Initiative of Social Justice Committee for Social Justice

Context:  Social inequality is a vital challenge for society wherein issues like un-touchability affects human psychology and manifests at various levels in different forms. Dealing with such an issue, Social Justice Committee of Ner Amarsar Gram Panchayat set a unique example of social equality through their work.   

Description: Gram Panchayat elections were held in December 2006 followed by the new body taking charge on 18th January, 2007. Damajibhai and Chondabhai were elected as Sarpanch and Deputy sarpanch respectively of the Gram Panchayat. After the election of the deputy sarpanch, Social Justice Committee was created by Talati wherein a person belonging to non schedule caste was appointed as chairperson of the committee.

During the same period, Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan as part of their capacity building programme of PRs organized a lecture series on Social Justice Committee, formation, its roles and responsibilities, etc. Bhurabhai Vaghela, Gram Panchayat representative belonging to scheduled caste attended the lecture series. He discussed this issue with Talati and TDO, both showed preparedness to recreate the committee. Later, Bhurabhai became the chairman of Social Justice Committee and was also allocated a separate place of sit in the Gram Panchayat and administrative tools. The committee has functioning with regular meetings and working hours on Mondays and Thursdays.

In 2010, Ner Amarsar village organized grand worship event of Shiv temple. For this event, the schedule caste community were boycott, not allowing them to enter and worship the god; financial contribution from them was denied and were not allowed for Prasad (lunch). This incidence broke the patience of the schedule caste community. SJC took this discrimination incident very seriously, all the schedule caste community got together and approached Bhachau Police station and started agitation for getting justice. Political leaders were also approached through various channels. The community got police protection and intervention of the Police and Political leader could avail the SC community justice. Schedule caste community could enter and worship the god, their financial contribution was accepted and were also offered Prasad. As an immediate response of this action, villagers stopped giving labour work to the Schedule caste community, however, as time proceeded, things were diluted and presently everything is running smoothly in the village. The outcome of the whole incident was that the SC community could create an equal place in the village temple for themselves which boosted their self confidence.  

Indicators:

  • Social Justice Committee apprehended social justice issues of the village and linked it with social development.
  • Scheduled caste families got equal rights.

Challenges:

  • Creating an identity of the SJC and keeping it active and engaged.
  • Issues of discrimination like un-touchability are very stubborn and success to address it is very less. 

Strengths:

  • Social justice committee’s self confidence has increased.
  • Citizens became more aware on social dividing elements in the community.

Contacts:

Bhurabhai J. Vaghela ,Ex.Chairman Of The Social Justice Committee ,Ner – Amarsar Group Panchayat,Taluka-Bhachau{Kutch}, Gujarat Mob :- 99134 67905

Facilitate   by :- Setu Mahiti kendra- Kabrau

 

 

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Tax Collection by Lohariya Garam Panchayat

Context:

Central and State funds are available to Gram Panchayats for development of basic amenities in the village and not for maintenance of the developed amenities. Panchayat need to have their own fund for the maintenance of amenities like water sources, distribution systems, approach roads, gutter lines, etc. Most of the time Panchayats are either irregular in raising taxes, have many defaulters in the village, no mechanism to deal with the defaulters or at the most taxes levied itself are very less in amount. Lohariya Gram Panchayat initiated a campaign to recover taxes and improve on revenue generation of the Gram Panchayat.  

 

Description:

Gram Panchayat revenue was poor to maintain the existing infrastructure. This was because of poor systems of tax collection, no revisions in existing taxes, no introduction of user fees, etc. This was a routine agenda of discussion in the general meeting of Gram Panchayat. To improve on the systems, Gram Panchayat decided certain strategies, each ward members was given the responsibility of collecting tax in his / her ward, secondly, fees were introduced for two and four vehicles, revisions were made for the existing taxes and a new tax (gutter tax) was introduced. Initially, Talati was responsible for tax collection and was burdened with the work load, ward members facilitated Talati to reduce on his work load by taking the responsibility of tax collection, sensitizing citizens for the need of paying tax and at the same time making the system easily accessible to citizens for paying taxes.

 

The new system facilitated the Gram Panchayat to generate revene of Rs. 49,820/- per annual which initially was just Rs. 7880/- Financial year of 2011 – 2012 recorded 100% tax recovery.                                         

Criteria:

Each ward member is given the responsibility of collecting tax in his/ her ward

Strength:

  • Gram Panchayat has right to collect tax and levy fees and generate own fund.
  • They don’t have to remaining dependable on external grants / funds for small work in the village.
  • Facilities are improved which improves standard of living of the citizens.
  • Citizen’s faith towards Gram Panchayat increases.

