The Decentralization Community of Solution Exchange, an initiative of the United Nations Country Team in India, provides a platform to strengthen the institutions of local self government - Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipal Bodies - to bring about more transparent and participatory governance, more effective local development and better delivery of services.

The struggle for right to information was sparked off by an initial demand for details of Panchayat level expenditure, and it grew into a burgeoning movement and campaign for comprehensive legislation at the state and central levels. In the search for a breakthrough on minimum wages and corruption, it was able to access the records of some works in Raipur Tehsil, Pali district of Rajasthan.

The need of the hour is to amend the 73rd Amendment to promote women's equal participation in three tiers of panchayats. All women's organisations and civil society organisations should form a common platform with a single agenda.

Although the Union Finance Minister in his 1999 budget speech declared the 1999-2000 as the year of the Gram Sabha, adequate efforts were not made to enforce the declaration excepting in a few states like West Bengal and Kerala. The culture of not holding GS meetings got wide currency because the elected bodies and officials wanted to implement various developmental programmes in secrecy.

The residence of Baghuwar have reason to smile. This little village in central Madhya Pradesh is proud of its hygiene and sanitation. Every family has access to a pucca indoor, water-economical toilet. '100 per cent open-air toilet free village' proclaims a sign at the panchayat ghar.

If drinking water supply is undertaken through people's participation, pure water can be made available at 20 paise per litre. The point was made by N. Balagopal, national executive chairman of Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI) at the get-together of Thiruvananthapuram based NGOs on April 29.

The Andhra Pradesh government, quietly and unobtrusively, has achieved something quite remarkable: the conduct of the social audit for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) using the RTI Act; and therefore sown the seeds for a non-violent revolution in less than two years.

Local self-government in the form of panchayats and municipalities in our country are two grassroots democratic institutions msndated by the Constitution of India. They are neither any agencies of the government nor any sort of departments in the conventional sense within the framework of the government.

Simmering resentment against major developments in rural Goa-famous for its exotic beaches and idyllic rural countryside-has exploded in protests against allegedly corrupt local administrators.

After its pioneering efforts in universal literacy, Kerala has scored another first with Cheriyanad gram panchayat in Alappuzha district being declared the country's maiden litigation controlled and legal literate panchayat.