Participatory democracy is finally coming of age. At least in Madhya Pradesh (mp). A process that began with empowering the tribal people of Jhabua district in 1994 is culminating in Gram Swarajya for every person living in the 70,000-odd villages of mp . To coincide with India's 51st Republic Day, the mp government under chief minister Digvijay Singh will introduce the Gram Swarajya project that will make every village a "politically, socially and economically autonomous unit' with every citizen a member of the gram sabha .
Jhabua was just a moonscape when the Rajiv Gandhi Mission for Watershed Development was launched in October 1994. The mission broke all rules. It was probably the first government scheme in India in which people, instead of bureaucrats, were made decision-makers. Yet again, mp is breaking the rules. A village will become more important than the panchayat . Called the gram sabha , a fourth tier is being created to add to the three