Challenge:

Established tax collection system may fail if the newly elected Gram Panchayat body will not have attitude to improve on the facilities for the citizens. 

Contact:

Shree Dhirajlal Arjanbhai Parmar (Ex-sarpanch)

Lohariya gram panchayat, Ta. Anjar, District-Kutch, 97235 20320

Face book id :- D.a. Parmar (daparmar61@gmail.com)

Facilitator: Setu information centre, Khambhara, ta. Anjar

An initiative of Bhiradiyara group Gram Panchayat for livelihood development of Maldhari communitys

ImageContext: Banni is known as biggest grass lands of Asia since decades. Banni has 19 Group Gram Panchayats covering 48 villages. Since generations people depend on animal husbandry for livelihood. History says, in this region milk and ghee did not had any cost, till the depletion of best quality grass due to unchecked over grazing which gradually increased the maintenance expense of keeping cattle. Over a period of time, milk and ghee became a commodity but furnished irrational price at local level. In the year 2008, Bhiradiyara Panchayat along with other Gram Panchayats of Banni initiated a thought on ‘dairy’ to sustain animal husbandry business.

Description:

At various platforms including Gram Sabha Bhiradiyara Gram Panchayat started building up on the thought of ‘dairy’, development of allied activities like pond and grazing land and bringing in consensus of citizens. The discussions also reached Banni cattle nurturing Maldhari union and Sahjeevan, an NGO working on environmental issues. With the support of Sahjeevan, the discussions and willingness to get organized for better milk market reached NDDB. NDDB commissioned an assessment survey to get an estimate of every day milk pouring in the region.

After getting a positive picture from the assessment survey, first chilling centre was started at Bhiradiyara by NDDB. The demonstration effects of the success also pulled Sarhad and Mother Dairy to the region to start their chilling centres. Within a short period, the chilling centres were also opened at Hodaka and Dhorado villages of the region. Today, every day, average 1 lac litre of milk is provided from Banni region to several such milk dairies.  Before five years, nobody was ready to buy cow milk at Rs. 10/- and buffalo milk at Rs. 15/-. Today, cow milk is sold for rupees 15 – 22 /- per liter while buffalo milk is sold at Rs. 25 to 35 per liter.

Indicators:

  • Standard of living of people has been improved with improvement in milk rates.
  • Citizens are become more optimistic towards cattle husbandry business.
  • Building a local market opportunity has addressed the issue of migration.

Confidence after livelihood security has boosted and citizens have started getting united for rights base issues.

Strengths:

  • Well established MIS with code number of each cattle breeder has left no scope for mediators.
  • On sight fat measurement leaves no scope for unethical practices.
  • Quality grazing land provides fertile ground for the business to flourish.

Challenges:

  • Land trading to companies has initiated in Banni region which will result to diminish grazing lands available to the cattle.
  • Fencing practices on grazing land of Banni may possible affect the business of cattle breeding.
  • With the increase in tourism sector in the region, Banni’s grasslands are susceptible to various kinds of pollution.

Contacts:

Shaiyad Kamalshah Alishah ,
Ex. Sarapanch  Bhirdiyara Group Panchayat,
Taluka-Bhuj{Kutch}, Gujarat
Mob:-09427768692//9913584792//9724516038
 
Support for Document : 
Setu Mahiti kendra- Khari & Bhirdiyara Mahiti mitra Contact Number : 02803270295

Governance Self Assessment

Governance Self Assessment

 ImageThe Village Governance Fund (VGF) was introduced by Setus to transform the relationship between donors, NGOs, and communities; and to create platforms for Panchayats to sponsor and monitor the development of their villages. This un-tied fund enabled the Panchayats to undertake developmental agendas within the parameters of good governance, social justice, and equity. VGF provided an opportunity for Panchayats to hone their skills and legitimize their position as effective and responsive units of local self-governance. Taking into consideration the lengthy and in depth process of capacity building at various levels and through various modes, a tool was developed to assess the performance of Gram Panchayats in terms of governance parameters. In its pilot phase, three Gram Panchayats were subject to governance self assessment[1] with the following objectives:

a)      To institutionalize a system for Governance Self Assessment

b)      To assess improved capacity of Panchayats in ‘Governance’

c)      To assess improvement in support to marginalized communities by the Panchayats

d)     To assess the direction of Setus for future intervention with Panchayats

e)      To assess improvement in taxation by Panchayats

f)       To assess change in record keeping practices of Panchayats

This tool for Governance Self Assessment was developed by Setu team with support from external resource persons, in consultation with individuals from the community and Panchayat Association. The Parameters taken into consideration for developing the framework included:

    • Expectations of good governance from local communities
    • Constitutional mandates, taking references from Fundamental rights, Directive principles and Fundamental duties of local governments.
    • The Gujarat Panchayati Raj Act, provisions within, ‘subjects’ devolved to the Gram Panchayats by the State,
    • Role of GPs in implementing various Centrally and State sponsored Schemes.

