Village Forums or Development Councils: People’s participation in decision-making in rural West Bengal, India
The GUSs are supposed to bring in more participation at the grassroots level. In this paper, we study the formal policies regarding decentralisation and people’s participation in West Bengal, and analyse the dynamics of political processes regarding decision-making at operational level after the introduction of GUS. We have analysed audio recordings of meetings of the Gram Sabhas and the dynamics of the newly formed GUSs to uncover the actual rate of people’s participation, actual meeting procedures and reasons behind people’s reluctance to participate. We argue that solutions lie in having a strong third-tier in order to address issues of lack of transparency and accountability in decision-making, and make recommendations as to how that might be achieved.
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