Action Research Project

2 Gram Panchayats
32 villages
15,220 Citizens
Duration: 2011-2015

Area of coverage
  • Oorkunte Mittur Gram Panchayat, Mulbagal Taluka, Kolar District (13 villages)
  • Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat, Sidlaghatta Taluka, Chikkaballapur district (19 villages)

A CLEAN FIGHT-Members of Vikendrikarna Balaga meet at the Avantika Foundation office on February 6, 2015 to formulate their campaign to fight clean elections

A SHINING STAR-Nagaraj, Head-Production of Oorkunte Mittur Gram Panchayat was awarded by the Agriculture Department in July 2015 for his invaluable contribution to the agriculture sector

A TEAM EFFORT-Members of Oorkunte Mittur Gram Panchayat and staff of Avantika Foundation outside the Oorkunte Mittur Gram Panchayat office (2015)

ACTIVE CITIZENRY-A Citizens' Forum meeting at Kondappagarahalli village in Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat

BOTTOM-UP PLANNING-Ward-wise planning workshop in Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat in August 2012

BUILDING A SHARED VISION-PRA and Vision building activities at Dibburhalli and Baypanahalli in April 2011

CHARTING PROGRESS- Venu Gopal, Head-Social Justice (2012-15) for Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat reads the progress cards of othe GP-Heads at a handover ceremony on April 11, 2015

CHARTING PROGRESS-Project Manager & Lead-Field Operations, Mr Rajendra Prasad displays the Progress Cards of GP-Heads highlighting their achievements, motivation, challenges, and future vision for the Gram Panchayat

CITIZEN PARTICIPATION - A Gram Sabha meeting at Dibburhalli in May 2011

DECODING PROCUREMENT-Workshop exploring procurement practices in Gram Panchayats held in Grama Vikas on January 9, 2015

FOR THE COMMON MAN-Details of Gram Panchayat Heads' displayed on a wall in Oorukunte Mittur Gram Panchayat

GP MEETS THE PRESS- Members of the Vikendrikarna Balaga (Decentralisation Group) at a press conference highlighting the need to fight clean elections on February 23, 2015

HANDING OVER CHARGE-GP-Heads of Oorkunte Mittur handing over Annual Plans, Budgets, Structures & Processes followed during GPOD to the Adhyaksha (Panchayat office) on April 11, 2015

HANDING OVER- Co-founders of Avantika Foundation,Mr TR Raghunandan & Ms Sonali Srivastava address GP members & staff at a hand over ceremony of all GPOD documents to the Panchayat in Dibburhalli on April 11, 2015

IN THE SPIRIT OF DECENTRALISATION- Wall paintings in villages highlight the importance of local governments

RESOURCE MAPPING- Resource mapping as a part of PRA and Vision building activities at Dibburhalli and Baypanahalli in April 2011

REVIEWING PROGRESS- GP Heads' from both Gram Panchayats at a meeting with Rohini Nilekani in October 2012

SHOWING THE WAY-Vasantha Kumari, Head-Amenities I of Oorkunte Mittur Gram Panchayat decoding Panchayat finances

SKETCHING A DREAM-A villager articulates his picture of an ideal Gram Panchayat as part of the vision building exercise in his Gram Panchayat in May 2011

TAKING THE LEAD-GP Heads in front of the Oorukunte Mittur Gram Panchayat office

THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL-The augmented structure for Gram Panchayats displayed on a wall in Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat


The Gram Panchayat Organisation Development (GPOD), the flagship programme of Avantika Foundation was incubated in Action Research mode by Arghyam in 2011. As the potential for its scale was realized, the programme along with its staff moved to Avantika Foundation which has been responsible for further development of the GPOD, its implementation and advocacy. The Action Research phase spanned from 2011-2015.

Since 2011, the GPOD was initiated in four phases in the two Action Research Gram Panchayats, strengthening different organisational aspects of the elected body viz: organisation functioning and accountability mechanisms, ensuring formation of annual plans and their implementation.

The preparatory phase involved developing a shared Vision and Mission with elected members and citizens of the Gram Panchayats. Vision and mission development is the foundation step in an organisation development exercise as it serves as a guide for future decision making. In the GPOD, the purpose of this output was to facilitate long term thinking in the Gram Panchayat, as well as to develop an enduring vision, which could serve as its goal post for subsequent planning, and other structures and processes. By articulating their shared dreams, Gram Panchayats re-emphasised their identity as units of local self governance. To formalize the shared vision, these statements were ratified in the Gram Panchayat through a formal resolution, and shared in the Gram Sabha.

Identification of key focus areas, which need to be addressed by the Gram Panchayats became inputs to the next sub process, i.e., Process mapping. Key processes in select departments such as Water and Sanitation, Nutrition and Agriculture were mapped to understand operational, structural and policy related issues coming in the way of effective service delivery. Process mapping was primarily used as a diagnostic tool, to unravel the functioning of the Gram Panchayat and helped elected representatives understand the basic management principles of role clarity, issues of role overlap and role overload, difference between accountability and responsibility, thereby creating awareness and need for an accountability structure in the Panchayat.

