Bloomberg Equality Summit: Can Fixing New Delhi Fix The Country?
The central government is a fundamental pillar of federal democracy but it can only stay that way if governance at the grassroots is empowered. That’s according to Congress leader Milind Deora and Rajasthan’s village leader Chhavi Rajawat.
“The perception is that if New Delhi gets fixed, the country gets fixed,” said former union minister Milind Deora at Bloomberg Equality Summit in Mumbai. “In a country like ours where we have three-tier system of government, you have state governments, federal governments and local governance, local government is unfortunately woefully under-empowered.”
“Successive governments have failed to devolve powers to the local level and that’s where democracy actually happens,” he said.
Good leadership at the local level drives people to adapt themselves to change and shun traditional norms, according to Sarpanch of Rajasthan’s Soda village Chhavi Rajawat.
At the grassroots level, however, there is often a “very myopic perspective”, Rajawat, who quit a corporate job to lead a village, said. “People are only looking at duration of their term and not something sustainable,” she said.
Rajawat said when people understand that the leadership is “working for their benefit, and they are made to realise that they are the real stakeholders, they are willing to change and accept change to an extent that the traditional norms or the short-sightedness is something that they push away within seconds”.
But the situation is getting better. Rajawat said that democracy has become better at the grassroots level. “People do have a voice,” she said, adding that with more awareness, even women are coming to the forefront.
At the grassroots, it is actually easier to have democracy enfold itself and see its development and empowerment happen in the true sense because it is a smaller and closely-knit society.Chhavi Rajawat, Sarpanch, Soda Village-Rajasthan
Watch the full panel discussion here: