Participatory planning to strengthen decentralisation

The People’s Plan Campaign in Kerala is the largest decentralisation programme in India where participatory approach was followed successfully to devolve financial powers upto the panchayat level.


Despite the widespread popularity of the idea of decentralisation in the country, not many Indian states have given adequate attention to decentralised governance. In 1996, Kerala has put forth a prominent exception with the launch of the People’s Plan Campaign (PPC) that offered a pro-active methodology for decentralised planning with direct participation by citizens. The driving idea behind PPC was that the local bodies plan for themselves, identify the felt needs of the people, analyse the development problems, assess the local resources, make feasible development schemes, and prioritise and integrate them into a local Five Year Plan document.

A variety of participatory institutional systems and practices were developed to attain these objectives. These include macro level institutions like district and block level expert committees for plan appraisal and approval; micro level participatory institutions like Task Forces for plan formulation and Beneficiary Committees for plan implementation. Neighbourhood groups and Self Help Groups were also promoted as part of the People’s Planning Campaign. The constitutional entity of gram sabha was innovatively employed as a tool for mass mobilization in the democratic process during the PPC period in Kerala.

The PPC for the Ninth Five Year Plan represented an initiative that made use of the legacy of collective social intervention and the strength of mass movements to meet the erstwhile crisis of development. It was the single largest experiment in local democracy and local community empowerment at the time of its launch. It directly impacted nearly 31 million people in the state of Kerala. Several landmark mass programmes have come out of the PPC. These include the country’s largest women-centric poverty alleviation programme, Kudumbasree, the EMS Housing Scheme and the Kerala Food Security Programme.

This case study was published in November 2011.

Download File