Panchayats the answer to India’s environmental woes? Not yet…

I spent much the past semester debating all the various ways society and individuals might protect the environment. What else would you expect from a policy program?

One answer I stumbled upon and investigated is India’s traditional form of local government, made constitutionally secure not quite two decades ago: the panchayat — literally the council of five.

Panchayats represent India’s attempts at decentralization, the supposed transfer of powers from the central and state governments down to village-level actors. For the environment, this theoretically promises that resource, conservation and protection decisions are made at the level where they are actually felt. In reality, panchayats today are hardly robust institutions of local governance. They’re mostly used as implementing agencies for India’s development agenda. Meanwhile they face competition from other less than secure or democratic institutions specifically designed to manage resources.

I’m not promising it’s the most riveting read; and I’m not certain I like the final product. This issue could be a much longer paper involving substantial field work. But click here if you really want to know.

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Dear India, thank you for inviting me to stay here forever




After 89 mind-boggling, frustration-inducing, grey-hair-propagating, bureaucracy-cursing, confusion-rendering days of limbo over my application for a permanent residency and work permit in India, the central government here in Delhi— lithe, agile and efficient as it always is (heavy sarcasm) — showed me the meaning of unexpected haste.

Though I was expecting the process to take months or more to complete (if ever), at 4:23 p.m., Monday, February 1, 2010, I, Adam Franklin Jadhav, officially became an Overseas Citizen of India. For nearly all intents and purposes, I now have dual citizenship and am free to do almost entirely as I please.

Hallelujah.

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Small victories against the sarkarji

I see you lawyer, stamping that paper...

I see you lawyer, using your stamp...

My most recent victory against the Indian bureaucracy involved procuring an affidavit (being prepared above) attested by an SDM, or sub-divisional magistrate.

It was a long, drawn-out process that involved several hours of sitting in a cold office foyer until a sour Indian civil servant decided he was done eating lunch. Mr. Kumar, the SDM I needed to sign my paperwork, reminded me of a bitter, dour-looking Indian version of Rod Blagojevich (weasely with floppy hair and a sly grin) without any charm or ambition (if that’s possible).

I must point out that, though I was ecstatic to get the affidavit signed, it’s as if I was overjoyed that a deputy city clerk did his/her job. Basically, my victory involved the system working as it rarely does and always should.

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Kenyans to Obama: Stick it to our idiotic government

I fully expected Kenya’s honeymoon affair with America to end when the Obama administration dropped the threat of a travel ban on numerous Kenyan politicians alleging they had stood in the way of reform. Here was the superpower trying to dictate local politics.

Instead, according to most of the locals I spoke to, Obama had won points, rather than lost them.

Kenyans for decades have labored under corrupt regime after corrupt regime since independence from the British in 1963. Even the country’s celebrated first leader, Jomo Kenyatta, is considered to have been corrupt. And don’t get me started on Daniel arap Moi. His legacy of gutting the constitution lingers today; so does his plundering the treasury (and really the economy).

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