The Growing Gap between the State and the Local People

 

The exposure of my field visit in Gujarat which starts from its two villages of Kutch and Aanand where I interacted with the local people and it ended by interacting with the bureaucrats who are the representative of the state/government. The whole field interaction started with the question of knowing what the local people meant by the  term ‘state’ and what the state has done for them in terms of delivering services and at the later part I moved towards the bureaucrats querying them about what they do for the citizens and how people see them as a government body. As we all know, the duty of the state is to deliver services to the citizen and on the other hand, the citizen has the full right to procure the services provided by the state and into this mechanism of the state there is no such issue between the give and take system of the state and the citizen i.e. policies and schemes are being implemented by the state for the citizens but the thing that is lagging behind is the miscommunication between the state and the people. The government are not aware about the problems of the citizens and the local people are also not aware about the mechanism though which they can reach out to the state/government for their needs and problems.

During my interaction with the villagers what I came across is that the local people are less bothered about the existence of the government though there are facing lots of issues in terms of public services but they are not willing to recognize that these services should be provided by the state. They are satisfied with whatever the state is doing for them, as for example: even they are getting water supply once in a five days they have no complain against the state regarding it and they are quite happy with it. The reason behind it is that people are not aware that who are responsible for their problem; even though we have the decentralized system where the state reaches to the last people but it is not functioning in the way it should be for the local people. It might be the case at the local level that gram Sabha and gram Panchayat does not possess the authority to send the people’s concern to the high level or as an institution it has become weak and invisible for the people. It is the story of only one sided where the citizen gets benefitted from the services and on the other side the state has no knowledge about the local level. By communicating with the government officials, it can be understood from them that they are providing tool for the community participation like gram Sabha for the people but it is the people who do not attend for their benefits and other than this, even after providing free education for the children, the parents do not send their children to school. Therefore, it can be understood from this that government have no idea about the ground reality as there is no proper need assessment done and also there is no proper acquaintance regarding who are responsible for which work. This is why local people face issue of where they should go for to solve their problems. As while asking bureaucrats about the issue of construction of a road and in regard to this he replied that the road does not come under his jurisdiction and it is the gram Panchayat who is authorized for it. Hence, to make the schemes and policies to reach out to the beneficiaries there are a need of mediator who will fulfill the widening gap between the state and the citizen. We have to give the power to the local level or  prevent the weakens of the local government and if we do not work on it there is no meaning of decentralized system because it is taking the citizens more far away from the state.

Harshita

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Inside stories from shyamgadh and Nidana…

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The people in the two villages of shyamgadh and Nidana who lived in the abject poverty are not in a position to attend panchayat meetings. Most of them are even not aware of the functions and the activities of Gram panchayat and hence cannot realize the importance of panchayats. Although we were told not educate the people but I was not able to stop myself to inform them about the functions and activities of Gram panchayat and their independent  importance in the decision making. There were many incidents of the biasedness of the Sarpanch in distributing the benefits of any schemes, where the people who are close to them are directly benefitted from a schemes even when they do not deserve or the schemes is not applicable to them.  The responses I received from the people were also quite reasonable and justifies why they don’t attend the panchayat meetings and gram Sabha as there priority is to earn money to sustain their family and sparing one day for the meeting will cost them a day’s earning. I decided that it is important to explain them about the importance of the meetings since it will benefit them in the long run.
The gender based discrimination was clearly evident from the fact that people name their daughter as marni (which means die) and batheri (which means enough).Gender discrimination was apparent to the extend that we feared if a male can even interview a female member of the community.We decided all the female interviews will be taken by Aparna and minu. It was really very hard for us to not educate or ask them to stop such discrimination.
Vivek