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The problem of local government reform in rural Bangladesh : the failure of Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Huque, Ahmed Shafiqul 1984

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THE PROBLEM OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM IN RURAL BANGLADESH: THE FAILURE OF SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR by AHMED SHAFIQUL HUQUE M.A. , U n i v e r s i t y Of Man i toba , Canada, 1979 M.A. , U n i v e r s i t y Of Dacca , Bang ladesh , 1975 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department Of P o l i t i c a l Sc ience We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d s tandard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA A p r i l 1984 © Ahmed S h a f i q u l Huque, 1984 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of Political Science The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date June 4, 1984 i i A b s t r a c t S ince World War I I , there have been s e v e r a l a t tempts to reform l o c a l government in r u r a l Bang ladesh . They were a imed, among o ther t h i n g s , a t i n c r e a s i n g food p r o d u c t i o n , improv ing l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e s , encourag ing p a r t i c i p a t i o n by the v i l l a g e r s in the management of l o c a l a f f a i r s , and b r i n g i n g the v i l l a g e s c l o s e r to the c e n t r a l government. Most of these o b j e c t i v e s have never been a t t a i n e d d e s p i t e the i n i t i a t i o n of v a r i o u s schemes to reform l o c a l government. The l a t e s t a t tempt , the Swanirvar Gram Sarkar ( " s e l f - r e l i a n t v i l l a g e government") scheme launched in 1980 by the government of Z iaur Rahman, i s a case in p o i n t . T h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n ana l yzes the mot ives which brought Swanirvar Gram Sarkar i n t o e x i s t e n c e , and the f a c t o r s tha t l e d to i t s t e r m i n a t i o n in 1982. In o rder to unders tand the g e n e r a l l y c h r o n i c f a i l u r e of l o c a l government reforms in deve l op ing c o u n t r i e s l i k e Bang ladesh , i t i s necessary to c o n s i d e r the e x i s t i n g l o c a l government systems in t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r h i s t o r i c a l c o n t e x t s , the p o l i t i c a l c i r cums tances under which reforms are i n t r o d u c e d , and the soc io-economic c o n d i t i o n s p r e v a i l i n g in the l o c a l i t i e s . A review of the h i s t o r i c a l e v o l u t i o n of l o c a l government in Bangladesh i n d i c a t e s that a l l of i t s r u l e r s , both f o r e i g n and i n d i g e n o u s , have been r e l u c t a n t to a c t u a l l y d e c e n t r a l i z e power. They have des igned l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s in such a way as to ensure c o n t r o l by the c e n t r e . Moreover , a t the i n t e rmed i a t e ( d i s t r i c t and union) l e v e l , r u r a l e l i t e s , who have been in c o n t r o l of the e x i s t i n g l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s , t r y to impede the d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of power to the v i l l a g e l e v e l . They view new l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s such as Swanirvar Gram Sa rka rs as t h r e a t s , and put up o b s t a c l e s to prevent t h e i r o p e r a t i o n . There i s yet another e x p l a n a t i o n fo r the f a i l u r e in l o c a l government r e fo rms . Even i f the government dec ides to d e c e n t r a l i z e power, the v i l l a g e s may not be prepared to r e c e i v e i t , s i n c e they have not a ch i eved un i fo rm l e v e l s of p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n . T h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n makes use of h i s t o r i c a l e v i dence , the f i n d i n g s of p r e v i ous r e s e a r c h , government documents, and f i e l d study o b s e r v a t i o n . It p rov i des an in-depth i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the p o l i t i c s of th ree v i l l a g e s r e p r e s e n t i n g d i f f e r e n t r eg ions of Bang ladesh . In a d d i t i o n to the h i s t o r i c a l and n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l f a c t o r s a f f e c t i n g l o c a l government r e f o rm , c o n d i t i o n s in these v i l l a g e s are examined fo r ev idence e x p l a i n i n g why Swanirvar Gram Sa rka r , w i th few e x c e p t i o n s , was so u n s u c c e s s f u l . i v Tab le of Contents A b s t r a c t i i L i s t of Maps v i i Acknowledgement v i i i Chapter I THE PROBLEMS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM 1 PROBLEMS IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT 1 LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN A DEVELOPMENTAL CONTEXT 5 LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN BANGLADESH: THE GAP IN OUR KNOWLEDGE 13 FAILURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS: A WORKING HYPOTHESIS 15 PURPOSE OF PRESENT STUDY 19 THE METHOD 21 OUTLINE OF THE STUDY 23 Chapter II LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN BANGLADESH: THE LEGACY OF COLONIAL RULE 28 THE COUNTRY 30 TRADITIONAL PATTERN OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 32 VILLAGE SOCIETY UNDER MUGHAL RULE 35 INNOVATION UNDER BRITISH COLONIAL RULE 37 REFORMS UNDER PAKISTANI RULE 48 Chapter III LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN BANGLADESH: THE GENESIS OF GRAM SARKAR 62 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE POLITICAL SCENE, 1971-1975 . . . 6 3 RURAL DEVELOPMENT: STRATEGIES AND RESULTS 69 THE SWANIRVAR MOVEMENT 72 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE POLITICAL SCENE, 1975-80 81 0 V Chapter IV GRAM SARKAR IN THE POLITICAL CONTEXT: LEGISLATION, STRUCTURES AND FUNCTIONS 91 THE EMERGENCE OF ZIA 91 THE BANGLADESH NATIONALIST PARTY 95 THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR 102 PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL AND LEGISLATION 105 SOME OBSERVATIONS 110 Chapter V ISOLATION AND INACTION: GRAM SARKAR IN MANTALA, MYMENSINGH 121 THE VILLAGE 121, TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 128 SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR 129 AN OVERVIEW 136 Chapter VI NEW LEADERSHIP AND DOMINATION: GRAM SARKAR IN COLIPUR, COMILLA 144 THE VILLAGE 1 44 TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 150 SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR 155 AN OVERVIEW 1 63 Chapter VII FACTIONALISM AND VILLAGE LEADERSHIP: GRAM SARKAR IN RAINAGAR, RAJSHAHI 170 THE VILLAGE 171 TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT 177 SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR 178 AN OVERVIEW 185 Chapter VI I I GRAM SARKAR IN PRACTICE: A COMPARATIVE OVERVIEW 193 HISTORY 194 v i POLITICS AND ECONOMY IN THE VILLAGE SOCIETIES 197 LOCAL GOVERNMENT: STRUCTURE, FUNCTIONS, PERSONNEL 204 STRUCTURE 205 FUNCTIONS 207 PERSONNEL 211 RELATIONS WITH THE UNION PARI SHAD AND THE GOVERNMENT .217 AN OVERVIEW 225 Chapter IX CONCLUSIONS 233 BIBLIOGRAPHY '. 246 v i i L i s t o f Maps MAP 1. BANGLADESH: ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICTS 2 9a MAP 2. MYMENSINGH DISTRICT 121a MAP 3. COMILLA DISTRICT 14 4a MAP 4. RAJS HAH I DISTRICT 1.7 0a v i i i Acknowledgement I am g r a t e f u l to s e v e r a l p e o p l e . D r . John Wood, my t h e s i s s u p e r v i s o r , has been extremely p a t i e n t and p r o v i d e d i n v a l u a b l e guidance at a l l s tages of p r e p a r i n g t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n . P r o f e s s o r Stephen M i lne has c o n t r i b u t e d to the c l a r i f i c a t i o n of ideas and o r g a n i z a t i o n of the t h e s i s . D r . Paul Tennant has o f f e r e d c o n s t r u c t i v e feedback and he lped in improv ing the s t y l e of p r e s e n t a t i o n . I am indebted to the members of my s u p e r v i s o r y commit tee . I must thank the Department of P o l i t i c a l S c i e n c e , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Co lumbia , f o r p r o v i d i n g me wi th f i n a n c i a l support to complete the s tudy . D r . R i cha rd Johnston and Dr . Ken C a r t y , as s u c c e s s i v e Graduate D i r e c t o r s , have been h e l p f u l in a r r a n g i n g f i n a n c i a l a s s i s t a n c e and p r o v i d i n g cons tan t encouragement. The U n i v e r s i t y of C h i t t a g o n g , Bang ladesh , g ran ted me leave from my job and p rov ided p a r t i a l f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t . I am g r a t e f u l to Golam Mohammad and Humayun Kab i r Bhuiya fo r a s s i s t i n g me wi th the c o l l e c t i o n of data in the f i e l d . A a l i Rehman has he lped w i th e d i t o r i a l sugges t i ons and i n e s t a b l i s h i n g c o n t a c t s in R a j s h a h i . I have taken advantage of Asad Mamun's e x p e r t i s e in drawing maps. P e tu l a M u l l e r has a s s i s t e d i n t y p i n g the m a n u s c r i p t . F i n a l l y , I express my g r a t i t u d e to my w i f e , Khaleda Yasmin, f o r p r o v i d i n g suppor t in p e r i o d s of d i f f i c u l t y and h e l p i n g wi th the c o l l e c t i o n of data in the v i l l a g e s of Bang ladesh . I a l s o i x wish to thank my mother and r e co rd my a p p r e c i a t i o n fo r my daughte r , Shineen Anqa, who has been a source of cons tan t joy and amusement. 1 I. THE PROBLEMS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM PROBLEMS IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT In most new s t a t e s , l o c a l governments are beset wi th innumerable p rob lems . These stem from v a r i o u s s o u r c e s . The exper i ence of many d e v e l o p i n g na t i ons p rov ide ample ev idence that they "have s u f f e r e d fo r long p e r i o d s from a breakdown in l o c a l and n a t i o n a l bureaucracy so that l o c a l s e r v i c e s are not rendered and a semi-anarch ic c o n f u s i o n p r e v a i l s . " 1 T r a d i t i o n a l va lues in r e l i g i o n and s o c i a l o r g a n i z a t i o n work a g a i n s t r a t i o n a l b u r e a u c r a t i z a t i o n and the ex t ens i on of power by the new c e n t r a l p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s of the d e v e l o p i n g n a t i o n s . 2 Such prob lems, a long wi th the ever p resent s c a r c i t y of m a t e r i a l and f i n a n c i a l r e s o u r c e s , ac t as genera l d e t e r r e n t s to reforms in l o c a l government. A l though c o n s c i o u s at tempts are made to b r i n g about changes in response to l o c a l demands and needs , such changes are seldom s u c c e s s f u l in deve l op ing c o u n t r i e s . There are h i s t o r i c a l causes fo r such f a i l u r e s . H a r o l d A l d e r f e r has p o i n t e d out that in the pre- independence p e r i o d , l o c a l governments were e i t h e r n e g l e c t e d or r e c e i v e d h a l f - h e a r t e d a t t e n t i o n wh i le the c o l o n i a l r u l e r s c o n c e n t r a t e d upon m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t r o l over the c e n t r e . 3 But such c e n t r a l i s t t endenc i e s have p e r s i s t e d even a f t e r these c o u n t r i e s have become independent and n a t i v e p o l i t i c i a n s have assumed power. The case of Bangladesh i s t y p i c a l of such c o u n t r i e s . Bangladesh was born in 1971 a f t e r the eas te rn wing of Pak i s t an p u l l e d out of the f e d e r a t i o n f o l l o w i n g a war of independence. 2 One of the causes of P a k i s t a n ' s break-up was the s t r a i n e d r e l a t i o n s h i p between the cen t r e and the u n i t s r e s u l t i n g from i n c r eased c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of a u t h o r i t y . A f t e r independence, Bangladesh was n e v e r t h e l e s s o rgan i zed as a u n i t a r y s t a t e . T h i s seemed l o g i c a l because of the c o u n t r y ' s sma l l s i z e and l i n g u i s t i c - c u l t u r a l homogeneity , and a l s o necessa ry in view of the severe d i s l o c a t i o n caused by i t s war of independence . Yet the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the c a p i t a l , Dhaka, and the subord ina te l e v e l s of government in the d i s t r i c t s , s u b d i v i s i o n s , and thanas was not very c l o s e . In p a r t i c u l a r , the l owes t , yet from a deve lopmenta l po in t of view most important l e v e l , the v i l l a g e s , appeared to be i s o l a t e d from the c e n t r e ' s p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s . By the end of the 1970s, a l o c a l government programme c o v e r i n g the e n t i r e count r y was deemed e s s e n t i a l f o r the improvement of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n and the accomplishment of the t a sks of deve lopment . L o c a l government systems have opera ted in Bangladesh ( p r e v i o u s l y Eas t P a k i s t a n , and be fo re t h a t , Eas t Bengal ) f o r a c o n s i d e r a b l e l eng th of t ime . In the p a s t , l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s have g e n e r a l l y f a i l e d to p rov ide the necessa ry s e r v i c e s to the community or to s a t i s f y the p e o p l e ' s d e s i r e to p a r t i c i p a t e in l o c a l government. Va r i ous B r i t i s h , P a k i s t a n i and Bang ladesh i governments t r i e d to i n t roduce changes in l o c a l government. The r e o r g a n i z a t i o n of l o c a l bod ies u s u a l l y deve loped out of two needs : f i r s t , the need to e l i c i t support f o r the r u l i n g g roups ; and second, to s a t i s f y the l o c a l p e o p l e ' s demands fo r p a r t i c i p a t i n g in p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a f f a i r s . But 3 at tempts at r e o r g a n i z a t i o n were g e n e r a l l y of no consequence in p r a c t i c e and a l l " r e f o r m s " proved f u t i l e . C o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e s remained unchanged and p o l i t i c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n at the lowest l e v e l remained l i m i t e d . A l though the l e a d e r s of most newly independent c o u n t r i e s have u s u a l l y advocated complete breaks w i th the p a s t , these have not g e n e r a l l y been ach ieved due to a number of r easons . F a i l u r e s are e s p e c i a l l y apparent in the case of the r e o r g a n i z a t i o n or b u i l d i n g up of a new s t r u c t u r e of l o c a l government and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . L o c a l government in the c o l o n i a l days was c l o s e l y s u p e r v i s e d by c o l o n i a l o f f i c i a l s and na t i v e a d m i n i s t r a t o r s . They per formed main ly " sys tem maintenance" r o l e s , such as keeping law and order and c o l l e c t i n g revenue. A f t e r independence, a r e t u rn to the p r e - c o l o n i a l " i n d i g e n o u s " l o c a l government system was not u s u a l l y f e a s i b l e because c o l o n i a l r u l e had undermined or des t royed the o l d systems. The new r u l e r s a l s o c o n s i d e r e d the o l d sys tems, which were t r a d i t i o n - b o u n d and undemocra t i c , to be i n capab l e of d e a l i n g w i th the c o n d i t i o n s p r e v a i l i n g a f t e r independence . These and other reasons h e l p e x p l a i n why the c o l o n i a l systems of l o c a l government were not t e rmina ted a f t e r independence in deve lop ing c o u n t r i e s . Consc ious e f f o r t s were made in Pak i s t an to improve the q u a l i t y of l o c a l government per fo rmance , but most ended up as mere a s s e r t i o n s from the c en t r e about the d e s i r a b i l i t y of i n i t i a t i n g and c a r r y i n g out c e r t a i n l o c a l a c t i v i t i e s . A f t e r the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, l i t t l e a t t e n t i o n was p a i d to 4 l o c a l government r e fo rms , and the pre- independence system was a l l owed to c o n t i n u e . By the end of the decade, however, the a i l i n g a g r a r i a n economy of Bangladesh c a l l e d f o r r a p i d deve lopment , and the government l e d by the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r ty (BNP) i n t r o d u c e d Swanirvar Gram Sarkar ( s e l f -r e l i a n t v i l l a g e governments ) . The L o c a l Government (Amendment) Act 1980 which p r o v i d e d fo r the c o n s t i t u t i o n of Swanirvar Gram Sarkar in Bangladesh was passed in the J a t i y a Sanqsad (Na t i ona l Assembly) on June 21, 1980. The M i n i s t e r f o r L o c a l Government, Cap t a i n (Re t i r ed ) Abdul Ha l im Choudhury who moved the B i l l in the House s a i d that through the e s t ab l i shmen t of Swanirvar Gram Sa rka r , the count ry would a t t a i n " s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y and p r o s p e r i t y . ' " 1 Gram Sarkar c o u n c i l s were to be set up in the v i l l a g e s of Bangladesh in order to t a c k l e a number of b a s i c deve lopmenta l problems such as food p r o d u c t i o n , e d u c a t i o n , h e a l t h and w e l f a r e , law and o r d e r , and the v i l l a g e economy. Gram Sa rka rs were expected to poo l the r e sou r ces and t a l e n t s of v a r i o u s groups in the v i l l a g e s , and to f a c i l i t a t e t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n in the " n a t i o n - b u i l d i n g " p rocess from the g rass r o o t s . These v i l l a g e - b a s e d u n i t s of e l even members were to be headed by a Gram Pradhan ( v i l l a g e head ) . The Gram Sarkar was to be chosen through n e g o t i a t i o n and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n in an assembly of the Gram Shava (a meet ing of the v i l l a g e r s ) which c o u l d be a t tended by a l l a d u l t r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e . The assemb l i e s were d i r e c t e d to ensure r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the v a r i o u s c l a s s e s and p r o f e s s i o n s in keeping w i th the demographic nature of the v i l l a g e c o n c e r n e d . 5 5 On J u l y 10 1982, in e x e r c i s e of the powers c o n f e r r e d under Se c t i on 86 of the Loca l Government O rd inance , 1976 (XC of 1976), the m i l i t a r y government, that had come i n t o power on ly th ree months e a r l i e r , r epea l ed the Swanirvar Gram Sarkar ( C o n s t i t u t i o n  and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ) R u l e s , 1980, and Gram Sa rka rs s tood a b o l i s h e d . The M i n i s t e r fo r L o c a l Government, Mahbubur Rahman, s a i d that the a c t i o n was taken "because the Gram Sarkar was too sma l l a u n i t to be v i a b l e and e f f e c t i v e to work w i th separa te e n t i t y and autonomy." He a l s o s a i d i t had been c l e a r from p u b l i c o p i n i o n as we l l as government r eco rds and exper i ence " t ha t Gram Sarkar f a i l e d to c a r r y out the f u n c t i o n s a s s i gned to i t and i t s c o n t i n u a t i o n might not d e l i v e r the d e s i r e d r e s u l t . " 6 The d e c l a r a t i o n te rmina ted yet another exper iment aimed at r e fo rming l o c a l government in the r u r a l a r e a s . Most re form at tempts in Bangladesh have e i t h e r f i z z l e d out at the p l a n n i n g s t age , o r , l i k e t h i s one, have been suspended w i th the changes in government which have been f requent in the c o u n t r y . The causes beh ind t h i s r e co rd of c o n t i n u a l f a i l u r e mer i t i n v e s t i g a t i o n . LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN A DEVELOPMENTAL CONTEXT In o rde r to unders tand the p a r t i c u l a r dilemma of l o c a l government re form in Bang ladesh , i t i s necessa ry to r e cogn i ze tha t l o c a l governments face c e r t a i n u n i v e r s a l p rob lems . F i r s t , f o r the purpose of d e f i n i n g our c e n t r a l c o n c e p t , we need to 6 r e cogn i ze tha t there may be v a r i o u s l e v e l s of l o c a l government in a count ry which are set up i n accordance w i th the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p r o c e s s . L o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s are a d m i n i s t r a t i v e u n i t s which have the a u t h o r i t y to dec ide and implement c e r t a i n l i m i t e d types of p u b l i c p o l i c i e s w i t h i n a t e r r i t o r y demarcated fo r these purposes by the c e n t r a l government. U s u a l l y , they have gene ra l j u r i s d i c t i o n c o v e r i n g a d e f i n e d range of s e r v i c e s . L o c a l government may i n c l ude the lowest l e v e l of the c e n t r a l governmental departments or agenc ies tha t operate in s p e c i f i c a r e a s . The term i s a l s o used to r e f e r to r e p r e s e n t a t i v e or s e l e c t e d bod ies which serve s i m i l a r purposes in a l o c a l i t y , a l t hough the e l e c t e d bod ies are o f t en d i s t i n g u i s h e d by us ing the term " l o c a l s e l f - g o v e r n m e n t . " The c o n d i t i o n s under which l o c a l governments f u n c t i o n in deve l op ing c o u n t r i e s can be b e t t e r unders tood by examining the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the c e n t r a l and l o c a l governments. Whi le l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s are set up fo r the management of l o c a l a f f a i r s , c e n t r a l governments are r e l u c t a n t to a l l ow adequate autonomy to these b o d i e s . The usua l reason put forward by the c e n t r a l government in each case i s the concern fo r a guarantee of c e r t a i n minimum s t anda rds , but t h i s concern r e s u l t s in a weak "sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the l o c a l peop le fo r the proper h a n d l i n g of l o c a l a f f a i r s . " 7 As Humes and Ma r t i n have no ted , l o c a l government u n i t s can never be more than j u n i o r p a r t n e r s in t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i th the c e n t r a l government . 