Report of the 2nd Annual Forum of the Decentralization Community

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     2nd Annual Forum of the Decentralization Community
                     Solution Exchange
                         (An UN Agencies’ Initiative)

                     Venue: Hotel Noor us Sabah, Bhopal

                            25 – 27 October, 2007

                     Organized by: UN Solution Exchange

Supported by: Environmental Planning and Coordination Organization (EPCO), Bhopal
                         Local Partner: Debate, Bhopal

 Background                                       3
 Day 1 – Inaugural and Technical Session 1        4
         Community Activity 1 -                   5
         Community Activity 2 -                   6
         Networking and interaction over dinner   7

 Day 2 – Community Activity 3 – Knowledge Mela    8
         Technical Session 2                      8
         Technical Session 3                      9
         Panel Discussion                         9

 Day 3 – Field Visit                              10

 Annexure – List of Presentations                 12
              Final Agenda                         13


The Decentralization Community of the Solution Exchange has been a vibrant platform since its
inception in 2005. It today involves around 1840 members from the government, civil society
organizations, research institutions, academia, consultants, private sector organizations and the
media sharing experiences about their experiences in strengthening decentralized governance
across the country. Apart from assisting fellow practitioners, the members of the Decentralization
Community also attempt to influence government policies in making decentralized and pro-poor
governance stronger and effective.

In the first year after the launch of the Decentralization Community, we organised the Visioning
Workshop in New Delhi (7-8 April 2006). The particpants in the Workshop discussed issues
relating to Action Groups, and broad topics on which the Community could focus its attention in
the coming year.

In an effort to take the message of the Solution Exchange and Decentralization Community to
the states, and in the spirit of decentralization, the 2 nd Annual Forum was held in Bhopal, the
capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh, during 25–27 October, 2007. The Annual Forum was
financially supported by Environmetal Planning and Coordination Organization (EPCO), an
autonomous organization of the Government of Madhya Pradesh, focusing on environmental
planning and Debate, a local NGO which has been active in the Decentralization Community
affairs and which has done valuable work in local planning and governance in the States of
Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, was the local partner in its organization.

The event saw excellent coordination between UN Solution Exchange, EPCO and Debate teams.
EPCO took the responsibility of arranging the logistics (like travel, bookings, videography etc.)
apart from its financial support whereas Debate took the responsibility of facilitating the sessions
and discourses at the venue and also the participants lodging and boarding at Hotel Amer Palace
and Hotel Nisarga, Bhopal. Amitabh Kumar Singh of Debate and Yogesh Kumar of Samarthan
coordinated the field visits.

The Final Agenda of the Annual Forum can be seen here. The sessions in the agenda were
broadly divided into (i) Community Activity, and (ii) Technical Sessions. The Annual
Forum Agenda comprised of events such as:

           Action Groups – Reporting on previous year’s Action Groups and planning for the
            coming year’s Action Groups with a view to promoting collaboration on strategic
           Knowledge Mela – Resource Persons (members) from the Community showcasing
            and explaining their work and initiatives in important areas by setting up
            tables/stalls, then a ‘walk around’ and posing of questions by members, followed by
            group discussions to clarify issues and provide insights and learnings.
           Field visits to locations that provided insights into Action Group work and important
            initiative in district planning.
           Awards – to recognize members who contributed to the Community’s interactions
            and also promoted the use of knowledge products and helped in the growth of the
           Face to face Interaction and networking among members.
           Technical Sessions – To enable the participants to learn about emerging issues in
            decentralized governance.

An account of the various sessions in the Annual Forum follows:

Day 1 - 25 October 2007

Inaugural Session-

Participants were welcomed by Alok Srivastava, Resource Person and Moderator, Decentralization
Community followed by brief self-introduction by the participants. An account of the activities of
the Decentralization Community, objectives of the three day workshop and Solution Exchange in
general was provided by the Knowledge Management Team comprising of Steve Glovinsky,
Advisor, Solution Exchange, Anand Kumar, Project Coordinator and Alok Srivastava. This was
followed by opening remarks by Dr. Maxine Olson, Resident Coordinator of the UN in India
highlighting the uniqueness of an effort like Solution Exchange and the extent to which it has
been enriched through the contribution of its members from different sectors and organizations.
She also remarked that the Central and State Governments have appreciated and recognised the
efforts of the Decentralization Community in fostering community action and promoting
knowledghe sharing on decentraliztion.

