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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


The barefoot revolution

By Meena Menon

'Illiterate' traditional builders constructing spanking new campuses; semi-literate rural women handling computers, repairing handpumps and solar lighting; miners doubling as health workers; village women working as trained reproductive healthcare workers; barefoot educators with no formal degrees spreading literacy all over the country…..There's a Barefoot Revolution sweeping India, with ordinary, semi-literate people trained in different fields by development organisations leaving their footprints in the remotest parts of the country