The Kerala model of development is well acknowledged all over the world. It has followed this tradition in the case of decentralization as well. Kerala experiment of decentralization has passed through more than one and half decade of experiments. Dr.Rajesh.K, Associate Fellow, social science division IRTC has published a new book on LOCAL PLANNING AND DEMOCRACY lessons from Kerala. This book is a window to the academicians and activists working in the area of decentralization to get a deeper understanding about Kerala's decentralization experiments. Dr. Rajesh`s efforts have enabled This book to fill the gap of a comprehensive academic work which examines the different dimensions of decentralized planning in an analytical perspective.
This book offers an introduction to the field of democratic decentralisation with specific reference to the experiments of Kerala. This could be helpful in providing an in-depth understanding to the readers about Kerala’s decentralisation experiments over the past one and half decade. Kerala being a forerunner in the area of democratic decentralisation, learning from the state would be a guiding path to the rest of the country as well.
Notwithstanding the other progressive experiments, Kerala has only a short history in the case of grass roots planning. Even though the different governments in the state, since the first democratically elected government came to power in 1957, have attempted to introduce the concept of decentralised administration and planning. Such movements could not gain momentum and continuously till 1996. Kerala Panchayath Raj act 1994 followed by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments has provided a conditional support for the movement in favour of decentralised planning. Kerala experiment proved that constitutional legitimacy was not a sufficient condition for a movement to strengthen the grassroots democracy. There were serious attempts in Kerala till 1996 when the people’s campaign for democratic decentralisation had launched as a political programme of the state.
Launching of people`s planning campaign in 1996 can be considered as a milestone in the history of decentralised planning in Kerala. This campaign was even viewed as an alternative to the mainstream market based development approach. Official spokes men of PPC, political leaders and academicians attempted to highlight PPC as a model programme for strengthening grassroots planning initiatives.
The gap between idealistic objectives and grass root realities are always interesting objects for academic study. Relevance of this book lies here this book is an attempt to analyse Kerala’s experiments on decentralisation in a critical perspective. This is an attempt to conduct a comparative analysis of achievements of decentralised planning in relation with its original objectives. This book has depended both macro and macro level data for analysis. Time period of analysis restricted to 1996 to 2010, mostly focused on 9th 10th and 11th plan periods.
An attempt has done on this book to capture the variations in the decentralised planning process during various plan periods after 1996, changes both in terms of policy changes and practical implementation. This analysis could provide an understanding to the readers about the ups and downs of decentralised planning exercise in the state.