Book Review : Addressing the real ‘Mizo Issue’
|Local Governance in North East India, C. Nunthara, Gyan Books (P) Ltd., Pp 356, Rs 1,080|
Before attaining the Statehood in 1987, Village Councils enjoyed higher level of autonomy under the District Councils in Mizoram. After the abolition of Mizo District Councils, popular participation was curtailed and a gap created between the State government and Village Councils got filled up by bureaucrats.
Written by a retired professor of sociology at the North Eastern Hill University, this study attempts to present the problems of Mizoram, the north-eastern State of Bharat, which is bound by Assam, Myanmar, Tripura and Bangladesh on all sides. The author’s prime objectives are to describe the functioning of Village Councils before and after the abolition of the Mizo District Council in 1971 (the nature of autonomy enjoyed and the changes observed with State intrusion into the working of Village Councils after 1971), assess the performance of Village Councils with respect to ‘regulatory’ and ‘developmental’ functions at re-organisation of north-east part of Bharat (developmental functions of Village Councils, the powers enjoyed by Village Councils, the role of women in local governance and the relationship between the land tenure system and the prospects of rural development) and identify the nature of urban-local governments (except for Aizawl which has a Municipal Council, the remaining 23 urban areas continue to have Village Councils).
With the ending of the World War I, increase in decentralisation as also concentration of power and activity in the hands of a few did not deliver public services during the decades of 1960 and 1970. With the failure of authoritarian regimes in Latin America and disintegration of Soviet Union and Eastern Europe into new nations, the IMF, the World Bank and other international agencies suggested decentralisation to strengthen democracy and promote good governance. In Bharat too, the Directive Principle of State Policy and the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments sought to encourage grass roots democracy through setting up of self-governing local bodies in both rural and urban areas. Also with the setting up of the Panchayati Raj Ministry in 2004, local governance received a much-needed boost.
Know About RSS
The gradual steady rise of the 90-year old Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has fueled by many myths. Know About RSS unravels the functioning of the organisation by providing an insight into the hitherto unexplained aspects of the RSS— the daily Sakha, Saffron Flag, Prayer, Training Camps, Full-Time Workers, etc. This book provides authentic information about the organisational structure of the RSS which is simple yet unique and baffling for all those who do not know about the RSS.
At Night You Sleep Alone
A tender and involving tale of two individual’s journey to find love against the backdrop of Bharat in the late 1960s. Nirmal’s journey of hopes and dreams, cut short before they even began. It was a love that began with the innocence of youth. A carefree love, between two souls made for each other from the moment they set eyes on one another; and so began Parkash and Nirmal’s love story.
Attaining Food Security
This book has been prepared as a reference book for the stake holders interested in the policy analysis of food security schemes. Each chapter gives relevant food security indicators for that nation, the economic history and its developmental context, and the past as well as current food security schemes. Simple statistical tools like mean and standard deviation, regression and paired test are used to interpret the data.
Environmental Policies in India
This book reviews the policies adopted towards protection of environment, abatement of pollution, green initiative legislation in Bharat under the purview of several Ministries and other government bodies, and the basic approaches to Environmental Policy in general adopted in various countries in the form of Eco-tax, Subsidies, Pollution Permits, Refundable Deposits for Pollution Control, Allocation of Property Rights, Government Investment Programmes, etc.
This book concentrates essentially on the north-eastern State of Mizoram where despite constitutional mandate, devolution and transfer of power the Village Councils are agents of the State government in developmental functions and to a lesser degree, in regulatory functions. The power and authority of Panchayats is almost absent in Village Councils.
Before the abolition of the Mizo District Council, Village Councils enjoyed a high level of autonomy in village administration but since it was granted Statehood in 1987, a gap has been created between the State government and the Village Councils and this gap has now been occupied by bureaucrats and politicians. As a result, the common people do not freely participate in the development programmes as they are not motivated enough.
Reluctance of politicians and bureaucrats in devolving functions, funds and functionaries to local governments due to lack of political will and lack of public awareness, the results are inefficiency, leakages and corruption that are associated with many government schemes, thus undermining the legitimacy of related local bodies and wreaking disaster on the performance of various schemes. The author has appealed the bureaucrats, politicians and the general public to wake up and seek remedy to such malicious incursions into the administrative affairs of rural local bodies before it becomes too late.
Manju Gupta (The reviewer is former
editor of NBT)