8 Moreover , c e n t r a l governments w i l l "not on ly be r e l u c t a n t to e s t a b l i s h a l o c a l government system that might c r e a t e power 7 c e n t r e s capab le of competing wi th or e f f e c t i v e l y oppos ing the c e n t r a l government" , they w i l l a l s o seek to o rgan i ze l o c a l u n i t s in such a way tha t w i l l weaken e x i s t i n g a l t e r n a t i v e power c e n t r e s . 9 The r u l i n g e l i t e i s o f t e n apprehens i ve that once the l o c a l bod ies become powe r fu l , they may become fo rmidab le weapons in the hands of o p p o s i t i o n g roups , who may use these bod ies to c h a l l e n g e the r u l e r s . With a s t r o n g l y c e n t r a l i z e d system, i t i s easy fo r the r u l e r s to e x e r c i s e c o n t r o l over the c e n t r e , and dominate the o u t l y i n g areas through i t . The r u l e r s ' l a ck of t r u s t cannot be demonstrated in the open because i t would a l i e n a t e the l o c a l p o p u l a t i o n . But the problem f a c i n g the r u l e r s in deve l op ing c o u n t r i e s i s not on l y one of c o n t r o l l i n g v i l l a g e s . They have to secure the a c t i v e suppor t of the r u r a l e l e c t o r a t e at the same t ime . To ach ieve t h i s end, the r u l e r s r e c o g n i z e the mer i t in c r e a t i n g l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s which o s t e n s i b l y promote popu l a r p a r t i c i p a t i o n and a l low d e c i s i o n s to be made l o c a l l y . The a c t u a l amount of a u t h o r i t y they a l low the l o c a l bod ies to en joy i s ext remely l i m i t e d , however, and c e n t r a l c o n t r o l i s e x e r c i s e d through government o f f i c i a l s . Thus c e n t r a l government r u l e r s o f t e n re form l o c a l government on paper and c r e a t e new s t r u c t u r e s fo r managing l o c a l a f f a i r s . Yet they do not de l ega te enough a u t h o r i t y f o r these i n s t i t u t i o n s to opera te e f f e c t i v e l y . C e n t r a l i z e d c o n t r o l over l o c a l government i s u s e f u l i n b r i n g i n g p o l i t i c a l b e n e f i t s to the n a t i o n a l r u l i n g p a r t y . S c h u l t z has p o i n t e d out the a b i l i t y of the ' Japanese n a t i o n a l e l i t e to i n f l u e n c e l o c a l p o l i t i c s by man ipu l a t i ng the a l l o c a t i o n 8 of p u b l i c r e s o u r c e s . 1 0 But the main purpose of the patronage i s to garner support fo r the n a t i o n a l p a r t y . L o c a l government members of a p o l i t i c a l pa r t y do not u s u a l l y group toge ther as c l o s e l y as do t h e i r c o u n t e r p a r t s at the n a t i o n a l l e v e l , yet they can b u i l d up p e r s o n a l f o l l o w i n g s which are d i r e c t l y i n f l u e n c e d by t h e m . 1 1 The f o l l o w i n g s are u s u a l l y r e t a i n e d through patronage networks based on l a n d , wea l th , f a m i l y c o n n e c t i o n s , and the a b i l i t y of the l e a d e r s to he lp t h e i r f o l l o w e r s . From the s t andpo in t of c e n t r a l e l i t e s , such l e a d e r s and t h e i r f o l l o w i n g s can be u t i l i z e d e f f e c t i v e l y to b u i l d up support f o r a p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . Moreover , c o n t r o l l e d d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of a u t h o r i t y may s a t i s f y the growing demand fo r p a r t i c i p a t i o n in governmental a f f a i r s , at l e a s t at the l o c a l l e v e l , and as we l l p rov ide a u s e f u l dev i ce by which to reduce l o c a l r e s i s t a n c e to c e n t r a l a u t h o r i t y . A l though the p a t t e r n s of l o c a l government o p e r a t i o n s d i f f e r a c ro s s the new s t a t e s , in g e n e r a l , " the needs f o r economic growth and the ex tens ion of new n a t i o n a l power to the h i n t e r l a n d s " produce the tendency to con t inue as much c e n t r a l c o n t r o l as the regime f i n d s p o s s i b l e . 1 2 As a r e s u l t , l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n ' s f a i l to d e l i v e r the d e s i r e d r e s u l t s . Deve lop ing na t i ons face huge and i n c r e a s i n g f i n a n c i a l d e f i c i t s and the a v a i l a b l e funds are inadequate to even con t i nue the e s t a b l i s h e d programmes. New l o c a l government bod ies are t o t a l l y dependent on c e n t r a l government a l l o c a t i o n s fo r s u r v i v a l . The cen t r e e x e r c i s e s more c o n t r o l and may demand support from l o c a l l e a d e r s in r e t u rn fo r funds . Very l i t t l e i s a ch i e ved because programmes cannot be p lanned and executed 9 without the consent and a s s i s t a n c e of the c e n t r e . The l o c a l p o p u l a t i o n and the l e ade r s of e l e c t e d c o u n c i l s become f r u s t r a t e d because they f e e l themselves "unab le to per form t h e i r t asks s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . " 1 3 The l o c a l i n h a b i t a n t s r e a l i z e that no th ing can be accomp l i shed by such i n s t i t u t i o n s , and f a l l back on the patronage of l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s , whose p l ace in the l o c a l i t y i s thus made even s t r o n g e r . Such l o c a l powerholders become f i r m l y e s t a b l i s h e d over gene r a t i ons on the b a s i s of f a m i l y , k i n s h i p t i e s , l and and wea l th . They almost a u t o m a t i c a l l y assume c o n t r o l of l o c a l government. T h i s s i t u a t i o n was not d i s t u r b e d by the c o l o n i a l r u l e r s . The a u t h o r i t y of l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s was accepted by the l o c a l i n h a b i t a n t s and went uncha l l enged . Independence d i d not r e s u l t in immediate changes in these a r e a s , but g r a d u a l l y demands were r a i s e d fo r changes . The attempt by governments to re form l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s was viewed with s u s p i c i o n by these l e a d e r s , and they r eac t ed in two ways. They e i t h e r j o i n e d the new c o u n c i l s and assumed c o n t r o l , or r e s i s t e d the o p e r a t i o n of these c o u n c i l s from the o u t s i d e . In both c a s e s , the r e s u l t was the non-achievement of the o b j e c t i v e s of l o c a l government r e fo rms . Thus , changes in l o c a l government have g e n e r a l l y s t rengthened the h o l d of e x i s t i n g l o c a l e l i t e s over the r u r a l a r e a s . T h e i r power i n c r e a s e d as they ga ined c o n t r o l of the new l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s at the i n t e rmed ia te l e v e l s . The t u s s l e f o r power and c o n t r o l between the c e n t r a l r u l i n g e l i t e s and such l o c a l l e ade r s o f t e n r e s u l t s in non-coopera t ion and 1 0 r e s i s t a n c e by the l a t t e r g roup . People who are e x e r c i s i n g c o n t r o l over l o c a l communit ies view any attempt at change as a t h rea t to t h e i r dominance. L o c a l government re form i s bound to an tagon ize these l eade r s "as i t a l t e r s the power s t r u c t u r e of the community and thereby a rouses groups or i n d i v i d u a l s who f e e l that t h e i r i n t e r e s t s or power p o s i t i o n s w i l l be a f f e c t e d . " 1 " The r u r a l e l i t e s , t h e r e f o r e , make a l l e f f o r t s to prevent power from t r i c k l i n g down to the lowest l e v e l s . The c e n t r e - l o c a l i t y r e l a t i o n s h i p i n f l u e n c e s , and i s shaped by, the degree of preparedness of the v i l l a g e s to r e c e i v e power. Low l e v e l s of l i t e r a c y and the l a ck of f a c i l i t i e s fo r t r a i n i n g l o c a l l e a d e r s are two c o n t i n u i n g prob lems . With regard to the l a t t e r , Leemans d i s c u s s e d the tendency of c e n t r a l governments to e x e r c i s e more c o n t r o l by p o o l i n g the a v a i l a b l e manpower r e sou r ces and us i ng them o p t i m a l l y . 1 5 Most re forms are geared to development a c t i v i t i e s , and t h e r e f o r e , r e q u i r e an ex t ens i on of l o c a l bod ies and more pe r sonne l to opera te them. In g e n e r a l , however, ext remely low l e v e l s of p a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l a f f a i r s have r e s u l t e d in a dea r th of new q u a l i f i e d l o c a l l e a d e r s . The a v a i l a b l e l e ade r s are unable to c h a l l e n g e the t r a d i t i o n a l i n f l u e n t i a l s and are e i t h e r ous ted from l o c a l bod ies or become dependent on the l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s f o r making the new i n s t i t u t i o n s work. The f a te of reformed l o c a l government, in e f f e c t , i s dec ided by the a t t i t u d e of the l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s toward i t . The q u a l i t y of l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p , l e v e l of l i t e r a c y , ex tent of p a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l a f f a i r s , and the s t r e n g t h of l i n k s 11 with i n t e rmed ia t e power c e n t r e s are some important a spec t s in which v i l l a g e s d i f f e r among themselves in Bang ladesh . These f e a t u r e s can c o l l e c t i v e l y be c o n s i d e r e d as the outcome of d i f f e r i n g p o l i t i c a l modi 1 i z a t i o n . The p rocess of m o b i l i z a t i o n i n v o l v e s the growth of an " a t t i t u d i n a l commitment to a c t i o n , " and "a means of t r a n s l a t i n g commitment i n t o a c t i o n or observed b e h a v i o u r . " 1 6 T h i s end i s a ch i eved through s e v e r a l s tages and marks the beg inn ing of a t r a n s i t i o n to modern i ty where " t r a d i t i o n a l o r i e n t a t i o n s and t i e s have begun to be broken down and l a r g e numbers of i n d i v i d u a l s have become a v a i l a b l e fo r new p a t t e r n s of l i f e and t h o u g h t . " 1 7 S ince the degree of m o b i l i z a t i o n i s a s i g n i f i c a n t m a n i f e s t a t i o n of d i f f e r e n c e s among the v i l l a g e s of an o therw ise homogeneous c o u n t r y , i t w i l l be used as a b a s i s to compare the degree of p reparedness ach ieved by each v i l l a g e under s tudy . I t i s e s s e n t i a l to unders tand the degree of m o b i l i z a t i o n tha t has taken p l a ce in the v i l l a g e s , and i t s c o n t r i b u t i o n towards the p r e p a r a t i o n of the l o c a l i t i e s to r e c e i v e and u t i l i z e power. A t t e n t i o n must a l s o be p a i d to f a c t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s and i n t e r a c t i o n s among l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s and t h e i r f o l l o w e r s in order to study p o l i t i c s and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the r u r a l a reas of Bang ladesh . F a c t i o n s are i n f o rma l groups tha t deve lop on the b a s i s of needs tha t can be f u l f i l l e d by a l e ade r fo r h i s f o l l o w e r s . L o c a l i n h a b i t a n t s a l l y themselves w i th the l eade r who i s most capab le of h e l p i n g them out i n r e t u r n fo r t h e i r support in h i s b i d to e x e r c i s e c o n t r o l over l o c a l a f f a i r s . N i c h o l a s p o i n t s out tha t f a c t i o n s are p o l i t i c a l groups whose 1 2 members are r e c r u i t e d on d i v e r s e p r i n c i p l e s , such as k i n s h i p t i e s , p a t r o n - c l i e n t r e l a t i o n s , mutual i n t e r e s t and r e l i g i o u s and p o l i t i c o - e c o n o m i c b o n d s . 1 8 F a c t i o n a l i s m a f f e c t s the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in s e v e r a l ways. B a i l e y s t a t e d that f a c t i o n s o f t en l ead to t o t a l s ta lemate in l o c a l c o u n c i l s , and the panchayats in Ind ia "appear as arenas where there i s an end less d i s p u t a t i o n about d e c i s i o n s which are seldom taken , and , i f t aken , r a r e l y i m p l e m e n t e d . " 1 9 N i c h o l a s found tha t f a c t i o n s per form the "necessa r y f u n c t i o n s in o r g a n i z i n g c o n f l i c t . " 2 0 A l though the t i e between the l eade r and h i s f o l l o w e r s i s based upon pe r sona l t r a n s a c t i o n s between t h e m , 2 1 I s lam argued tha t " f a c t i o n a l c o n f l i c t s do not impede d e c i s i o n making but r a the r he lp to implement or r e j e c t d e c i s i o n s . " 2 2 I s l a m ' s a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l study c e n t r e s around i n fo rma l v i l l a g e bod ies which are c o n t r o l l e d by power fu l v i l l a g e r s . Fo rma l l y c o n s t i t u t e d l o c a l government bod ies can be rendered i n e f f e c t i v e i f the f a c t i o n in c o n t r o l of such bod ies cannot n e u t r a l i z e l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s who do not j o i n them. N i c h o l a s l i s t e d c a s t e , ne ighbourhood , economics and k i n s h i p as major f a c t o r s on which Ind ian v i l l a g e f a c t i o n s d e v e l o p . 2 3 In Bang ladesh , economics and k i n s h i p have emerged as the important f a c t o r s . A f a c t i o n l e a d e r ' s i n f l u e n c e in the v i l l a g e i s a l s o dependent on h i s c o n t a c t s o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e . 2 " L i n k s wi th the r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l pa r t y are c u l t i v a t e d by ambi t ious l e a d e r s . But f a c t i o n a l i s m in the v i l l a g e s may h inde r reforms because f a c t i o n s are i n t e r e s t e d in t h e i r own o b j e c t s r a the r than those of the 1 3 s o c i e t y as a w h o l e . 2 5 LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN BANGLADESH: THE GAP IN OUR KNOWLEDGE There has been a barrage of s t u d i e s d e a l i n g w i th the emergence of Bang ladesh , but very few s t u d i e s have been undertaken to ana l yze post- independence p o l i t i c a l deve lopment . S tud i e s by Jahan, Barua, Maniruzzaman and Franda e s s e n t i a l l y dea l w i th n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l events and , i f at a l l , mention l o c a l government on ly in p a s s i n g . 2 6 There are a few Bangladesh v i l l a g e s t u d i e s , but none of these i s d i r e c t l y concerned wi th l o c a l government at the v i l l a g e l e v e l . Ramkrishna Mukherjee p u b l i s h e d the r e s u l t s of an economic i n q u i r y undertaken in s i x v i l l a g e s of Bogra d i s t r i c t in Bangladesh (then East Bengal ) d u r i n g 1943-45. 2 7 Hafeez Z a i d i r e p o r t e d the r e s u l t s of an a t t i t u d i n a l s tudy of v i l l a g e r s in C o m i l l a d i s t r i c t . 2 8 B e r t o c c i focussed on s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e and community o r g a n i z a t i o n s in r u r a l East P a k i s t a n which he ana l yzed by conduc t i ng r e sea r ch in two v i l l a g e s in C o m i l l a d i s t r i c t . 2 9 An ext remely we l l done a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l s tudy , E l u s i v e V i l l a g e s by. B e r t o c c i , p l a c e s r e l a t i v e l y l e s s emphasis on p o l i t i c a l power r e l a t i o n s h i p s as compared to c u l t u r a l , economic and e c o l o g i c a l f a c t o r s . The " C o m i l l a Exper iment " i s the sub jec t of Rape r ' s Ru ra l Development  in A c t i o n . 3 0 The book i n c l u d e s an impress i v e amount of d e t a i l which i s u s e f u l fo r unders tand ing s p e c i f i c deve lopmenta l programmes, but f a i l s a lmost comp le te l y to dea l w i th the broad 1 4 s o c i a l , economic and p o l i t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e of the many programmes i n i t i a t e d at C o m i l l a . Is lam o f f e r s an " a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l study of p o l i t i c s " which dea l s p r i n c i p a l l y w i th f a c t i o n a l i s m in a v i l l a g e in the d i s t r i c t of D h a k a . 3 1 The study touches on the a c t u a l p o l i t i c a l p rocesses in the v i l l a g e , and shows the manner in which pa r t y p o l i t i c s at the h ighe r l e v e l s g r a d u a l l y reach the c o u n t r y s i d e . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , I s l a m ' s study pays l i t t l e a t t e n t i o n to l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s or at any attempt to re form the system of l o c a l government. The number of works on l o c a l government in Bangladesh are fewer s t i l l . Rashiduzzaman has w r i t t e n about p o l i t i c s in l o c a l c o u n c i l s in Eas t P a k i s t a n . 3 2 Tepper has i n v e s t i g a t e d the e v o l u t i o n of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in r u r a l East P a k i s t a n , and p o i n t e d out that changes o c cu r r ed more " i n nomenclature than in s u b s t a n c e . " 3 3 Whi le Rahman and Sobhan have s t u d i e d the o p e r a t i o n of Bas i c Democracy in East P a k i s t a n , 3 4 N i c h o l s o n and Khan c o n s i d e r e d i t s r o l e in r u r a l development in West P a k i s t a n . 3 5 None of these works d e a l s wi th the s i t u a t i o n tha t i s p r e v a l e n t in Bangladesh at p r e s e n t . It i s on l y wi th the Swanirvar Gram  Sarkar scheme tha t l o c a l government was i n s t i t u t e d at the v i l l a g e l e v e l in Bang ladesh . None of the f o r e g o i n g s t u d i e s pene t r a t e s below the union l e v e l . Abedin has i n c l u d e d Bangladesh in h i s a n a l y s i s of l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n and p o l i t i c s in modern iz ing s o c i e t i e s , but h i s study does not cover v i l l a g e l e v e l a c t i v i t i e s . 3 6 Focuss i ng on a d m i n i s t r a t i o n at the d i s t r i c t and s u b d i v i s i o n l e v e l s , Abedin ana l yzed the l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n p r e v a i l i n g in u n d i v i d e d 15 P a k i s t a n . L o c a l government in Bangladesh at the t ime was more or l e s s s i m i l a r to the system in P a k i s t a n . Zaman s t u d i e d th ree v i l l a g e s in Bangladesh and conc luded that f a c t i o n a l c l eavages not on l y h i nde r change, but " t end to h e l p p r e se r ve s t a t u s quo in the c o m m u n i t y . " 3 7 T h i s i s the r e s u l t of r i v a l f a c t i o n s f i g h t i n g " f o r c o n t r o l over r e s o u r c e s , power and s t a t u s as a v a i l a b l e w i t h i n the e x i s t i n g framework of the s o c i e t y r a the r than fo r changes in the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e . " 3 8 T h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n i s expected to p rov ide a b u i l d i n g b lock fo r s t udy i ng l o c a l government in Bang ladesh . At p r e s e n t , s c h o l a r s i n t e n d i n g to i n v e s t i g a t e the t o p i c are unable to draw upon sys temat i c i n f o rma t i on on the h i s t o r y of l o c a l government reforms in Bang ladesh , t h e i r outcome and consequences , and p a r t i c u l a r l y , the p o l i t i c a l f a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t i n g to t h e i r f a i l u r e . There are no o r g a n i z e d data on the system of Gram  Sa rka r , i t s s t r u c t u r e , f u n c t i o n s , modes of o p e r a t i o n and i t s a b o l i t i o n . These are the v o i d s i n the l i t e r a t u r e which t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n aims to f i l l . FAILURE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS: A WORKING HYPOTHESIS " F a i l u r e " i m p l i e s the "non-achievement of goa l s or o b j e c t i v e s " . A d i s c r e p a n c y between the s t a t e d o b j e c t i v e s of the government tha t i n t r o d u c e d a re form in l o c a l government and i t s outcome c o u l d be c o n s i d e r e d a f a i l u r e . In t h e i r e f f o r t s to b u i l d up support f o r the r u l i n g g roup , governments o f t e n dev i s e 1 6 p lans wi th g rand iose o b j e c t i v e s which are not a t t a i n a b l e w i t h i n f i x e d p e r i o d s . Another p o s s i b i l i t y i s tha t a re form may f a i l in a c h i e v i n g g r e a t e r l o c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n and o ther deve lopmenta l o b j e c t i v e s , but succeed in c r e a t i n g , at l e a s t t e m p o r a r i l y , mass support f o r an incumbent reg ime. If government r h e t o r i c i s not used as a s tandard of measurement, however, i t may be p o s s i b l e to de t e c t some p r o g r e s s in l o c a l government, even though i t may f a l l f a r shor t of the s t a t e d o b j e c t i v e s . The mere e s t ab l i shmen t of a l o c a l c o u n c i l where there was none b e f o r e , the i n i t i a t i o n of some l o c a l p r o j e c t s , however s m a l l , and the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r the c i t i z e n s to p a r t i c i p a t e in l o c a l a f f a i r s may be c o n s i d e r e d p o s i t i v e consequences . These are i n d i c a t i o n s , at l e a s t , of p rog re s s on which fu tu re systems can be b u i l t . From t h i s p o i n t of v iew, l o c a l government reform at tempts are never t o t a l l y wasted. In t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n , I have g e n e r a l l y t r i e d to a ssess " s u c c e s s " and " f a i l u r e " with these c o n s i d e r a t i o n s in mind: 1) the ob jec t i ves/outcome d i s p a r i t y ; 2) the r h e t o r i c / r e a l p o l i t i k d i s p a r i t y ; and 3) the shor t- range/ long-range p e r s p e c t i v e . On the b a s i s of the wider t h e o r e t i c a l l i t e r a t u r e and that p e r t a i n i n g on l y to Bang ladesh , I would now propose the f o l l o w i n g genera l argument as an e x p l a n a t i o n fo r the f a i l u r e of l o c a l government re form in Bang ladesh . L o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s are e s s e n t i a l to f a c i l i t a t e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the r u r a l a r e a s . These bod ies can a l s o be used to secure support f o r r u l i n g g roups , and s a t i s f y the v i l l a g e r s ' d e s i r e to p a r t i c i p a t e in l o c a l a f f a i r s . F a i l u r e to a t t a i n development through s t rong 17 c e n t r a l i z e d a d m i n i s t r a t i o n l eads the r u l e r s to b e l i e v e that d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i s the s o l u t i o n to a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p rob lems . The development of e l e c t o r a l p o l i t i c s , c o n c u r r e n t l y , compels the r u l e r s to seek support of the overwhelmingly r u r a l e l e c t o r a t e in order to con t i nue in power. When new p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s t r y to e s t a b l i s h a power base , the r u r a l c o n s t i t u e n c y can be won over by r e fo rming l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s and rewarding the r e c r u i t s w i th p l a c e s in l o c a l b o d i e s . Thus the r u l i n g group appea l s d i r e c t l y to the l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s fo r support in r e tu rn fo r a p l a ce in l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . As a r e s u l t of f a u l t y p l a n n i n g , and because they seek to ach ieve goa l s that are u n r e a l i s t i c , Bang l adesh ' s governments c o n t i n u a l l y run i n t o innumerable d i f f i c u l t i e s in the implementat ion of re forms in l o c a l government. The p l ans are kept vague, so tha t the l o c a l bod ies can be o rgan i zed and run in s e v e r a l ways to s u i t the conven ience of the r u l e r s . T h i s r e s u l t s in w ide ly d i f f e r i n g p r a c t i c e s in d i f f e r e n t a r e a s . The i n a b i l i t y of governments to s t a n d a r d i z e p rocedures a f f e c t s the c o o r d i n a t i o n of the system. Pa r ty a f f i l i a t i o n s become i r r e l e v a n t , and c o n t r o l of l o c a l bod ies remains wi th those people who have the a b i l i t y to h e l p and c o n t r o l the l o c a l p o p u l a t i o n . L o c a l l e ade r s f i n d that e x p r e s s i n g support f o r the r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l pa r t y b r i n g s d i v i d e n d s in c l o s e r c o n t a c t s wi th the r u l e r s and a s s o c i a t e d b e n e f i t s . They need not r e v e a l t h e i r p o l i t i c a l p r e f e r e n c e s , and g e n e r a l l y , they t r y to a v o i d c o n f r o n t a t i o n w i th the r u l i n g p a r t y . The l o c a l p o p u l a t i o n observes tha t the i n f l u e n t i a l s b e n e f i t from such r e fo rms , and 18 con t inue to a v o i d the new l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . At the lowest l e v e l , p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n a f f e c t s the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . L o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s s t r i v e to r e t a i n t h e i r c l i e n t s , and t h e i r success in such e f f o r t s makes them i n v a l u a b l e to the r u l i n g group . The a t tempts to r e c r u i t more members f o r f a c t i o n s o f t en impede the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . V i l l a g e f a c t i o n s f i g h t one a n o t h e r , and the group i n c o n t r o l of these bod ies u s u a l l y succumb to p r e s su r e s from those who are n o t . T h i s c o n f l i c t occu rs because on ly a hand fu l of l o y a l suppo r t e r s can be accommodated in the c o u n c i l s . G e n e r a l l y , the re i s a l a r g e r d i s s a t i s f i e d group, which w i l l spare no o p p o r t u n i t y to d i s c r e d i t the l e a d e r s in o f f i c e . The weaker groups seek to o b t a i n c o n t r o l by d e c l a r i n g a l l i a n c e w i th the pa r t y in power. Whi le l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s do not always r e q u i r e a n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l pa r t y l a b e l to ma in ta in t h e i r l e a d e r s h i p , the r u l i n g group without a sound p o l i t i c a l base depends on the support of these l e ade r s to con t i nue in power. Changes in l o c a l government systems are g e n e r a l l y geared to a ch i eve such a l l i a n c e s and the s t a t e d purpose of improv ing l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n i s not a c h i e v e d . 19 PURPOSE OF PRESENT STUDY T h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n aims to i d e n t i f y and ana l yze the causes of c o n t i n u a l f a i l u r e to b r i n g about changes in the l o c a l government system of r u r a l Bangladesh . The i n q u i r y w i l l cover the p e r i o d of c o l o n i a l r u l e by Great B r i t a i n and l a t e r P a k i s t a n , and , as w e l l , the post independence p e r i o d of r u l e by the Awami League (AL ) . The Bangladesh case w i l l be t e s t e d aga in s t a number of soc io-economic and p o l i t i c a l e x p l a n a t i o n s cu r r en t in the deve lopmenta l l i t e r a t u r e which account fo r f a i l u r e s in r e fo rming l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . The main body of the d i s s e r t a t i o n , however, w i l l ana l yze the attempt of the government of Bangladesh under the l e a d e r s h i p of P r e s i den t Z iaur Rahman to dea l wi th l o c a l government problems by i n s t i t u t i n g Gram Sa rka r . Gram S a r k a r s , the new v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s , were expected to extend l o c a l government beyond the p r e v i ous lowest l e v e l , Union  P a r i s h a d . P r i o r to the e s t ab l i shment of Gram Sa rka r , the Union  P a r i s h a d , which covered a number of v i l l a g e s ( f i v e to f i f t e e n ) was the lowest l e v e l in the l o c a l government system e x i s t i n g in Bang ladesh , and there were no v i l l a g e - b a s e d u n i t s . G r a d u a l l y , the v i l l a g e s s t a r t e d to be r e cogn i zed as important u n i t s and emphasis was be ing put upon b u i l d i n g the system from the g rass r o o t s . The v i l l a g e l e v e l o r g a n i z a t i o n of Gram Sarkar was expected . to b r i n g l o c a l government c l o s e r to the p e o p l e , e n a b l i n g them to p a r t i c i p a t e in l o c a l a f f a i r s . My study of Gram  Sarkar in Bangladesh aims to d i s c o v e r the d i f f e r e n c e s , i f any, between t h i s re form attempt and p r e v i o u s reforms in the same 20 a r e a . As w e l l , I w i l l review the e v o l u t i o n of the Gram Sarkar scheme and examine the c i r cumstances under which i t was i n t r o d u c e d . T h i s w i l l e x p l a i n the i n t e n t behind i t s i n t r o d u c t i o n . However, the s t r u c t u r e s , f u n c t i o n s and e f f e c t i v e n e s s of the Gram Sarkar must be ana l yzed to determine whether they were ab le to accomp l i sh the p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e purposes fo r which they were e s t a b l i s h e d . The major q u e s t i o n s to which t h i s study seeks answers a r e : Under what c i r cums tances were l o c a l government reforms i n t r o d u c e d in Bangladesh in the pas t ? What was expec ted to be a ch i e ved through such reforms? To what ex tent were these a t tempts s u c c e s s f u l ? Why d i d Z i a ' s government i n t r oduce the Gram Sarkar scheme? Was the s t r a t e g y aimed p r i n c i p a l l y at c o n s o l i d a t i n g and l e g i t i m i z i n g Z i a ' s regime? How e f f e c t i v e l y c o u l d the system l i n k l o c a l i t i e s w i th the c a p i t a l ? Who were the peop le i n v o l v e d in the system? What were the c o s t s to and b e n e f i t s f o r the p a r t i c i p a n t s ? D id Gram Sarkar have any e f f e c t on the q u a l i t y of l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n ? Why d i d the system not con t i nue beyond the BNP r u l e ? What d i d the BNP u l t i m a t e l y ga in? D i d the Gram Sa rka rs p l a y a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e in the n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c s of Bangladesh? What are the l i k e l y consequences of the f a i l u r e of the Gram Sarkar reform? 21 THE METHOD I have used secondary p u b l i s h e d m a t e r i a l s as we l l as government documents to ana l yze the f a i l u r e of l o c a l government reforms in Bang ladesh . Whi le t h i s e x e r c i s e was immensely b e n e f i c i a l to reach c o n c l u s i o n s about past e f f o r t s , the recent developments had to be s t u d i e d in the f i e l d . I undertook a t r i p to Bangladesh in the summer of 1982 wi th the i n t e n t i o n of c o l l e c t i n g data both from the c e n t r a l government and the v i l l a g e s . The time was a p p r o p r i a t e because Gram Sarkar had been in o p e r a t i o n s i n ce 1980, and I expected some e f f e c t s of the new i n s t i t u t i o n to be v i s i b l e . M a r t i a l Law was d e c l a r e d a week be fo re I a r r i v e d in Bang ladesh . T h i s c r e a t e d some problems tha t I had not a n t i c i p a t e d ; fo r example, I was not ab l e to i n t e r v i e w p o l i t i c i a n s and c i v i l se r van ts as f r e e l y as I would have l i k e d . Desp i t e the tense s i t u a t i o n in the c a p i t a l , Dhaka, however, I had l i t t l e t r o u b l e in c o l l e c t i n g adequate i n f o r m a t i o n on the new Gram Sarkar scheme. In any c a s e , I had dec ided to concen t r a t e most of my r e sea r ch a c t i v i t i e s in the v i l l a g e s . A l though the t e n s i o n had reached the c o u n t r y s i d e , t o o , and some v i l l a g e r s were wary of a s t r ange r a sk ing q u e s t i o n s about t h e i r p o l i t i c a l i n c l i n a t i o n s and economic and s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n s , I was u l t i m a t e l y ab l e to overcome t h i s h a n d i c a p . I dec ided to conduct surveys among Gram Sarkar members in th ree d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s of the c o u n t r y . My hope was tha t such surveys would r e v e a l the r e a l na ture of p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s go ing on under the new system. I 22 dec ided tha t in a d d i t i o n to the "macro" p e r s p e c t i v e on l o c a l government re form tha t can be o b t a i n e d in Dhaka, I needed to a cqu i r e the " m i c r o " i n s i g h t s tha t can on l y be found in the v i l l a g e s themse l ves . The s e l e c t i o n of the v i l l a g e s was made w i th the i n t e n t i o n of r e p r e s e n t i n g v a r i o u s r eg ions of Bang ladesh . The d i s t r i c t s of Mymensingh, C o m i l l a and Ra jshah i r ep resen t the n o r t h - c e n t r a l , s o u t h - e a s t e r n , and western r eg ions of the count ry r e s p e c t i v e l y . The a c t u a l names of the v i l l a g e s and t h e i r l e a d e r s have not been ment ioned in t h i s s tudy . I have used the f i c t i t i o u s names of Man ta l a , C o l i p u r and Ra inagar to d e s c r i b e th ree v i l l a g e s in the d i s t r i c t s of Mymensingh, C o m i l l a and R a j s h a h i . I have t r i e d to i n c l u d e v i l l a g e s which have ach ieved d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n , hoping tha t they cou ld be used to reach c o n c l u s i o n s about o ther v i l l a g e s in Bang ladesh . The v i l l a g e s were chosen w i th some c o n s i d e r a t i o n g i ven to a c c e s s i b i l i t y and the a v a i l a b i l i t y of d a t a . I spent about a month in each of the v i l l a g e s in the summer of 1982. Dur ing my s tay in the v i l l a g e s , I had the o p p o r t u n i t y of t a l k i n g w i th the v i l l a g e r s and l o c a l l e a d e r s , a t t e n d i n g t h e i r mee t ings , and obse r v i ng the se t t l ement of l o c a l d i s p u t e s by the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s . I e n l i s t e d the h e l p of some l o c a l r e s i d e n t s in Man ta l a , and s tudents who l i v e d in the o ther two v i l l a g e s . The l o c a l c o n t a c t s gave me easy a c cess to the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s , and t h e i r o f f i c e f i l e s , where they e x i s t e d . I was ab l e to i n t e r v i ew the pe r sonne l i n v o l v e d wi th the new l o c a l bod ies and ana l yze t h e i r r o l e s in the v i l l a g e s . The i n f o r m a t i o n d e r i v e d from t h i s 23 e x e r c i s e w i l l be u t i l i z e d to e x p l a i n the c h r o n i c f a i l u r e of re forms in l o c a l government in Bang ladesh . Gram Sa rka rs were a lmost i n o p e r a t i v e by the s p r i n g of 1982 and were o f f i c i a l l y a b o l i s h e d in J u l y 1982. I was s t i l l c onduc t i ng my surveys in the v i l l a g e s at the t ime . T h i s gave me an o p p o r t u n i t y to observe the r e a c t i o n s of the v i l l a g e r s to the demise of the on l y v i l l a g e - b a s e d l o c a l body in the h i s t o r y of Bang ladesh . They were more v o c a l in t h e i r c r i t i c i s m s because the government was no longer s u p p o r t i n g the Gram S a r k a r s . T h i s was conven ien t fo r my study because both the i n i t i a t i o n and t e r m i n a t i o n of Gram Sarkar c o u l d be c o v e r e d . OUTLINE OF THE STUDY The study i s d i v i d e d i n t o seven s u b s t a n t i a l s e c t i o n s in a d d i t i o n to an i n t r o d u c t i o n and a c o n c l u s i o n . In Chapter I I , the h i s t o r y of the problems of l o c a l government in Bangladesh i s rev iewed w i th s p e c i a l a t t e n t i o n to re form at tempts and t h e i r consequences . Chapter III e x p l o r e s the p o l i t i c a l an tecedents of Gram Sarkar by examining the d e c l i n e of the Awami League (AL) and the growth of the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r t y (BNP) as p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , and t r i e s to a s c e r t a i n the p o s i t i o n of the BNP i n the p o l i t i c a l sys tem. The c i r cums tances under which the BNP government dec ided to i n t r oduce Gram Sarkar are d i s c u s s e d . The next chapte r l ooks at the l e g i s l a t i o n of Gram Sarkar in the p o l i t i c a l con tex t and i n v e s t i g a t e s the i n t r o d u c t i o n of the 24 concept of Gram Sa rka r , and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p wi th the p o l i c i e s of the BNP. The s t r u c t u r e , f u n c t i o n s and p o t e n t i a l of Gram  Sarkar are a n a l y z e d . Chapter V d e s c r i b e s Gram Sarkar i n Manta l a , a v i l l a g e of Mymensingh d i s t r i c t in Bang ladesh , where a low l e v e l of p o l i t i c a l development has l e f t the t r a d i t i o n a l power s t r u c t u r e u n d i s t u r b e d . Chapter VI p r e sen t s the s to r y of C o l i p u r , a v i l l a g e in C o m i l l a d i s t r i c t . Development a c t i v i t i e s have been i n i t i a t e d , and the dominant f am i l y has s p l i t i n t o f a c t i o n s . Ra inaga r , a v i l l a g e in Ra jshah i d i s t r i c t i s s t u d i e d in Chapter V I I . T h i s i s a pe r i -u rban community which has c l o s e l i n k s wi th n a t i o n a l and d i s t r i c t l e v e l p o l i t i c s . 3 9 These c a s e s , a l though by no means r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of a l l the v i l l a g e s in Bang ladesh , i l l u s t r a t e the v a r i o u s e f f e c t s of the reform at tempts in some t y p i c a l Bangladesh v i l l a g e s . In Chapter V I I I , the cases are compared and important f i n d i n g s h i g h l i g h t e d . The f i n a l chapte r a t tempts to b r i n g toge the r the f i n d i n g s of a l l the p r ev i ous chap t e r s in the course of answer ing the r e s e a r c h q u e s t i o n s r a i s e d e a r l i e r . 25 NOTES 1 Duane L o c k a r d , " L o c a l Government, " in Ency c l oped i a of  S o c i a l S c i ences (New York : Macmi l l an-Free P r e s s , 1967), p. 458. 2 See L. Gray Cowan, L o c a l Government in West A f r i c a (New York : Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1958) . 3 H a r o l d F. A l d e r f e r , L o c a l Government in Deve lop ing  C o u n t r i e s (New Yo rk : McGraw-H i l l , 1964), p. ~2~. 4 The Bangladesh Obse r ve r , June 22, 1980. In t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n , I w i l l use the term Gram Sarkar to denote Swanirvar Gram Sa rka r , the v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n set up under the L o c a l Government (Amendment) A c t , 1980. 5 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual [ i n Benga l i ] (Dhaka: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1980), p .4 . 6 The New N a t i o n , J u l y 11, 1982. 7 Samuel Humes and E i l e e n M a r t i n , The S t r u c t u r e of L o c a l  Government Throughout the World (The Hague: N i j h o f f , 1961), p. 31. 8 I b i d . , p. 49. 9 A . F . Leemans, Changing Pa t t e rns of L o c a l Government (The Hague: I n t e r n a t i o n a l Union of L o c a l A u t h o r i t i e s , 1970) , p. 17. 10 Ann S c h u l t z , L o c a l P o l i t i c s and N a t i o n - S t a t e s : Case S tud i e s  in P o l i t i c s and P o l i c y (Santa Ba rba ra , C a l i f o r n i a : C l i o Books, 1979), pp . 63-4. 11 Samuel Humes and E i l e e n M a r t i n , The S t r u c t u r e of L o c a l  Governments: A Comparat ive Survey of 81 C o u n t r i e s (The Hague: I n t e r n a t i o n a l Union of L o c a l A u t h o r i t i e s , 1969), p. 458. 12 L o c k a r d , o p . c i t . , p. 458. 13 Leemans, o p . c i t , p. 48. 14 I b i d . , p. 38. 15 I b i d . , pp . 48-9. 16 J . P. N e t t l , P o l i t i c a l M o b i l i z a t i o n : A S o c i o l o g i c a l  A n a l y s i s of Methods and Concepts (London: Faber and Fabe r , 1967) , pp . 32-3. 26 17 G a b r i e l Almond and G. Bingham Powe l l , J r . , Comparat ive  P o l i t i c s : A Deve lopmenta l Approach (Bos ton : L i t t l e Brown, 1966), p. 258". 18 See R. W. N i c h o l a s , " F a c t i o n s : A Comparat ive A n a l y s i s , " in P o l i t i c a l Systems and the D i s t r i b u t i o n of Power, e d . , Banton. A . S . A . Monographs 2 (London: T a v i s t o c k , 1965), pp . 44-6. 19 F. G. B a i l e y , " D e c i s i o n s by Consensus in C o u n c i l s and Commi t t ees , " in P o l i t i c a l Systems and the D i s t r i b u t i o n of  Power , p. 15. 20 R. W. N i c h o l a s , o p . c i t . , p. 47. 21 R. W. N i c h o l a s , "Segmentary F a c t i o n a l P o l i t i c a l Sys tems , " in P o l i t i c a l Anthropo logy , e d s . , M. J . Swar tz , V. W. Turner and A. Tunden (Ch i cago : A l d i n e , 1966), p. 47. 22 A . K . M . Aminul I s l am, A Bangladesh V i l l a g e , C o n f l i c t and  C o h e s i o n : An A n t h r o p o l o g i c a l Study of P o l i t i c s (Cambridge, M a s s . : Schenkman, 1974), p. 162. 23 R. W. N i c h o l a s , " V i l l a g e F a c t i o n s and P o l i t i c a l P a r t i e s i n Ru ra l West B e n g a l , " J o u r n a l of Commonwealth P o l i t i c a l  S t ud i e s • , I I , 1 (November 1963). See pp . 18-22. 24 Burton B e n e d i c t , " F a c t i o n a l i s m in M a u r i t i a n V i l l a g e s , " The  B r i t i s h J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y , 8, 4 (1957) , p. 337. 25 Raymond F i r t h , " F a c t i o n s in Ind ian and Overseas Ind ian S o c i e t i e s , " The B r i t i s h J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y , 8, 4 (1957), p. 292. 26 See Rounaq Jahan, P a k i s t a n : F a i l u r e in N a t i o n a l I n t e g r a t i o n (New York : Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972); Tushar K. Barua , P o l i t i c a l E l i t e in Bang ladesh : A Soc io- A n t h r o p o l o g i c a l and H i s t o r i c a l A n a l y s i s of the P rocesses of  T h e i r Formation" (Bern : Peter Lang , 1 978 ); Ta lukder Maniruzzaman, The Bangladesh Revo l u t i o n and i t s A f te rmath (Dhaka: Bangladesh Books I n t e r n a t i o n a l , 1980); and Marcus F r anda , Bang ladesh : The F i r s t Decade (New D e l h i and Madras: South A s i a n P u b l i s h e r s P v t . L t d . , 1982). 27 Ramkrishna Mukher jee , S ix V i l l a g e s of Bengal (Bombay: Popu la r P rakashan, 1971). 28 S.M. Hafeez Z a i d i , The V i l l a g e C u l t u r e in T r a n s i t i o n : A  Study of Eas t P ak i s t an Ru ra l Society" ( H o n o l u l u : East -West Cent re P r e s s , 1970). v 772 29 Pe te r B e r t o c c i , E l u s i v e V i l l a g e s : S o c i a l S t r u c t u r e and  Community O r g a n i z a t i o n i n Rura l East P ak i s t an (Unpubl i shed Ph .D. D i s s e r t a t i o n , M i ch igan S ta te U n i v e r s i t y , 1970). 27 30 A . F . Raper , Rura l Development in A c t i o n : The Comprehensive  Exper iment at C o m i l l a , East P ak i s t an ( I t h a ca : C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1970). 31 Aminul I s l am, O p . c i t . . 