P. K. MICHAEL THARAKAN & VIKAS RAWAL
Decentralisation and the People's Campaign in Kerala
This issue of Social Scientist and the one following this bring together a selection of papers on decentralisation process presented at the International Conference on Democratic Decentralisation at Thiruvananthapuram from May 23-27, 2000. The conference, organised by the Kerala State Planning Board (KSPB), brought together over three thousand participants - comprising policy makers, social scientists, journalists, activists and members of Local Self Governments (LSGs) - to deliberate on the idea of decentralisation of governance and planning. The Conference was organised in three simultaneous sessions; one primarily meant for policy makers, one for analysts, and one for activists and practitioners. The papers presented at the academic session of the seminar analytically examined the experiences of decentralisation in India (with case studies from Kerala, West Bengal and Karnataka), South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Haiti and Sri Lanka. The focus of the conference, however, was on the People's Planning Campaign (PPC) initiated by the Government of Kerala in 3 996. The Campaign originated from the proposal made by the State Planning Board to earmark a budgetary provision for planning and developmental activities at the three tier panchayat as well as the two tier Nagarpalika system. The government of Kerala accepted the proposal and implemented it in the 1997 budget.
This issue brings together a purposive selection from the papers presented in the academic session of the conference. These papers dwell upon the theory of decentralisation and attempt to place the experience of PPC in Kerala in an analytical perspective. There are seven papers in this collection. The paper by T. M. Thomas Isaac, member of the KSPB and one of the main architects of the PPC, presents an overview and an analytical description of the campaign. The remaining papers discuss various theoretical aspects of the concept of decentralisation and the way it has been translated in the formulation of PPC.