In his Inaugural Address Dr. Narottam Mishra, Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development,
Government of Madhya Pradesh expressed his aprreciation for the UN in selecting Bhopal, the
capital of Madhya Pradesh, as the venue for the event. He emphasised that Solution Exchange
being a warehouse of knowledge and experience could be instrumental in preservation of
traditional science and knowledge of our country, which could provide answers to many of our
developmental problems. He underlined the fact that enormous knowledge exists in the villages,
which unfortunately has not received due recognition in the modern world. There are hardly any
efforts to institutionalise such knowledge and skills which otherwise hold answers to a large
number of vexing problems in the rural areas today. Modern science like ICT, and initiatives like
the Solution Exchange should ultimately focus on benefiting the poor and help them in preserving
indigenous knowledge for the generations to come. Alok Srivastava provided an update on
Decentralization Community activities. (Refer to Presentation No. 2 in Annexure 1)

Apart from members of the Decentralization Community, senior officials of the Central and State
Government (especially the Departments of Planning, Panchayat and Rural Development,
Finance, District Administration) and some representatives of the Zilla, Block and Gram
Panchayats attended the Inaugural Session.

Technical Session – 1
(Facilitated by Steve Glovinsky, Advisor, Solution Exchange and Alok Srivastava, Resource

Experiences in MP District Poverty Initiatives Project – by Waseem Akhtar, Secretary,
Department of Panchayat and Rural Development, Government of MP.

The presentation focussed on the implementation of NREGS in the state through the Gram
Panchayats and subsequent empowerment of the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat. Mr. Akhtar
reflected on the responsibilities at the various levels of the decentralized system with regard to
NREGA planning and implementation and how various schemes already running at the state level
have been converged with NREGS. He also shared the learning so far, and the details of financial
and administrative support systems that are in place to ensure smooth implementation of the

programme. He spoke about the MP Rural Livelihoods Programme wherein funds are directly
transferred to the account of the Gram Panchayats. (Refer to Presentation No. 5 in Annexure 1)

Planning for Backward Regions – by T.R. Raghunandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of
Panchayati Raj, Government of India.
Mr. Raghunandan in his presentation stressed on the ‘Eight Sutras’ of District Planning and
emphasised that a step by step approach towards planning would ensure a full proof plan,
incorporating the issues and subsequent availability of resources to address such issues. He also
explained the nitty-gritty of the BRGF programme, funding design, key features, ways in which it
will empower panchayats etc. In conclusion he brought to notice the substantial financial
allocation for capacity building of PRIs and other Panchayat level officials under BRGF and that
the use of PlanPlus Software (developed by NIC) in district planning would lead to formulation of
proper plans as it takes into consideration all the nuances of the planning process. (Refer to
Presentation No. 4 in Annexure 1).

Comments and Feedback during Open Discussion
    -   The level of panchayat whose resources have been used to create an asset even if the
        asset is used at the block or district level should be given credit
    -   The State should develop a normative basis for devolution of funds to Gram Panchayats.
    -   PRIs and CSOs need to advocate strongly with their State Governments for a change in
        mindset and tread on the path of actual devolution of 3-Fs.
    -   The National Panchayat Portal (NPP) of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj is a unique website
        capturing details about each and every panchayat in the country. So far Orissa and
        Chhattisgarh have filled in data related to their panchayats.
    -   There is a clear difference between BRGF and RSVY. There is no need for a separate
        plan for BRGF. What is required is a single district plan and the gap filling can be done
        through BRGF, after resources from all existing schemes are utilised.
    -   The Planning Commission guidelines stresses on the involvement of standing committees
        in planning and implementation.
    -   An appropriate size of the Gram Panchayat makes it feasible for local planning.
    -   SHGs have been given the responsibility for the maintenance of afforested patches
        created under NREGA.

Keynote address

George Mathew, Institute of Social Sciences:
(The Keynote address was delivered in the Technical Session due to late arrival of Dr. Mathew’s
train from Delhi)

Dr. Mathews gave an account of salient features in the state of panchayats in the country. He
reflected on the fact that despite so much of efforts by the Union Ministry of Panchayati Raj,
panchayats are yet to get the share of importance that they deserve as self-governing bodies.

He noted that the State Governments and the political leadership are loathe in giving the
panchayats their real status and powers, but the deep rooted caste system poses an equally
great challenge, especially for those from marginalized and backward classes breaking the barrier
and getting elected to positions of leadership. Dr. Mathews narrated various incidents wherein
panchayat representatives - women or from the marginalized castes - were intimated and even
killed on account of their being elected and exercising the powers after taking the reins of the
local Panchayats in their hands against a strong upper class male dominated society.