32 M. Rashiduzzaman, P o l i t i c s and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the L o c a l  C o u n c i l s : A Study of Union and D i s t r i c t C o u n c i l s in East  P ak i s t an (Dacca: Ox fo rd U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1966). 33 E. L. Tepper , Changing Pa t t e rns of A d m i n i s t r a t i o n in  Ru ra l East Pak i s tan (As ian S tud i e s Center O c c a s i o n a l Paper No. 5, M ich igan S t a t e U n i v e r s i t y , 1966), p. 128. See a l s o E. L. Tepper , Ru ra l Development and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n  in East P a k i s t a n . (Unpub l i shed Ph.D. D i s s e r t a t i o n , Duke U n i v e r s i t y , 1970). 34 A. T . R. Rahman, Bas i c Democracy at the Grass Roots ( C o m i l l a : Pak i s t an Academy f o r V i l l a g e Development, 1962). Rehman Sobhan, Bas i c Democrac ies , Works Programme and Rura l  Development in East P ak i s t an (Dacca: Ox fo rd U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1968) . 35 N. K. N i cho l son and D. A. Khan, Bas i c Democrac ies and  Rura l Development in P a k i s t a n ( I t haca : Ru ra l Development Committee, C o r n e l l U n i v e r s i t y , 1974). 36 Najmul Abed in , L o c a l A d m i n i s t r a t i o n and P o l i t i c s i n  Mode rn i z ing S o c i e t i e s : Bangladesh and Pak i s t an (Dacca: N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e of P u b l i c A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , 1973). 37 M. Q. Zaman, " F a c t i o n a l i s m and i t s Impact on S e l f - H e l p V i l l a g e Development in B ang l adesh , " As i an P r o f i l e , 10, 4 (August 1982), pp. 395-405. 38 Hamza A l a v i , "Peasant C l a s s e s and P r i m o r d i a l L o y a l t i e s , " J ou rna l of Peasant S t u d i e s , 1 , 1 (October 1973), p. 44. 39 The term i s used to d e s c r i b e v i l l a g e s which are l o c a t e d i n the p e r i p h e r y of urban a r e a s . The v i l l a g e s and " the way i n which peop le go about t h e i r bus iness appears to be f a i r l y r u r a l " , but a c t u a l l y they are exposed to a c o n s i d e r a b l e degree of urban i n f l u e n c e . See the I n t r o d u c t i o n in A. H. Somjee, e d . , P o l i t i c s of a Pe r i u rban Community in I nd i a (London: A s i a P u b l i s h i n g House, 1964), pp . 1-15. 28 I I . LOCAL GOVERNMENT IN BANGLADESH: THE LEGACY OF COLONIAL RULE The h i s t o r y o f l o c a l government i n B a n g l a d e s h i s r e p l e t e w i t h i n s t a n c e s of c e n t r a l g o v e r n m e n t s j e a l o u s l y r e t a i n i n g t h e i r c o n t r o l o v e r l o c a l b o d i e s . T h e r e were p e r i o d i c announcements i n f a v o u r o f d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n , but t h e y t u r n e d out t o be mere r h e t o r i c , i n t e n d e d t o a p p e a s e t h e n a t i v e p o p u l a t i o n . The a c t u a l s t e p s t a k e n by t h e g o v e r n m e n t s r e s u l t e d i n s t r o n g e r c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . The a r e a w h i c h i s now known as B a n g l a d e s h was c o l o n i z e d f o r a l o n g p e r i o d of t i m e by t h e B r i t i s h E a s t I n d i a Company and t h e B r i t i s h Crown. F o r e i g n d o m i n a t i o n c o n t i n u e d under P a k i s t a n i r u l e . None o f t h e f o r e i g n r u l e r s made e f f o r t s t o make l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s d e m o c r a t i c and d e l e g a t e a u t h o r i t y t o t h e l o w e s t l e v e l s . The B r i t i s h f e l t t h a t t h e n a t i v e s were not c a p a b l e o f r u n n i n g l o c a l government b o d i e s . A n o t h e r p r o b a b l e r e a s o n was t h e f e a r o f l o s i n g c o n t r o l f o l l o w i n g c o m p l e t e d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . The t e n d e n c y t o w i t h h o l d c o n t r o l was e v i d e n t i n t h e v a r i o u s schemes o f r e f o r m i n g l o c a l government t h a t were u n d e r t a k e n by t h e B r i t i s h . They a n n o u n c e d p l a n s t o make l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s autonomous, and t o e n c o u r a g e p a r t i c i p a t i o n by t h e n a t i v e s . But t h e s e p l a n s were n e v e r i m p l e m e n t e d i n f u l l . The n a t i v e n a t i o n a l i s t s , t h e B r i t i s h b e l i e v e d , would assume c o n t r o l o f l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s and o r g a n i z e r e s i s t a n c e t o f o r e i g n r u l e . T h e r e were a number o f A c t s , R u l e s and R e s o l u t i o n s d e a l i n g w i t h l o c a l government, but t h e s e r e s u l t e d i n s m a l l v a r i a t i o n s i n t h e e x i s t i n g s y s t e m . T h i s t r e n d c o n t i n u e d t h r o u g h t h e P a k i s t a n i p e r i o d , when government 29 o f f i c i a l s e x e r c i s e d i n c r e a s e d c o n t r o l over l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . A f t e r the end of f o r e i g n domina t i on , l o c a l government con t i nued to be n e g l e c t e d . The t r end of r e t a i n i n g c o n t r o l of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s through p u b l i c o f f i c i a l s remained, and most changes suggested in l o c a l government resembled those from the c o l o n i a l days . The growth of a nat ion-wide l o c a l government system in Bangladesh o c cu r r ed over a r e l a t i v e l y shor t p e r i o d of t ime . Consc ious e f f o r t s at r e fo rming ind igenous p r a c t i c e s s t a r t e d on l y du r i ng the l a t e r p e r i o d of B r i t i s h r u l e . However, as c o l o n i a l mas te r s , n e i t h e r the B r i t i s h nor the P a k i s t a n i s wanted to b r i n g about r a d i c a l changes in the l o c a l government system which might l e ad to movements to f r ee the c o u n t r y . They p r e f e r r e d the s a f e r route of a p p e a l i n g to the power fu l and b e t t e r - o f f l o c a l l e a d e r s fo r suppo r t . W i thho ld ing c o n t r o l of l o c a l bod ies and l o o k i n g a f t e r the i n t e r e s t s of the t r a d i t i o n a l l y dominant groups con t i nued on the excuse tha t there was an inadequate supp ly of q u a l i f i e d l e a d e r s and r esources to run l o c a l government e f f i c i e n t l y . In the l a t e r days of P a k i s t a n i r u l e , some at tempts were made at r u r a l development through l o c a l p r o j e c t s , and the a v a i l a b i l i t y of r e sou rces at the l o c a l l e v e l r e s u l t e d in c o m p e t i t i o n among g roups . In summary, the l egacy of c o l o n i a l r u l e p r e v a i l e d even a f t e r the depar tu re of the f o r e i g n r u l e r s . Urban p o l i t i c a l e l i t e s secured c o n t r o l of the c o u n t r y , and l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in the r u r a l a reas were n e g l e c t e d . 29a MAP 1. BANGLADESH: ADMINISTRATIVE DISTRICTS I n t e r n a t i o n a ! D i v i s i o n a l D i s t r i c t b o u n d a r y II n II II 30 THE COUNTRY The pa r t of South A s i a ' s land-mass which i s p r e s e n t l y known as Bangladesh has been i n h a b i t e d fo r thousands of y e a r s . The s t a t e of Bangladesh has been e s t a b l i s h e d in a s e c t i o n of the Bengal d e l t a that l i e s at the c ro s s- roads of southwest and southeast A s i a . The area has been a f f e c t e d by A r a b i a n , P e r s i an and T u r k i s h i n f l u e n c e s " i n r e l i g i o u s a r c h i t e c t u r e , some a r t forms, ce remon ia l f ood , some of the c l o t h i n g and many words of the Benga l i v o c a b u l a r y . " I t has s i m i l a r i t y w i th southeas t A s i a in the s t a p l e d i e t of the people c o n s i s t i n g of r i c e and f i s h , and in the h o t , humid, t r o p i c a l c l i m a t e . 1 There has been a s t ronger southwest As i an i n f l u e n c e due to the c o n v e r s i o n of l a rge numbers of B enga l i s to Is lam f o l l o w i n g repeated Musl im i n vas i ons s i n c e the e a r l y days . The Benga l i s were fo r c e n t u r i e s pa r t of the p o p u l a t i o n of I n d i a , and t h e r e f o r e , share much c u l t u r a l l y w i th the p redominant l y Hindu Ind ians — e s p e c i a l l y w i th regard to the s o c i a l a spec t s of r u r a l l i f e . Bangladesh covers an a rea of approx imate l y 55,126 square m i l e s and i s i n h a b i t e d by a l i t t l e l e s s than n ine t y m i l l i o n p e o p l e . The average s i z e of a f a m i l y i s 5.74 persons and the annual r a t e of p o p u l a t i o n i n c r ea se i s 2.36 per c e n t . E x c l u d i n g the area cove red by water , the average d e n s i t y of p o p u l a t i o n i s 1,675 persons per square m i l e . 2 The count ry i s composed p r i n c i p a l l y of a vas t a l l u v i a l p l a i n , c r i s s - c r o s s e d by the Ganges and Brahmaputra r i v e r s and t h e i r numerous t r i b u t a r i e s . Bangladesh r e c e i v e s heavy monsoon r a i n s du r i ng June , J u l y and Augus t . The temperature i s h i gh f o r about e i g h t months of the 31 yea r , and the range of v a r i a t i o n i s sma l l in the w i n t e r . The sma l l range of v a r i a t i o n in tempera ture , seasona l r a i n f a l l , and the f e r t i l e a l l u v i a l s o i l are of d i r e c t s i g n i f i c a n c e to the nature of a g r i c u l t u r e . Due to l ack of i r r i g a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s , r a i n at the r i g h t t ime i s c r u c i a l f o r the c rops among which r i c e , j u t e , sugar-cane and o i l s e e d s are the most impor t an t . There are th ree c rop seasons in Bang ladesh : aqhani or ha imant i c (the c o l d weather, November-December), r a b i (the c rops sown in w inter but reaped in e a r l y summer, February-March ) , and bhadoi or k h a r i f (crops be long ing to the r a i n y season , J u l y -Sep t embe r ) . 3 A d e v i a t i o n from the normal seasona l r a i n f a l l upsets the ba lance and the major c rops of paddy and ju te are immediate ly a f f e c t e d c aus i ng economic d i f f i c u l t i e s . Crop f l u c t u a t i o n s are r e f l e c t e d in d i s t r e s s in the vas t r u r a l community. The number of urban r e s i d e n t s at p resen t compr ise fou r t een per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n of Bangladesh , compared to n ine per cent in 1974." The m a j o r i t y of the people s t i l l l i v e in the r u r a l a reas in v i l l a g e s , whose p a t t e r n s have been i n f l u e n c e d by the topography and c l i m a t e . The f requent f l o o d i n g of the f i e l d s in the r a i n y season has f o r c e d people to l i v e in r u r a l s e t t l emen t s on h igher ground or to r a i s e the l and a r t i f i c i a l l y f o r t h e i r homesteads. In some a r e a s , r i v e r embankments and l evees form h i g h grounds and l i n e a r s e t t l emen t s can be found . In o ther a r e a s , the l i n e a r tendency i s t h e r e , "but there are s i n g l e or c l u s t e r s of homesteads away from them. " The nuc l ea t ed se t t l emen t p a t t e r n i s found i n a reas i n h a b i t e d by the t r i b a l 32 p e o p l e , and semi-nuc lea ted s e t t l emen t s are r a r e . 5 Most of the e a r l y s e t t l emen t s cen te red around c u l t i v a b l e l a n d , and c l u s t e r s of homesteads g r a d u a l l y deve loped i n t o sma l l v i l l a g e communi t ies . TRADITIONAL PATTERN OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT S ince p r e h i s t o r i c t i m e s , the f e r t i l e l ands of the Bengal d e l t a a t t r a c t e d s e t t l e r s be l ong ing to v a r i o u s races from d i f f e r e n t p a r t s of A s i a , but no o rgan i zed da ta are a v a i l a b l e on the o r i g i n a l na ture of the r u r a l community. S i r W.W. Hunter has lamented the lack of r e co rds on the r u r a l h i s t o r y of B e n g a l . 6 However, a r c h a e o l o g i c a l sources that do e x i s t make i t p o s s i b l e to r e c o n s t r u c t a p i c t u r e of r u r a l Bengal p r i o r to the a r r i v a l of the B r i t i s h on the s u b c o n t i n e n t . Due to the nature of the s o i l and abundance of r a i n , a g r i c u l t u r e became the predominant occupa t i on of the s e t t l e r s . The need to l i v e c l o s e to the l and tha t was c u l t i v a t e d r e s u l t e d in more and more se t t l emen ts in the f e r t i l e p l a i n s . G e n e r a l l y , the homes i tes were s t rung out in long r i b b o n - l i k e v i l l a g e s a long the n a t u r a l d i k e s thrown up by the r i v e r s . The d i k e s would h e l p the e f f o r t s of the s e t t l e r s to r a i s e t h e i r homes above the annual f l o o d l e v e l . In o ther a r e a s , the homesteads were grouped around excavated ponds or t a n k s , w i th a s e r i e s of t ank-cen te red hous ing s i t e s making up a v i l l a g e . 7 There seemed to be l i t t l e d i f f e r e n c e from the v i l l a g e s of anc i en t I nd ia d e s c r i b e d by 33 A l d e r f e r . " P o p u l a t i o n tended to be from f i v e hundred to a thousand, houses b u i l t c l o s e t o g e t h e r , i s o l a t i o n from the o u t s i d e wor ld a lmost comple te , v i l l a g e a f f a i r s governed by custom, community l e a d e r s h i p in the hands of a c o u n c i l of e l d e r s and perhaps a headman. " 8 Each v i l l a g e was w i t h i n i t s own l i m i t s "autonomous and s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t , governed by i t s own e l e c t e d o f f i c e r s , s a t i s f y i n g i t s own needs , p r o v i d i n g fo r i t s own e d u c a t i o n , p o l i c e , t r i b u n a l , a l l i t s economic n e c e s s i t i e s and f u n c t i o n s , managing i t s e l f i t s own l i f e as an independent and s e l f -govern ing u n i t . " 9 V i l l a g e government opera ted through a headman and an assembly of the v i l l a g e r s . 1 0 The a n c i e n t kingdoms of the Mauryas, the Guptas and the Pa las had t h e i r power base in the Benga l-B ihar a r e a . 1 1 Dur ing the r e i g n of the P a l a s , Buddhism r e c e i v e d the r u l e r s ' pa t ronage , but in the subsequent y e a r s , a s t r ong Brahmanica l Hinduism emphas iz ing c a s t e d i s t i n c t i o n s emerged. The Musl im conquerors invaded Bengal in the e a r l y t h i r t e e n t h cen tu r y and more immigra t ion by T u r k s , Arabs and P e r s i a n s took p l a c e . Over c e n t u r i e s , the se t t l emen t s had evo l ved i n t o s e l f -s u f f i c i e n t v i l l a g e communit ies c o n s i s t i n g most l y of a g r i c u l t u r i s t s as we l l as o ther groups such as weavers, f i she rmen , c a r p e n t e r s , b l a c k s m i t h s , washermen, and p o t t e r s . A c co rd ing to Mazumdar, Raychaudhur i and D u t t a , " v i l l a g e communit ies c o n t i n u e d u n a f f e c t e d by the e s t ab l i shmen t of a new government in the c o u n t r y . " 1 2 There were a number of reasons f o r * t h i s . V i l l a g e s were s e l f - c o n t a i n e d u n i t s and poor communicat ion 34 and t r a n s p o r t a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s impeded e f f i c i e n t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n by the r u l e r s . The c a p i t a l of the r u l e r s of Bengal changed s e v e r a l t imes through these y e a r s . Sonargaon (near Dhaka) , Pandua (near Ma ldah ) , Nuddeah ( a l so known as N a d i a ) , and Gaur ( a l so c a l l e d Lucknowty) se rved as the c a p i t a l s under the v a r i o u s independent Musl im and Hindu r u l e r s . At the cen t r e of government, the r u l e r s had to pay a t t e n t i o n to the problems in t h e i r immediate s u r r o u n d i n g s , and were thus unable to p rov ide any s e r v i c e s or p r o t e c t i o n to the v i l l a g e s . The v i l l a g e headman was expected to c o l l e c t revenue from the v i l l a g e r s and send i t to the c a p i t a l . In cases of f a i l u r e by the headman, the k ing sent h i s t roops to c o l l e c t . Apar t from t h i s , the r u l e r s d i d not i n t e r f e r e in the a f f a i r s of the v i l l a g e . There was l i t t l e t r a n s a c t i o n between the v i l l a g e and the o u t s i d e wo r l d . There were no demands fo r change, nor d i d the v i l l a g e l e ade r s c o n s i d e r i t necessa ry to i n c l u d e o ther s o c i a l or o c c u p a t i o n a l groups i n the i n f o rma l bod ies tha t managed l o c a l a f f a i r s . F a c t i o n a l i s m d i d not emerge as a major problem due to the sma l l s i z e of v i l l a g e communi t ies , c l o s e t i e s among v i l l a g e l e a d e r s , and ' the l a ck of t a n g i b l e commodit ies f o r which to compete. The a d m i n i s t r a t i v e system of Bengal was not o rgan i zed we l l enough to cover the remote v i l l a g e s and e s t a b l i s h a un i fo rm l o c a l government sys tem. Another important aspec t of r u r a l l i f e in the a rea was the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two major r e l i g i o u s g roups , the Hindus and the Mus l ims . Hinduism had been the dominant f a i t h wi th p e r i o d i c c h a l l e n g e s from Buddhism. S ince the t h i r t e e n t h 35 c e n t u r y , l a r g e s c a l e c o n v e r s i o n s to Is lam took p l a ce under the Musl im r u l e r s . The ma jo r i t y of conve r t s were from the lower c a s t e s . R e l i g i o u s p l u r a l i s m was accep ted as a f a c t of l i f e in r u r a l East Bengal where the l a n d l o r d s were u s u a l l y members of the h i g h - c a s t e Hindu community. The tenants were both Hindus and Mus l ims . However, communal t e n s i o n had not become prominent y e t . The v a r i o u s o c c u p a t i o n a l groups depended on one a n o t h e r ' s p roduc t s or s e r v i c e s fo r s u r v i v a l . P roduc t i on was e s s e n t i a l l y f o r d i r e c t consumption on l y and there was no home or e x t e r n a l market f o r a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c e . 1 3 VILLAGE SOCIETY UNDER MUGHAL RULE The Mughals conquered Ind ia in the f i f t e e n t h c e n t u r y , but Bengal on l y became a p r o v i n c e of the empire in 1576. The Mughals set up an o rgan i zed and e f f i c i e n t system of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n by c r e a t i n g a d m i n i s t r a t i v e u n i t s of p r o v i n c e s f u r t h e r d i v i d e d i n t o d i s t r i c t s . The c e n t r e s of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n were dec ided upon by the r u l e r s on v a r i o u s grounds , the most important be ing s t r a t e g i c . These c e n t r e s l a t e r deve loped i n t o sma l l c i t i e s . The Mughals were e s s e n t i a l l y an urban peop le in I n d i a , and " t h e i r most d i s t i n c t i v e achievements in the sphere of l o c a l government were in urban a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . " 1 ' 1 An overwhelming percentage of the p o p u l a t i o n l i v e d in v i l l a g e s and were i s o l a t e d from the urban a r e a s . The e f f e c t s of urban a d m i n i s t r a t i v e changes d i d not t r i c k l e down to the v i l l a g e s . 36 T h e v i l l a g e w a s a s m a l l w o r l d o f i t s o w n . T h e v i l l a g e s o c i e t y w o u l d m a k e i t s own l a w s a n d d e c i s i o n s . I t w a s t h e d a n g e r o f e x t e r n a l i n v a s i o n a n d t h e n e e d f o r s e c u r i t y f r o m o u t l a w s w h i c h p r o d u c e d v i l l a g e o r g a n i z a t i o n a n d u n i t y . T h e M u g h a l s s e t u p a r e v e n u e c o l l e c t i n g s y s t e m w i t h s e v e r a l o f f i c i a l s a t v a r i o u s l e v e l s f r o m t h e d i s t r i c t t o t h e v i l l a g e s , a n d " t h e s e o f f i c i a l s d e r i v e d i n c o m e e i t h e r f r o m r i g h t s t o a f i x e d s h a r e i n t h e r e v e n u e o r f r o m c l a i m s t o c e r t a i n f e e s w h i c h c o u l d b e d e d u c t e d f r o m t h e r e v e n u e c o l l e c t e d . " 1 5 T h e r e v e n u e c o l l e c t o r s t h u s h a d d i r e c t i n c e n t i v e s a n d w e r e o f t e n r u t h l e s s i n p e r f o r m i n g t h e i r d u t i e s . T h e v i l l a g e r s b e g a n t o f e e l t h e p r e s s u r e . T h e s t a t e d i d n o t m a k e a n y e f f o r t t o r e g u l a t e l o c a l a f f a i r s . F o r a l l p r a c t i c a l p u r p o s e s , s u c h c o n t r o l w a s e x e r c i s e d b y t h e v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s , k n o w n a s p a n c h a y a t s . T h e p a n c h a y a t s , l i t e r a l l y m e a n i n g a b o d y o f f i v e p e r s o n s , w e r e u s u a l l y c o m p o s e d o f v i l l a g e r s b e l o n g i n g t o h i g h e r c a s t e s a n d t h e w e a l t h y c u l t i v a t o r s . V i l l a g e o f f i c e r s a n d s e r v a n t s w e r e a n s w e r a b l e t o t h e p a n c h a y a t s . T h e b o d i e s w e r e n o t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f t h e e n t i r e v i l l a g e a s s m a l l f a r m e r s , l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s a n d m e m b e r s o f t h e l o w e r c a s t e s h a d p r a c t i c a l l y n o s a y i n t h e a f f a i r s o f t h e v i l l a g e . P a n c h a y a t s s u p e r v i s e d a l m o s t a l l c o m m o n a c t i v i t i e s i n t h e v i l l a g e a n d l e v i e d t a x e s . 