[Menezes Braganza’s grand mansion in Chandor … photo courtesy Samratt, flickr.com]
Nice piece by Rahul Goswami titled Amcho ganv, amcho jiv, salvar koria So permit me the liberty to lift it in its entirety. Maybe it could inspire others in Goa. Chandor is a village in Salcete, South Goa:
The community of Chandor has made and delivered an emphatic statement. The ‘Five Year People’s Plan for the Sustainable Development of Chandor (2007-2012)’ is a document whose importance cannot be overstated for Goa. A work-in-progress, for that is what it is, it contains the spirit and confidence of a community in itself, awareness of its location as a unit and of the desired future of that unit, and it shines with a sense of belief, enthusiasm and community solidarity. Chandor has gifted Goa a model of thought and intent, no less.
Even as, through 2006, the sound and fury about Goa’s Regional Plan 2011 gathered and grew, the Chandor Development Forum was putting in place the very mechanisms, the very processes, that had been found to be absent in the state-level plan.
“A development plan is ideally prepared with the active participation of all the people for whom it is intended,” states the preface to the Chandor document.
“It was therefore proposed that the views of all the residents in the village should be sought and their aspiration and hopes understood before the plan was finalised. Subsequently, some villagers took it on ourselves to go around every corner of Chandor and ask people for their views on how our village must develop over the next few years.”
How very different, how much more truly democratic, more genuinely representative than the ‘official’ plan for the state of Goa, which was dislodged only via popular outrage, public protest and legal challenge.
Indeed, independent of state-sanctioned departments and methods — and of the the reformed planning paradigms that are only very slowly taking root in the country — the Chandor Development Forum has shown how ‘participation’ must work in theory and practice.
The Planning Commission, in its direction to the state of India for the preparation of district level plans, wanted that “the early part of the year 2006-07 should be devoted to preparing for each district a vision, through a participative process starting from the grassroots, as to what would be the perspective for development over the next 10 to 15 years.”
The articulation of such a vision is best done in each planning unit, right down to the gram panchayat level, stating with respect to each area what the needs and potential are, what the attainable levels are and what the goals to be reached could be.
A basic requirement, the Planning Commission tells us, is that the preparation of the vision is not conditioned by schemes and programmes. I shall repeat that for the benefit of Goa’s ‘monntris’ (ministers, or, losely, politicians) who spawn schemes and programmes with the speed and alacrity of the anopheles mosquito — community vision is not equal to socio-political bribery.
This vision is needed to primarily articulated in terms of goals and outcomes and would address basically, three aspects of development: human development indicators, infrastructure development and development in the productive sector.
The Chandor document is excellently articulated (Linken Fernandes and comrades, take a bow) and it has put in place the structures that will enable the community — Chandor-Cavorim and Guirdolim — to fill in the three aspects of development.
The idea is that the envisioning process, being participative, builds a spirit of teamwork and begins the process of breaking down the departmentwise ‘planning’ that is now dominant and which plagues Indian national and state planning.
Are we happy living the way we do now? Does Chandor’s physical environment and living spaces promote a healthy, stress-free life for our children and us? Are all the conditions present that can ensure that our lives will continue to flourish?
Are the institutions which have such a big influence on our lives locally — the school, the panchayat, the comunidades, the fabrica — performing optimally and in our best interests? These are the key questions that the Chandor document asks and then proceeds to find answers to.
At the national level, such a question-and-answer approach is called ‘envisioning’ and incorporates ideas of attainment regarding vital social needs such as education, health, water supply and sanitation.
At a central level, the means for inclusion of women in development planning and implementation is to ensure that part of sectoral funding is available and used for women. However, equality has to be built into the envisioning process as a whole by ensuring that women have an important role in the design of the entire panchayat/community plan, rather than only in the ‘womens’ component’.
For example, in surveys involved in the planning process, it needs to be ensured that womens’ views are especially sought, including through focus group discussions.
Women community leadership will need to be identified and included in committees that may be formed under various sectors, to ensure that women are included in planning for sectors other that social development, such as infrastructure, use of common lands, natural resources and employment.
In ensuring meaningful participation of traditionally muted and excluded groups like tribals, dalits, women and minorities in the envisioning exercise, there is need for special capacity building for them. Networks of elected women members ought to be encouraged so that they can exert collective pressure as well as throw up leadership.
Chandor’s example has shown that what was brought about by design in Kerala — the democratic decentralisation of economic planning — is now ‘development from below’ in Goa. Choices of local development projects need to be left to the community, for they are th best placed to assess and judge.
Projects are to be conceived, formulated, implemented, and maintained by the local self-governments, including those empowered under the Panchayati Raj Act. In such a process of change, the role of the state government in local level development will be reduced — as is the case in Kerala — to that of a facilitator providing funds and guidance.
This is a landmark for the state, and Goa’s 189 panchayats must make — right now — a reading of the Chandor document mandatory for themselves and their communities.
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