Participation. in the context of development has two distinct interpretations. They are: a) participation as an input to development; and b). As a means of empowering the rural poor to play an effective role in rural development. Thus, participation is re cognised as an intrinsic part of the process of development rather than merely facilitator. This paper discusses the importance & process of people's participation, different stages. In the process of People's Participation, and various factors affecting people's participation In the context of development process.
Key words: Conscientisation, resources.
Ever since independence, we have been talking about and devising ways and means or a suitable framework to ensure people's participation in the programmes of social and economic development.
When we started using this term or emphasising the role of people's participation in the area of development, naturally the term assumed a different meaning and significance. The question, however, is why it became necessary to speak about people's participation and emphasise that the involvement of the common man, the humble farmer and the city dweller, was necessary. Was it because those who had led the mass movement all through the period of protesting, agitation and mass action had, with the transfer of power assumed a different or detached role cut off from the mainstream, as if it were? Was it that they had become the 'government' and were setting up certain programmes and priorities in which they wanted widespread mass participation ? Was it that they were trying to give a new direction and perhaps a new goal to the mass energy which could be signified or channelized through people's participation in a constructive manner? Or was it to mobilise the resources of the local communities in programmes of area development in a sort of non-monetized manner to supplement the financial resources which could be mopped up through taxation and other fiscal measures?
We should do well to ponder over these and many other related questions so as to understand what this long-brandished approach of people's participation has been. Perhaps it is meant different things to different persons at different times or perhaps the role and significance of people's participation has been a mixture of all the questions and considerations suggested above and many more. To put it differently, people's participation is meant the positive response- participation and direct involvement of the common man through representation in the 'government programmes'. Participation must be understood in terms of Participation in:
a) Decision making;
b) Implementation of development programmes;
c) Monitoring and Evaluation of the programmes; and
d) Sharing the benefits of development."
The importance of people's participation can be assessed if we attempt to answer the questions like:
1). Why participation?
2). Who participates?
3). How to ensure participation?
Let us answer each of the above questions.
1). Why Participation? Participation in the context of development has two distinct interpretations. They are: a) participation as an input to development; and b). As a means of empowering the rural poor to play an effective role in rural development. Thus, participation is recognised as an intrinsic part of the process of development rather than merely facilitator. We need participation because it helps to increase the acceptability and utilisation of the services. It provides additional resources to a field continually facing resource scarcity as community is seen as an untapped resource base by which services can be extended particularly to meet the needs of the under-served. People's participation is essential for development because it helps in breaking down and replacing social, economic and political structures that are considered incompatible with development.
2). Who Participates? This question is basically related to the stratified structure of rural society. When we examine people's participation in the context of rural development, we come across three categories of people who are involved in the participatory process, viz., a) the people or the masses who are deprived of the basic amenities and whose well being is to be developed; b) The group of people who have control over the accumulation and distribution of resources. This can be the landlords, the community leaders and the local elites and political leaders and, c) the government functionaries who are the agents of development.
The participation of anyone of these categories cannot take place in isolation as the developmental process involves all these groups. The question of 'who participates', again depends on the specific objectives of participation. For example, if the objective is only to organise a procession to the collector's office then the participation is limited to masses and their leaders who facilitate their participation. But for the overall achievement of development of a particular community, participation should come from all the groups in an active manner.
3).How to ensure participation? The answer how people participate depends on a number of factors. One crucial factor is the existing political, socio-economic system, the cultural values, and the way in which various developmental activities are carried out. Accordingly, how people participate also depends on the assumption on which the planners visualise the programmes. It has been argued that the 'solution to the problems of exploited people must ultimately come from the people themselves. After the people have become aware of the problems and have opted for changes, they need to be mobilised to bring about changes in the socio-economic structure and in the political structure which legitimates it: One such assumption is the poverty is the result of individual disadvantages and differences and the perpetuation of control by elites over the poor. Therefore, if we want to remove poverty, for example in the former case, there must be a provision for pieces of advise and material assistance, especially in terms of social services by the experts and elites to the poor. Here, the people's participation will be only at the recipient level. One of the radical assumptions is that poverty is the result of the existing socio-economic system which supports the dominance of the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Therefore, in order to solve this problem, the solution must ultimately come from the people themselves. After the people have become aware of the problems and have opted for changes they need to be mobilised to bring about changes in the socio-economic structure and in the political structure which legitimates it. Here, participation is seen as a process where in people learn to change the existing system through definite action. The question of how to ensure participation can be better answered when we see the stages involved in the process of participation.
