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01-16-2021     3 رجب 1440

Capacitating DDC’s for Integration in to Panchayati Raj System in JK

January 11, 2021 | Dr. Rafi Ahmad/ Dr. Rajan Kotru

The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 and the subsequent change in its rules in 1996, came to its logical conclusion of implementing country’s 73rd Amendment Act as the District Development Council (DDC) representatives were chosen with fervent participation of people across our union territory. With this step a new chapter has been added to improve and integrate Panchayat Raj System (PRI) as a well-knit governance unit that now needs to make efficient and effective use of empowerment pillars around which development and social justice tasks can be made operational. In a nutshell, it is the combination of funds, functions and functionaries, if devolved to three-tier system of local governance that real grassroot or bottom-up process of planning can be actually implemented. Further, if DDCs and other tiers of the system are made accountable at their specifically carved out level of decision-making. However, as we have seen from other states of India or even in our neighbouring countries, there has been a slow process of empowering people to make, implement and monitor their decisions and plans. The above amendment listed the functions that could be transferred, and left it to the state legislatures to actually devolve functions. Only few states thus far have achieved marked progress in devolution of authority and functions (e.g., higher devolution index in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra) as per an assessment by Panchayati Raj Ministry. It is understood that PRIs cannot govern unless they are practicing the authority given to them and actually perform devolved functions until sufficient funds to implement what they have planned are available. However, the second important aspect to their effective functionality is whether the representatives are fully aware and capacitated to fit the “Big Shoes of Self-Governance” entrusted to them. This involves also the support system to PRIs, for operationalising constitutional mechanisms and introducing systems of transparency and accountability. On the other hand, it has been observed in all other forms of self-governance i.e., whether in India, Nepal or Bhutan, that the mainstream system of governance and implementation of development-paradigms tend to dominantly remain with the government departments and this will not change so soon. This was the reason that even two decades back when this disparity was noticed that many states went for so-called “Activity Mapping” to ensure that selective list of functions are given to PRIs so that process evolves rather than is forced and failures thrusted on grassroot elected institutions such as the DDC. 

In this context, DDCs in J&K are supposed to supervise, implement, sponsor and prepare for five main fields such as welfare, health, education, finance, public works and development intended to ensure the community development of a representing district. It further envisages that this system shall replace the District Planning and Development Boards in all districts and will also prepare and approve district plans and capital expenditure. Interaction with several tiers of PRI representatives (e.g., DDC Members, Sarpanches and Block Chairmen) reveals that apprehension of these already elected institutions on their future role is justified as it is maintained that DDC will supervise the activities of Gram Panchayats, Block Development Council and Panchayat Samiti in its own jurisdiction at district-level. Since DDCs are just elected, it is inevitable to clarify chosen representatives that self-governance is not about opening new power struggle within PRI system but be part of the integrated systems that should not rely only on plan approval or fitting the development agenda at the top without people’s priorities taken on board. On the other hand, government departments must act as facilitators and mentors rather than road-blocks for devolution.
What is suggested to integrate DDC in the existing PRI system is that we should first reduce the number of functions -Initially it can be Education and Health as services sectors- and gradually in few years we should keep on adding other functions as experience and confidence evolves. It is now widely accepted that local plans have to be initiated at Gram Panchayat level and then taken upwards and convergence achieved to find commonalities amongst several plans to get a district level priorities-list. Though we know that planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal as well (Unknown). But as Edward Graeme marks, it's not the plan that is important but it's the planning process, that needs to be holistic and inclusive.
Hence DDCs will need to perform as a “Trestle” that bridges the expectations and need-based priorities of grassroot communities with that of government departments that still have public schemes, projects, funds and physical targets to achieve. This keeps in view that development issues just outside few Kilometers from our main cities is sometimes not even basic (e.g. dismal situation of Power supply, tap water etc.). Finding a consensus in a complex community set-up and what we are investing in is always difficult but can be assisted externally by engaging key institutions (State institution for Rural Development, Selected NGOs, Key Resource Persons etc.) which for instance can build capacity of DDC representatives on “consensus oriented” planning outcomes. Otherwise, it will not be easy as aptitude and attitudes of elected DDC representatives in a real-world scenario will not match. Thirdly, it is recommended that while we ensure that the funds, functions and functionaries empowerment is done gradually, on the anvil we need to fix DDC’s responsibility along with district authorities to achieve Sustainable development Goals/Targets set for the Union Territory. J&K is at the bottom list of states/union territories having dismal record in achieving these targets. Therefore, it is important that DDCs are assigned these tasks and good practices of self-governance and target achievement on SDGs are incentivized to create competition among them.
Lastly, it has to be kept in view that the long-term solution to foster genuine fiscal federalism where PRIs raise a large portion of their own revenue takes time and ongoing “Mentoring and Handholding” will be necessary. A comprehensive exposure trip of DDC members therefore to highly evolved PRI Models in the country at the earnest or in next few months will benefit their 5-Year tenure and sustain the momentum created by free and fair elections just held.


