India’s power devolution greatest experiment in democracy: Ansari

April 8th, 2008 - 2:41 pm ICT by admin  

By Vishnu Makhijani
Astana, April 8 (IANS) India’s move to devolve power down to the village level is the “greatest experiment” ever undertaken in a democracy anywhere in the world, visiting Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari said at the Kazakhstan capital here Tuesday. The Panchayati Raj, or village councils system, introduced in the 1980s “is the greatest experiment in democracy ever undertaken anywhere in the world or at any time in history”, he said while addressing the Academy of Public Administration here.

“Our structure of local self-governance has over 240,000 grassroots institutions with 3.6 million elected persons to village and city level councils, a million of whom are women, constituting some 37 percent of all those elected,” Ansari pointed out.

He recalled that the devolution move had begun at a time when India’s growth rates had fallen and state intervention in economic and political administration “was less than effective”.

“It was also a period when the efficacy of political and economic checks and balances was gradually eroded,” Ansari added.

Today, “for the first time in our history, the Indian economy has grown close to 9 percent per annum for four years in a row”, while public administration and public policy “have been focussed on making the growth process socially inclusive and regionally balanced”, the vice president pointed out.

Ansari is on a six-day official visit to two oil-rich Central Asian republics as part of India’s efforts to ensure its energy security. He is here on the second leg of the tour, during which the two countries announced here Monday that they would boost their cooperation in the field of energy.

Last Saturday, during Ansari’s visit to Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat, the two countries had signed a landmark memorandum of understanding to engage in the energy sector.

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