1 6 T h u s , v i l l a g e b o d i e s , c o n s t i t u t e d m o s t l y o n t h e b a s i s o f h e r e d i t a r y p r i v i l e g e a n d r e s t r i c t e d i n s c o p e , c o n t i n u e d t o m a n a g e t h e a f f a i r s o f t h e v i l l a g e s . T h e i n f l u e n t i a l p e o p l e i n t h e v i l l a g e s a i m e d t o k e e p t h e g o v e r n m e n t a t t h e c e n t r e s a t i s f i e d b y r a i s i n g t h e r e v e n u e , a n d i n e x c h a n g e e n j o y e d a f r e e h a n d i n r u n n i n g t h e 37 v i l l a g e s . The government, t o o , d i d not r e a l i s e the need to broaden the base of the l o c a l b o d i e s . G r a d u a l l y , the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the v i l l a g e r s and the l o c a l l a n d l o r d s s t a r t e d to become s t r a i n e d . The l a n d l o r d s became w i l l i n g p a r t i s a n s of the conquer ing Mughal power and were g i ven a comp le t e l y f r e e hand " t o a d m i n i s t e r t h e i r e s t a t e s in t h e i r own f a s h i o n wi th a monopoly of p o l i c e and j u d i c i a l f u n c t i o n s . " 1 7 I n d i v i d u a l v i l l a g e s v a r i e d in the degree of t e n s i o n e x p e r i e n c e d , and r e s i s t a n c e c o u l d be o f f e r e d on ly by way of r e b e l l i o n and not through p a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l b o d i e s . A l though s p o r a d i c i n c i d e n t s of r e b e l l i o n are mentioned in some s t u d i e s , the re are ha rd l y any r e co rd of the exact dates and d e t a i l s . The l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s were becoming more u s e f u l to the l a n d l o r d s fo r c o n t r o l l i n g the v i l l a g e s , and a new p a t t e r n of r e l a t i o n s h i p s emerged where the l o c a l e s t a b l i s h e d l e ade r s a ided the l a n d l o r d s in t h e i r e f f o r t s to t y r a n n i z e the v i l l a g e . INNOVATION UNDER BRITISH COLONIAL RULE The B r i t i s h commenced t r a d i n g o p e r a t i o n s in I nd ia d u r i n g the Mughal p e r i o d , and u l t i m a t e l y e s t a b l i s h e d themselves as the r u l e r s . When the B r i t i s h came to I n d i a , h e r e d i t a r y noblemen r u l e d the a rea c o n s i s t i n g of East Bengal as semi-independent c h i e f s pay ing on ly a sma l l t r i b u t e to the B r i t i s h government. The l o c a l r u l e r s were most l y Hindus who had i n h e r i t e d or a c q u i r e d l and and wea l th to become p o w e r f u l . There was no 38 emig ra t i on and a g r i c u l t u r e was the on ly way of ea rn ing a l i v e l i h o o d . The peasant ry f e l l v i c t i m s to the power of the l a n d l o r d s , r e s u l t i n g in r u r a l o p p r e s s i o n . The famine of 1770 reduced the p o p u l a t i o n d r a s t i c a l l y and there was more l and than c o u l d be c u l t i v a t e d by the peasan t s . The a g r i c u l t u r a l p o p u l a t i o n at the time c o n s i s t e d of two g roups . The r e s i d e n t c u l t i v a t o r s con t i nued on the same e s t a t e e i t h e r due to attachment to t h e i r anc i en t homes or by reason of indebtedness to t h e i r l a n d l o r d . The non-res iden t or vagrant c u l t i v a t o r s moved i n t o new areas in search of cheaper l a n d . The need fo r more c u l t i v a t o r s and the at tempts to win them over r e s u l t e d in v i o l e n t feuds among the landed p r o p r i e t o r s and the non-res iden t group took advantage of the c o n f u s i o n to a cqu i r e these e s t a t e s . The a g r i c u l t u r a l c l a s s e s were compe l l ed to r e l i n q u i s h t h e i r l a n d , and a l a r g e s e c t i o n of the l and remained u n t i l l e d . Thus the famine r u i n e d many of the o l d a r i s t o c r a c y in Lower Benga l . In 1787, the B r i t i s h government undertook d i r e c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of Lower Benga l , f o l l o w i n g the breakdown of law and order in the a r e a . By the end of 1788, they were s u c c e s s f u l in b r i n g i n g a d m i n i s t r a t i o n back to f u l l working o r d e r . 1 8 In the e a r l y days of c o l o n i a l r u l e , the term l o c a l government was used to denote a d m i n i s t r a t i v e b o d i e s , boa rds , and committees appo in t ed or set up by the government . They were awarded funds by the government to be spent on the poo r , and on roads , slum c l e a r a n c e s , and other works. They e x e r c i s e d powers which were d e l e g a t e d to them by the government and a c t ed as agents of the g o v e r n m e n t . 1 9 In Benga l , l ack of communicat ion 39 f a c i l i t i e s and i n a c c e s s i b i l i t y of the c e n t r a l government compe l led the v i l l a g e r s to o r g a n i z e themselves i n t o a d m i n i s t r a t i v e u n i t s . T r a d i t i o n and l o c a l customs c o n t r i b u t e d to the f o r m u l a t i o n of laws and v i l l a g e bod ies c o n s i s t i n g of the e l d e r l y and r e spec t ed v i l l a g e r s looked a f t e r t h e i r implementat i o n . Meanwhi le , the demands fo r growth of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in the urban a r e a s , t o o , r e c e i v e d a very m i l d response from the B r i t i s h government. It was not u n t i l the takeover of Ind ian a d m i n i s t r a t i o n by the B r i t i s h Crown from the B r i t i s h Eas t Ind ia Company tha t the development of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s cou ld be s a i d to have begun on the Ind ian s u b c o n t i n e n t . A m u n i c i p a l body was set up f o r C a l c u t t a in the Bengal P r e s idency in 1726. In 1847, the p r i n c i p l e of e l e c t i o n was i n t r o d u c e d , and i t p r o v i d e d fo r the e l e c t i o n of four out of seven ' commiss ioners fo r the improvement of the c i t y ' . 2 0 The m u n i c i p a l government s t a r t e d l e v y i n g taxes in the urban a r e a . With the advent of B r i t i s h r u l e and the expans ion of government a c t i v i t i e s , revenue se t t l ement seemed to be the most important task of the government i n the r u r a l a r e a s . For such pu rposes , the B r i t i s h found i t conven ien t to c o l l e c t revenues through a group of l a n d l o r d s . Lo rd C o r n w a l l i s , the then Governor Gene ra l of I n d i a , was in favour of c r e a t i n g a c l a s s of permanent l a n d l o r d s . He i n t r oduced the Permanent Se t t lement Act in 1793, under which the annual se t t l ement of l ands was r e p l a c e d by permanent s e t t l e m e n t . The zamindars ( l and h o l d e r s ) made a 40 t r a n s i t i o n from be ing t a x - c o l l e c t o r s to the p o s i t i o n of l a n d l o r d s . They were e n t r u s t e d w i th the c o l l e c t i o n of revenue and the maintenance of law and o rder in the v i l l a g e s . The t asks were c a r r i e d out w i th t o t a l d i s r e g a r d to the needs and a b i l i t i e s of the v i l l a g e r s to pay t a x e s . The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Hindus and the Musl ims in East Bengal became that of the r u l e r and the r u l e d s i n c e most of the l a n d l o r d s were H indus . Whi le the r i c h Hindus were ent renched in domina t ing p o s i t i o n s , the gene ra l peasant ry was g r a d u a l l y be ing reduced to l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s . The impact of c o l o n i a l i s m s t a r t e d to c r ea t e antagonism among the two major r e l i g i o u s g roups . The l a n d l o r d s t r i e d to secure fo r themselves a b igge r share of the r e t u r n from the l a n d , and t h i s added to the misery of the v i l l a g e r s . G r a d u a l l y , v i l l a g e s o c i e t y throughout Bengal "was subo rd ina t ed permanent ly to l a n d l o r d r u l e . " 2 1 The government found in the l a n d l o r d s the cheapest and s a f e s t agency fo r the s e c u r i t y of revenue and i t s c o l l e c t i o n wi th minimum s o c i a l d i s t u r b a n c e . 2 2 As demands fo r r e s p o n s i b l e government s t a r t e d to be v o i c e d , the f i r s t s t ep in s t r e a m l i n i n g l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was taken w i th the p u b l i c a t i o n of Lo rd Mayo 's r e s o l u t i o n in 1870. Lo rd Mayo, the V i c e r o y , r e c o g n i z e d the a b i l i t y of Ind ians to a d m i n i s t e r l o c a l a f f a i r s . He c a l l e d fo r the d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , and fo r a s s o c i a t i n g Ind ians in the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e p r o c e s s . 2 3 Mayo wanted to extend the a u t h o r i t y of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in r espec t to p u b l i c expend i tu re i n some of the c i v i l depar tments . It was a l s o in tended to 41 i n c r ea se l o c a l i n t e r e s t and s u p e r v i s i o n . The next V i c e r o y , Lord Ripon c o n s i d e r e d l o c a l government as an " i ns t rument of p o l i t i c a l and popu la r e d u c a t i o n " , and advocated d e v o l u t i o n of f u n c t i o n to the l o c a l b o d i e s . H i s famous R e s o l u t i o n c a l l e d fo r the s e t t i n g up of r u r a l boards wi th a two-th i rds m a j o r i t y of n o n - o f f i c i a l s , who were to be e l e c t e d . "The chairmen of a l l l o c a l boards shou ld a c c o r d i n g l y be n o n - o f f i c i a l s whenever p o s s i b l e . " 2 " The government was a c t u a l l y respond ing to the sent iments of the educated urban r e s i d e n t s and a u t h o r i t y began to be d e c e n t r a l i z e d from the p r o v i n c i a l headquar te rs to the d i s t r i c t s . The Bengal V i l l a g e Chowkidar i A c t , 1870 , d i v i d e d the r u r a l a reas i n t o u n i o n s , each c o v e r i n g approx imate l y ten to twelve square m i l e s . The D i s t r i c t M a g i s t r a t e was empowered to form a five-member panchayat f o r each u n i o n . The panchayat appo in t ed a chowkidar or v i l l a g e po l i ceman and c o l l e c t e d money from the l o c a l r e s i d e n t s to pay fo r h i s s e r v i c e s . But panchayats c o u l d not undertake any development work. T h i s arrangement of a p p o i n t i n g panchayats was not b e n e f i c i a l fo r each v i l l a g e in the union s i n ce the panchayats were appo in ted by the D i s t r i c t M a g i s t r a t e a c c o r d i n g to h i s own c h o i c e . Many v i l l a g e s went unrepresen ted in the panchayats . In t h i s way, the c o l o n i a l a d m i n i s t r a t o r s ensured the i n c l u s i o n of people of t h e i r c h o i c e in the l o c a l b o d i e s . The Bengal D i s t r i c t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Committee, 1913-1914 r epo r t ed that chowk idar i panchayats were e s t a b l i s h e d everywhere in the p r o v i n c e . But they were d i f f e r e n t from panchayats in o the r a reas of I n d i a , " f o r in Bengal the Permanent Se t t l ement 42 a n d t h e p r e d o m i n a t i n g l o c a l i n f l u e n c e o f t h e l a n d l o r d s , a s w e l l a s o t h e r c o n t r i b u t o r y c a u s e s , s u c h a s t h e s p r e a d o f e d u c a t i o n , i m p r o v e d f a c i l i t i e s o f c o m m u n i c a t i o n , a n d t h e e v e r - i n c r e a s i n g t e n d e n c y t o c e n t r a l i z a t i o n o f c o n t r o l , h a v e c o m b i n e d t o d e s t r o y a l l t r a c e s o f a n y v i l l a g e s y s t e m w h i c h may h a v e e x i s t e d i n p r e -B r i t i s h d a y s . " 2 5 T h e R e p o r t a l s o p o i n t e d o u t t h a t t h e u n i t o f a d m i n i s t r a t i o n w a s n o t t h e v i l l a g e , b u t a n u m b e r o f v i l l a g e s g r o u p e d i n t o u n i o n s , " t h o u g h n o t u n i t e d b y b o n d s o r c o m m u n a l i n t e r e s t . " T h e y h a d f a i l e d t o b e c o m e u s e f u l p a r t s o f t h e d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n b e c a u s e t h e p a n c h a y a t s h a d b e e n e n t r u s t e d o n l y w i t h t h e t a s k o f a s s e s s i n g a n d c o l l e c t i n g c h o w k i d a r i t a x a n d p a y m e n t o f t h e c h o w k i d a r ' s s a l a r i e s , a n d c o u l d n o t u n d e r t a k e d e v e l o p m e n t a l p r o g r a m m e s i n t h e v i l l a g e . I n 1 8 8 5 , t h e L o c a l S e l f - G o v e r n m e n t A c t w a s l e g i s l a t e d t o p r o v i d e f o r a t h r e e t i e r l o c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n c o n s i s t i n g o f t h e D i s t r i c t B o a r d , t h e L o c a l B o a r d a n d t h e U n i o n C o m m i t t e e . T h e U n i o n C o m m i t t e e a t t h e l o w e s t l e v e l , o p e r a t i n g s e p a r a t e l y f r o m t h e u n i o n p a n c h a y a t s , c o v e r e d a f e w v i l l a g e s , a n d i t s m e m b e r s w e r e e l e c t e d b y t h e v i l l a g e r s . T h e U n i o n C o m m i t t e e s u p e r v i s e d t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f r o a d s , a n d s a n i t a t i o n a n d p r i m a r y e d u c a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s . I t c o u l d " r a i s e f u n d s f r o m t h e v i l l a g e r s o w n i n g o r o c c u p y i n g h o u s e s o r p r o p e r t i e s " t o f i n a n c e t h e s e p r o g r a m m e s . 2 6 T h e c h o w k i d a r i p a n c h a y a t s t o o , r a i s e d f u n d s f o r m a i n t a i n i n g l a w a n d o r d e r i n t h e u n i o n . T h e p a n c h a y a t s w e r e q u i c k l y l o s i n g p o p u l a r i t y d u e t o t h e u n p l e a s a n t n a t u r e o f t h e i r d u t i e s i n c o l l e c t i n g f u n d s a n d i n e f f i c i e n t a n d c o r r u p t p r a c t i c e s b y t h e m e m b e r s w h o w e r e n o t e l e c t e d b y t h e v i l l a g e r s . 43 The s h o r t c o m i n g s o f t h e c h o w k i d a r i p a n c h a y a t s became e v i d e n t t o t h e government and an A c t was p a s s e d i n 1892 t o amend t h e B e n g a l V i l l a g e C h o w k i d a r i A c t o f 1870. The p r o c e d u r e f o r t h e a p p o i n t m e n t o f t h e c h o w k i d a r s was r e v i s e d . The p a n c h a y a t s c o u l d recommend c a n d i d a t e s , b ut t h e D i s t r i c t M a g i s t r a t e was t h e a c t u a l a p p o i n t i n g a u t h o r i t y . The . c o n t r o l o v e r t h e c h o w k i d a r s was t r a n s f e r r e d t o t h e p r o v i n c i a l r e g u l a r p o l i c e . 2 7 T h u s , t h e A c t o f 1892 was a r e v e r s e s t e p t o w a r d s c e n t r a l i z a t i o n i n l o c a l government a u t h o r i t y . Now t h e a t t e m p t t o i n t r o d u c e l o c a l s e l f -government i n B e n g a l s t a r t e d f r o m t h e d i s t r i c t , and " t h e v i l l a g e was made c o m p l e t e l y dependent and s u b s e r v i e n t t o t h e d i s t r i c t a u t h o r i t i e s . " 2 8 S u b r a t a M u k h e r j e e a t t r i b u t e d t h e v i l l a g e ' s s u b s e r v i e n c e t o , among' o t h e r c a u s e s , t h e i n t e r e s t s of t h e r u l e r s i n c o m b i n a t i o n w i t h t h e p o l i t i c a l p r e s s u r e p u t by more v o c a l and c o n s c i o u s u r b a n r e s i d e n t s and a l s o t o t h e a p a t h y o f t h e r u r a l p e o p l e . 2 9 The e f f e c t s o f c o l o n i a l r u l e were o b v i o u s i n t h e c o n d i t i o n s o f t h e r u r a l s o c i e t y i n E a s t B e n g a l . By t h e t u r n o f t h e c e n t u r y , t h e p o o r e r v i l l a g e r s had become a b s o l u t e l y h e l p l e s s , and t h e a g e n t s o f t h e l a n d l o r d , o f f i c i a l s f r o m government s e r v i c e and t h e l o c a l m o n e y l e n d e r s w i e l d e d r e a l p o w e r . 3 0 T i n k e r p o i n t e d o u t t h a t an a t t e m p t was made by t h e B e n g a l government t o make v i l l a g e c o m m i t t e e s more e f f e c t i v e , b u t t h e p l a n was r e j e c t e d by t h e B r i t i s h S e c r e t a r y o f S t a t e f o r I n d i a . The f o r m a t i o n of t h e I n d i a n N a t i o n a l C o n g r e s s and t h e g r o w t h o f I n d i a n n a t i o n a l i s m had made t h e B r i t i s h a p p r e h e n s i v e o f t o t a l d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . 44 Another development that was of p a r t i c u l a r s i g n i f i c a n c e to East Bengal was the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n of the Musl im community i n t o a cohes i ve p o l i t i c a l f o r c e under the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the Musl im League (ML). The Musl ims had p r e v i o u s l y been l e f t in the background due to l ack of educa t i on and an o r g a n i z a t i o n to a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r i n t e r e s t s . In 1905, demands were s u c c e s s f u l l y p ressed fo r the p a r t i t i o n of the p rov ince of Bengal i n t o East and West. East Benga l , be ing a Musl im m a j o r i t y a r e a , was p e r c e i v e d to be s l i p p i n g out of c o n t r o l of the Hindu h igher c a s t e s who dominated the l o c a l scene . The Hindus s t a r t e d a g i t a t i n g a g a i n s t the p a r t i t i o n , and succeeded in g e t t i n g i t a n n u l l e d in 1911. The ML was formed in 1906, and communal v i o l e n c e broke out fo r the f i r s t t ime between the two communit ies in the f o l l o w i n g y e a r . The t e n s i o n s u r v i v e d , and the Musl ims con t i nued to demand more p a r t i c i p a t i o n in p u b l i c a f f a i r s . The c o l o n i a l government f o l l owed a p o l i c y of d i v i d e and r u l e , and p a r t i t i o n e d Bengal to c r e a t e c l eavage between the Hindus and the Mus l ims . John McLane has accused the B r i t i s h of p r o v i d i n g " i s s u e s and i n s t i t u t i o n s which ensured the communal iza t ion of p o l i t i c s . " 3 1 The D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n Commission was c o n s t i t u t e d in 1907 to enqu i re i n t o the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the c e n t r a l and the p r o v i n c i a l governments and the a u t h o r i t i e s subord ina te to them. The Commission made a number of recommendations which i n c l u d e d an e l e c t e d panchayat and the merger of the panchayat and the Union Committees. But the c o l o n i a l government was not yet ready to exper iment w i th e l e c t e d panchayats w i th de l ega t ed a u t h o r i t y . 45 The sugges t i ons were not implemented, and ' r e f o rms were postponed fo r a f u r t h e r ten y e a r s . 3 2 A committee appo in ted by the Bengal government in 1912 observed tha t the l o c a l bod ies in the p r o v i n c e f a i l e d to per form the t asks a s s i g n e d to them. The Bengal D i s t r i c t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Committee found no j u s t i f i c a t i o n fo r the e x i s t e n c e of the L o c a l Boards . A c c o r d i n g to the Committee, the Boards ' members had n e i t h e r knowledge o f , nor any i n t e r e s t in v i l l a g e a f f a i r s . The committee p o i n t e d out the p e c u l i a r i t y of East Bengal d i s t r i c t s as the most d i f f i c u l t to adm in i s t e r due to ext remely poor communicat ion f a c i l i t i e s , the d i s t a n c e between government o f f i c i a l s and the l o c a l p o p u l a t i o n , and the absence of an o rgan i zed v i l l a g e government s y s t e m . 3 3 The recommendations of the committee were s i m i l a r to those of the D e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n Commiss ion, and were s i m i l a r l y i g n o r e d . The c o l o n i a l r u l e r s were s t i l l not w i l l i n g to de l ega t e power to the l o c a l b o d i e s , a l though they r epea t ed l y expressed t h e i r i n t e n t i o n to do s o . In 1918 Edwin Montagu, the Sec re t a r y of S ta te fo r I nd i a and Lord Che lms fo rd , the V i c e r o y , advocated the growth of s e l f -govern ing i n s t i t u t i o n s in I n d i a . The number of e l e c t e d members was to be i n c r e a s e d to make them the m a j o r i t y in the l o c a l b o d i e s . The Montagu-Chelmsford Report suggested tha t the panchayats shou ld be endowed wi th c i v i l and c r i m i n a l j u r i s d i c t i o n in pe t t y c a s e s , some a d m i n i s t r a t i v e powers in the f i e l d of s a n i t a t i o n and e d u c a t i o n , and p e r m i s s i v e powers of imposing l o c a l r a t e s . 3 " The Montagu-Chelmsford Report ushered the Bengal V i l l a g e 46 Sel f-Government Act of 1919. The panchayats and Union Committees were merged and named the Union Boards . The Union Board covered an area of approx imate l y ten square m i l e s w i th a p o p u l a t i o n of about 8 , 0 0 0 . 3 5 Only a t h i r d of the members or the Union Board were nominated, thus ensu r i ng the c o n t r o l of the government . The Ind ian S t a t u t o r y Commission recommended the a b o l i t i o n of the p r a c t i c e of nominat ing members to the l o c a l b o d i e s . 3 6 The Bengal A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Enqu i ry Committee (Rowlands Report ) made a s i m i l a r s u g g e s t i o n , and the p r a c t i c e of nominat ion was t e rmina ted in 1946. Meanwhi le , Eas t Bengal expe r i enced some changes in the compos i t i on of the l o c a l bod ies as " the Mus l ims ' new e l e c t o r a l o r g a n i z a t i o n and a l l i a n c e s w i th the Hindu peasan t r y had r e s u l t e d in the Hindu b h a d r a l o k ' s l o s s of c o n t r o l of many l o c a l boards at the 1927 and 1931 e l e c t i o n s . " 3 7 T h i s r e v e a l s a new dimension in l o c a l and communal p o l i t i c s . The poorer s e c t i o n of the Hindus and the Musl ims were toge the r r e s i s t i n g the dominat ion of the upper cas te H indus . Throughout the p e r i o d s d u r i n g which these developments took p l a c e , there were s t i p u l a t i o n s on the e l i g i b i l i t y of v o t e r s . The f r a n c h i s e was granted to v i l l a g e r s pay ing one rupee annua l l y as a l o c a l c e s s , and to those who passed a l i t e r a c y t e s t . 