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Out of Reach: Local Politics and the Distribution of Development Funds in Madhya Pradesh

Working papers

In the last few years the state government of Madhya Pradesh (GoMP) has been one of the leading proponents of democratic decentralisation in India. Following closely in the wake of the 73rd Amendment to the Indian constitution, the state has over-hauled the previous Panchayati Raj institutions creating new democratically-elected bodies at district level and strengthening and empowering those at block and village levels. Central to the new tasks of these bodies has been the distribution and - in some cases – implementation  of development and poverty alleviation funds including the Employment Assurance Scheme. At around the same time, the central government of India (GoI) passed legislation to devolve development funds to members of the parliament (MPs) for development of their respective constituencies. The separate state governments closely followed the central initiative and passed similar acts at the state level, allocating development funds to the members of the state assemblies (MLAs).  This study looks at these two schemes in Madhya Pradesh and investigates to what degree the have-nots – the intended recipients – have been able to access the development funds compared to the political and economic elites. It unravels the allocation and use of funds, the inclusion and exclusion of actors and the role of the bureaucracy from whom power over these funds has recently been transferred. It short, it attempts to understand the “logic of distribution” in these areas.

Vikas Singh, Bhupendra Gehlot, Daniel Start and Craig Johnson