1st Edition

Marginalized Communities and Decentralized Institutions in India An Exclusion and Inclusion Perspective

By Bala Ramulu Chinnala Copyright 2021
    160 Pages
    by Routledge India

    160 Pages
    by Routledge India

    This book examines the causes and consequences of marginalization of social groups and the state of democratic decentralization in India in the unfolding context of globalization and changing perspectives of development models and institutions. The first of its kind, it correlates macro-and micro-level issues to understand social exclusion and inclusion and the level of participation of democratic institutions at the grassroots level since economic liberalization (1991) and the 73rd Constitution Amendment Act of 1992, marking three decades since granting constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj Institutions.

    The study looks at the linkages between certain key themes: the neoliberal model of development, growth, and distributive justice; the role and mandate of grassroots-level public institutions enshrined in the Constitution, inclusive growth, and the Indian State; the role of political executives from marginalized communities; factors involved in people’s active participation in the development process; and challenges in current political structures, inclusion of marginalized communities in governance and development, and real empowerment of local bodies and institutions. The book argues that legislative enactments, constitutional status, reservation of seats to marginalized communities, and so on can only empower local bodies and their leadership symbolically. The success of these provisions depends on the overall development model of the country; the support of national and state governments; the socio-economic and political environment of the institutions; and effective service and accountability.

    Topical and rich in empirical data, including case studies, this book will be an essential read for scholars and researchers of political science, development studies, governance, public administration, sociology, public policy, and also for government agencies, administrators and bureaucrats, policymakers, international organizations, think tanks, and NGOs working in the area.


    Foreword by G. Haragopal


    1. Introduction
    2. Development Models, Decentralization and Position of Marginalized Communities in India
    3. Marginalized Communities and Decentralization in a South Indian State
    4. Exclusion and Inclusion in Decentralized Institutions
    5. Profiles of the Political Executives
    6. Conclusion



    Bala Ramulu Chinnala is Visiting Professor at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Hyderabad, Telangana, India. He was Emeritus Fellow, University Grants Commission, New Delhi and National Fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. Earlier he was Professor of Public Administration at Kakatiya University (1975 to 2010) and served in various academic and administrative capacities. A recipient of several awards, he has also held a number of visiting fellowships. He has published six books and 60 research papers in journals. His books include Governance of Food Security Policies in India (2016); Technology and Rural Development (2000); International Organizations and Rural Employment Programs in India: Emerging Trends (1999); Development Strategies in India: Emerging Trends (coedited, 1993); Public Policies: An Evaluation of Integrated Rural Development Programme (1991); and Administration on Anti-Poverty Programme (A Study of SFDA) (1984). His teaching and research interests are in the areas of development studies, decentralized governance, rural livelihood, and public policy analysis.

    "The critical importance of grassroots-level democratic institutions has long been recognized in Indian law-making. But, as this pertinent study confirms, mere words of intention or symbolism are not enough to secure meaningful inclusion and participation. Current supposedly holistic development thinking in the globalized age, together with the strong presence of centralized nation states, risks overlooking the strengths of, and the absolute need for, solid local roots. It is fascinating to find convincing evidence in this study that inclusive growth for marginalized communities needs to be managed from the bottom up, not in classic top-down fashion. Grass-level institutions without roots are clearly not sustainable, so yet deeper local activism is clearly needed. This is an important study, relevant well beyond its specific local context."

    Werner Menski, UK Jurist of the Year 2009 and Emeritus Professor of South Asian Laws, School of Law, SOAS University of London, UK 

    "Professor Bala Ramulu, well-experienced researcher in rural studies, deserves appreciation for contributing to better understanding of structural and behavioral issues in the development of marginalized sections in rural India. This is a refreshing empirical study of the socio-political dynamics of decentralized institutions for inclusive development in rural India, critically examined in the background of post-structural polity and development models."

    V. S. Prasad, Professor and Former Director, National Assessment and Accreditation Council, Bengaluru, India 

    "This book deals with certain important aspects of India’s journey on path of democracy and development. With its central focus on the inclusion of the marginalized communities in the developmental process through grass-root participatory institutions, the book maps Indian experience with it through the two periods of pre-liberalization and post-liberalization phases of the post-colonial history. The analysis brings out the limitations in bridging the gap between the promise and performance in this respect by unraveling the structural, institutional, policy related and unaddressed dominance and imbalance of social forces at the grassroots by the powers that be at the national and state levels. The rich multi-variant analysis pursued with an attention to detail makes this study a compulsory reading for scholars, policy makers and administrators and field staff as well."

    K. Srinivasulu, Senior Fellow, ICSSR, and former Professor, Department of Political Science, Osmania University, Telangana, India 

    "This volume is one of the most notable contributions to the literature of rural local government and development in India. It makes thoughtful assessments of India's decentralization process, particularly in the neoliberal context in terms of its impacts on the empowerment of marginalized communities in local governance. The author raises several challenging issues such as whether globalization and decentralization are complementary to each other and whether democratic decentralization has transformed the existing power relationships in Indian local societies. We may summarize all the arguments of the author in a single sentence: decentralization and the consequent empowerment of marginalized communities turn out to be simply specious in India. The higher-level governments have not transferred powers to local self-government bodies as mandated by the constitution, and also the modicum devolvement of such power to local society has failed to transform the grassroots-level decision-making structure in which marginalized communities still remain marginal. India has yet to launch new policy initiatives to strengthen marginalized sections in local development."

    Jungug Choi, Professor, Department of Political Science, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea 

    "Globalization and decentralization have often been construed as opposing dynamics that would achieve mutual checks and balances. The book authored by Professor Bala Ramulu revisits this question to see if the case is one of mutually reinforcing each other in a manner that has exacerbated social and economic inequalities. Much of writings on such a theme are often abstract and normative but this important book lays out the concrete process through a detailed empirical work."

    Ajay Gudavarthy, Center for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India

    "The rural local self-governing institutions in India have become reduced to the field-agencies of the state governments. This book reveals that what in theory are the coordinates of the state governments are in practice actually their subordinates. The exploration reported in the book shows that people’s participation, inclusive development, and empowerment of the excluded categories -- that typically form the reasons for recourse to democratic decentralization -- have in fact remained entirely elusive. Based on painstaking research, Professor Bala Ramulu’s book administers a timely nudge to the analysts as well as the policy-makers: this to the effect that the conferment of the constitutional status upon them has made no difference to the functioning of the country’s PRIs. The book forms a very welcome and a much-needed addition to the literature on the working of the country’s PRIs." 

    Arvind K. Sharma, former Vice-Chancellor, Mizoram University, Aizawl, Mizoram, India 

    "Indian history is characterized by a centralized governance system, making it an oligarchy of select privileged socio-economic and political elite. The letter as well as the spirit of Indian Constitution, in spite of two major amendments in 1992, has not transformed the functional relationships between the central and the state governments on the one hand and the local government on the other. This unbalanced polity is a consequence of deeply-rooted social and economic inequalities in India. In this profound study, Professor Bala Ramulu juxtaposes the recent trends in globalization and the imperatives of a liberal governance and rightly avers that institutional transformation, unless backed by a culture of decentralized democracy, will be incapable of acting as a strong catalyst to the process of bringing marginalized communities into the centre of multi-faceted development. The book is well-conceived, lucid in style and adopts an instrumental perspective. Valuable indeed."

    Ramesh K. Arora, Editor, Administrative Change and former Professor and Dean, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India