He pointed out to the fact that many Gram Panchayats do not even have a modest office of their
own, which would make the village feel proud and instil a sense of confidence in the people.
(Refer to Presentation No. 3 in Annexure 1)

Community Activity 1 – Report on Previous Year’s Action Projects

(Facilitated by – Steve Glovinsky, UN Solution Exchange; Tejinder Sandhu, UNICEF; TR
Raghunandan;, MoPR; Subhash Mendhapurkar, SUTRA; and Amitabh Singh, Debate)

Role of Media in Empowering Panchayati Raj - by Dr. K. Remakantan, KILA, Thrissur
(This was not a pre-decided topic of Action Research during the last Visioning Workshop but was
taken up later at the instance of a big group of active members from Kerala and sponsorship by
Dr. Remakantan started his presentation with the remark that media and academic and research
institutions are yet to recognize the full potential of Panchayati Raj Institutions in its fullest sense.
Media still remains greatly urban-oriented whereas there is enough scope of using formal and
informal media at the panchayat (rural) level. He focussed on various operational strategies and
an action plan through which media can be used to strengthen Panchayati Raj. (Refer to
Presentation No. 6 in Annexure 1).

The Decentralization Community conceptualised Action Group work as an extension of the ‘query
– response – Consolidated Reply’ exercise. During the Visioning Workshop in April 2006, the
following issues were identified, in which the champions initiated and performed action as
described below –

Capacity Assessment for Decentralized Planning: by Mr. Amitabh Singh, Debate and
Dr. Udai Jain, Mahila Chetna Manch, Bhopal -
Dr. Jain shared about the basic structure and functioning of Panchayati Raj in MP. He went to
explain the way the capacity assessment study was conducted and the observations. Amitabh
focussed individually on the capacity issues at the Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, Janpad
Panchayat and Zila Panchayat level. The study proved to be quite a fruitful exercise in
understanding the capacity gaps at various levels of decentralized governance with respect to
conceptualising and planning. (Refer to Presentation No. 7 and 8 in Annexure 1).

Debate’s findings, presented by Mr. Amitabh Singh brought out the fact that the Gram Sabha
standing committees were not yet constituted and that there was very poor representation of
women and the marginalized in the decision making process. Whereas on the other hand, Gram
Panchayat standing committees existed but were non-functional and the Panchayat Secretary
and the Sarpanch did all the planning. Similarly, the status of working of Janpad and Zilla
Panchayats was also shared in the presentation.

Open Discussion: Comments and Feedback
    -   Capacity of elected functionaries needs to be built in order to influence the media.
    -   The Public Relations Department of the State Government need better reflection on
        Panchayat Raj issues.
    -   Informal means of communication need to be strengthened to rope in the illiterate and
        make them aware about issues.
    -   Gram Panchayats to be facilitated so that they can have their own local newspaper.

    -   The MP Gram Swaraj Adhiniyam has many innate clauses that straightaway indicate
        disempowerment of Gram Panchayats at the will of the state.
    -   The focus should be on dispute resolution and not dispute disposal so as to strengthen
        the capacity of Gram Panchayats and the confidence of the people.
    -   NGOs should be involved in the capacity building of Gram Panchayats and they should do
        well by not creating / promoting parallel bodies within the village.
    -   Not all planning and intervention requires money. There are initiatives, which need to be
        taken up by Gram Panchayats requiring zero input of funds and at the same time
        bringing about a change in the social scenario.

Community Activity 2 – Planning for Action Groups

Taking forward the spirit of Action Group Activity, three new issues were identified for 2007-08.
Participants based on their interest joined the champions and after a brief presentation on the
issues, suggestions were sought from them. A brief account of the session is as follows –

Capacity Development for District Planning – (championed by Raghavendra Singh,
District Collector, Sehore and Amitabh Singh, Debate):
(Facilitated by T. R. Raghunandan and Anand Kumar)

Mr. Raghavendra Singh began by focussing on the structure and layout of the planning system in
the state and highlighted the issues in planning and implementation at all levels of governance.
Inspite of that, there is sufficient scope of work based on the provisions in the Constitution and
the State Act.

Comments and Feedback
       Points like prevailing caste systems should be taken into account while planning for such
        an exercise and to cater to all sections of the PRI
       Authentic data collection, storage and updation by the Gram Panchayat, proper
        community mobilization and orientation of gram sabha should be done before initiating
        the planning process so that actual issues come to light,
       Proper sensitisation of officials of the line department is a must
       Role of ULBs in framing the district plan, DPCs support in Gram Panchayat planning
        should be explored
       Bridging the gap between the Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat for better co-operation
        and coordination should be a priority area

Initiatives in Local Governance through Mobile Telephony – (championed by A.K.
Banerjee, Consultant, IT, Panchayat and RD Department., Govt. of West Bengal):
(Facilitated by – Sajan Venniyoor and Gitanjali Sah)

Mr. Banerjee stressed on the fact that mobile telephony can be used as a very effective medium
to communicate with PRIs and disseminate valuable information. He took the example of the
Panchayati Raj System in West Bengal, which is a well laid out system and outlined the benefits
of ICT for rural citizens. He also shared some initiatives taken by the West Bengal Government in
promoting the use of ICTs at panchayat level. Mr. Banerjee informed the participants that since a
large number of rural people have access to mobile, ‘m-governance’ will surely bring about a
change in service delivery and information access. He also explained about the architecture of
the proposed system and the nitty-gritty that will be kept in mind while implementing such a
system. (Refer to Presentation No. 9 in Annexure 1).