Image

The Parameters were then categorized in 16 subjects and each subject was probed with advanced questions to make an assessment on Panchayat’s governance role.

These 16 subjects included:

  • Local Governance administration
  • GP finances
  • GP body functioning
  • GS functioning
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Provisioning of basic infrastructure and services
  • Rule and norm making
  • Planning
  • Environmental Management and NRM
  • Pro – Active Governance
  • Traditional Governance expectations
  • Equity and Justice
  • Implementation effectiveness – NREGA
  • Eco – development
  • Land – Pasture, wasteland, encroachment, etc
  • Level of Awareness

The Assessment output was converted into scores for each of the key parameters (sixteen), as well as an overall local governance index, thus allowing for comparisons across Panchayats. It also allows for easy trend analysis over time, point at the more intractable gaps etc.

The governance deficit pointed out by the assessment defined the areas for improvement for each local government which will influence the process of Local planning, making it much more robust and objective and bring much needed attention to critical governance issues, instead of only focusing on scheme’s and infrastructure development.

While piloting and strengthening the Governance Self Assessment (GA) as a tool to augment GPs’ performance on governance parameters, it was strongly felt that more number of Panchayats need to be covered under GA in order to establish the concept and institutionalize it with Panchayat Association. Panchayat Association, though were involved with assessing the pilot Panchayats, still need to enhance their skills as auditors, share the concept and piloting experiences to larger group of Panchayats of the region, organize sharing workshops among the Talukas. Moreover, most of the Gram Panchayats have newly elected members after the Gram Panchayat elections in the month of December 2011 and April 2012 in Gujarat and thus the Panchayat Association members would also change accordingly and the association would soon have new members in their Board. The ex members of Panchayat Association would continue their membership with the Association as co-opt members and as advisors. It is essential at this phase that the former and new members of Panchayat Association arrive at a common platform, share the experience and importance of Governance Self Assessment and take the process ahead together.

In the proposed period December 2012 to March 2013, Setus would facilitate the Panchayat Association to conduct Governance Self Assessment in 10 Panchayats spread across three Blocks of the District – Bhuj, Anjar and Rapar. The facilitation role includes:

Results till now:

The team of auditors prepared audit report of the three Panchayats – Rampar, Devadiya and Mathada, all belonging to Anjar Taluka of Kutch District and shared with the Panchayat body. Audit report was reflected as scores of each Panchayats in each of the governance parameters and also qualitative information with respect to the Parameter. Scores of each Panchayat for various governance parameters is reflected in the table below.

 Table: Score of Panchayats on Governance Parameters

Sr. No

Subject

Mathada

Devadia

Rampar

1

Local Government administration

81.8

84.1

84.1

2

GP finances

69.3

64.0

50.9

3

GP body Functioning

43.5

31.5

89.7

4

GS functioning

25.0

21.9

5

Transparency and Accountability

58.3

58.3

66.7

6

Provisioning of basic Infrastructure and services

72.6

69.0

45.3

7

Rule and Norm Making

36.4

50.0

50.0

8

Planning

44.1

61.8

14.7

9

Environmental Management and NRM

50.0

25.0

20.8

10

Pro-Active Governance

43.6

54.8

40.2

11

Traditional governance expectations

56.7

66.7

70.0

12

Equity and Justice

88.1

78.6

20.6

13

Implementation effectiveness – NREGA

9.6

4.4

18.4

14

Eco – development

64.3

35.7

28.6

15

Land – pasture, wasteland, encroachment, etc

29.2

25.0

18.8

16

Level of awareness

89.8

66.7

76.9

Governance INDEX

52.6

48.8

41.9

 Note: In Rampar Panchayat the team of auditors missed out giving score to Gram Sabha parameters and captured qualitative information for the parameter and hence the table above does not show Gram Sabha related score of Rampar Panchayat.

Future plan  for Governance Self Assessment

Activities December January February March
Weeks
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4
Governance Self Assessment
Formation of Assessment teams Y Y
Training for the Assessment teams Y
Workshops for creating platform for Panchayat Associations to bring Panchayats together Y Y
Tool printing Y
Executing Governance Self Assessment Y Y Y
Facilitation in preparing Assessment report Y Y Y
Sharing with the assessment reports with the Panchayats Y Y
Documentation Y Y Y

The term Governance Audit was changed to Governance Self Assessment on request of the Panchayat Association.

