on their relative (bargaining) power and information. Another form of nexus or compromise is the sharing of positions in PR and parallel institutions between two groups. Sharing of spoils and compromise between groups is possible when the groups are equally strong. In the absence of a strong opposition the more powerful group takes over, especially when their party is in power at higher levels of the political system.

The lines between inter-group conflicts based on economic divisions and those based on political differences are blurred. This is due to a significant trend: the tendency either for politicians to turn into contractors or for contractors to turn into politicians. This, in turn, is mainly the result of the financial incentives in programs like watershed development and water user associations. Not only are the financial flows to these programs much higher than the funds available to PRIs, but the institutional arrangements have also facilitated the access of the village people to funds. While this is a good indicator of decentralization, its misuse appears to be more widespread in the absence of transparency and accountability. As a result, even the powerful and dominant groups at the village level prefer positions in participatory institutions to positions in PRIs. This narrowing of the gulf between money and politics at the village level is a reflection of the trend at higher levels of the political system. In effect, the means by which the programs have been permitted to operate have assisted the percolation of money politics down to the base of the political pyramid.

The most common scenario is that of passive observation. Key reasons for the situation of passive observation include non-existence of competing economic interests (contractors) and political equations at the village level. Passivity can also be viewed in terms of indifference. People are indifferent to the program due to the non-participatory approach in this generally docile community. In many cases, the office bearers of participatory institutions are nominated and composed of all the castes. Villagers generally attend the meeting only once, i.e., at the time of formation of committees. Though officials often visit the villages, no meetings are conducted. There is no participation in taking up or prioritizing the issues. Members of PR bodies often feel that these parallel institutions are created to deliver specific programs and hence are temporary. Consequently they feel that there is no need to interfere or create conflict in the working of these institutions. At the same time the associations of PRIs demand that these programs should be brought under their purview. In the case of participatory institutions, only water user associations were formed as a federation and due to the demand for total de-linking from the PRIs.

Institutional and Functional Linkages

The Standing Committees at the Mandal level can perform the role of monitoring and arbitration. Monitoring can not only be regulatory but also be an incentive, encouraging the CBOs to perform better by arranging for monetary incentives. The Committees at the MP (Mandal Parishad) arbitrate when there is a dispute between different GPs due to overlapping of functions and jurisdiction (watershed area). The functional Committee of the GP should be involved in planning and implementation for those activities at the MP that also involve implementation. Funds may be released in the manner already described for GP.

APPR Act, 1994, provides for six functional standing committees at the gram panchayat (GP) level. The self-help groups, numbering seven to ten, operating at the village level also represent more or less the same or similar types of activities. The gram sabhas shall co-opt one or more representatives of the SHGs into the respective standing committees of the gram panchayat. For instance, members of the village education committee will be co-opted as members of the standing committee on education at the gram panchayat level. In a mandal, the mandal panchayat will co-opt in an open meeting of the mandal panchayat samiti, a member/members from amongst the co-opted members on the standing committees on education in all the gram panchayats, to the standing committee on education of the mandal panchayat. The Zilla Parishad in turn will co-opt, in an open meeting, from amongst the co-opted members of standing committees on education of all the mandal panchayats in the district. The mechanism for selecting members in the other standing committees from the SHGs will be similar, starting from the gram panchayat level to the Zilla Parishad level.

The success of the benefits flowing from attaining the symbiosis between SHGs and PRIs will depend to a large extent on three things: i) Strengthening of the PR institutions themselves, ii) bringing convergence of development programs and institutions being implemented in the state by different agencies and line departments and iii) building the capacity of the Self-Help groups (Report of the Task Force 2002).

Here we propose a model that rationalizes the existing functions in the light of the prevailing situation at the ground level. The functions/items enshrined in the 11th Schedule of the Constitution can be broadly divided into three major areas/activities namely, Core/Basic Functions, Welfare Functions and National Resource Management (NRM) Functions. Here our approach is ‘bottom-up’, as most of these activities are currently being carried out at the village level mainly by CBOs (in AP). Besides, we assume that, given the capacity of PRIs, their involvement in activities would be different from one function to another. This not only addresses the issue of over-burdening PRIs but also negates the arguments regarding lack of capacity of PRIs.