Comments and Feedback
       Potential funding sources for such an initiative need to be explored
       Sustainability, security and privacy, adaptation in other areas like UP etc. need to be
        worked on
       Saving messages on websites and linking with other ICT initiatives etc. were also shared
        with the participants.
       They also suggested that manuals for better understanding should be developed, public-
        private partnerships need to be forged, advertisements need to be made for financial
        sustainability of the initiative.

Resource Mobilization by Panchayats – (championed by Dr. Jos Chathukulam, Centre
for Rural Management, Kottayam):
(Facilitated by – E. Mohammad Rafique and T.N. Anuradha)

Dr. Jos Chathukulam noted that resource mobilization by Gram Panchayats is perhaps one of the
most challenging issues that need to be tackled in order to empower panchayats. He said that a
few queries on the solution exchange prompted him to take up the issue as an Action Research
project, determine the reasons for poor resource mobilization by Panchayats and explore to
strengthen it. He narrated the experience of Kumaly Gram Panchayat which collected nearly Rs.
79,97,530 in 2006-07 as its own revenue. Dr. Jos also stressed on ‘Changing Lenses – A New
Focus on Resource Mobilization’ and suggested various ways in which panchayats could initiate
resource mobilization. (Refer to Presentation No. 10 in Annexure 1).

Comments and Feedbacks
       Using the village common property resources as source of revenue generation should
        also be considered.
       There need to be a comparison between equitable and non-equitable way of resource
       The role of class and power dynamics in resource mobilization should also be taken into
       The community should be made aware of their rights to services vis-à-vis paying taxes.
       Mapping of village common resources and access to the same is a priority area
       Identify gaps in resource mobilization.
       Identify the possibility of including concerns related to gender, equity, caste, and class
        during taxation processes

All the three proposed Action Groups are likely to have very strategic intervention and far
reaching effects. They are likely to set the ball rolling for further action at the state level in
empowering Panchayati Raj.

Informal Interaction and Social Networking (Day 1)

In the evening, a cultural programme was organised following which individuals were felicitated
with the newly instituted Outstanding User Award (conferred on Amitabh Kumar Singh,
Debate, Bhopal Mangesh Tyagi, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal and Anurag
Misra, UPVAN, Lucknow), Community Leadership Award (conferred on Joy Elamon, SDC-
CapDeck, Trivandrum) and Outstanding Participant Award (conferred on K. Rajasekharan,
KILA, Thrissur). These awards have been instituted to recognise the contribution of members
of the Decentralization Community in making it active and vibrant. Senior officers of the Central

and State Government were present during the dinner and informal interactions. A Jury
comprising of Mrs. Rajwant Sandhu (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj), Dr. P.K.
Chaubey, (Professor of Economics, IIPA) and Anurag Srivastava, (Fellow, CBGA) finalised the list
of awardees.

Day 2: 26 October 2007

Community Activity 3: Knowledge Mela

The day started with the Knowledge Mela - that was basically about showcasing the innovative
work being done by different members and their organizations. It started with a ‘walk-around’
wherein members / participants interacted with the Resource Persons at each stall and enquired
about issues. Queries so raised were brought to the discussion tables where members discussed
them threadbare, presenting their experiences in the process and sought clarifications and
provided solutions. This turned out to be a very interesting and informative exercise as many
good solutions and views were exchanged during the interaction – both at the stall as well as on
the discussion tables.

The topics for the Knowledge Mela were –
    Capacity building of elected women representatives (Resource Person-, Joy Elamon, SDC-
    Increasing transparency and accountability in PRIs (RP – Joshy Joseph, Grameena
       Padana Kendram)
    Digital archives for decentralization (RP – K Rajasekharan, KILA)
    Voice of the urban poor (RP - Vandana Tripathi, Sahbhagi Shikshan Kendra)
    Experiences of PRI capacity building in Andhra Pradesh (RP – Harathi Vageeshan, CWS)
    PRIs in Environmental Management (RP – Vinod Kumar, Maithri)

Each Resource Person made a summary presentation of the result and takeaways from
the table discussions at the end of the session.