This entry was posted on December 8, 2012. 1 Comment

Workshop to Share the Grass Root Practices – experiences from the Kutch District

Innovations in Strengthening Decentralized Governance: Workshop to Share the Grass Root Practices – experiences from the Kutch District

(August 4, 2012, Mahatma Gandhi Labor Institure, Ahmedabad, Gujarat)

Kutch Nav Nirman Abhiyan, through Setus has initiated a process of strengthening the gram panchayats in the area of decentralized planning, increased access to funds, information and resources necessary for the realization of the developmental needs of the villages with equity and social justice and overall leadership development to practice participatory and accountable functioning. Setus strive not only to reorient the Panchayats to practice innovative people centered accountable development activities, but more so to institutionalize such self help efforts. The interventions are in the area of (i) Use of Information Technology in Participatory Decentralised Planning, (ii) Use of untied Fund and ways to improve panchayat finance and (iii) accountability majors.

(i) Use of Information Technology in Participatory Decentralised Planning

Under this programme support, the Panchayats are provided GIS based maps to facilitate local planning.  To enable the gram panchayat members to make village level plans through the help of IT, a bilingual web based application was developed using local source technology called ‘Local Governance Support System’ (LGSS). It displays the village information which is collected from different sources on demography, natural resources, village level assets etc. It has also information on various government programmes and schemes. A comprehensive range of issues and information that affect the village development and governance such as location of public resources, the number of unemployed persons in the village, the proximity of schools, functioning / satisfaction with PDS, etc are included in the package. The software has the scope to be updated periodically, can be used in different locations and has the scope of replication.


Women have been more involved in the village planning process as the software provides visual images of the status of resources and services. After using this software now the locations of each proposed activity like, the village pond, check dam or school building, the exact location is displayed. This new planning process has been piloted in 20 panchayats of different talukas of Kutch district.

 (ii) Use of Untied Fund and ways to improve Panchayat Finance

The concept of the village Governance Fund (initially known as Village Development Fund) was conceived of keeping in mind the need to strengthen, legitimize and transform gram panchayats as empowered change agents and enabling them to leverage other resources to maximize the development process. 70 gram panchayats have been supported through this fund. The panchayat body and the gram sabha were not used to such a process. However, developing capacities of the  panchayats have gradually helped them prioritize their own development issues. The purpose is not that it will use the fund for a particular activity, rather the emphasis has been for improving planning and effort to access government resources. Some of the important activities taken up by the panchayats are setting up fodder bank, seed bank, renovation of ponds / water resources, improving health facilities that fall under panchayat jurisdiction. The panchayats have also taken up efforts to improve school education system by appointing community teachers, setting up libraries. In the area of public health promotion, efforts have been made to train community health workers to conduct health education, cleanliness campaigns and support to the ANMs. Panchayats have also developed keen interest on issues of human resource development including assertion of human rights with regard to women and children.

Two studies – (1) Financial Devolution to Panchayats, a case study of Gujarat (2) Gram Domestic Product of Village Panchayats have been undertaken by the Setu program. The first study analyses the institutional mechanism for devolution and have explored the devolution made by various institutions functioning in the PRI system. The second one on GDP analyses the actual level of income in the selected Village Panchayats and collating them with the official data on poverty and give policy prescriptions for reduction in the level of relative and absolute poverty in the rural areas.

 

(iii) Accountability majors

So far there is no clear guideline and tool to make the panchayats accountable except the provision of gram sabha. The Setus jointly with the Sushashini initiative of Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan has been disseminating educational information on good governance and accountability. Many of these gram panchayats are part of LoGIn (an initiative of Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation) in which the gram panchayats underwent a structured knowledge building process on good governance. These interventions have built the capacity of the panchayats to make clear resolutions in the gram sabha and present their work in a transparent manner. These practices have led to formulation of a governance audit framework – a tool to measure performance of Local Government as governance institution; be able to compare them over time and across Local Governments.

The workshop will follow a format in which the grassroot facilitators researchers will make presentations providing concrete examples. In most of the cases the panchayat representatives will make short intervention explaining their work. Followed by these presentations, the subject experts have been requested to make their critical observation to derive insights into the theme. Besides inaugural session there will be three thematic sessions as mentioned above. Each session will be chaired by person having years of experience and expertise on the theme. The workshop will be attended by PRI representatives, Grassroot NGO facilitators, Academicians and Government Officials. There will be about 60 to 80 participants attending the workshop.

This entry was posted on July 21, 2012. 1 Comment