The core/basic functions such as drinking water supply, health and sanitation including primary health centres and dispensaries, education including primary and secondary schools, roads, bridges and other amenities, etc, are the functions delegated to PRIs since their inception. The CBOs handling such activities such as Education Committees and Health Committees which are going to be integrated into the standing committees of PRIs are late entries in this area of operation. In this scenario PRIs, given their long experience in handling these schemes, would be the dominant bodies in terms of planning, implementation and monitoring of these functions (strong linkage). Members of the CBOs representing Standing Committees will act as pressure groups for efficient implementation and equitable distribution of the benefits.

The second area of discharging welfare functions such as poverty alleviation programs, women and child development, social welfare of weaker sections such as SC/ST and physically challenged persons and other functions (rural housing and managing Public Distribution System) require that PRIs take a greater responsibility, of course working in tandem with CBOs looking after some of these functions (moderate linkage). Mention may be made of DPIP (Velugu) SHGs, Mothers Committees and Disabled Groups etc. In this scenario, an interface between PRIs and CBOs is desirable.

In the third area, Natural Resource Management (NRM) activities such as water, watersheds, forests, agriculture, etc, the interface of PRIs with CBOs is expected to be weak, which means that CBOs which manage water resource such as Watershed Committees (WCs), Water Users Associations (WUAs) and Forest resources (VSS/ FPCS) need to be given a larger role as they are found to be very effective in managing such resources. Most of the functions require technical skills and deep knowledge of the management of the resource. These CBOs formed around such resources are found to have high stakes and PRIs which are governance institutions are found wanting in handling such resources and their capacities inadequate. At the most, PRIs can be monitoring institutions and the CBOs can be made accountable to the constitutionally elected bodies. In NRM activities low interface is envisaged between PRIs and CBOs. In NRM, PRIs can function mainly as watchdogs. The picture which is visualized at village level may be replicated at mandal and district levels30. Thus the bottom-up approach of the planning process synergizing PRIs and CBOs is complete.

Urban Governance and Sustainable Development

The government of Andhra Pradesh has introduced various initiatives in order to improve overall governance in a number of fields. During the last decade fourteen such initiatives were put in place. These include: Best practices in school education, Neeru- meeru, Power and Public Sector Reforms, Property Tax Reforms, Services Outsourcing, Single Window System (SWS), e-Governance Initiatives (e-Seva, e-Procurement, Online performance tracking), Citizen Charters, Rythu Bazars, e-Panchayats, etc. Some of the initiatives (including e-seva centers, Rythu bazars, e-procurement and electricity reforms) have gained instant popularity and appreciation. The success of e-seva centres is reflected in their adoption across the country. The Rythu bazar is rated as one of ten best practices in the country (UNDP, 2002) and they are immensely popular among all sections of the population31. The performance of AP electricity department has been rated as the best in country for two years in a row after the reforms. Similarly, the continuation of e-procurement approach by the present government is an indication of its effectiveness.

The few systematic studies undertaken to assess the impact of the initiatives32 on service delivery have pointed out the merits and shortcomings of the initiatives. A study of the three customer focused service delivery reforms that were undertaken by the Metro Water Board (Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board) in the late 1990s, namely Metro Customer Care (MCC), The Single Window Cell (SWC) and Metro Water’s Citizen Charter show clearly that, prior to reforms in the 90s, active and strong accountability relationships between elite politicians, professional networks and senior managers were insufficient to sustain organizational changes at the section level and achieve measurable improvements in service delivery performance. Post-reform analysis shows that sustained improvements in service delivery were contingent upon the establishment of multiple formal accountability mechanisms that enabled strong accountability relationships to operate between external actors and Metro Water staff (senior managers and frontline workers). The most critical of these relationships, which deepened organizational change and sustained service delivery performance over the long term, were those that triangulated between citizens, front-line workers, and senior mangers. This accountability dynamic has been the key to Metro Water’s overall success, which encompasses measurable improvements in service delivery, as well as strengthened viability as a semi-autonomous, financially independent organization (Caseley, 2003).

