India to help Afghanistan set up local government agencies

May 19th, 2008 - 10:58 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Mani Shankar Aiyar

Kabul, May 19 (IANS) India has pledged to help Afghanistan set up local government institutions by deputing Indian experts here as well as by attaching Afghan local representatives with Indian local governance bodies. This was decided during Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar’s four-day visit beginning Saturday.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on the first day of the visit, envisaging the setting up of an India-Afghanistan Joint Working Group (JWG) on Local Governance.

The JWG will include officials from the Panchayati Raj ministry and the National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad, as well as the Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development and Independent Directorate of Local Governance.

It will recommend a schedule of activities for bilateral exchanges to the Joint Forum on Local Governance.

Aiyar met Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) director general Jelani Popal Sunday and discussed synergies between the Panchayati Raj, the local governance system in India, and the proposed sub-national governance structures and processes in Afghanistan.

The Indian embassy here said in a statement that they discussed support to Afghanistan by way of deputation of Indian policy and legal experts for formulating sub-national policy and legislation.

“It was agreed that a select number of sub-national representatives will be suitably placed with Panchayati Raj bodies in various parts of India for gaining first-hand knowledge of the working of the local self-governance system,” it said.

Aiyar Monday participated in a brain-storming symposium on sub-national governance under the aegis of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“During the session, the decentralization experiences of the two countries were shared, common sub-national governance issues identified as well as ways determined in which the Indian experience could complement the emerging sub-national structures in Afghanistan,” said the statement.

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