Centre for Decentralised Local Governance (CDLG)

We are well past the discussion of whether there should be strong local bodies or not. Strong Gram Panchayat (GPs) and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are one of the primary solutions for improving governance and service delivery to citizens. The Constitution of India, through its 73rd Amendment in 1993, defines ‘Panchayat’, as an institution of self-government constituted under Article 243-B, for rural areas. There have been many initiatives taken towards strengthening decentralized governance in Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), encapsulated as devolution of functions, funds and functionaries, commonly known as the 3Fs. In addition, multiple efforts are undertaken to incentivise, supervise and monitor the performance at different levels of PRIs. However, despite the fact that the spirit of devolution is to help create institutions of self-government, most Gram Panchayats presently are organizationally weak, structurally inadequate and systemically feeble to leverage and build on devolved powers and functions. In our experience, one of the all-pervasive gaps seemed to be a lack of implementation ability in most Gram Panchayats, which is closely linked to their organisation ability.

At the Centre for Decentralised Local Governance (CDLG), Avantika Foundation’s work focuses on developing solutions for building organisation capacity of urban and rural local self-governments, pursuing the proven Organisation Development methodology, which is a planned approach towards developing organisation effectiveness. Avantika Foundation’s work builds on three years of work on the Gram Panchayat Organisation Development (GPOD) project, undertaken by Arghyam, a Bangalore based foundation. Through an action research with Gram Panchayats in Kolar and Chikkabalapur districts of Karnataka, the GPOD project enabled Gram Panchayat elected representatives and officials to work closely with management and development experts to strengthen the organisational capacity of the Gram Panchayat, resulting in tangible improvements in their performance as local self-governments.

Our aim is to continuously strengthen the organisation development framework for rural and urban local self-governments, as well as to enhance skills of practitioners and professionals. Towards this end, we adopt different techniques, embedding learnings from different experiences to enrich and expand the framework. We work directly with local bodies with a view to bringing about real time change as well as partner with research bodies, organisations and academic institutions who work on solutions to strengthen governance and service delivery.

In the near future, CDLG plans to upscale its work towards organization development in different geographies, in partnership with Panchayats and Town Municipalities.