Decentralised Governance and Tribal Development in Scheduled Areas of Odisha-A Study

Decentralised Governance and Tribal Development in Scheduled Areas of Odisha-A Study
Bishnu Prasad Mohapatra


The Thesis entitled “Decentralised Governance and Development in Tribal Areas of India- A Study of Odisha” is an outcome of Ph.D. Research Work carried out by me for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies with specialisation in Political Science at the Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS), Hyderabad, India under Dr. B.R.Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad. The main objective of this research was to understand the overall processes of evolution of the decentralised governance in the scheduled areas (Tribal Areas) of India and how such process has been contributed towards institutionalisation and functioning of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in these areas while covering the two districts in the State of Odisha as a Case Study. Further, it was intended to understand how the Gram Panchayats (Village Panchayats) as a unit of Decentralised Governance are functioning in these area in the context of enactment of various constitutional and legal provisions (in particular the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act (1992) and the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (1996)) and their contribution towards promoting socio-economic development of the people of these areas in particular the Scheduled Tribes (STs) through promoting local development plans and implementing a number of development programmes. The study was conceptualised considering the three key attributes of the decentralised governance and development in Tribal Areas such as (i) Panchayati Raj System and institutional arrangement in the scheduled areas, bottom-up planning process and participation of STs in the planning process and implementation of socio-economic development programmes by the Panchayats and their overall implications for improving socio-economic conditions of people in particular the STs in the area.

The case of Odisha which is located in Eastern Parts of India, presents a unique picture with regard to the institutional arrangement and functioning of Decentralised Institutions in the aftermath of 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act (1992) and the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) (1996) period. With regard to enactment of the PESA Act 1996, the trajectory of PRIs in the scheduled areas of the State has entered into a new era. The evolution of grassroots institutions like the Gram Sabha (Village Assembly), increasing participation of people in these institutions, planning through the Village Panchayats (VPs) and participation of increasing participation of people in planning process, and above all implementation of various socio-economic development programmes by the VPs have influenced the process of socio-economic development in various ways. The implementation of a number of development programmers by the VPs such as the development programmes based on schemes and projects of the Central Government and the State Government and the development programmes that are managed by the VPs as per the powers devolved to them under various legal provisions (like under the PESA Act) are in many cases helped to the people of the area in particular to the STs in strengthening their livelihoods and increasing their income levels.
Considering the above stated scenario as a milestone, it was also attempted to capture these developments through interacting with various sections of people, in particular the STs in the two districts (dominated by ST population) in the State of Odisha. In this case, a major scope of the study was to examine the overall performance and constraints of the Panchayats (VPs) for promoting tribal development in post-constitutional reforms period (73rd amendment, 1992 and PESA Act, 1996 period). So, this study was not designed to evaluate the status of implementation of various constitutional reforms , rather it was designed to examine the status of Panchayats (VPs) in the post-reforms period and their journey towards promoting sustainable livelihoods in the rural and tribal areas.
The study used a mixed methods research approach like quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative methods like survey method was used for collecting data from households, while qualitative methods like focusgroup discussions (FGDs) and in-depth interviews were used for collecting qualitative information pertaining to this study. The quantitative data were gathered through a survey of 300 households. Qualitative data were collected through in-depth interviews and FGDs with various categories of people. Some of the innovative democratic practices associated with this process also captured through FGD. The data collection process was carried out by using various research tools like Household Questionnaire and FGD checklist.

The study concludes that the Panchayats as part of decentralised governance in scheduled areas of Odisha have become an epitome of strengthening the local governance and propelling for tribal development which has observed through the case study of two districts. The study further concludes that the Panchayats are being institutionalised and functioning in these areas and the provisions of PESA Act in many cases contributed towards these processes. Promoting participation of people in the local democracy and implementing a number of socio-economic development programmes have also become major works of these institutions. These institutions have been emerged as the institution of self-government while promoting socio-economic and political transformation in the scheduled areas. These development programmes have become a major source of livelihoods for the millions of tribal people. The development programmes have also made significant contributions towards addressing the development needs of the tribal people and the tribal areas. The rise of Panchayats and their position in scheduled areas in the post-PESA period has affected the tribal development programmes in many ways. The concept of ‘Panchayat’ has become synonymous with the concept of governance and development of tribal areas.


Bishnu Prasad Mohapatra

Defended in


PhD defended at

DR BR Ambedkar Open University through Centre for Economic and Social Studies(CESS), Hyderabad, India


Social Sciences




Urban / Rural