Technical Session 2:

Special Initiatives in Local Governance

Promoting Panchayati Raj – Experiences from Kerala: (Joy Elamon, SDC-CapDecK,
Trivandrum) -
Dr. Elamon began his presentation with a background focussing on the People’s Plan Campaign
in Kerala, which laid the foundation stone for a strong and effective decentralized governance
system. He went to share about the CapDecK – KILA joint strategies in institutionalising capacity
building and the identification of various thematic areas wherein capacity building was realised to
be important. Dr. Elamon focussed on the gram sabha aspect, and how different gram sabhas
were organized for different sections of the society that helped bring people together and played
a key role in empowering the women and the marginalized. He also emphasised on the fact that
in order to strengthen the working of the panchayats several linkages need to be built with
institutions, organizations and citizen action groups especially in areas like Natural Resource
Management. (Refer to Presentation No. 12 in Annexure 1).

Plan Plus – A Software for Decentralized Planning: (Rama Hariharan, Senior Technical
Officer, NIC) –

Ms. Hariharan started with sharing the fact that PlanPlus is a unique software – a tool to
converge rural and urban plans into a single district plan. It can be used by a wide range of
stakeholders. The software has been field tested in gram panchayats of four states. Apart from a
provision of a suggestion box, PlanPlus provides a unique opportunity to transfer the wishlist into
a proper plan and prioritising works, as also matching it with available resources in a particular
district in a particular year. The software even enables technical and administrative sanction to
plans and if necessary comments for modification. (Refer to Presentation No. 11 in Annexure 1).

Suggestions and Feedback
    -   Revision of Plans are possible in PlanPlus.
    -   The software can make work allocation possible at GP, BP and ZP level according to the
        standards set by the State to avoid duplication.

Technical Session 3

Decentralized Planning for Marginalised and Vulnerable Sections

(Facilitated by – Waseem Akhtar and Subhash Mendhapurkar)

Local Planning for Flagship programmes (Mangesh Tyagi, Additional Secretary, State
Planning Commission, Bhopal) -
Mr. Tyagi started with the objectives of decentralized planning and the guiding principles drawn
from the Expert Committee Report on Grassroots Planning. He also emphasised on the list of
issues, which need to be kept in mind during local planning. A working group / technical support
group will facilitate in preparing and concretising the plan. After completion of plans at various
level, their integration is essential. Integration, examination and approval of plans prepared at
various levels is to be done by the DPC. (Refer to Presentation No. 13 in Annexure 1).

Planning Methodology – Experience from Karnataka: (by Ashokanand, Director, SIRD,
Mysore) –
Mr. Ashokanand presented a case study of a decentralized planning exercise that was done in
Karnataka. The Dr. M. Nanjandappa Committee report was a guiding factor in preparation of local
plans in over 300 Gram Panchayats in Karnataka. Successful conduct of Gram Sabha results in
better understanding between the community, elected bodies and functionaries. He also
mentioned about the various preparatory works that were undertaken prior to initiating the
planning process. He finally concluded with methodology adopted and lessons learned from the
process. (Refer to Presentation No. 14 in Annexure 1).

Planning for Vulnerable Sections – The Kudumbasree Mission and Asraya Project: (by
Sarada Muraleedharan, Mission Director, Kudumbasree Mission, Govt. of Kerala)
The presentation was quite interesting wherein Ms. Sarada described Kudumbasree as an effort
to include the women, the destitute and the poorest of the poor in the planning process and
having a separate place for them in the plan. She outlined the methodology and achievements of
such an initiative and also gave examples of gram panchayats where such planning has been
carried out. She also mentioned about the framework of social inclusion and the implementation
mechanism of the anti-poverty plan. (Refer to Presentation No. 15 in Annexure 1).

Suggestions and Feedback
    -   Political perspectives have changed with a more sensitized approach towards the poor
        and to mainstream them in the process of planning.

    -   Asraya’s key focus is on identification, rehabilitation and monitoring. So it is essentially
        focussed on removal of destitution in the first place before bringing empowerment. It
        also offers basic employment opportunities like cow / goat rearing etc.
    -   The planning process adopted by SIRD in Karnataka chiefly focuses in panchayats where
        NREGA, BRGF and World Bank supported projects are implemented.

Panel Discussion:

Environmental and NRM Issues in Local Planning -
This was a new initiative in a Solution Exchange workshop taken by the Decentralization
Community. The Panel Discussion was moderated by Dr. J.B. Lal, Former Director, Indian
Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal and the panelists were: Dr. Sangeeta Purshottam, Best
Practices Foundation, Bangalore; P.S. Yadav, Development and Panchayats Department,
Government of Haryana; Amitabh Singh, Debate, Bhopal and Vinod Kumar, Maithri, Kerala.