A study on smart governance with reference to Andhra Pradesh reflected upon the various strengths and weaknesses of the policies anchored for a decade, from 1994 to 2004. Numerous factors, from party cadre (of the political party in power), influence of regional authorities, priorities of groups. etc., have cornered the direction of implementation and it has been pointed out that it was wedded with contradictions at various levels that led to corruption, favoritism, influence of party cadre etc. This, in turn, damaged the image of the government despite its commitment to good governance and modern management (Mooij, 2003).

Decentralized Governance and Sustainable Development: Conclusions and Way Forward

Andhra Pradesh has spearheaded a new approach of creating a number of parallel institutions for service delivery at the local level, for decentralized governance. In the process it has earned the dubious distinction of bypassing or sidelining the constitutional bodies like PRIs in rural areas. Though this approach, in a larger framework, reflects the ‘politics of development’, it need not be brushed aside as a purely politically manipulated tool. The assessment of initiatives revealed that the parallel institutions have, in fact, performed some of the services well. They were instrumental in keeping the developmental programs continuing at the local level, rather than becoming passive observers of administrative methods. Line departments take charge of implementing developmental programmes in most states where the devolution of powers to PRIs has not taken place. Similarly, the good governance initiatives, especially in the urban areas, have helped in curtailing red tape and rent seeking in some cases. Though the attempt to eliminate intermediaries has brought the citizens in contact with the line departments, some of these initiatives suffer from improper implementation rather than improper design.

The impact of these parallel initiatives on livelihoods is limited. While the impact is clear in the case of institutions that deal with natural resource management (NRM) like water, watersheds and forests, it is less clear in other areas. The reason could be that NRM initiatives are oriented towards resource development through pumping of substantial financial resources. The others are more focused on capacity building or human capital development. The sustainability of positive impacts through initiatives in NRM is questioned, as they have not addressed or improved social capital33 at the community level. On the other hand, the parallel institutions have helped to create awareness among communities on a large scale so that the communities have gained clarity on their rights and the role of officials.

Though they have not gained immediate tangible benefits, the new awareness would have converted into empowerment that in turn could have resolved the delivery dilemmas in the long run. The intangible gains through participation could be converted into tangible human development like improved literacy, health, etc., provided these initiatives are sustained and are inclusive of the poorest of the poor and other vulnerable groups. Awareness and empowerment is clearly visible, especially among women, at the village level in recent years. More women are contesting in elections over and above their prescribed quota of 33 percent. In the recently held elections to urban bodies (municipalities and corporations), women members won nearly forty percent of the posts, seven percent more than the quota.

While the impact of parallel institutions on human development is unequivocal, the impact is very limited. The main reason is that ‘elite capture’ is widespread among these parallel institutions (See Reddy and Prakash, 2003; Reddy and Jenkins, 2004; Reddy and Reddy, 2005; Reddy, et. al., 2005). In fact, it is argued that parallel institutions are used to accommodate the elite who lost their positions in PRIs due to reservations (Reddy and Jenkins, 2004). This is more so in the case of NRM institutions, which have greater allocation of funds. Even in the case of self-help groups which are mainly meant for the poor, the coverage of the poor is only 56 percent (Reddy and Prakash, 2003).

One way of dealing with this is to integrate these institutions with the PRIs. Given their constitutional standing and reservation, PRIs are likely to ensure greater involvement of the poor in these institutions. Besides, bringing the CBOs under the PRI umbrella ensures accountability as the PRI act as a monitoring agency/watch dog. The model suggested in this paper advocates three levels of linkages between PRIs and the parallel institutions. At present PRIs lack the skills and capacities to implement the NRM initiatives, where PRIs can act as a monitoring agent. On the other hand, PRI should be handed the full responsibility (implementing, monitoring, etc.) of core functions like drinking water, education, health, etc. In welfare activities they should be given the intermediary responsibilities with partial involvement in implementation. Such a division of responsibilities between PRIs and CBOs, while avoiding the overburdening of PRIs, would ensure proper accountability and monitoring of the CBOs.


