Local Democracy in Action
A rare chance today to see local democracy in action.
Purely by chance, while checking out the last of Bhimtal's resorts, the YMCA, I stumbled upon a meeting of the local panchayats, the village councils that are at the core of grassroots politics. Advocated by Gandhi, in a system as complex as India's it's possibly the most relevant aspect of government to the average person's daily needs.
The meeting was chaired by World Vision, an NGO/charity woring for rural development, and each of the five councils was assisted by academuc delegates from the local university.
Though proceedings were conducted in Hindi, I caught the gist of what was going on - a discussion of the ambitions and aspirtations for the local economy with reference to agriculture, social empowerment etc..
World Vision is a Christian organisation, and I am naturally suspicious of religious charities, but like Rama Krishna seems to be doing a good job. There again, I was a bit surprised when the meeting concluded with prayers... yet it's not seen as unusual in India for people to follow parallel spiritual paths that merge Hindu and Christian ideals. The number of convent schools, for example, shows the extent of this cross-pollination.
And on the way back, this woman walking in front of me illustrated clearly the kind of lives that people live around here, and why local development is so necessary.