3 8 The number of members of Union Boards v a r i e d from s i x to n ine in the d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s of the p r o v i n c e . The s u b o r d i n a t i o n of Union Boards to the D i s t r i c t Boards and the appointment of c i v i l s e r v i c e o f f i c i a l s to oversee the o p e r a t i o n of v i l l a g e bod ies ensured government c o n t r o l over these b o d i e s . The o p e r a t i o n of the panchayats was impeded "where the community was rent by 47 f a c t i o n or f am i l y f euds , or when i t was overshadowed by some l o c a l b u l l y In a reas where the v i l l a g e r s had to work ext remely hard fo r a l i v i n g , "one would u s u a l l y f i n d a d u l l i n d i f f e r e n c e to the advantages of new forms of communal c o m b i n a t i o n . " 3 9 T i n k e r p o i n t e d out tha t the " v i r u s of f a c t i o n " was l e s s a c t i v e in the Union Boards than in m u n i c i p a l a f f a i r s . Compared to o ther p r o v i n c e s , Bengal appeared to be more s u c c e s s f u l in s e t t i n g up and runn ing l o c a l government. Yet the v i l l a g e s con t i nued to c o n t r o l l e d and d i r e c t e d by t r a d i t i o n a l i n f l u e n t i a l s in c o l l a b o r a t i o n wi th the agents of the government. P a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l a f f a i r s remained ext remely l i m i t e d . Ramkrishna Mukher j ee ' s survey of some v i l l a g e s in 1941 a t t e s t s to the m i se r ab l e c o n d i t i o n of the v i l l a g e r s . He c l a s s i f i e d the people of r u r a l Bengal i n t o n ine o c c u p a t i o n a l g roups : l a n d h o l d e r s , s u p e r v i s o r y f a rmers , c u l t i v a t o r s , s h a r e c r o p p e r s , a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r e r s , a r t i s a n s , t r a d e r s , s e r v i c e - h o l d e r s , and o t h e r s . Most of these groups l i v e d in p o v e r t y ; the re were l a r g e d i f f e r e n c e s of income, and about n ine- ten ths of the p o p u l a t i o n surveyed were c o n c e n t r a t e d among the low income g r o u p s . 4 0 An a l t e r n a t e way in which the B r i t i s h government sought to improve l i f e i n the v i l l a g e s was to emphasize r u r a l development. The concept of r u r a l development o r i g i n a t e d in Bengal w i th the e s t ab l i shmen t of a Department of A g r i c u l t u r e i n 1880, f o l l o w i n g the famine of 1878. The i n i t i a l purpose was to set up an o f f i c e to be used f o r the d i s t r i b u t i o n of r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s in the a f f e c t e d a r e a s . The department expanded g r a d u a l l y , and by 1911 there was an a g r i c u l t u r e c o l l e g e , r e sea r ch s t a t i o n s , and 48 t r a i n i n g c en t r e s fo r o f f i c e r s and d i s t r i c t fa rms . The Department of A g r i c u l t u r e aimed to d i s sem ina te r e s u l t s of r e sea r ch among c u l t i v a t o r s and to o rgan i ze famine r e l i e f . Meanwhi le , v i l l a g e c o o p e r a t i v e s were o rgan i zed i n 1904 to supp ly c r e d i t r e q u i r e d f o r a g r i c u l t u r a l deve lopment . But l i t t l e p rog ress was made and by 1940, the Department was " spend ing (the) bulk of i t s fund fo r m a i n t a i n i n g the s t a f f . " " 1 REFORMS UNDER PAKISTANI RULE The most v i s i b l e l egacy of c o l o n i a l i s m in Ind ia was i t s p a r t i t i o n in 1947. The b i r t h of Pak i s t an p resen ted the c h a l l e n g e of o r g a n i z i n g and b u i l d i n g up the new s t a t e . I n i t i a l l y , there was no attempt to r eo rgan i ze l o c a l government . The c o l o n i a l system of l o c a l government con t i nued in East Benga l . The euphor i a of independence p r e v a i l e d fo r some time and the re were no demands from the people fo r r e fo rming the l o c a l government sys tem. But the v o i d c r e a t e d by the depar tu re of H indu l a n d l o r d s was f e l t in the r u r a l a r e a s , because a l t e r n a t e Musl im l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p had not deve loped over the y e a r s . Some o p p o r t u n i s t s were qu i ck to take advantage of the s i t u a t i o n and t r i e d to assume l e a d e r s h i p . T h e i r success a roused j e a l ousy among o ther a s p i r a n t s . L o c a l l e a d e r s thus s t a r t e d compet ing aga in s t one ano the r . In p u r s u i t of r u r a l deve lopment , the V i l l a g e A g r i c u l t u r a l and I n d u s t r i a l Development (V-AID) programme was i n t r oduced in 49 1954 wi th the o b j e c t i v e of f o s t e r i n g e f f e c t i v e c i t i z e n p a r t i c i p a t i o n in development a c t i v i t i e s . V-AID was expected to cover a g r i c u l t u r e , pr imary e d u c a t i o n , adu l t e d u c a t i o n , h e a l t h and s a n i t a t i o n , c o o p e r a t i v e s , co t t age i n d u s t r i e s , i r r i g a t i o n and r e c l ama t i on of l a n d , secondary road c o n s t r u c t i o n , youth and women's programmes and s o c i a l and r e c r e a t i o n a l a c t i v i t i e s . "The b a s i c assumpt ion was tha t by h e l p i n g v i l l a g e r s a c q u i r e g r e a t e r con f i dence in themselves and t h e i r government s e r v a n t s , p r e c i s i o n in us ing s c i e n t i f i c methods, competence in u s i ng co-ope r a t i v e methods of d i s c u s s i o n and a c t i o n and s k i l l in r e s o l v i n g s o c i a l c o n f l i c t , t h e i r development e f f o r t s would be enhanced and e x i s t i n g c o n d i t i o n s of apa thy , overdependence on a u t h o r i t y , f ea r of change and f a c t i o n a l i s m c o u l d be o v e r c o m e . " " 2 Azer A l i used one case in R a j b a r i , F a r i d p u r to demonstrate tha t the V-AID programme r e s u l t e d in "enthus iasm among v i l l a g e r s to improve t h e i r l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s . " He a l s o s t a t e d tha t " sho r tage of f unds , l ack of t r a i n i n g f a c i l i t i e s and the i n s t a b i l i t y of p r o v i n c i a l and c e n t r a l governments were the main causes fo r the slow p r o g r e s s . " * 3 The V-AID programme c o u l d on l y p repare the ground fo r l a t e r growth in l o c a l deve lopmenta l o r g a n i z a t i o n be fo re i t was t e rm ina ted in 1962. In May 1959, the Pak i s t an Academy fo r V i l l a g e Development s t a r t e d t r a i n i n g o f f i c e r s of V-AID and the government departments d e a l i n g w i th r u r a l deve lopment . The i n s t i t u t i o n was renamed P a k i s t a n Academy fo r Ru ra l Development in 1962. The Academy c o n t r i b u t e d to the development of a model thana a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in C o m i l l a d i s t r i c t through the Thana T r a i n i n g and Development C e n t r e , and a two-t ie r c o o p e r a t i v e known as C o m i l l a C o o p e r a t i v e . Akhtar Hameed Khan, a former c i v i l se rvant 50 and c o l l e g e p r o f e s s o r , was the a r c h i t e c t of the C o m i l l a model which was based on c e r t a i n assumpt ions . The f i r s t was tha t s i n ce the v i l l a g e r s themselves had the best unders tand ing of the problems of r u r a l l i f e , r u r a l development shou ld be approached from t h e i r po in t of v iew. Second, v i l l a g e r s are capab le of b r i n g i n g about changes in t h e i r c o n d i t i o n s , and shou ld be p r o v i d e d wi th the o p p o r t u n i t y to i n i t i a t e the p rocess of change through i n d i v i d u a l and c o o p e r a t i v e e f f o r t s . The v i l l a g e shou ld be r e cogn i zed as the s t a r t i n g p o i n t for the p rocess of m o d e r n i z a t i o n . * u A c c o r d i n g to the C o m i l l a model e n t h u s i a s t s , l o c a l l e ade r s were more e f f e c t i v e agents of change than government o f f i c i a l s and c o u l d be used to i n t roduce i nnova t i v e measures to so l ve l o c a l p rob lems . The C o m i l l a model has been c r i t i c i z e d because i t d i d not produce s o l u t i o n s to many l o c a l p rob lems . In C o m i l l a , the re were no r a d i c a l changes in the e x e r c i s e of governmental a u t h o r i t y and no l and tenure change in the r u r a l a r e a s . Most of the b e t t e r - o f f farmers took advantage , but the l a n d l e s s ga ined l i t t l e i n d i r e c t b e n e f i t . The C o m i l l a model , i t seems, c o u l d be s u c c e s s f u l on ly in p a r t i c u l a r l i m i t e d p r o j e c t s . It d i d not p rov ide a guaranteed formula fo r s i g n i f i c a n t change in C o m i l l a ' s r u r a l a r e a s . The p rospec t of i t s r e p l i c a t i o n in o ther areas of the coun t r y was, t h e r e f o r e , l i m i t e d . Rura l i n s t i t u t i o n s c o u l d d e f i n i t e l y be improved by h e l p i n g and educa t ing t h e i r members and c l i e n t s . But t h i s was not s u f f i c i e n t to improve the c o n d i t i o n s p r e v a i l i n g in the r u r a l a r e a s . P o l i t i c a l l y , Eas t Bengal underwent numerous changes a f t e r 51 1947. O p p o s i t i o n to the r u l i n g p a r t y , the ML, brought many f a c t i o n s toge the r to form the Awami Musl im League. L a t e r , the word "Mus l im" was d e l e t e d from the name, and the Awami League (AL) went on to become the p r i n c i p a l spokesman f o r the B e n g a l i s ' needs and demands. The p a r t y ' s l e a d e r s h i p i n c l u d e d Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashan i , a peasant l eade r a l s o c o n s i d e r e d as a r e l i g i o u s l e a d e r . G r a d u a l l y , o ther l e ade r s ga ined p o p u l a r i t y in Eas t Benga l . The K r i shak Sramik Par ty (KSP) l e d by A . K . M . F a z l u l Huq had a massive f o l l o w i n g in the r u r a l a r e a s . The AL and the KSP, a long w i th a number of sma l l e r p a r t i e s , formed an a l l i a n c e and routed the ML in the p r o v i n c i a l e l e c t i o n s h e l d in 1954. The de fea t of the r u l i n g ML and the a r t i c u l a t i o n of demands fo r r e g i o n a l autonomy l a i d the base fo r the AL in the remote a reas of East Benga l , e s p e c i a l l y s i n ce the KSP was f ad ing a f t e r F a z l u l Huq j o i n e d government s e r v i c e . Whi le the t r a d i t i o n a l i n f l u e n t i a l s con t i nued t h e i r a l l e g i a n c e to the ML, a new group of b i g farmers who had p rospered a f t e r the p a r t i t i o n of 1947 found the AL a v e h i c l e w i th which to c h a l l e n g e the dominat ion of the ML s u p p o r t e r s . With the passage of t ime , the p o l i c i e s of the n a t i o n a l government of P ak i s t an c o n t r i b u t e d to a s t ronge r and broader base fo r the AL. In 1956, the f i r s t c o n s t i t u t i o n of P ak i s t an changed the name of the p rov i n ce from East Bengal to East P a k i s t a n . In the same y e a r , the government undertook a study of the problems of l o c a l government in the p r o v i n c e . A l though the Union Boards were democra t i zed by adop t i ng u n i v e r s a l a d u l t f r a n c h i s e , l o c a l bod ies con t i nued to per form very p o o r l y . The reasons were the 52 i n c l u s i o n of i n e f f i c i e n t p e o p l e , o f t e n through pa t ronage , wi th l i t t l e scope to pe r fo rm , and too much c o n t r o l e x e r c i s e d by the gove rnmen t . " 5 Independence and the t r a n s f o r m a t i o n from a co lony to a p r o v i n c e of an independent s t a t e had no e f f e c t on the performance of l o c a l b o d i e s . They were s t i l l c o n t r o l l e d by the wealthy v i l l a g e r s who f u r t h e r e d t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s w i th the he lp of government o f f i c i a l s . M a r t i a l Law was imposed on Pak i s t an fo r the f i r s t time in Oc tobe r , 1958 f o l l o w i n g a c o n s t i t u t i o n a l breakdown. W i th in a y ea r , the m i l i t a r y government headed by Genera l Ayub Khan had drawn up a scheme fo r r e o r g a n i z i n g the system of l o c a l government in P a k i s t a n . A system of l o c a l government under the nomenclature of Bas i c Democracy was e s t a b l i s h e d in 1959 which o s t e n s i b l y encouraged the growth of l o c a l democracy. Bas ic Democracy c o n s i s t e d of four t i e r s : the Union C o u n c i l , the Thana C o u n c i l , the D i s t r i c t C o u n c i l , and the D i v i s i o n a l C o u n c i l . The Union C o u n c i l was the u n i t c l o s e s t to the v i l l a g e s . It covered a number of v i l l a g e s , and was run by a body of approx imate l y ten members. I n i t i a l l y , o n e - t h i r d of the members were nominated by the government . From 1962, the procedure was changed and a l l the members were e l e c t e d fo r f i v e yea r s by the r e s i d e n t s of the u n i o n . The Union C o u n c i l e l e c t e d i t s Chai rman, who was the c h i e f execu t i v e of the body. The Union C o u n c i l s were e n t r u s t e d wi th a long l i s t of f u n c t i o n s i n c l u d i n g c i v i c , p o l i c e and s e c u r i t y , revenue and gene ra l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e f u n c t i o n s as w e l l as t asks r e l a t e d to n a t i o n a l r e c o n s t r u c t i o n , a g r i c u l t u r a l deve lopment , j u d i c i a l and 53 p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s . " 6 However, f o r a number of r easons , most of these f u n c t i o n s c o u l d not be pe r fo rmed . C o n t r o l was e x e r c i s e d over the v i l l a g e s and the Union C o u n c i l s by the Thana C o u n c i l s . The government c o n t r o l l e d and conducted the e l e c t i o n of the Union C o u n c i l members and the Chai rman. In case the Union C o u n c i l f a i l e d to e l e c t i t s Cha i rman, the c o n t r o l l i n g a u t h o r i t y which was ves t ed wi th the government o f f i c i a l s , enab led them to appo in t a Chai rman. The Union C o u n c i l c ou ld be suspended or superceded by the government which a l s o c o n t r o l l e d p o l i c y d e c i s i o n s and the conduct of b u s i n e s s , d i r e c t l y or i n d i r e c t l y . The Thana l e v e l o f f i c e r s and the Chairmen of Union C o u n c i l s c o n s t i t u t e d a Thana C o u n c i l in order to c o o r d i n a t e the e f f o r t s of government o f f i c e r s and p e o p l e ' s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . The dominance of the government o f f i c i a l s in these b o d i e s , and the de fe rence to t h e i r s u p e r i o r p o s i t i o n s by the l o c a l l e a d e r s r e s u l t e d in e f f e c t i v e c o n t r o l by the o f f i c i a l s . Concess ions were sometimes made to keep the Chairmen s a t i s f i e d wi th t h i s ar rangement . In any c a s e , the r e s u l t was l i t t l e b e n e f i t f o r o r d i n a r y v i l l a g e r s . Bas i c Democracy was i n t r oduced toward the fag end of the d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n wave of the 1950s, and opera ted throughout the 1960s, when c o n t r o l over l o c a l o p e r a t i o n s by the c e n t r a l government in Pak i s t an was very t i g h t . Rahman's examinat ion of the Bas i c Democracy system revea l ed tha t e i g h t y - f i v e per cent of a l l i s s u e s on l o c a l c o u n c i l agendas were put there by communicat ions from the c e n t r a l gove rnmen t . " 7 "The ove rbea r i ng 54 i n t e r v e n t i o n of o f f i c i a l s in l o c a l government a f f a i r s " i s one of the p r i n c i p a l c r i t i c i s m s of Bas i c Democracy r a i s e d by H u q u e . " 8 Huque a l s o ment ioned, as f u r t h e r c r i t i c i s m of Bas i c Democracy, the usurp ing of the p e o p l e ' s r i g h t of f r a n c h i s e by making the Bas ic Democrats an e l e c t o r a l c o l l e g e to e l e c t the N a t i o n a l Assembly and the P r e s i d e n t , and the l a ck of proper aud i t of l o c a l c o u n c i l funds which may have been used for " p o l i t i c a l b r i b e r y . " " 9 A survey showed that wh i le in 1961 more than t h r ee-qua r t e r s of the Union C o u n c i l Chairmen who were i n t e r v i ewed fo r a study by M.R. Khan earned about Rs. 1000 per annum, by 1964, the income of 61.1 per cent of the same group shot up to over Rs. 4000 per a n n u m . 5 0 Thus a new o p p o r t u n i t y was p r o v i d e d fo r the suppor te r s of the Ayub regime in the r u r a l a r e a s . It becomes c l e a r that the system was e s t a b l i s h e d wi th the i n t e n t i o n of c r e a t i n g a group of suppo r t e r s who would he lp Genera l Ayub Khan s tay in power. T h i s e x p l a n a t i o n i s s u b s t a n t i a t e d by a study which found tha t the Ayub regime was b r i b i n g the Bas ic Democrats under the gu i se of g ran ts to the c o u n c i l s . 5 1 But a f t e r the p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n s of 1965, i t became c l e a r tha t the Bas i c Democrats were d i v i d e d in t h e i r l o y a l t y s i n c e the p r e s i d e n t i a l c and ida te put up by the Combined O p p o s i t i o n P a r t i e s p o l l e d about f o r t y - f i v e per cent of the votes in East P a k i s t a n . 5 2 A number of r u r a l development programmes were launched du r i ng the Ayub regime. S ince they con t i nued a f t e r the break-up of the c o u n t r y , they w i l l be reviewed in the next chapte r d e a l i n g w i th Bangladesh . A l though the government c o n t i n u e d to 55 shower p r a i s e on Bas i c Democracy wh ich , i t s a i d , was a c h i e v i n g the goa l s of economic deve lopment , s o c i a l e q u a l i t y and p o l i t i c a l d e m o c r a c y , 5 3 i t c o u l d not be c o n s i d e r e d democra t i c because i t d i d not " r e p r e s e n t c o n t r o l by the peop le over government power except in an ext remely l i m i t e d m a n n e r . " 5 " G r a d u a l l y , the p o l i t i c a l r o l e of the Bas i c Democrats assumed more importance than t h e i r a d m i n i s t r a t i v e and l o c a l government f u n c t i o n s . 5 5 S ince the Union C o u n c i l s were the lowest l e v e l of l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , the v i l l a g e s con t i nued to be n e g l e c t e d . Funds fo r l o c a l p r o j e c t s r a r e l y t r i c k l e d down to the v i l l a g e s . D e c i s i o n s were made at the Union l e v e l , and programmes tha t b e n e f i t t e d the l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s were under taken . The system favoured b ig f a rmers , and r e s u l t e d in a r i s e in the p a r t i c i p a t i o n of new moneyed c l a s s e s such as businessmen and c o n t r a c t o r s . 5 6 The m a j o r i t y of v i l l a g e r e s i d e n t s — sma l l farmers and l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s -- were s t i l l exc luded from dec i s i on-mak ing in l o c a l a f f a i r s . Bas i c Democracy had c o r r u p t e d the e n t i r e l o c a l government mach inery , p a r t i c u l a r l y the r u r a l l o c a l b o d i e s . I t f a i l e d l i k e o ther re form at tempts ma in ly because the system was des igned to serve the i n t e r e s t s of a c e r t a i n group tha t would support the r e g i m e . 5 7 These c r i t i c i s m s began to be v o i c e d by p r o v i n c i a l p o l i t i c i a n s when a nat ionwide movement a g a i n s t the Ayub regime was l aunched . In March 1969, Genera l Ayub Khan s tepped down and the m i l i t a r y took power under Genera l Yahya Khan. The next coup le of yea rs w i tnessed the f i r s t gene ra l e l e c t i o n s in the h i s t o r y of P a k i s t a n , the m i l i t a r y crackdown in Eas t P a k i s t a n , 56 the s e c e s s i o n of East P ak i s t an from the f e d e r a t i o n , and the b i r t h of Bang ladesh . L o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s opera ted i n f o r m a l l y in the v i l l a g e s , and the re were no a t tempts to re form them d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d of n a t i o n a l c r i s i s . 