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End Notes

1 The perceived benefits of decentralization range from stimulation of economic growth, alleviation of rural poverty, strengthening civil society and reducing the responsibilities of the centre (Manor, 1999) for, political accountability is often greater at the local level (Seabright, 1996). While decentralized systems are found to be superior in terms of intra-regional targeting efficiency, their delivery systems target better in low poverty regions and worse in high poverty regions (Bardhan and Mookherjee, 2000).

2 See Balakrishnan and Sadashiva (2004).

3 The approach of direct democracy has been adopted in Madhya Pradesh by making the Grama Sabha central to planning and implementation (Manor, 2001a).

4 These institutions have gone through three different phases - of ascendancy (1956-1966), stagnation (1966-1976) and decadence (1976 till early 1990s). A few states like West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh tried to revive these institutions during the 1980s.

5 The centre is now contemplating further amendment to the Constitution making devolution mandatory, as the states are not yielding to pressure. The progress of Activity Mapping was reviewed in detail in the second meeting of the Committee of Chief Secretaries of States, held in June 2005 and the first meeting of the Council of State Ministers of Panchayati Raj, held in Kochi on 5-6 August 2005, where it was resolved that Activity Mapping ought to be completed within a specified time frame.

6 This is a misconceived notion, as the PRIs were never given a chance in terms of rights and responsibilities. Financial devolution has hardly taken place in most states. This amounts to devolution of responsibilities without any adequate finances.

7 While decentralization in AP strengthened the participatory institutions, MP emphasized the strengthening of democratic institutions and the Grama Sabha.

8 As per the reservation policy, seats in PR bodies and their president posts are reserved on the following quota system. Scheduled castes: 15 percent; Scheduled Tribes: 7.5 percent; Backward castes: 33 percent and Women: 33 percent. The remaining 11.5 percent of seats are left for other caste (forward castes) males. Within the category of women the same reservation policy is followed i.e., 55.5 percent of the 33 percent are reserved for SCs, STs and BCs. This leaves less than 30 percent of the seats (including women) for the forward (elite) classes.

9 According to the Panchayati Raj Act, the ZP will have seven standing committees, which have since been formed. The chairman of ZP will be the chairman of four committees, the vice- chairman of ZP of one committee and two women members of two committees. In the present mandal system there is no provision for formation of standing committees whereas under earlier Panchayati Samitis (PS) there was provision for 7 standing committees. The Act, at the gram panchayat level, provides for the constitution of ‘beneficiary committees’ for the execution of works of the GP and ‘functional committees’ for agriculture, public health, water supply, sanitation, family planning, education and communication. However, in practice there is no evidence of such committees having been formed by the GPs. (Reddy, 2003).

10 While there could be functional committees under the PRIs in the villages this is hardly ever followed in the absence of proper devolution of powers.

11 Officials visit these groups and discuss issues, when members can voice their views. Group leaders (presidents) as well as members get opportunities to travel outside their village in order to meet officials, attend training programmes, demonstration sites, etc.

12 Canal systems in all the locations have experienced increased productivity of paddy, while tank WUAs have experienced negative growth. Within the canal systems the rate of change is higher in the middle reaches followed by head and tail reaches. Middle reaches appear to have benefited most in quantitative and qualitative terms.

13 Each household living in the hamlets / villages / cluster of villages, and depending on the forest for its daily needs, has an option of a membership in VSS. All SC / ST become members in VSS automatically. Of the two adult members from each household one must be a woman. All the members of VSS shall elect a 15 member Managing Committee of which at least 5 members shall be women.

14 Members of VSS, individually and collectively, shall be responsible for: a) ensuring protection of forest against encroachment, grazing, fires and thefts of forest produce, b) carrying out development of forests in accordance with the approved plan, c) awareness building regarding the importance of forests. Members of VSS shall have the power to apprehend forest offenders and hand them over to the authorities concerned to take action under the provisions of the relevant forest acts and rules. Members are entitled to 25 percent of the “Compounding fees” collected from such offenders.

