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Submitted by Vijayendra Rao on
Thanks for the post Darshana! I think it would be incorrect to assume that Gram Sabhas in India do not have problems. They are often appropriated by elites, sabotaged by politically powerful people, suffer from low attendance, etc. However, because they are mandated by the Indian constitution they are not going anywhere, and have become regular bi-annual or quarterly events (depending on the state). Consequently, with time, they are evolving into effective fora and providing citizens with voice and agency. So, I think, one of the main lessons from this is to not implement these spaces as ad hoc events (tied to the 3 year cycle of a World Bank project for instances), but as part of the political and administrative structure. If this is done, they can - with time and attention- become powerful agents for change. I believe that countries around the world - both rich and poor - can learn from the Indian gram sabha experience as an important method of deepening democracy.