The major issues, which came out of the discussion, are:
    -   The urban and rural fringe is the most productive area and most protected by the
    -   In India, at the peri-urban interface there is extremely high levels of oppression of the
    -   Illegal felling of trees, tanks and water bodies are affecting the urban environment
    -   Co-operative governance in which rural and urban governing bodies (elected
        representatives) collaborate, should be a new emerging field of planning and
    -   The DPC needs to function beyond the urban-rural dividing line.
    -   Grasslands for fodder for milch animals are fast getting depleted and plans should
        involve reclaiming village commons.
    -   There needs to be a change of legislation in MP and Chhattisgarh wherein the rights over
        land, forests and water bodies should be transferred to the village as has been earlier for
        better maintenance.
    -   Modern agriculture has its side effects and there is no knowledge system existing which
        would be providing adequate support to small and marginal farmers.
    -   Mechanisation in agriculture has been limited to only tractors and combined harvesters
        and there have been no value addition to improve the farm economy.
    -   Villagers should be properly educated and facilitated to boost their participation in
        Natural Resource Management as has been the case in watershed development
        programmes in Haryana.
    -   Special Economic Zones are proving to be the biggest hurdle in natural resource
        management by Gram Panchayats.
    -   Enforcement of Supreme Court’s directive that 20% of all benefits accruing from SEZs
        should be transferred back to the community should be advocated for.
    -   There should be a balance between exploitation and conservation so as to treat natural
        resources as assets, which deliver goods and services.
    -   The State / District should enter into a dialogue with the Gram Sabha and respect and
        recognize their opinion while planning for any mega developmental project.

The day ended with a Concluding Session which with Mr Rustam Singh, Minister of Panchayat
and Rural Development, Govt. of MP as the Chief Guest. In his address he expressed his full
confidence in the way initiatives like Solution Exchange could bring about a change in the
perspective in governance. He expressed hope that such initiatives will be able to connect the
last person in the society and share his voice and opinion and hence make ‘development for all’ a
reality. In the days to come funds and the mechanism to spend the funds should be more and
more devolved to the Gram Panchayat to help them become true institutions of local self-

Day 3: 27 October 2007

The participation in Field Visits was kept as optional. As many as 45 members joined the Field
Visits, which were planned to Gram Panchayat Ratanpur, Block Budhni (District Sehore) and
Gram Panchayat Rajukhedi, Block Sehore (District Sehore). The former is the site where Debate
has conducted its Capacity Assessment for Decentralised Planning (as part of the Action Group
Activity), and the other site related Samarthan’s intervention in micro-planning in the area.

       In Ratanpur, the participants interacted with the Gram Sabha regarding their
        preparedness and understanding in putting together a comprehensive village
        development plan. Although the gram sabha was aware of various issues, which were
        connected to the life and livelihood of the villagers, they were not able to articulate it
        during the preparation of the plan. They didn’t had complete information about the
        guidelines of major schemes like the NREGA etc. and hence were not able to understand
        the nitty–gritties of planning under such schemes. The participants found that the
        panchayat didn’t have any resources of its own and people were not aware about the
        means of improving the resource base of the Gram Panchayat. However, on mobilising
        the gram sabha, they were ready to contribute towards creating drinking water and
        irrigation water sources in the village. In a separate interaction with line departments
        officials from the block and district, the participants shared their experiences and felt that
        line department officials should influence planning by flagging issues and create/promote
        feasible alternative to address those issues (matching the issues with the existing

        The discussion was very focussed and was handled well by Amitabh Singh. Apart from
        the Gram Sabha there was substantial presence of line department, panchayat and
        district adminstration officials. The villagers came out very succinctly with their issues
        which they felt should be part of the panchayat plan.

       In village Rajukhedi, interactions took place with SHG groups and Youth groups
        alongwith Panchayat Representatives. The participants were exposed to the process of
        participatory microplanning, the way in which Panchayats were facilitated in seeking
        funds from various Government schemes, awareness generation and hand holding
        techniques at the Gram Sabha and Gram Panchayat level. The district collector briefed
        the participants that a facilitation and information centre set up by Samarthan at the
        Collectorate is helping in the district planning process and dissemination of information
        about government schemes etc. The participants had a very good exposure and learning
        about community building efforts leading to strengthening Panchayat Raj at the Gram
        Panchayat level.


