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Consent cannot be manufactured by guns

By Vidhya Das

Protestors have gathered on the road to the Kalinganagar industrial area in Orissa. The bodies of four of those killed in police firing on January 2, are laid out here. This on-the-spot report records the seething anger against the industries that are usurping the lands, livelihoods and basic rights of adivasi farmers


Traditional grassroots democracy: Kerala's sea courts

By N P Chekkutty

Kerala's traditional sea courts, or katal kotathi, were the most effective form of grassroots democracy in the region for centuries. Now, thanks to government apathy, administrative lapses, modern technology and capital-intensive practices, they have become defunct, polarising fishing communities in the state and prompting violent, often communal, clashes over disputes


CSOs make a difference in UP panchayat elections

By Ashok Gopal

A large Pre-Election Voter Awareness Campaign (PEVAC) has had a positive impact on the recent UP panchayat elections. Hundreds of candidates selected by community organisations got the people's mandate; several women and dalits got elected from unreserved seats


'If the politicians are corrupt, so too will be the people'

By Rashme Sehgal

An interview with Admiral R H Tahiliani (Retd), chairperson of Transparency International India and architect of India's largest ever corruption survey


Land reform: The Forest Conservation Act is in the way

By Richard Mahapatra

Is the rigid Forest Conservation Act, 1980, derailing ongoing peace talks with the Naxalites in Andhra Pradesh and other states with its stringent provisions disallowing settlement rights on forestland?


Women panchayat members: Catapulted into the public domain

By Rashme Sehgal

More than a decade after the 73rd constitutional amendment made it mandatory for 33% of all panchayat seats to be reserved for women, have women begun to play a significant role in local self-governance?


Gandhi's ideals live on in Gandhigram

By Lalitha Sridhar

Starting out as one woman's dream, Gandhigram has grown into one of the largest umbrella institutions of its kind in India. The reason for its success is that instead of offering a readymade agenda for development it has responded to the needs of the community


'No government wants to deal with a whistleblower'

By Rashme Sehgal

Pramod Kumar, Joint Secretary of the Haryana cadre, has alleged corruption at several levels in the state's education department, including the technical education programme and the district primary education programme. An interview with the whistleblower


A movement, not a newspaper

By Shabnam Dhar

Prabhat Khabar is a newspaper that bucks the trend, puts people's concerns before entertainment, glamour and profitability, and still manages a circulation of over 2,50,000 copies


Towards an alternative politics: People's movements join the electoral process

By Girija Godbole and Bhaskar Vira

Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy aren't the only activists who have made the difficult decision to step into the political arena. Last year in Madhya Pradesh, mass-based tribal organisations or sangathans decided to contest the assembly elections. Now the Samajwadi Jan Parishad is getting ready to field some candidates for the Lok Sabha election in MP, Orissa, West Bengal and Maharashtra


Gyani Baba says...

By Sandip Das

Folk art has been stimulating social change in rural India for decades. At a recent convention, folk artists from 12 Indian states discussed their role in changing mindsets and ensuring greater participation in governance


Emergency without an Emergency? The two-child norm for panchayat members

By Mohan Rao

Laws to empower dalits, adivasis, OBCs and other sections of the poor through local self-government institutions are being circumvented by anti-democratic population policies. Indeed, if today fertility is to be a marker for citizenship, can the day be far behind when religion is?


No kidding: Apex court enforces two-child norm

By Laxmi Murthy

Since the mid-' 90s, the Indian government has attempted to make a shift from the target-oriented approach to family planning to one of advocacy, quality of care and individual choice. Now, with the Supreme Court upholding the two-child norm for contesting panchayat elections and with some states formulating anti-people population policies, there seems to be a return to coercive methods


No more discussion on the Women's Reservation Bill, say activists

By Rashme Arora

Women's activists are aghast at the suggestion that the women's reservation bill can only be passed if double-member constituencies are introduced in a third of all parliamentary seats. This will only send out the message that women MPs are incompetent, they claim


Flaws in Bhoomi, India's model e-governance project

By Keya Acharya

Karnataka's Bhoomi project, which computerised 20 million rural land records, was designed as an instrument of equity. But is IT also reinforcing inequality, with men benefiting more than women and the rich benefiting more than the poor?


How to evaluate rural development schemes

By Arpita V Bedekar

In 2000-01, almost Rs 10,000 crore was spent on rural development schemes. The central government has almost a dozen major schemes in operation. But how is the success or failure of these schemes to be evaluated? By the quantum of funds allocated? By the fulfilment of targets?Or do we need a social cost-benefit analysis for each scheme?


'What's a woman supposed to do in a gram sabha?'

By Arpita V Bedekar

Ten years after the enactment of the 73rd amendment, how well is panchayati raj working in India? An in-depth study of the local self-government system in one district of Maharashtra reveals that there is little awareness of the importance of the gram sabhas, and in many villages the sabha is non-functional


Courts, contempt, and a climate that demands accountability

By Prashant Bhushan

Prashant Bhushan, counsel for Arundhati Roy in the contempt of court case in which she was convicted and fined, points out why it is vital to have free discussion and criticism of the role being played by the courts in India


Structural adjustment takes its toll in Pakistan

By Sandhya Srinivasan

The process of structural adjustment began in Pakistan in 1988. Privatisation and cuts in public sector spending caused a sharp drop in economic growth, an increase in poverty from 17 to 35 per cent and a worsening of people's health. The tragedy is, scarcely anyone in Pakistan is protesting these damaging policies