There has been a History of Democratic Decentralisation in India – Indus Valley Period, Mauryan Kingdom (Patliputra), Arthashastra. “The democratisation and empowerment of local political bodies will create institutions that are more accountable to local citizens and more appropriate to local needs and preferences” (Decentralisation in India: Poverty, Politics and Panchayati Raj – Craig Johnson).
The Basic premise is that people know what is best for them and are more aware of their surroundings and conditions are predisposed to come up with a better solutions and better model for their own governance. One of the famous policy which was adopted earlier included LPG Policy but in case of decentralization this model of governance would empower them to have a bigger voice in decisions and policies that affect them. They can be modified to give:
- When People themselves control their Development Planning process, it is better for them and their environment.
- People can tolerate or accept a problem with their Development Planning much more readily if it was a result of their own action or choice as opposed to that of another(here a central govt. agency or a private entity).
It would not only be more acceptable for people themselves but would be a reduced burden on the government itself, especially in a country the scale of India where a Centralised approach would be unable to reach out to each and every settlement (Village, Town, etc.). A centralized approach would almost always fail to comprehend and capture the sheer diversity and inequalities that exists in our country. A Babu in an Air-conditioned office in a city cannot be expected to fully appreciate the disposition of a Farmer or an artisan in a village. It may also act as a shield towards the on-going trend of Globalization where the little man now can have a voice, which would have otherwise be lost as centrally directed decisions would fail to take into account effects on livelihood and other choices in lifestyle of the local people.
Main Challenges – Regional inequalities, It is still Dependent upon state and national mechanisms – bias towards certain areas/sections of people or society/party, Difficult in areas with unrest, the process itself is long drawn, can create more conflicts than solutions, Marginalisation of certain Sections of people within the lowest of the communities. The main concerns in implementation of this idea of decentralization as per UNDP are – Inclusiveness, Accountability & Effectiveness
Despite these challenges, the signs have been promising as an effective model for governance and development planning. Since the 73rd and 74th Amendments in the Constitution, there have been numerous examples of Panchayats and Municipal Bodies setting an excellent example for this model in diverse areas of development like Health and Hygiene, Saving the Environment, Water Management, Agriculture, Livelihood generation, etc. Examples can also be taken from abroad – Sanitation models from Karachi slums, Morocco, Tajikistan, etc.
Whatever the case may be, undoubtedly for any policy and scheme to be successful in present scenario the need of data cannot be undermined. Collecting and processing data is vital and governments of all countries all over the world spending huge amount on conducting surveys to collect data. This data once collected needs to be processed and yield any useful information. This requires processing and the data needs to be fed in information processing cycle to be of any use. Raw data itself cannot be used unless it is processed. This has also given a rise for data management and analysis. Companies all over the world are investing in data analytics so as to take a better decision.