An Is­sue in Gov­er­nance

The Economic Times - - The Edit Page - AK­SHAY MANGLA

Com­mu­nity-based ini­tia­tives that work to em­power the poor and pro­mote their par­tic­i­pa­tion have gained a strong sup­port among schol­ars and prac­ti­tion­ers of de­vel­op­ment. Yet, the ques­tion­able as­sump­tions about cul­ture and de­vel­op­ment that in­form these ini­tia­tives ren­der it un­clear as to whether and how com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion can be pro­moted in prac­tice, es­pe­cially in set­tings that de­part from the ideal con­cep­tions of com­mu­nity. Through a case study of the Unicef-Ikea Bal Ad­hikar Pariy­o­jana (BAP), a grass­roots ini­tia­tive that seeks to ad­vance child rights in In­dia, this paper ex­am­ines how tra­di­tion­ally dis­em­pow­ered com­mu­ni­ties learn to mo­bilise col­lec­tively around child ed­u­ca­tion and health in the least-likely set­ting of ru­ral Ut­tar Pradesh. Build­ing on the re­cent lit­er­a­ture on cul­ture and pub­lic ac­tion, and re­ly­ing on field re­search, vil­lage-level com­par­isons and in­ter­views with stake­hold­ers, this paper traces the process by which BAP field­work­ers and com­mu­nity mem­bers make strate­gic use of the cul­tural un­der­stand­ings, norms and iden­ti­ties that gov­ern fam­ily, gen­der and caste re­la­tions to build new com­mu­ni­ty­based net­works that pro­mote the rights of chil­dren…. To main­tain ties with dif­fer­ent caste groups, BAP takes an apo­lit­i­cal pos­ture and does not ac­tively build the ca­pac­ity of com­mu­ni­ties to mo­bilise po­lit­i­cally and make de­mands on state agencies.

From “Mo­bi­liz­ing Cul­ture for Pub­lic Ac­tion: Com­mu­nity Par­tic­i­pa­tion and Child Rights in Ru­ral UP”

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