From Presence to Decision-making: Understanding ‘Participation’

Jyoti Jyoti


Community ‘participation’ or ‘consultation’ or ‘discourse’ are a few
terms that always mark their presence in the policy documents prepared
under present welfare programmes. There are legal provisions meant to
ensure people’s participation in both rural and urban areas to promote
democratic governance procedures. The target population is often
encouraged to engage in dialogue with the recognized ‘agents’ of
change belonging to both government and non-government
organizations. However, there is a difference between the idea of
participation as understood in democratic governance and how it is
really practised. Instead of taking initiative in planning, based on their
needs and culture, people generally end up doing ‘role plays’ or being
dummy participants. This paper tries to arrive at the core of the concept
of participation as understood by NGOs, funding organizations and the
government. It brings into focus the right/power of members to take
decisions as an important element of participation. With the help of data
gathered during the field work around the creation processes of
communication material on a national health programme (i.e. National
Vector Borne Disease Control Programme), the study aim to reflect
upon the standardized procedures that are developed and maintained by
a private communication agency to ensure participation by the targeted

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