Sunday, February 17, 2019 | ePaper

Running Union Parishad in a participatory way

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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque and Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder  :
Governance is a 'very general concept that can refer to all manner of organizations. Equally, this generality means that governance is often defined more narrowly to refer to a particular 'level' of governance associated with a type of organization (including public governance, global governance, non-profit governance, corporate governance, and project governance), a particular 'field' of governance associated with a type of activity or outcome (including environmental governance, internet governance, and information technology governance), or a particular 'model' of governance, often derived as an empirical or normative theory (including regulatory governance, participatory governance, multilevel governance, metagovernance, and collaborative governance). Governance can be used not only to describe these diverse topics but also to define normative or practical agendas for them. Normative concepts of fair governance or good governance are common among public, voluntary, and private sector organizations'.
In recent years the main thrust of the rural development policy has been on beneficiary's participation in the assessment of their own needs and in the determination of the priorities of grassroots planning to ameliorate their conditions. Public policy as the means of allocating values and setting development goals becomes a factor of facilitating constraining participatory development. Redistributive policies prevent misallocation of resource and lopsided access inputs and logistics reducing vulnerability of the poor to economic dependence under the existing land tenure system. Favorable public policies in the realm of participatory   governance (PG) include the components like self-development, income generation, capacity building concretization, institution building through co-operative and other democratic self-governing community organizations and empowerment of the rural commoners.
Participation, as an attribute of social modernization, denotes mass involvement in institution building activities, increasing consciousness of the masses for community development, information technologies, human rights and legitimate claims on available inputs and logistics. In traditional rural communities participation is narrowly spaced owing to mass ignorance about cosmopolitan values. In transitional villages participation is wide-ranging in the contest of pro-active peasant role in assuming organizational responsibility. Participatory rural goverenace  (PG) has become an acceptable doctrine to pull the backward community to prosperity.
Empowerment of the vulnerable is the hall mark of participatory development. We can safely view target group approach as frontline component of the program for the vulnerable. True this is a disadvantaged focused policy interventions. The idea is to enable the rural poor to involve in participatory development process. There has been institutional concern to activate the vast reservoir of human resources to educate the poor and to enhance their nutritional status. Such concern is a symbol of realization about the inadequacy of the resource of the poor and powerless group of rural population. It is imperative to organize the powerless into an institutional framework though target group approach.
It appears the PG as a concept has cropped up in the wake of the promotional process to break the chain leading the powerless to reach access point. The idea is to combat structural constraint through behavior change communication. Development practioners have endeavored to upscale efforts at community regeneration as a social movement to enhance the abilities of the left outs to mobilize, manage and control local and external resources by themselves and receive necessary services and supports.
Of late advocacy groups have provided much feedback to give a concrete shape to participatory approach. Sustained empowerment programs attain major significance in policy perspectives. The programs in this respect are many. We many refer to a few programs under policy framework:  comprehensive village development project(CVDP), small farmer development project SFDP, rural development (RD) projects 2,5,9,12; Rural poor co-operative project (RPCP), Rural Women's project RWP), Women's Education, Income and Nutrition Improvement Project WEINIP), and projects like  non-formal education(NFE), Functional Education,    Night School Develop and Child Development.
The state recognized critical importance of  human development for empowerment. Such policy strategy is based on the concept of man capital. This is to facilitate diffusion of ideas, knowledge and skill through extension activities to build leadership capacity among the powerless. Thing is that extension workers have to first empower disadvantaged locus in order that the latter can use development potentials in various productive sectors.
The concept of PG is full of participatory values. The whole range of the theme relates to the improvement of policy environment in social, economic, political and administrative aspects putting the last first. The big challenge of development is to be faced with community involvement and commitment. The ruralities are to be approached directly with program inputs and the stated purposes of advocacy for social change. The feedback from their participatory approach may serve as a channel of information for objective allocative decision and planned development.
Participatory  governance  is influenced by the cultural, socio-economic and political characteristics of the community organization. Such characteristics vary at various cultural sets and sub-sets. Ad times, PG seems to be the function of the society exposed to the forces of political development. Here the individuals as policy consumers are both individually and collectively aware about their own problems and predicaments and about human rights and public affairs. PG by implications involves all promotional activities and modern extension services tilting policy intervention to the favour of community interests.
Organizationally liked both horizontally and vertically participatory institutions are effective tools for communications, networking and planning and directing all promotional and extension functions at the rural-local point.
Participatory rural governance(PRG) is a concept with a broad based connotation and multiple interpretations. In reality villagers always participate in community life at home, at work, in ritual function and development activities. Traditional peasant culture attaches importance to the past remnants of its culture remembering the hero's, legendary figures and mythical ancestors clearly manifest in historical pantheon and fairy takes. Nevertheless it rightly ruptures participator ness of community organization perpetuating all the conditions of domination. It operates to defend status our as a means of upholding "hierarchical social reality" thus resisting all the attempts at empowerment of the disadvantaged lot.
