India is home to the largest democracy in the world and voter turnout among the lower socioeconomic segments of society is impressive by world standards. Yet, even the best-crafted policies often fail to be effectively implemented. The promise of democracy in India is hindered by the lack of education and civic mindedness that would enable the people to vote on the basis of their needs and interests, to discriminate between policy options, and to understand potential consequences. Instead they fall prey to divisive party rhetoric and false claims, and accountability remains low. When it comes to implementation of well-intentioned government programs, what succeeds in trickling out to remote rural areas is frequently inadequate or, at best, put toward development projects that the people are often ill-equipped to effectively utilize.

It is about listening to people, meeting them where they are and helping them find the best path to take them where they want to go.

PIDT has sought to understand what people need in order to effectively govern and develop themselves. Bringing people together to listen to each other and build consensus motivates them to claim their stake in the higher level decision-making processes that affect their lives. Starting at the grassroots level with local samities and self-help groups, we are now able to see these collective bodies form into CBOs, federate, and integrate with the local political structures, the panchayati raj, that are being introduced by the government, so that their voices can be heard through official channels. Back