1971 marked the end of c o l o n i a l r u l e in Bangladesh . Long p e r i o d s of f o r e i g n dominat ion and the p r e ced ing years of uns tab l e independence of the count ry have a f f e c t e d the p o l i t i c a l as we l l as l o c a l government systems. At t imes , the f o r e i g n r u l e r s expressed t h e i r d e s i r e to re form l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , but s topped shor t of a c t u a l d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . It seems that the reforms were not in tended to a l l ow the development of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s at the lowest l e v e l . The f o r e i g n r u l e r s cou ld not comp le te l y t r u s t the n a t i v e s to permi t f u l l autonomy to the l o c a l b o d i e s . In a l l the p l ans announced throughout the c o l o n i a l r u l e , p r o v i s i o n s were made fo r r e t a i n i n g c o n t r o l of l o c a l government by government o f f i c i a l s . L o c a l government bod ies c o u l d never be made f u l l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e . The low l e v e l of development and the l i m i t e d f r a n c h i s e r e s t r i c t e d popu la r p a r t i c i p a t i o n . A l though the f r a n c h i s e was extended i n the l a t e r y e a r s , the c o l o n i a l l egacy of m a i n t a i n i n g a s t r o n g bureaucracy con t i nued in P a k i s t a n . The P a k i s t a n i government, t o o , used the p u b l i c o f f i c i a l s as s u p e r v i s o r s over the a c t i v i t i e s of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . The nature of changes brought about by the P a k i s t a n i s d i f f e r e d l i t t l e from those made by the B r i t i s h . In the c o l o n i a l t r a d i t i o n , the government kept i t s d i s t a n c e from the peop le and i t was not p o s s i b l e f o r the two to work t o g e t h e r . Thus , u n w i l l i n g n e s s of the c en t r e to de l ega te a u t h o r i t y to the 57 l o w e r l e v e l s n e g a t e d t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f a f f e c t i n g c h a n g e s i n t h e s y s t e m o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t . T h e c o l o n i a l l e g a c y w a s n o t t h e o n l y f a c t o r t h a t l e d t o t h e f a i l u r e o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t r e f o r m s i n B a n g l a d e s h . T h e a b s e n c e o f t a n g i b l e r e w a r d s t o b e won b y p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n l o c a l a f f a i r s o f t e n r e s u l t e d i n a p a t h y a n d a r e s i g n a t i o n t o f a t e b y t h e v i l l a g e r s . S o m e t i m e s , f a m i l y f e u d s a n d s o c i a l r i v a l r y w e r e a c c o r d e d m o r e i m p o r t a n c e t h a n l o c a l p u b l i c a f f a i r s . S i n c e t h e c r e a t i o n o f P a k i s t a n , t h e i n i t i a t i o n o f m a j o r d e v e l o p m e n t a l p r o j e c t s s u d d e n l y i n c r e a s e d t h e i m p o r t a n c e o f l o c a l b o d i e s . L o c a l l e a d e r s s t a r t e d t o c o m p e t e f o r t h e c o n t r o l o f t h e s e i n s t i t u t i o n s . F a c t i o n a l i s m b e c a m e p r o m i n e n t , a n d i n m a n y c a s e s , o b s t r u c t e d t h e g r o w t h o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t . U n e v e n p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n a f f e c t e d a l l t h e s e f a c t o r s , a n d t h e v i l l a g e s w e r e n o t a d e q u a t e l y p r e p a r e d t o r e s p o n d t o r e f o r m s . Some o f t h e p o s t - c o l o n i a l p r o b l e m s a r e d i s c u s s e d i n t h e n e x t c h a p t e r , i n w h i c h I w i l l l o o k a t t h e a t t e m p t s o f t h e f i r s t i n d e p e n d e n t B a n g l a d e s h g o v e r n m e n t t o d e s i g n a v i l l a g e - b a s e d l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t s y s t e m . 58 NOTES Haroun Er Ra sh id , Geography of Bangladesh (Bou lder , C o l o r a d o : Westview Press"^ 1978) , p. ~. The f i g u r e s , are taken from a p r e l i m i n a r y r epo r t on the second p o p u l a t i o n census of Bangladesh . P u b l i s h e d in the weekly B i c h i t r a . J u l y 5, 1981, p. 13. N a f i s Ahmad, A New Economic Geography of Bangladesh (New D e l h i : V i k a s , 1976) , p. 63~. B i c h i t r a . J u l y 5, 1981, p. 13. See R a s h i d , op . c i t . , pp. 519-21. S i r W i l l i a m Wi lson Hunte r , Anna ls of Rura l Benga l , 7th E d i t i o n (London: Smi th , E l d e r , and C o . , 1897), pp . 3-7. B a r r i e M. M o r r i s o n , P o l i t i c a l Cen te r s and C u l t u r e Regions  in E a r l y Benga l , (Tucson, A r i z o n a : The U n i v e r s i t y of A r i z o n a P r e s s , 1970), pp . 9-10. Ha ro ld A l d e r f e r , L o c a l Government in Deve lop ing C o u n t r i e s (New York : McGraw-H i l l , 1964), p. 69. T h i s view of S r i Aurobindo was quoted in M. Nuru l Haq, Gram Sarkar in H i s t o r i c a l P e r s p e c t i v e (Bogra : Rura l Development Academy, 1 980) , p. ~. I b i d . , p. 1 . R a s h i d , op . c i t , p. 161. R.C. Mazumdar, H .C. Raychaudhur i and K a l i k i n k a r D u t t a , An Advanced H i s t o r y of I nd ia (London: M a c m i l l a n , 1953), p. 395. Ramkrishna Mukher jee , The Dynamics of a Ru ra l S o c i e t y . A  Study of the Economic S t r u c t u r e in Bengal V i l l a g e s ( B e r l i n : Akademie- V e r l a g , 1957), p. 24~. Hugh T i n k e r , The Foundat ions of L o c a l Sel f-Government in  I n d i a , P ak i s t an and Burma (London: The A th lone P r e s s , 1 9 5 4 ) , p. rr. P h i l i p C a l k i n s , " C o l l e c t i n g the Revenue in E a r l y E i gh t een th Century B e n g a l : From the C u l t i v a t o r to the Zamindar , " in Benga l , Change and C o n t i n u i t y , e d s . , Robert Paul Beech and Mary Jane Beech (East L a n s i n g , M i c h i g a n : A s i a n S tud i e s C e n t e r , M i ch igan S ta te U n i v e r s i t y , 1969), p. 5. T i n k e r , op . c i t • , p. 19. 59 17 Tapan Raychaudhur i , Bengal Under Akbar and J a h a n q i r . An  I n t r oduc to r y Study in S o c i a l H i s t o r y , 2nd Impress ion ( D e l h i : Munshiram M a n o h a r l a l , 1969), p. 68. 18 For d e t a i l s on the c o n d i t i o n s the B r i t i s h found in Benga l , see Hunte r , op. c i t . , pp . 13-19. 19 L o c a l Government and the C o l o n i e s . A Report to the Fab ian C o l o n i a l Bureau. R i t a H inden , E d i t o r . London: George A l l e n and Unwin L t d . 1950, p. 7. 20 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , pp. 26-7. 21 I b i d . , p. 32. 22 C h i t t a b r a t a P a l i t , Tens ions in Bengal Ru ra l S o c i e t y .  L a n d l o r d s , P l a n t e r s and C o l o n i a l Ru l e , 1830-1860 ( C a l c u t t a : P r o g r e s s i v e P u b l i s h e r s , 1975) , p~. 193. 23 For d e t a i l s of Lord Mayo 's r e s o l u t i o n , see the Report of  the Ind ian S t a tu to r y Commiss ion. Cmd. 3568, V o l . 1 (London: H .M . S .O . , 1930), pp . 299-300. 24 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , p. 45. 25 Report of the Bengal D i s t r i c t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Committee, 1 91 3-1 9i~4~ ( C a l c u t t a : Bengal S e c r e t a r i a t P r e s s , 1915. Rep r i n t ed by the N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e of P u b l i c A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , Dacca , 1966), p. 91. 26 L o c a l Government Act of 1885. Quoted in A l i Ahmed, A d m i n i s t r a t i o n of L o c a l Se l f-Government fo r Ru ra l Areas in  Bangladesh (Dacca: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1979), p7 13. 27 I b i d . , pp . 13-14. 28 Subrata K. Mukher jee, L o c a l Se l f-Government in West Bengal ( C a l c u t t a : Dasgupta & Company [ P r i v a t e ] L i m i t e d , 1974), p. 21 . 29 I b i d . , p. 22. 30 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , p. 55. 31 John McLane, "The 1905 P a r t i t i o n of Bengal and the New Communalism," in Benga l , Eas t and West, e d . , A lexander L i p s k i (East L a n s i n g , M i c h i g a n : As i an S tud i e s C e n t e r , M ich igan S ta te U n i v e r s i t y , 1969), p. 70. 32 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , p. 87. 33 Report of the Bengal D i s t r i c t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n Committee,  1913-191. See pp . 87-9, 1 0 1 . 60 34 Report on Ind ian C o n s t i t u t i o n a l Reforms (Montagu-Chelmsford R e p o r t ) . C a l c u t t a , 1918. Paragraph 124. 35 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , p. 118. 36 Report of the Indian S t a t u t o r y Commission (Simon Commission) . London, 1930, V o l . T~. Paragraph 350. 37 J . H . B r o o m f i e l d , E l i t e C o n f l i c t in a P l u r a l S o c i e t y :  Twent i e th- Century BengaT (Berke ley and Los A n g e l e s : U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a P r e s s , 1968), pp . 286-7. 38 T i n k e r , op . c i t . , p. 197. 39 I b i d . , pp . 205-6. 40 Ramkrishna Mukherjee, op . c i t . , pp . 1-9. 41 Azer A l i , Rura l Development in Bangladesh ( C o m i l l a : Bangladesh Academy fo r Rura l Development, 1975), p. 14. 42 I b i d . , p. 18. 43 I b i d . , pp . 20-22. 44 M. Ghulam S a t t a r , " C o m i l l a Approach to Ru ra l Deve lopment . " J o u r n a l of the Bangladesh Academy fo r Ru ra l Development,  C o m i l l a , X, 1 & 2 ( Ju ly 1980 & January 1981), pp. 5-6. 45 For a d e t a i l e d d i s c u s s i o n of the reasons fo r poor per formance by l o c a l bod ies d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d , see S .M.Z . R i z v i , e d i t o r . A Reader in Bas i c Democracies (Peshawar: Academy f o r Ru ra l Development, 1961), pp . 15-22. 46 See Ahmed, op . c i t . , pp . 58-64. 47 A . T . R . Rahman, Bas i c Democracy at the Grass Roots ( C o m i l l a : P ak i s t an Academy f o r V i l l a g e Development, 1962), p. 31 . 48 T a j u l Huque, " L o c a l Government i n Bangladesh -- A R e t r o s p e c t . " L o c a l Government Q u a r t e r l y . I, 2 (June 1972), p. 6. 49 I b i d . 50 M.R. Khan, "Gramin Kshamata-Kathamor Swarup" [The Rea l Ru ra l Power S t r u c t u r e ] . In B e n g a l i , t r a n s l a t e d by Abdur Razzak. The D a i l y Sanqbad. Dhaka, J u l y 5, 1982. 51 A . T . R . Rahman, An E v a l u a t i o n of the Rura l Works Programme,  East P a k i s t a n , 1963-64 ( C o m i l l a : Pak i s t an Academy fo r Ru ra l Development, 1964), pp . 85-6. 61 52 The d i s t r i b u t i o n of the vote in East Pak i s t an d i s t r i c t s in 1965 p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n has been ob ta ined from Rounaq Jahan, P a k i s t a n : F a i l u r e in N a t i o n a l I n t e g r a t i o n (New York : Columbia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1972). 53 See Harry J . F r i edman, "Notes on P a k i s t a n ' s Bas i c D e m o c r a c i e s . " As i an Survey , I, (December 1961), p. 9. 54 Har ry J . F r i edman, " P a k i s t a n ' s Exper iment in Bas i c D e m o c r a c i e s . " P a c i f i c A f f a i r s , XXXIII (June 1960), p. 1 44. 55 Jahan, op . c i t . , p. 113. 56 I b i d . , pp . 121-2. 57 F a q r u l Q u a d i r , " L o c a l Government in Bang ladesh : A C r i t i c a l Rev iew. " L o c a l Government Q u a r t e r l y , I, 3 (September 1972), pp . 28-9. 62 I I I . L O C A L G O V E R N M E N T I N B A N G L A D E S H : T H E G E N E S I S OF G R A M S A R K A R G o v e r n m e n t s i n n e w l y i n d e p e n d e n t s t a t e s f a c e s e v e r a l p r o b l e m s . T h e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f new s t a t e s f o l l o w i n g i n d e p e n d e n c e i s c o m p l i c a t e d b y a t t e m p t s t o b r e a k a w a y f r o m t h e l e g a c i e s o f f o r e i g n d o m i n a t i o n . W h i l e p o l i t i c a l l e a d e r s a d v o c a t e a c o m p l e t e b r e a k f r o m t h e p a s t , t h e s c a r c i t y o f r e s o u r c e s a n d q u a l i f i e d p e r s o n n e l , a n d t h e p r e o c c u p a t i o n o f t h e r u l e r s w i t h m o r e p r e s s i n g p r o b l e m s r e s u l t i n n e g l e c t o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t . T h e n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l l e a d e r s d o n o t h a v e r e a d y a l t e r n a t i v e s t o t h e p r e v i o u s s y s t e m s , a n d h a v e l i t t l e c h o i c e b u t t o a l l o w t h e c o n t i n u a t i o n o f e x i s t i n g l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t p r a c t i c e . T h e r e a r e s m a l l m o d i f i c a t i o n s a n d c h a n g e s o f t i t l e s , b u t t h e s y s t e m i s m o r e o r l e s s u n d i s t u r b e d . T h e p o l i t i c i a n s c o m p e t e o v e r t h e s p o i l s o f i n d e p e n d e n c e , a n d o n l y t h e p r o s p e c t s o f e l e c t i o n s s h i f t t h e i r a t t e n t i o n t o l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t f o r b r i e f p e r i o d s . C o n f u s i o n a n d d i s r u p t i o n i n g o v e r n m e n t o b s t r u c t t h e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f d e v e l o p i n g l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t . I n t h e i r e f f o r t s t o c o n t i n u e i n p o w e r , t h e r u l e r s d o n o t w a n t t o r e o r g a n i z e l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t w i t h o u t e n s u r i n g t h a t t h e c h a n g e s w i l l f a v o u r t h e m . I n o r d e r t o i n t r o d u c e m a j o r c h a n g e s , t h e t r a d i t i o n a l l y p o w e r f u l g r o u p s i n t h e l o c a l i t i e s m u s t b e p e r s u a d e d t o w o r k w i t h t h e g o v e r n m e n t . I n m o s t c a s e s , t h e g o v e r n m e n t d o e s n o t h a v e c o n c r e t e p l a n s o f i t s o w n , a n d m a j o r c h a n g e s b e c o m e a l l t h e m o r e d i f f i c u l t . H a s t i l y a s s e m b l e d p r o g r a m m e s a r e p u t f o r w a r d f o r i m p l e m e n t a t i o n , w i t h o u t c o n s i d e r i n g t h e p r o s p e c t s o f s u c c e s s . T h e t r e n d o f m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t r o l a t t h e c e n t r e t h a t p e r s i s t e d t h r o u g h o u t t h e e a r l y d a y s o f B a n g l a d e s h d i d n o t c h a n g e 63 w i t h t h e d e p a r t u r e o f t h e c o l o n i a l r u l e r s . T h e c e n t r a l g o v e r n m e n t c o n t i n u e d t o p u r s u e a p o l i c y o f d o m i n a t i n g l o c a l a f f a i r s w i t h t h e h e l p o f i t s o f f i c i a l s a n d s u p p o r t e r s who w e r e i n c o n t r o l o f l o c a l b o d i e s . T h e r e l u c t a n c e o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t a s w e l l a s t h e r u r a l p o w e r h o l d e r s t o d e c e n t r a l i z e p o w e r t o t h e l o w e s t l e v e l s b e c o m e s c l e a r i n a r e v i e w o f t h e c h a n g e s t h a t t o o k p l a c e i n t h e s y s t e m o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t i n B a n g l a d e s h s i n c e i n d e p e n d e n c e . L O C A L G O V E R N M E N T AND T H E P O L I T I C A L S C E N E , 1 9 7 1 - 1 9 7 5 B a n g l a d e s h w a s l i b e r a t e d f r o m P a k i s t a n i r u l e i n D e c e m b e r , 1 9 7 1 . T h e l i b e r a t i o n w a r h a d b r o u g h t t h e g o v e r n m e n t v i r t u a l l y t o a s t a n d s t i l l , a n d l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t i n s t i t u t i o n s , t o o , w e r e i n o p e r a t i v e . N e v e r t h e l e s s , i n m a n y a r e a s , l o c a l a f f a i r s c o n t i n u e d t o b e m a n a g e d i n f o r m a l l y b y e x i s t i n g l o c a l l e a d e r s . D u r i n g t h e l i b e r a t i o n m o v e m e n t , t h e n a t i o n a l i s t l e a d e r s h a d p u t i n t o d i s c r e d i t a l l t h e i n s t i t u t i o n s d e s i g n e d b y t h e P a k i s t a n i s a s i n s t r u m e n t s o f e x p l o i t a t i o n . T h e n a t i o n e x p e c t e d a m a j o r o v e r h a u l o f t h e s y s t e m , i n c l u d i n g l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t i n s t i t u t i o n s . A f t e r a c h i e v i n g i n d e p e n d e n c e i n 1 9 7 1 , B a n g l a d e s h w a s g o v e r n e d f o r a f e w y e a r s b y t h e A w a m i L e a g u e ( A L ) , t h e d o m i n a n t p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . T h e p a r t y h a d a v e r y s t r o n g b a s e b e f o r e i n d e p e n d e n c e , a n d s u b s e q u e n t l y e n j o y e d u n r i v a l l e d p o p u l a r i t y . I n i t s f i r s t y e a r o f r u l e , t h e A L f a c e d t h e t a s k o f r e s t o r i n g o r d e r i n t h e c o u n t r y a n d s e t t i n g u p a d m i n i s t r a t i v e m a c h i n e r y 64 f o l l o w i n g t h e d e p a r t u r e o f t h e P a k i s t a n i s . A s a r e s u l t , l i t t l e a t t e n t i o n w a s p a i d t o l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t r e f o r m , a n d t h e p r e -i n d e p e n d e n c e s y s t e m w a s a l l o w e d t o c o n t i n u e . T h e A L w h i c h f o r m e d t h e f i r s t g o v e r n m e n t o f B a n g l a d e s h h a d s e v e r a l l i m i t a t i o n s . M o s t o f t h e M i n i s t e r s h a d n o p r e v i o u s e x p e r i e n c e o f r u n n i n g g o v e r n m e n t d e p a r t m e n t s . T h e y h a d t o d e p e n d e n t i r e l y o n t h e b u r e a u c r a c y i n t h e i n i t i a l s t a g e s o f r e o r g a n i z a t i o n a f t e r t h e l i b e r a t i o n w a r . M o r e o v e r , t h e A L h a d i t s s u p p o r t b a s e a m o n g t h e r u r a l m i d d l e f a r m e r s a n d d i d n o t w a n t t o a n t a g o n i z e t h i s g r o u p b y u s h e r i n g i n m a j o r c h a n g e s i n r u r a l l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t t h a t m i g h t f a v o u r p o o r v i l l a g e r s a t t h e e x p e n s e o f t h e p a r t y ' s s u p p o r t e r s . B u t i t w a s i m p e r a t i v e t h a t s o m e t h i n g b e d o n e a b o u t l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t , b e c a u s e t h e p r e v i o u s B a s i c D e m o c r a c y s y s t e m s t o o d s u s p e n d e d . M o r e o v e r , t h e g o v e r n m e n t h a d t o d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t i t w a s w o r k i n g t o b u i l d a new s y s t e m i n l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t . U n d e r t h e s e c i r c u m s t a n c e s , i t w a s n o t s u r p r i s i n g t h a t t h e g o v e r n m e n t h a d m i n i m a l r e f o r m i n m i n d a n d o n l y p r e f e r r e d c o s m e t i c c h a n g e s . On t h e o f f i c i a l l e v e l , t h e f i r s t r e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t t o o k p l a c e i n e a r l y 1 9 7 2 . c T h e B a n g l a d e s h L o c a l C o u n c i l s a n d M u n i c i p a l C o m m i t t e e s  ( D i s s o l u t i o n a n d A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ) ( A m e n d m e n t ) O r d e r , 1 9 7 2 w a s p r o c l a i m e d t o d i s s o l v e l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t c o u n c i l s t h r o u g h o u t t h e c o u n t r y . T h e C h a i r m e n , V i c e - C h a i r m e n , m e m b e r s a n d a d m i n i s t r a t o r s o f s u c h b o d i e s c e a s e d t o h o l d o f f i c e . T h e U n i o n C o u n c i l s w e r e r e n a m e d U n i o n P a n c h a y a t s a n d t h e i r f u n c t i o n s w e r e t o b e p e r f o r m e d b y a c o m m i t t e e a p p o i n t e d b y t h e S u b - D i v i s i o n a l 65 O f f i c e r ( S . D . O . ) . G r a d u a l l y , i t a p p e a r e d t h a t t h e p o w e r s e x e r c i s e d b y e l e c t e d r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s i n t h e l o c a l c o u n c i l s u p t o t h i s p o i n t w e r e b e i n g t r a n s f e r r e d t o g o v e r n m e n t o f f i c i a l s . T h i s c a u s e d c o n s i d e r a b l e r e s e n t m e n t a m o n g p o l i t i c i a n s . S u b s e q u e n t l y , t h e g o v e r n m e n t i s s u e d a c l a r i f i c a t i o n s t a t i n g t h a t t h i s w a s t o b e a t e m p o r a r y m e a s u r e a n d p r o m i s i n g t h a t l o c a l c o u n c i l s w o u l d b e c o n s t i t u t e d w i t h r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s e l e c t e d o n t h e b a s i s o f a d u l t f r a n c h i s e a s e a r l y a s p o s s i b l e . 1 F o r t h e U n i o n P a n c h a y a t s i n t h e r u r a l a r e a s , m e a n w h i l e , t h e S . D . O . w o u l d a p p o i n t t h e l o c a l U n i o n A g r i c u l t u r a l A s s i s t a n t o r a T a h s i l d a r a s t h e a d m i n i s t r a t o r . A c t u a l l y , v e r y l i t t l e c h a n g e r e s u l t e d f r o m t h i s o r d e r . L a t e r i n t h e y e a r , t h e f i r s t c o n s t i t u t i o n o f t h e P e o p l e ' s R e p u b l i c o f B a n g l a d e s h w a s p r o m u l g a t e d a n d i t p r o v i d e d f o r t h e l o c a l b o d i e s t o b e c o m p o s e d o f p e r s o n s w h o w e r e e l e c t e d i n a c c o r d a n c e w i t h l a w . 2 I n J u n e 1 9 7 3 , t h e P a r l i a m e n t p a s s e d a l a w c h a n g i n g t h e name o f U n i o n P a n c h a y a t s t o U n i o n P a r i s h a d s . 