Process of People's Participation: The process of people's participation is based on three assumptions. They are:
1. The people as a community know, feel and accept their responsibility for their development.
2. The people should tap and develop their own resources to meet their needs. This includes, personnel and material resources, professional and traditional etc. This is so includes private and government endeavours, institutions and organisations, local provincial and national.
3. Primary focus is put by the people in their own problems, resources and action according to community priorities. Now, let us discuss the various stages involved in the process of people's participation.
Stages in the Process of People's Participation: Let us discuss the important stages which are involved in the process of people's participation.
1. Conscientisation: Conscientisation in a simple sense means critical awareness building. It is founded on the principle that all men are free and that its learners, even the most oppressed are capable of changing themselves and free themselves from any form of existence which is fatalistic or deterministic (Frere, Paulo is the one to whom the credit for evolving the concept must go). A critical awareness building is further based on a deep humanistic concern for people. This leads them to assess their needs from their own perspective rather than those of the powerful that have made the poor mere tools in their hands for their own profit and power. It believes that what the oppressed man of a slum or a village of India has to say should be communicated and listened to not only by the masses but by the elite as well. It believes that a person belonging to the oppressed class can facilitate this learning more than an outsider. Thus, Conscientisation is an awareness building education process through which human beings perceive, interpret, criticise, and finally transform their own environment. In the words of David Hilwood, 'Conscientisation is an awakening of consciousness, the development of a critical awareness of a person's own identity and situation, a reawakening of the capacity to analyse the cause and consequences of one's own situation and to act logically reflectively to transform that reality.
2. Organisation: The next step involved in the process of people's participation is organisation. Organisation precedes action. Organisation is also a process in which the people come together with common objectives of solving their own problems. In this process, they identify their needs or objectives and rank them accordingly to the priorities as all the needs cannot be met immediately. The means by which their needs can be easily met are also identified. The resources both available and required are identified. The type of action to be taken is also finalised. It is a process which provides for personal community integration and interaction. It therefore, entails the designing the appropriate organisational structure which is made of goals, tasks, resources, relationships:
3. Action: In the above analyses we have seen the stages that precede action in the process of people's participation . Taking a measure of action is the final stage in which the people are given a change to achieve what they want to. Action in the context of rural development can be broadly categorised into three components.
a). Effective utilisation of the available resources and services: Utilisation of available resources means making use of services given to the people. There are different schemes provided by the government for the rural sector. Very often these schemes are not brought to the knowledge of the people when the rural society is facing a particular problem. That can be easily solved if the voluntary organisations (VOs) help the people to avail of the schemes that are meant for solving such problems.
b). Demanding for the provision of more and better services: Demanding for better services is another form of action which the VOs can assist the people to do. For example, sanitation, supply of drink- ing water etc., may not be provided or inadequate in a community. On such occasions the VOS can initiate the people to demand for those provisions. The need for more demand can be easily brought to the attention of the government through various methods such as demonstrations, processions, strikes dialogues ete.
c). Creating better social structure: This should be the main role of the VOs activities. Because, the above two types of actions will bring only the immediate results and they cannot solve the problems once and for all. Thus, following the above two measures are like treating the symptoms of the disease and not the disease itself. The socio-economic conditions of the rural society are very pathetic even today, it is because a wide gap between haves and have-nots. Even the benefits that are supposed to reach the poor are always kept under the subjugation of rich and unable to rise against their exploitation. Therefore, unless this structure is changed and improved for the benefit of the underprivileged and the neglected groups, development cannot take place. The VOs thus, can play vital roles by helping the people to question such a structure and bring a change in the unjust social order. Usually such roles are played by the 'activist' groups. But this is one process and we are yet to see the recurrence of such changes on a large scale in our country.
Factors affecting people's participation: In the above analysis we have understood the meaning and the process of people's participation. Here, an attempt is made to reveal the factors affecting people's participation in a democratic country like India. The following factors are inhibiting people's participation in the development processes.
Dr.D. Sreenivas Reddy,
Faculty, Dept. of Studies in Social Work, Vijayanagara Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Jnanasarovara Campus, PG Centre, Nandihalli, Sandur, Bellary District, Karnataka.