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최신자료
Two Hundred and Fifty-Thousand Democracies : A Review of Village Government in India
World Bank
2024.06.07
In 1992, the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution created 250,000 village democracies (called Gram Panchayats) covering 800 million citizens. It mandated regular elections, deliberative spaces, and political reservations for women and disadvantaged castes. The unprecedented variation in democratic experience that emerged from this has resulted in a large body of research that provides insights into the intersection between democracy, governance, and development. This paper reviews this literature, showing that India’s democratic trajectory has been shaped by four broad forces: a 3,000 year tradition of debate and deliberation, colonial policies, the contrasting ideologies of central players in the formation of modern India―Gandhi and Ambedkar―and the 73rd Amendment. The paper distills key findings from the empirical literature on the effectiveness of local politicians and bureaucrats, political reservations, public finance, deliberative democracy, and service delivery. It concludes with a set of policy recommendations for improving the functioning of the Panchayats in India, emphasizing the need for greater devolution and improved local fiscal capacity. It also argues that urban governments in India would benefit from learning from the experience of Gram Panchayats.