Email:---rajan@rest4all.com/ rafi00129@gmail.com

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Capacitating DDC’s for Integration in to Panchayati Raj System in JK

January 11, 2021 | Dr. Rafi Ahmad/ Dr. Rajan Kotru

The Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 and the subsequent change in its rules in 1996, came to its logical conclusion of implementing country’s 73rd Amendment Act as the District Development Council (DDC) representatives were chosen with fervent participation of people across our union territory. With this step a new chapter has been added to improve and integrate Panchayat Raj System (PRI) as a well-knit governance unit that now needs to make efficient and effective use of empowerment pillars around which development and social justice tasks can be made operational. In a nutshell, it is the combination of funds, functions and functionaries, if devolved to three-tier system of local governance that real grassroot or bottom-up process of planning can be actually implemented. Further, if DDCs and other tiers of the system are made accountable at their specifically carved out level of decision-making. However, as we have seen from other states of India or even in our neighbouring countries, there has been a slow process of empowering people to make, implement and monitor their decisions and plans. The above amendment listed the functions that could be transferred, and left it to the state legislatures to actually devolve functions. Only few states thus far have achieved marked progress in devolution of authority and functions (e.g., higher devolution index in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra) as per an assessment by Panchayati Raj Ministry. It is understood that PRIs cannot govern unless they are practicing the authority given to them and actually perform devolved functions until sufficient funds to implement what they have planned are available. However, the second important aspect to their effective functionality is whether the representatives are fully aware and capacitated to fit the “Big Shoes of Self-Governance” entrusted to them. This involves also the support system to PRIs, for operationalising constitutional mechanisms and introducing systems of transparency and accountability. On the other hand, it has been observed in all other forms of self-governance i.e., whether in India, Nepal or Bhutan, that the mainstream system of governance and implementation of development-paradigms tend to dominantly remain with the government departments and this will not change so soon. This was the reason that even two decades back when this disparity was noticed that many states went for so-called “Activity Mapping” to ensure that selective list of functions are given to PRIs so that process evolves rather than is forced and failures thrusted on grassroot elected institutions such as the DDC. 

In this context, DDCs in J&K are supposed to supervise, implement, sponsor and prepare for five main fields such as welfare, health, education, finance, public works and development intended to ensure the community development of a representing district. It further envisages that this system shall replace the District Planning and Development Boards in all districts and will also prepare and approve district plans and capital expenditure. Interaction with several tiers of PRI representatives (e.g., DDC Members, Sarpanches and Block Chairmen) reveals that apprehension of these already elected institutions on their future role is justified as it is maintained that DDC will supervise the activities of Gram Panchayats, Block Development Council and Panchayat Samiti in its own jurisdiction at district-level. Since DDCs are just elected, it is inevitable to clarify chosen representatives that self-governance is not about opening new power struggle within PRI system but be part of the integrated systems that should not rely only on plan approval or fitting the development agenda at the top without people’s priorities taken on board. On the other hand, government departments must act as facilitators and mentors rather than road-blocks for devolution.
What is suggested to integrate DDC in the existing PRI system is that we should first reduce the number of functions -Initially it can be Education and Health as services sectors- and gradually in few years we should keep on adding other functions as experience and confidence evolves. It is now widely accepted that local plans have to be initiated at Gram Panchayat level and then taken upwards and convergence achieved to find commonalities amongst several plans to get a district level priorities-list. Though we know that planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal as well (Unknown). But as Edward Graeme marks, it's not the plan that is important but it's the planning process, that needs to be holistic and inclusive.
Hence DDCs will need to perform as a “Trestle” that bridges the expectations and need-based priorities of grassroot communities with that of government departments that still have public schemes, projects, funds and physical targets to achieve. This keeps in view that development issues just outside few Kilometers from our main cities is sometimes not even basic (e.g. dismal situation of Power supply, tap water etc.). Finding a consensus in a complex community set-up and what we are investing in is always difficult but can be assisted externally by engaging key institutions (State institution for Rural Development, Selected NGOs, Key Resource Persons etc.) which for instance can build capacity of DDC representatives on “consensus oriented” planning outcomes. Otherwise, it will not be easy as aptitude and attitudes of elected DDC representatives in a real-world scenario will not match. Thirdly, it is recommended that while we ensure that the funds, functions and functionaries empowerment is done gradually, on the anvil we need to fix DDC’s responsibility along with district authorities to achieve Sustainable development Goals/Targets set for the Union Territory. J&K is at the bottom list of states/union territories having dismal record in achieving these targets. Therefore, it is important that DDCs are assigned these tasks and good practices of self-governance and target achievement on SDGs are incentivized to create competition among them.
Lastly, it has to be kept in view that the long-term solution to foster genuine fiscal federalism where PRIs raise a large portion of their own revenue takes time and ongoing “Mentoring and Handholding” will be necessary. A comprehensive exposure trip of DDC members therefore to highly evolved PRI Models in the country at the earnest or in next few months will benefit their 5-Year tenure and sustain the momentum created by free and fair elections just held.


Email:---rajan@rest4all.com/ rafi00129@gmail.com


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Owner, Printer, Publisher, Editor: Farooq Ahmad Wani
Legal Advisor: M.J. Hubi
Printed at: Abid Enterprizes, Zainkote Srinagar
Published from: Gulshanabad Chraresharief Budgam
RNI No.: JKENG/2010/33802
Office No’s: 0194-2451076, 9622924716 , 9419400056
Postal Regd No: SK/135/2010-2019
Administrative Office: Abi Guzer Srinagar

© Copyright 2018 brighterkashmir.com All Rights Reserved.