)Union parishsad is obviously a democratic body politic at the grassroots. Participation of villagers in this body is crystal clear. Project governance focuses on deepening implementation  engagement through the participation of  project officers, personnel and community stakeholders. . The idea is that ptroject beneficiries through the participation of stakeholders  should play a more direct roles in the implementation process. . Government officials should also be responsive to this kind of  beneficiaries grievances. In practice, project  governance can supplement the roles of  stakeholders  as watchdogs through more direct forms of involvement
Good governance is an indeterminate term used in international development literature to describe various normative accounts of how public institutions ought to conduct public affairs and manage public resources. These normative accounts are often justified on the grounds that they are thought to be conducive to economic ends, such as the eradication of poverty and successful economic development. Unsurprisingly different organizations have defined governance and good governance differently to promote different normative ends.
Governance of course with the addition of prefix 'good' is sinequanon for efficient development management.  Development intervention through public policy is now a favorite of intellectual discussion as it very much concerns about institutional governance with the participation of the stakeholders to fulfill its desired objectives. Beneficiaries of public policy look to governing institutions both public and private for better service for ameliorating their socio-economic conditions
In the process of governance the government has to interact with civil societies and NGOs. In fact NGOs have long been handling their projects flowing from policy direction by structured flexibility approach. self-assessment mechanism , regular monitoring and intermittent change of techniques., if situation demands. This is really efficient and apt man agent of implementation. They are found working in an enabling working environment that they themselves created with participatory component, decentralization and motivation. In health  sector, for illustration, there has emerged some positive changes in health bevaviour. Based on the index of health development there has been astounding improvement in health awareness, especially awareness about STD/Hiv/AID, immunization, balanced diet and maternity services.
We may have much to take lessons from NGO's health management projects. This is of course result-oriented. The paramedics are well trained health workers doing their utmost to the satisfaction of the people. The resource persons at the apex of project management treat things well in a professional  manner.
Most experts opine that human development  related policies concern mother and  children development, their participation and their rights. Obviously we have a cluster of good laws and programmes in connection with human rights and development. Notwithstanding legislative measures and programmatic intervention the most vulnerable groups like women and children continue to suffer manifold harassments and negligence.
Some expers  point to  governance reforms for policy implementation.  Kamal Siddiqui (2001:33) stresses uopn to  governance reforms raising the following insightful questions:first, What are the basic priorities and intentions of the state beyond rhetoric, as expressed through the translation of Public speeches and statements, media interviews and election manifestos into policy documents, legal enactment, action programs, implementation plans, implementation evaluation, fixing responsibilities for poor or lack of implementation, etc? Second, does the state have the human, organizational and financial capacity and ability to implement large and complex development programs and policies.
The third world countries have faced the common dilemma of policy implementation with 'soft states ' (Siddiqui 2001:33). There are constitutional provisions, laws and acts for protection of human rights. Besides, there are UN Conventions ratified by the government of these countries. Even violation of human right continues to bedevil the community as the implementing machinery is weak and under performing. In Bangladesh the Children Act, 1994, the women and children repression (Special Provision) Act of 1995, Articles 27, 28 and 31, child Marriage Restraint Act (amendment) 1984, the Factories Act 1965 and UN Conventions are supposed to protect human rights against exploitation and abuse. Even then violence showing its ugliest face in contemporary Bangladesh disturbs normal life in the cities and countrysides lending to the gross violation human rights. What is urgently needed is 'full blown governance reforms' to reform implementing authority (Siddiqui 2001).
In contemporary Bangladesh challenges of new millennium inflict severe stresses and strains on government to the point of debilitating its policy implementation capacity. The challenges seem to mushroom in a crisis-ridden Bangladesh.
The symptoms of underdevelopment seem unabating calling for enhanced governance capacity. The challenges are faced by the different sectors like law enforcement, the judicial system, Board of investment (BOI), power, gas, telecommunications, customs and taxation, ports and shipping. There have been some efforts to streamline these sectors. But procedures are time consuming and cumbersome with resultant bureaucratic discretion 5 (Zamir, 2004, P.26).
Fight against poverty under the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) adds a new dimension to the challenge. But the existing nexus between growth and poverty is perpetuating inequities in the least developed countries (LDC). The regional experts attending the workshop in Dhaka convened jointly by the South Asian center for policy studies (SACEPS) and the center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) reiterated that growth itself will be inadequate in dealing with the multidimensional problems of poverty unless institutional constraints and rigid structures are duly addressed.6 (Dhaka Courier 2004). Decision-makers and planners ought to surmise 'policy gap'.
Thing is that dichotomy between lofty policy objectives  (Poverty alleviation rhetoric) and realities of the ground sustains such gap. Basic institutional constraints like land tenure, structural and non-structural violence, exploitative customs and age-old hearsay breeding superstitions should be removed to create congenial implementation environment. (Siddiqui 2001).
The issue of GO-NGO interface cannot be side lined. Such an interface in Bangladesh has by now rendered dysfunctional constraining proper implementation of poverty alleviation projects. Needless to mention "NGOs are key players in implementation networks. They fill a service delivery void at the local level, often operating relatively independently (Dereck w. Brinkerhoff  "Process perspectives on Policy change: Highlighting implementation" World Development vol. 24 no. 9 P.1399, 1996). Distressingly inhibitive relationship with NGO is a potent institutional constraint and NGO's political affiliation is no longer acceptable at the same time. Atmosphere of suspicion in dyadic contact between govt. and NGO destroys the spirit of partnership and the policy of dividing the NGO is self-defeating.  On the other hand some

(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque, Retired Professor, Chittagong University and Dr. M Abul Kashem Mozumder, Pro-VC, BUP)

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