The 73rd Amendment paved the way for a fundamental change in the way public goods are delivered in rural areas in India. Through the structure of the Panchayati Raj, local councils directly elected by the people are responsible for making decisions on an array of public good decisions. Twice a year, the councils must also convene village meetings (Gram Sabhas), where the villagers must approve their plan and their budget. Eventually, the Gram Panchayats are supposed to be given control over an even broader array of social services, including basic education and primary health care. The hope is that decentralization, by bringing decision-making closer to the people, may improve both the quality of social services delivery in India, which is in many ways disastrous (e.g., Probe Team (1999)), and its adequacy to meet people’s needs.
November 01, 2003