Annexure 1: Background Documents and Presentations – presented during the 2nd
Annual Forum in Bhopal

   1. Agenda for the 2nd Annual Forum, Decentralization Community, Solution Exchange,
      Bhopal,    25-27    October    2007,   available   at   http://www.solutionexchange- (59.5 KB)
   2. Presentation on ‘Update on Decentralization Community Activities’ by Alok Srivastava,
      Resource Person and Moderator, Solution Exchange, New Delhi, available at (2.42 MB)
   3. Key note address by Dr. George Mathew, Director, ISS, New Delhi, available at (36.0 KB)
   4. Presentation on ‘Planning for Backward Regions’ by TR Raghunandan, Joint Secretary,
      Ministry of Panchayat Raj, New Delhi, available at http://www.solutionexchange- (2.01 MB)
   5. Presentation on ‘Role of Panchayats in Rural Livelihoods Promotion in Madhya Pradesh’
      by Waseem Akhtar, Secretary, Panchayat and Rural Development, Government of M.P.,
      Bhopal,              available            at              http://www.solutionexchange- (665 KB)
   6. Presentation on the Action Project ‘Role of Media in Empowering Panchayati Raj’ by Dr. K
      Remakantan,      KILA,     Thrissur,    available     at  http://www.solutionexchange- (40.5 KB)
   7. Presentation on the Action Project ‘Capacity Assessment for Decentralized Planning’ by
      Amitabh Singh, Debate, Bhopal available at http://www.solutionexchange- (50.0 KB)
   8. Presentation on the Action Project ‘Capacity Assessment for Decentralized Planning’ by
      Dr. Udai Jain, Mahila Chetna Manch, Bhopal, available at http://www.solutionexchange- (107 KB)
   9. Presentation on ‘Initiatives in Local Governance through Mobile Telephony’ by Anindyo
      Kumar Banerjee, Panchayat and Rural Development Department, Government of West
      Bengal,        Kolkata,          available      at       http://www.solutionexchange- (1.71 MB)
   10. Presentation on ‘Resource Mobilization by Panchayats’ by Dr. Jos Chathukulam, Centre
       for Rural Management, Kottayam, available at http://www.solutionexchange- (1.05 MB)
   11. Presentation on ‘Plan Plus-A Software for Decentralized Planning’ by Rama Hariharan,
       NIC,       New        Delhi,      available     at      http://www.solutionexchange- (3.27 MB)

12. Presentation on ‘Promoting Panchayati Raj-Experiences from Kerala’ by Joy Elamon, SDC-
    CapDeck,        Trivandrum,       available      at      http://www.solutionexchange- (49.0 KB)
13. Presentation on ‘Local Planning for Flagship Programmes’ by Mangesh Tyagi, Additional
    Secretary, State Planning Commission, Government of M.P., Bhopal, available at (150 KB)
14. Presentation on ‘Planning Methodology-Experience from Karnataka’ by Ashokanand,
    Director,     SIRD,     Mysore,     available    at     http://www.solutionexchange-                    (2.39           MB)      (Size:
    9.48 MB)
    (Size: 1.29 MB)
15. Presentation on ‘Planning for Vulnerable Sections- The Kudumbasree Mission and Asraya
    Project’ by Sarada Muraleedharan, Mission Director, Kudumbasree Mission, Government
    of      Kerala,     Trivandrum,      available     at     http://www.solutionexchange- (753 KB)

Annexure 2: Agenda of the Second Annual Forum

             2nd Annual Forum

Dates: 25-27 October, 2007
Venue: Hotel Noor us Sabah, Bhopal


Day 1: 25 October 2007 (Thursday)

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM     Registration of participants

9:30 AM – 10:15 AM    Welcome and Introduction by Participants

10:15 AM - 10:25 AM   Update on Decentralization Community Activities, by Alok
                      Srivastava, Moderator, Decentralization Community

10:25 AM – 10:35 AM   Workshop Objectives and Agenda, by Anand Kumar, Project
                      Coordinator, Solution Exchange

10:35 AM – 10:45 AM   Solution Exchange Activities, by Steve Glovinsky, Advisor, Solution
                      Exchange, UN

10:45 AM – 11:30 AM   Inaugural Session
                          Opening Address, by Dr. Maxine Olson, Resident Coordinator,
                               Address, by Dr. Narottam Mishra, Minister, Urban Development,
                                Govt. of MP
                               Keynote address, by Dr. George Mathew, ISS, New Delhi
                               Vote of Thanks

11:30 AM – 11:45 AM   Tea

Technical Session     Topic: Decentralised Planning for Development of Backward
                      Regions (In Plenary)

11:45 AM – 12:05 AM   Planning for Backward Regions, by TR Raghunandan, Joint
                      Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj

12:05 AM – 12:25 PM   Role of Panchayats in Rural Livelihoods Promotion in Madhya
                      Pradesh, by Waseem Akhtar, Secretary, Panchayat and Rural Dev.,
                      Govt. of M.P.

