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Legal Framework and Citizen Participation in South Asia Regional Report

Manoj Rai
Publication year: 
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This document is part of a global research initiative undertaken by the Institute of Development Studies, the Ford Foundation and some regional partners through the LOGO Link programme.The document reviews legal frameworks in Bangladesh, India and Nepal to facilitate comparative analysis among various forms of citizen direct and indirect participation.
The ancient and rich civilisation of South Asia has been shaped by various combinations of geo-political, economic, social and demographic forces, which produced a rich variety of institutions, social movements, traditions, system of belief and practices. The South Asian region has had along history and culture of local selfgovernance. Village communities in India during the time of Rig Veda (1200 BC) had self governing bodies called sabhas. Village administration in Nepal is said to be as old as the geography of the country. In old days Nepal was divided into self -governing thums (territories) and each thum had its own panchayats composed of five elected members. The local bodies regulated and administered the villages so much so that they were termed as 'little republics'. The traditional social norms in South Asia co-exist with liberal democratic institutions in an uneasy, ambiguous, and contradictory relationship. So, it can not be gainsaid that the system of local government was a democratic institution at the grassroots level endowed with adequate power, clearly defined functions and sufficient financial resources.