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Caste and Democratic Decentralisation in Rural Tamil Nadu

Lindberg, Staffan LU ; R., Vidyasagar; Athreya, Venkatesh B. and Djurfeldt, Göran LU (2007)
Abstract
One of the most significant political changes over the past 25 years in Tamil Nadu, as elsewhere in India, is the implementation of a statutory status for a local elected government in accordance with the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution passed by the Indian Parliament in 1993. The performance of the new system in Tamil Nadu is rather average and not very vibrant. Nevertheless, it has meant that the local state has become more active in the construction and maintenance of drinking water facilities, street lights, streets, and sanitation, and also carries out certain infrastructural work like road building and construction of public buildings. With the 33 % reservation for women members and presidents, women have also started to... (More)
One of the most significant political changes over the past 25 years in Tamil Nadu, as elsewhere in India, is the implementation of a statutory status for a local elected government in accordance with the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution passed by the Indian Parliament in 1993. The performance of the new system in Tamil Nadu is rather average and not very vibrant. Nevertheless, it has meant that the local state has become more active in the construction and maintenance of drinking water facilities, street lights, streets, and sanitation, and also carries out certain infrastructural work like road building and construction of public buildings. With the 33 % reservation for women members and presidents, women have also started to take part in local politics. The same is true for SC (Dalit castes) and ST (tribal groups), which have reserved seats according to their proportion in the population. While we can trace some improvements to the entry of women, there is little impact of the reservation system for Dalits in our area. Local politics is mostly about representation of castes and family lineages, influence and ‘rent from office bearing’ and most of the welfare improvements seem to derive rather from general state policies and pressure generated from the electorate at large in a competitive political systems, where the leading parties compete for electoral success and in the process address publicly expressed needs and grievances. It is this pressure that eventually gets translated in improved performance in governance.



Caste plays a major role in local politics and the ability to form strategic alliances is decisive in winning seats in the local bodies. In these processes, Dalits, themselves divided along caste lines, are most often at the receiving end, needing the approval of the higher and dominant castes for successful candidacy. It is a kind of cooptation in which they often loose whatever ‘teeth’ they could muster to end discrimination and improve the material well-being of the lowest castes. Finally, the Dalit tactic of forming separate associations and political parties along caste lines has lead to a fragmented representation, which is without political efficiency in the fight against remaining discrimination. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Working Paper
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
sociologi, caste, decentralisation, local government, local politics, Tamil Nadu, India, sociology, political science
pages
36 pages
project
Social Mobility and Agrarian Transformation - An Indian case
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f330c37d-f502-44ad-b81e-47ea44c40866 (old id 697664)
date added to LUP
2007-12-06 11:34:38
date last changed
2016-04-16 12:28:30
@misc{f330c37d-f502-44ad-b81e-47ea44c40866,
  abstract     = {One of the most significant political changes over the past 25 years in Tamil Nadu, as elsewhere in India, is the implementation of a statutory status for a local elected government in accordance with the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution passed by the Indian Parliament in 1993. The performance of the new system in Tamil Nadu is rather average and not very vibrant. Nevertheless, it has meant that the local state has become more active in the construction and maintenance of drinking water facilities, street lights, streets, and sanitation, and also carries out certain infrastructural work like road building and construction of public buildings. With the 33 % reservation for women members and presidents, women have also started to take part in local politics. The same is true for SC (Dalit castes) and ST (tribal groups), which have reserved seats according to their proportion in the population. While we can trace some improvements to the entry of women, there is little impact of the reservation system for Dalits in our area. Local politics is mostly about representation of castes and family lineages, influence and ‘rent from office bearing’ and most of the welfare improvements seem to derive rather from general state policies and pressure generated from the electorate at large in a competitive political systems, where the leading parties compete for electoral success and in the process address publicly expressed needs and grievances. It is this pressure that eventually gets translated in improved performance in governance.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Caste plays a major role in local politics and the ability to form strategic alliances is decisive in winning seats in the local bodies. In these processes, Dalits, themselves divided along caste lines, are most often at the receiving end, needing the approval of the higher and dominant castes for successful candidacy. It is a kind of cooptation in which they often loose whatever ‘teeth’ they could muster to end discrimination and improve the material well-being of the lowest castes. Finally, the Dalit tactic of forming separate associations and political parties along caste lines has lead to a fragmented representation, which is without political efficiency in the fight against remaining discrimination.},
  author       = {Lindberg, Staffan and R., Vidyasagar and Athreya, Venkatesh B. and Djurfeldt, Göran},
  keyword      = {sociologi,caste,decentralisation,local government,local politics,Tamil Nadu,India,sociology,political science},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {36},
  title        = {Caste and Democratic Decentralisation in Rural Tamil Nadu},
  year         = {2007},
}