12:25 PM – 12:45 PM   Open Discussion

12:45 PM – 1:30 PM   Lunch

Community Activity Report on Previous Year’s Action Projects                    (In

1:30 PM – 1:40 PM    Concept of Action Group Activity – by Steve Glovinsky, Advisor,
                     Solution Exchange

1:45 PM – 2:00 PM    Presentation on the Action Project: “Role of Media in
                     Empowering Panchayati Raj”, by Dr K Remakantan, KILA, Thrissur

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM    Presentation on the Action Project: “Capacity Assessment for
                     Decentralised Planning , by Amitabh Singh, Debate and Dr Udai Jain,
                     Mahila Chetana Manch, presentations for 15 mins each)

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM    Open Discussion (Tea to be served at tables)

Community Activity Planning for Action Groups                          (In Breakaway

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM    Breakaway Sessions: Action Groups Planning for Next Year
                             Plenary breaks into three groups to discuss and identify how
                             best to take forward the key topics raised in the morning
                             (Issues/Topics to be decided in the Resource Group Meeting)

                             1. Capacity Development for District Planning
                                (championed by Raghavendra Singh, Collector, Sehore and
                                Amitabh Singh, Debate)

                             2. Initiatives in Local Governance through Mobile
                                Telehpony (championed by Anindyo Kumar Banerjee,
                                Consultant, IT, Panchayat and RD Dept., Govt. of West

                             3. Resource Mobilization by Panchayats (championed by
                                Dr. Jos Chathukulam, Centre for Rural Management,

4:30 PM –4:45 PM     Tea

4:45 PM – 5:15 PM    Presentations by Breakaway Groups (In Plenary) (10 mins for
                     each Breakaway Group)

5:15 PM – 5:45 PM    Briefing of next day’s activities

7:30 PM onwards      Dinner (Cultural Programme and Presentation of Community
                     Awards) (Venue: Amer Greens, Hoshangabad Road, Bhopal)

Day 2: 26 October 2007 (Friday)

Community Activity Knowledge Mela

9:00 AM – 10:00 AM    Members present issues in an open setting; also opportunity for
                      members to showcase their work
                            On tables in an open forum – resource persons for stalls to be
                            informed by organisers

10:00 AM – 11:30 AM   Discussions on Tables (participants discuss issues from the open
                      forum and move to tables of their interest) (Tea to be served at tables)

11:30 AM – 12:00 PM   Presentations by Resource Members from each table of the
                      results of discussion

12:00 PM – 12:15 PM   Tea

Technical Session     Topic: Special Initiatives in Local Governance              (In Plenary)

12:15 PM – 12:30 PM   Plan Plus – A Software for Decentralised Planning, by Rama
                      Hariharan, NIC, New Delhi

12:30 PM – 12:45 PM   Promoting Panchayati Raj – Experiences from Kerala, by Joy
                      Elamon, SDC-CapDecK, Trivandrum

12:45 PM – 1:00 PM    Discussion

1:15 PM – 2:00 PM     Lunch

Technical Session     Decentralized Planning for Marginalised and Vulnerable
                      Sections (In Plenary)

2:00 PM – 2:15 PM     Local Planning for Flagship Programmes, by Mangesh Tyagi,
                      Additional Secretary, Planning, Govt. of M.P.

2:15PM – 2:30 PM      Planning Methodology – Experience from Karnataka, by
                      Ashokanand, Director, SIRD, Mysore

2:30 PM – 2:45 PM     Planning for Vulnerable Sections – The Kudumbasree Mission
                      and Asraya Project, by Sarada Muraleedharan, Mission Director,
                      Kudumbasree Mission, Govt. of Kerala

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM     Discussion (Tea will be served at tables)

PANEL DISCUSSION                                                                         (In

3:00 PM – 4:00 PM     Topic: Environmental and NRM Issues in Local Planning
                      (Moderated by JB Lal; Panelists: Vinod Kumar, Sangeeta Purushotaman,
                      Amitabh Singh, PS Yadav)

4:00 PM – 4:15 PM     Solution Exchange – Feedback and Future Perspectives
                                Presentation on the performance and plans for Solution
                                Exchange and the Decentralization Community

4:15 PM – 4:45 PM     Conclusions and Closing Remarks (By Mr Rustam Singh, Minister,
                      Panchayats and Rural Development, Govt. of MP)

4:45 PM – 5:30 PM     Tea and Open Interaction among Participants

5:30 PM – 6:15 PM     Planning for Field Visits

Day 3: 27 October 2007 (Saturday)

Community Activity Field Visit

8:30 AM               Departure for Field Visits (from respective hotels with packed lunch)

10:00 AM – 11:45 PM   Field Visit – Interaction with panchayat functionaries, line department
                      staff on local level planning (Villages Ratanpur and Rajukhedi in
                      District Sehore; organized in association with Debate and Samarthan

11:45 PM – 12:45 PM   Discussion among members at location (in Facilitated Open Space

12:45 PM – 1:30 PM    Lunch (at the location of field visit)

3:00 PM               Arrival at Bhopal