The GPOD then focused on developing an Organisation Structure to augment the current Gram Panchayat structure, enable ownership, accountability and distributed leadership. The recommended structure created positions of Heads among the Gram Panchayat members with an individual portfolio of functions. These Heads performed different processes/ functions across the Gram Panchayat, in addition to representing his/her ward. This Gram Panchayat structure was in turn aligned to the Taluka and District structure, thus mainstreaming it with the government structure.

This was followed by each Gram Panchayat charting a portfolio wise Perspective Plan, for a period of four years based on its Vision and Mission and issues identified during the Process-mapping step. The accountability structure facilitated the process of subsequent Annual Planning in the Gram Panchayat. The Annual Plans incorporated a set of activities that would be performed within a given year. So far, the Action Research Gram Panchayats have made three annual plans. This was bottom-up planning in its true essence, unlike most other villages where the mandatory submission of the annual plan is usually done by the Secretary without consulting with the Gram Panchayat members.

Finally, the GPOD involved conducting Budgeting and Review of these plans in the Gram Panchayats. A Gram Panchayat-specific MIS (GP-MIS) was subsequently developed to track month-on-month plan versus implementation on an annual basis.

Implementation of the GPOD will be continued in Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat through our NGO partners, and in Oorkunte Mittur through the Government of Karnataka project.


The Gram Panchayat Organisation Development (GPOD) project was incubated in Arghyam in 2011, prior to being transitioned to Avantika Foundation since April 2014. Arghyam is a Bangalore based foundation which works towards sustainable water and sanitation. It grants funds to organisations, which implement and manage groundwater and sanitation projects in India. Arghyam has made grants to recipients in 22 states of India since 2005, the year of its founding.Arghyam conducted ASHWAS (A Survey of Household Water and Sanitation) in 2009. The need for focusing on building GP organisation capability emerged during the dissemination phase of ASHWAS reports to the 172 participating GPs, most of whom did not seem to have the ability to internalise issues emerging from the survey and take appropriate action.

Foundation for Ecological Society (FES)

FES' efforts are primarily in locating forests and other natural resources within the prevailing economic, social and ecological dynamics in rural landscapes. It intertwines principles of conservation and local self-governance for the protection of natural surroundings and improvement in the living conditions of the poor. FES presently works with 3,409 village institutions in 27 districts across seven states, and assists village communities in protecting the 173, 361 hectares of revenue wastelands, degraded forest lands and panchayat grazing lands (Charagahlands). They support Panchayats and their subcommittees, Village Forest Committees, Gram Jungle Committees, Water Users Associations and Watershed Committees in order to improve the governance of natural resources.

Grama Vikas

Grama Vikas (GV) is a non-government development organisation that works with poor & marginalised rural families in Kolar District, Chickmagalur district and Raichur district of the southern Indian State of Karnataka. GV focuses on protecting rights of children, natural resource management, networking for comprehensive & sustainable development and empowerment of rural poor communities. In recent years, GV has started working extensively with Panchayats, fpursuing the belief that sustained change can take place with the strengthening of these local institutions.

The step-by-step systemic approach taken towards building the organization capacity of the two Action Research Gram Panchayats- Oorkunte Mittur and Dibburhalli has resulted in improvements in governance as well as service delivery.

Some of the systemic outcomes include:

  • For the past three years, Oorkunte Mittur and Dibburhalli Gram Panchayats have annual plans and budgets in place and a clear accountability structure for their elected representatives.
  • Mandated citizen committees such as the Bal Vikas Samiti (Child Welfare Committee) and SDMC (School Development and Monitoring Committee), which were previously defunct have been activated. Meetings were regularly held ensuring active citizen participation in key functions such as child development, nutrition and schooling. More citizens began participating in mandated Ward Sabhas and Gram Sabhas as well.

Clearly defined structures, systems and processes in the two Gram Panchayats resulted in tangible service delivery improvements for citizens, which were captured by the rigorous GP-MIS

  • Diburhalli Gram Panchayat was ahead of all blocks in the Chikkaballapur district in achieving its targets against the plan for providing employment as well as creation of assets under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in 2013-14.
  • Oorkunte Mittur had the highest coverage of individual toilets in the Mulbagal block in 2013-14.
  • Ration shops in both Gram Panchayats started displaying details of ration supplied and daily distribution as per government norms
  • Systems were instituted wherein complaints to streetlights were fixed within a 48 hour period.
  • Both Gram Panchayats ensured that nearly all ration (fair price) shops displayed the monthly grain stock received and daily stock position for all commodities, as per government norms
  • Dibburhalli Gram Panchayat was able to move closer towards its target of collection of water tax to the tune of Rs 1 lakh versus a targeted Rs 1.75 lakh in 2014-15.
  • In Oorkunte Mittur, Gram Panchayat members facilitated the formation of nearly 10 Raita Samparka Kootas and ensured distribution of subsidized seeds to over 2,300 farmers in the last two years.
  • Water testing for chemical contamination was conducted in 20 villages and 21 watermen trained on how to conduct these tests using water testing kits

All the collaterals, in terms of Vision and Mission statements, GP resolutions, Process Maps of departments, Perspective and Annual Plans and Annual Report cards were formally handed over by Panchayat members to the Panchayat office, in preparation for the new elected body that took over in June 2015.