15 All the identified forest fringe villages have been covered under JFM stream. The funds from various sources like World Bank aided Andhra Pradesh Forestry Project, Employment Assurance Scheme and other schemes including Centrally Sponsored Schemes are being utilized for implementation of JFM.

16 In the nine sample villages of the three districts (Adilabad, Vizianagaram and Kadapa).

17 Women are found more pro-active in their interactions with FD officials.

18 The entire movement is based on the principles of diligence, self-help, cooperation and a sense of patriotism. This program emphasizes the promotion of sound morals, self- sacrifice and the establishment of firm social order through healthy discipline. There was a total target of 53,296 CMEY units to be grounded during the period 1996-2003 as proposed under the program. But till date only 38615 CMEY units were set up.

19 The eligibility criterion is that the family income of the youth association members shall not exceed Rs.11, 000 per annum.

20 This amount shall be taken into consideration only if it is rotated by Youth Association members among themselves.

21 with the following pattern: Revolving fund - 100 times the COMMET or Rs.1.00 lakh, whichever is less; Government of A.P. Grant - Margin Money - 50 times the COMMET or Rs.0.50 lakh.

22 The Committee is formed in a meeting with representatives of local NGOs, all the members

 of DWCRA, other Self Help Groups, elected women member of Panchayat, Sarpanch and Upa Sarpanch of the village. The Committee will have eight members of whom one will be elected as President of the group.

23 The study was carried out in four mandals selected across the three main agro-climate regions of Andhra Pradesh on the basis of a) community poverty status and human development indicators; and b) caste composition. The four selected mandals were Amrabad (Mahabubnagar district in south Telagana); Kataram (Karimnagar district in north Telagana); Atlur mandal (Kadapa district in Rayalaseema) and Seethampet (Srikakulam district in Coastal Andhra).

24 Where there is no Headmaster, the most senior teacher shall be the Convener. Of the four parents, there shall be at least two women and one person elected from among SC, ST, BC or minorities. The Chairman of the Committee is elected from the parent members. The Committee Members are elected by public voting, and they elect the Chairman of the committee. The headmaster will act as the Coordinator of the Committee. Elections are held once in two years.

25 Village Education Committees are formed to facilitate and ensure participation and involvement of local community in the educational process at village level.

26 The recent amendment to the Andhra Pradesh Education (Community Participation) Rules 1998 brought out an ordinance (No. 9 dated 2-11-2006) that revived the once abandoned village education committees (VECs). As per the latest amendment, School Education Committees will be renamed as School Education Management Committees (SEMCs). Earlier, elections were held to the executive committees (ECs) and now the members are to be nominated by the minister-in-charge. Another feature of the new amendment is that nomination of the members to the ECs is by the minister in rural areas and by the Municipal Commissioner in urban areas.

27 This section draws from Galab and Rao, 2004.

28 The SHG is the primary unit and the building block of the SHG Federation model. The SHGs, 15-25 in number, are federated at the village/cluster level as a Village Organization (VO). These VOs are then federated at the mandal level as a Mandal Samakhya (MS). Almost all the groups across the State began monthly individual savings of Rs. 30 with each DWCRA group consisting of 15 women. In AP, a three-tier structure is emerging as the SHG Federation model.

29 The study covered a sample of 2641 households spread across 256 main villages and 306 habitations both in project and control villages in three districts of A P. namely Srikakulam,  Adilabad and Anantapur. Women’s empowerment is measured in terms of their bargaining power within the household and their participation at community level decision-making.

30 At district level apex agencies such as District Water Management Agencies (DWMA) looking after watersheds and District Rural Development Agencies (DRDA), District Forest Agency and Drinking Water and Sanitation bodies (looking after Swajaladhara Program that is in the offing) need to be synergized with varying degrees of responsibilities with Zilla Parishads.

31 This is reflected in overcrowded bazars in most places and throughout the day. In fact, people complain about the paucity of parking space during peak hours.

32 The salient features of these major initiatives and some account of their performance are available from official accounts.

33 Here social capital is defined in terms of the involvement of the community in the important activities and functions of the programs. Devolution of powers, which would empower the communities and make them autonomous and self-sufficient, has not taken place.