3 E a c h u n i o n w a s d i v i d e d i n t o t h r e e w a r d s a n d e a c h w a r d e l e c t e d t h r e e m e m b e r s . I n a d d i t i o n , a C h a i r m a n a n d a V i c e -C h a i r m a n w e r e a l s o e l e c t e d b y t h e r e s i d e n t s o f t h e u n i o n . I n r e a l i t y , v e r y l i t t l e w a s c h a n g e d e x c e p t t h e t i t l e s o f t h e l o c a l g o v e r n m e n t b o d i e s , a n d c o n d i t i o n s i n t h e v i l l a g e s d e t e r i o r a t e d a l o n g w i t h t h e r e s t o f t h e c o u n t r y . D e c i s i o n s i n l o c a l c o u n c i l s w e r e o f t e n i n f l u e n c e d b y p e r s o n a l a n d p o l i t i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s a n d t h e r e w e r e n o e f f e c t i v e o p p o s i t i o n p a r t i e s t o p r o v i d e c o n s t r u c t i v e c r i t i c i s m . T h e l e a d e r s o f t h e c o u n c i l s h a d l i n k s w i t h t h e r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l p a r t y a n d t h e v i l l a g e r s w e r e n o t i n a p o s i t i o n t o c h a l l e n g e t h e i r d e c i s i o n s . T h e p e o p l e i n v o l v e d i n 66 l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s were not i n t e r e s t e d in s o l v i n g l o c a l problems and d i d not want to spend t ime d e a l i n g wi th l o c a l i s s u e s . They were busy w i th the o r g a n i z a t i o n of r e l i e f committees which were be ing set up to h e l p the v i l l a g e r s a f f e c t e d by the l i b e r a t i o n war. They had more t asks a s s i g n e d to them than they c o u l d hand l e , and were comp le te l y dependent on the c e n t r a l government fo r funds to run the l o c a l o r g a n i z a t i o n s . In an e f f o r t to m o b i l i z e suppor t fo r the AL in the r u r a l a r e a s , She ikh Mu j ibur Rahman, the Prime M i n i s t e r of Bangladesh announced in 1973: E l e c t i o n s are to be he l d soon to the union c o u n c i l s throughout the c o u n t r y . T h i s w i l l r e s u l t in c l o s e r l i a i s o n between the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n and the people and popu la r r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s w i l l be enab led to run the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n at the v i l l a g e l e v e l . " But the coun t r y faced severe economic problems and s u f f e r e d mismanagement by the r u l i n g p a r t y . The p o p u l a r i t y of the AL decreased r a p i d l y . The impact of bad a d m i n i s t r a t i o n was f e l t more in the r u r a l a r e a s . Most of the r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s p rocu red under f o r e i g n a i d was used by the AL to appease the urban r e s i d e n t s who were capab le of o r g a n i z i n g o p p o s i t i o n movements. The a l r e a d y impover i shed c o u n t r y s i d e was d e p r i v e d of r e l i e f a s s i s t a n c e , and support f o r the r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l pa r t y in those areas d e c l i n e d . The government passed a coup le of amendments to the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l o w i n g f o r s p e c i a l t r i a l s and p u t t i n g r e s t r i c t i o n s on fundamental r i g h t s and j u r i s d i c t i o n of c o u r t s . Mu j ib r e a l i s e d tha t o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n s were be ing misused by h i s partymen and appea led to the AL members " t o r i d the o r g a n i z a t i o n of such e l e m e n t s . " 5 67 An emergency was p roc l a imed by the P r e s i d e n t of Bangladesh on the adv i c e of the Prime M i n i s t e r f o l l o w i n g the murder of a member of the J a t i y a Sangsad and a Union Pa r i shad member in December, 1974. The government was empowered to censor the p r e s s , ban s t r i k e s and l o c k o u t s , s top p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s from f u n c t i o n i n g , and suspend fundamental r i g h t s . On January 25 1975, the c o n s t i t u t i o n was amended to p rov ide fo r a p r e s i d e n t i a l form of government and She ikh Muj ibur Rahman assumed the o f f i c e of the P r e s i d e n t . "The Amendment v i r t u a l l y des t royed a l l powers I of the l e g i s l a t u r e to c o n t r o l the E x e c u t i v e . " 6 A s i n g l e - p a r t y system was to be i n t r o d u c e d w i th the AL as the c o r n e r s t o n e . In June 1975, the Bangladesh K r i shak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) was c o n s t i t u t e d . She ikh Mu j ib appea led to a l l the p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s to j o i n the new p a r t y . The pro-Moscow N a t i o n a l Awami Pa r ty (NAP-M) j o i n e d immediate ly a long w i th some other groups of minor s i g n i f i c a n c e . But the BAKSAL was t o t a l l y c o n t r o l l e d by She ikh Mu j i b and the AL . A l though t h i s was a severe blow to the e s t ab l i shmen t of a democra t i c system, there was l i t t l e p u b l i c p r o t e s t a g a i n s t t h i s move by M u j i b . More e f f o r t s to ensure c o n t r o l by the government f o l l o w e d . The government announced a scheme of r e o r g a n i z i n g the d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . Bangladesh was to be d i v i d e d i n t o f i f t y a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d i s t r i c t s headed by D i s t r i c t Governors who would be appo in ted by the s i n g l e p a r t y , BAKSAL. T h i s move was expected to b r i n g the r u l i n g pa r t y c l o s e r to the l o c a l p e o p l e , and the e x i s t i n g d i s t r i c t s t r u c t u r e s would be f u r t h e r d i v i d e d to f a c i l i t a t e more e f f i c i e n t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n as we l l as to 68 accommodate more people in the scheme as Gove rnors . L a t e r , the number of d i s t r i c t s in the r e o r g a n i z a t i o n p l an was r e v i s e d . On J u l y 16, 1975, Sheikh Mu j ib announced the names of s ix t y-one Gove rnor-des igna tes who were to take over d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n from September 1, 1975 . 7 The scheme d i d not m a t e r i a l i z e , however, as the government headed by She ikh Muj ib was removed from power by a m i l i t a r y coup on August 15, 1975. Over the f i r s t four years f o l l o w i n g independence, then , v i r t u a l l y no attempt was made to r e v i v e or r e c o n s t r u c t l o c a l government in Bang ladesh . The AL which was, p r i o r to independence, the pa r t y of the d e p r i v e d East P a k i s t a n i b o u r g e o i s i e demanding an equa l share of the " c a p i t a l i s t p i e " , 8 c o u l d h a r d l y meet the p o l i t i c a l e x p e c t a t i o n s of a na t i on compr ised most l y of l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s and sma l l farmers l i v i n g in the r u r a l a r e a s . P o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s were concen t r a t ed in the c a p i t a l and p a r t i c i p a t i o n was monopol ized by urban r e s i d e n t s who had easy access to the c en t r e of power. Dur ing the l i b e r a t i o n war, the AL a t t r a c t e d Benga l i s from a l l c l a s s e s and g roups . The pa r t y ga ined unprecedented support even in the r u r a l a r e a s . The nature of i t s l e a d e r s h i p was i n f l u e n c e d by t h i s support base , and g r a d u a l l y the AL t rans fo rmed from a p r o v i n c i a l b o u r g e o i s i e pa r t y to a broad-based popu la r n a t i o n a l i s t p a r t y . A f t e r the p a r l i a m e n t a r y e l e c t i o n s of 1973, the p o l i t i c a l e l i t e which r u l e d the coun t r y r ep resen ted " i n gene ra l a r u r a l middle c l a s s i n t e r e s t " , and came from the r u r a l a reas wi th c a r e e r s in the d i s t r i c t and m o f u s s i l t owns . 9 T h i s group had a c q u i r e d p rope r t y in the urban a r e a s , and used 69 the sma l l towns on l y as t h e i r p o l i t i c a l bases . As a r e s u l t , they n e g l e c t e d the r u r a l a reas and se rved the i n t e r e s t of the urban a r e a s . The emergence of Dhaka as the cen t r e of n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l and commerc ia l a c t i v i t i e s a t t r a c t e d people to the c a p i t a l . The p o l i t i c i a n s , t o o , p r e f e r r e d to serve urban i n t e r e s t s in t h e i r b i d to a t t a i n prominence in the n a t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l scene . The i n t e r e s t s of the r u r a l poor s u f f e r e d , in s p i t e of the f a c t tha t they c o n s t i t u t e d the b i gges t s e c t i o n of the p o p u l a t i o n . RURAL DEVELOPMENT: STRATEGIES AND RESULTS M u j i b ' s government cou ld not re form l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s or extend them to the lowest l e v e l s , but found an a l t e r n a t e way of seek ing the suppor t of the r u r a l e l e c t o r a t e in emphas iz ing r u r a l deve lopment . Some p rog ress had a l r e a d y been made d u r i n g the B r i t i s h and P a k i s t a n i p e r i o d s , and a f t e r 1971 the government sought to con t i nue these programmes. Khan and L a t i f have rev iewed the p r i n c i p a l programmes concerned w i th r u r a l development in Bangladesh . 1 0 These i n c l u d e the Rura l Works Programme (RWP), the A c c e l e r a t e d R ice P roduc t i on Programme (ARPP), the I n t eg ra t ed Ru ra l Development Programme (IRDP), and the Water Development Programme. Most of these programmes were p lanned and i n i t i a t e d be fo re independence, and they were c o n s i d e r e d ext remely u s e f u l a f t e r the b i r t h of Bangladesh . 70 The RWP aimed to p rov i de l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s an o p p o r t u n i t y to earn t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d in the dry season . The programme was to h e l p deve lop i n f r a s t r u c t u r e s — roads , tube w e l l s , c r e d i t f a c i l i t i e s — in the r u r a l a reas through l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . The ARPP was in tended to ach ieve s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y in r i c e over a p e r i o d of f i v e years by promot ing water s u p p l y , i n t r o d u c i n g new v a r i e t i e s of r i c e , and p r o v i d i n g government s u b s i d i e s on other i n p u t s . The IRDP was a imed, among other t h i n g s , at sp read ing a two- t i e r c o o p e r a t i v e system and the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the Thana T r a i n i n g Development C e n t r e s . The Water Development Programme was e n t r u s t e d to the Water Development Board (WDB) and i n c l u d e d the p l ann ing and d i s t r i b u t i o n of water r e sou r ces and d e s i g n i n g and implement ing f l o o d c o n t r o l measures. The v a r i o u s programmes were on l y m in ima l l y s u c c e s s f u l , and r e s u l t e d in a number of un in tended consequences . The programmes had d i f f e r e n t p r i o r i t y o b j e c t i v e s and each was "compet ing fo r l i m i t e d manager ia l s k i l l s and f i n a n c i a l r e sou r ces from the n a t i o n a l exchequer , f o r e i g n a s s i s t a n c e sources and the community e f f o r t . " 1 1 A l though the RWP p r o v i d e d the most b e n e f i t to l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s , i t was c r i t i c i z e d fo r i t s "emphasis on roads as opposed to i r r i g a t i o n . " A l s o , the absence of a t ime l i m i t f o r r each ing development t a r g e t s r e s u l t e d in a s teady d r a i n on the e x c h e q u e r . 1 2 Dur ing the Pak i s t an p e r i o d , the b e n e f i t s went most l y to the wealthy f a rmers , as a g a i n s t the vas t m a j o r i t y of l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s . 1 3 No conc re t e s tep has been taken in Bangladesh to r eve r se t h i s t r e n d . 71 The ARPP has been c r i t i c i z e d fo r widening the i n e q u a l i t y between landowning and l a n d l e s s f a rmers , thus p o l a r i z i n g the two. A c c o r d i n g to the c r i t i c s , the attempt at s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y would l e ad to a " g r e a t e r s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l p r o b l e m . " 1 " S i m i l a r c r i t i c i s m s were l e v e l l e d a g a i n s t the IRDP. T h i s o r g a n i z a t i o n was to rn between the goa l s of "s low p a i n s t a k i n g d i s c i p l i n e d b u i l d i n g of a c o o p e r a t i v e s o c i e t y of the C o m i l l a model " and the " r a p i d deve lopment , r e g i s t r a t i o n and s u b s i d i z i n g " f o r the loose c o o p e r a t i v e s of the A R P P . 1 5 A j o i n t review by the Government of Bangladesh and the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Development A u t h o r i t y in 1981 r e vea l ed tha t the performance of the IRDP had not been noteworthy and tha t the programme had l o s t focus in the course of i t s r a p i d expans i on . The IRDP has been d i s s o l v e d and r e p l a c e d by the Bangladesh Ru ra l Development Board in 1 9 8 2 . 1 6 The Water Development Programme has so fa r demonstrated " l i t t l e i n t e r e s t and no e x p e r t i s e in who used the water i t d e v e l o p s . " 1 7 A l l a t tempts at r u r a l development through v a r i o u s o r g a n i z a t i o n s s u f f e r e d from a lack of c o o r d i n a t i o n and c o n f l i c t i n g se t s of p r i o r i t i e s . Such s p o r a d i c and i n c o n s i s t e n t e f f o r t s at r u r a l development r e s u l t e d i n o c c a s i o n a l i n c r e a s e s in p r o d u c t i v i t y , some o f f -season employment o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r the r u r a l poor , and t r a i n i n g and d i s s e m i n a t i o n of r e sea r ch f i n d i n g s fo r the v i l l a g e r s and pe r sonne l i n v o l v e d in r u r a l development programmes. Improvements were n o t i c e d i n some a r e a s , and b e n e f i t s were most ly reaped by a sma l l percentage of wealthy v i l l a g e r s . The s t a t e d o b j e c t i v e of p r o v i d i n g a b e t t e r l i f e to the v i l l a g e r s , 72 e s p e c i a l l y the overwhelming ma jo r i t y of r u r a l poor , was not a c h i e v e d . In f a c t , the gap between the wealthy and the r u r a l poor con t i nued to widen. The i n e f f e c t i v e n e s s of government sponsored r u r a l development e f f o r t s became o b v i o u s . These programmes were g e n e r a l l y s u b s i d i z e d through government funds which b e n e f i t t e d the r u r a l groups wi th the best a c cess to government o f f i c e s . The a v a i l a b l e funds were used by l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s to r e c r u i t v i l l a g e r s to t h e i r s i d e , and the main purpose of the r i v a l f a c t i o n s t e n d e d , to be g a i n i n g c o n t r o l of those r e s o u r c e s . The o b j e c t i v e s of the programmes were neg l e c t ed and the v i l l a g e r s l o s t f a i t h in these p r o j e c t s . THE SWANIRVAR MOVEMENT A Swanirvar Bangladesh Andolon (movement f o r a s e l f - r e l i a n t Bangladesh) was launched as an autonomous o r g a n i z a t i o n wi th the p r i n c i p a l o b j e c t i v e s of i n c r e a s i n g a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t i o n and r educ ing p o p u l a t i o n growth. The idea was conce i v ed and deve loped by Mahbub Alam C h a s h i , a s en i o r o f f i c e r of the former P ak i s t an F o r e i g n S e r v i c e . He was a Bang ladesh i from Ch i t t agong d i s t r i c t , and as a h igh l e v e l o f f i c e r , had c l o s e l i n k s wi th the government. In 1967, when a f l o o d des t royed the c rops in Gumai B i l under Rangunia Thana in the d i s t r i c t of C h i t t a g o n g , Chashi was ab l e to persuade the v i l l a g e r s to r e c r o p the a rea through s e l f h e l p i n s t e a d of depending t o t a l l y on r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s 73 p r o v i d e d by the government. Through l o c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n , i t was p o s s i b l e to r e c rop the a rea wi thout massive r e l i e f measures. T h i s success was repeated in a s i m i l a r p r o j e c t in Ramgati in Noakha l i d i s t r i c t . A f t e r a tornado devas t a t ed the v i l l a g e in November 1970, the r e l i e f m a t e r i a l and funds r e c e i v e d from the government were used as the c a p i t a l to a t t a i n s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y through c o o p e r a t i v e s . 1 8 S t a r t i n g w i th i s o l a t e d , l o c a l l y o rgan i zed programmes of s e l f - h e l p which d i d not generate awareness on a l a r g e s c a l e , Swanirvar a c t i v i t i e s aga in came to the fo re a f t e r the independence of Bang ladesh . D i s t r i c t a u t h o r i t i e s dec i ded to use the s t r a t e g y to r e h a b i l i t a t e people a f f e c t e d by the famine tha t devas ta t ed the count r y in 1974. The idea was not e n t i r e l y new in a count ry f r e q u e n t l y f a c i n g f l o o d s and famines . P r e v i o u s l y , there had been e f f o r t s by government o f f i c i a l s to boost a g r i c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t i o n w i th h e l p from l o c a l peop le to meet i n c r e a s i n g demands, e s p e c i a l l y f o l l o w i n g n a t u r a l d i s a s t e r s . In 1974-75, d i s t r i c t Swanirvar programmes were drawn up w i th emphasis on i n c r e a s e d food p r o d u c t i o n . The success of such programmes v a r i e d among d i s t r i c t s . D i s t r i c t o f f i c i a l s were a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d i n the Swanirvar e f f o r t s in some c a s e s , wh i le in o t h e r s , they he lped to o rgan i ze the programmes and l e f t them to be deve loped through popu la r i n i t i a t i v e . 1 9 The e f f o r t s were combined i n t o a n a t i o n a l programme and the f i r s t N a t i o n a l Swanirvar Conference took p l a ce in 1975. Meanwhi le , the d i s t r i c t development programmes, in some c a s e s , f ocussed on other a spec t s of l i f e in the r u r a l s o c i e t y of 74 B a n g l a d e s h . F o r e x a m p l e , i n t h e d i s t r i c t s o f S y l h e t a n d D h a k a , " s t r e s s w a s l a i d o n f a m i l y p l a n n i n g a c t i v i t y a s p a r t o f t h e D i s t r i c t p r o g r a m m e , a l t h o u g h t h e s l o g a n f o r s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y i n f o o d r e m a i n e d a c o n s t a n t f a c t o r . " 2 0 T h e d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n s e l e c t e d o n e v i l l a g e i n e a c h d i s t r i c t f o r d e v e l o p m e n t i n t o a S w a n i r v a r v i l l a g e . T h e p r o c e s s o f d e v e l o p m e n t i n c l u d e d t h e c o m p i l a t i o n o f a m a n u a l f o r t h e s u r v e y o f t h e r e s o u r c e s a v a i l a b l e i n t h e v i l l a g e s , t h e o r g a n i z a t i o n o f d i f f e r e n t i n t e r e s t g r o u p s , t r a i n i n g t h e v i l l a g e r s i n c a r r y i n g o u t t h e s u r v e y , a n d t r a i n i n g v i l l a g e w o r k e r s i n w o r k s h o p s t o t r a n s m i t i d e a s f r o m o n e a r e a t o a n o t h e r . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , t h e p r o g r a m m e s e n t a i l e d h u g e e x p e n s e s t h a t w e r e n e v e r j u s t i f i e d , a n d a l a c k o f t r u s t b e t w e e n g o v e r n m e n t o f f i c i a l s a n d t h e v i l l a g e r s m a d e p r o g r e s s e x t r e m e l y d i f f i c u l t . 2 1 T h e S w a n i r v a r m o v e m e n t , h o w e v e r , h a d c a u g h t t h e a t t e n t i o n o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t w h i c h w a s now c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e p r o g r a m m e c o n t r i b u t e d t o n a t i o n a l s e l f - r e l i a n c e . T h e i n i t i a t o r o f t h e S w a n i r v a r m o v e m e n t , M a h b u b A l a m C h a s h i , w a s a p p o i n t e d S p e c i a l S e c r e t a r y , A g r i c u l t u r e ( S w a n i r v a r ) , a n d t h i s w a s t h e f i r s t s i g n o f g o v e r n m e n t a p p r o v a l . T h e c o n s t i t u t i o n o f a C e n t r a l S w a n i r v a r C o m m i t t e e f o l l o w e d . A f t e r t h e c h a n g e o f g o v e r n m e n t i n 1 9 7 5 , C h a s h i w a s a p p o i n t e d P r i n c i p a l S e c r e t a r y t o P r e s i d e n t K h a n d a k a r M u s h t a q A h m e d . I t b e c a m e e v i d e n t t h a t C h a s h i a n d h i s S w a n i r v a r m o v e m e n t w o u l d e n j o y t h e f u l l s u p p o r t o f t h e new g o v e r n m e n t . T h e f i r s t n a t i o n a l S w a n i r v a r C o n f e r e n c e w a s f o l l o w e d u p w i t h w o r k s h o p s i n e a c h d i s t r i c t d e s i g n e d t o m a k e t h e v i l l a g e r s a w a r e o f t h e i d e a l s a n d s t r a t e g i e s o f t h e m o v e m e n t . I n t h e S e c o n d 75 N a t i o n a l Swanirvar Conference in 1976, i t was r e s o l v e d to con t inue the movement as a n o n - p o l i t i c a l e f f o r t , and to deve lop a s e l f - r e l i a n t v i l l a g e in each t h a n a . 2 2 I t can be s a i d tha t the Swanirvar movement l a i d the groundwork f o r deve l op ing v i l l a g e - b a s e d o r g a n i z a t i o n s in independent Bang ladesh . The movement emphasized the f raming of v i l l a g e development p l ans and implement ing them through l o c a l i n i t i a t i v e a f t e r a survey of the a v a i l a b l e r e s o u r c e s . These tasks had to be a s s i gned and supe r v i s ed by a c o o r d i n a t i n g body of v i l l a g e r s . Swanirvar v i l l a g e committees were formed fo r t h i s purpose wi th r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s from d i f f e r e n t c l a s s e s and p r o f e s s i o n a l g roups . The committees c o u l d be s e l e c t e d by consensus or by e l e c t i o n at an assembly of the a d u l t r e s i d e n t s or the heads of f a m i l i e s in the v i l l a g e . 2 3 Adequate r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of a l l the r e s i d e n t groups was to be ensu red . For t h i s pu rpose , the o r g a n i z e r s of Swanirvar Bangladesh had c a t e g o r i z e d the v i l l a g e p o p u l a t i o n i n t o f a rmers , l a n d l e s s a g r i c u l t u r a l l a b o u r e r s , women, you th , and pursue rs of o ther p r o f e s s i o n s . 2 " The i n i t i a l s t r a t e g y was to s e l e c t one v i l l a g e in each thana w i th the h e l p of the C i r c l e O f f i c e r (Development) , to h o l d Swanirvar workshops in some of these v i l l a g e s wi th the o b j e c t i v e of b r i n g i n g the government o f f i c i a l s at the u n i o n , thana and h ighe r l e v e l s to work w i th the v i l l a g e r s and to c o n t i n u o u s l y t r a i n Swanirvar workers in the v i l l a g e s fo r f o l l ow-up programmes through workshops i n those v i l l a g e s which a ch i e ved b e t t e r performance r e c o r d s . 2 5 Sha ikh Maqsood A l i , ' howeve r , p o i n t e d out t h a t : 76 (a) the Swanirvar v i l l a g e s s e l e c t e d by the C O . Dev. (or o ther d i s t r i c t o f f i c e r s ) were u s u a l l y very near the Thana c e n t r e s . These v i l l a g e s a l s o had b e t t e r communicat ion f a c i l i t i e s and b e t t e r r e co rd of development in the p a s t ; (b) the Swanirvar camps in many cases reduced themselves to p i c n i c spots fo r o f f i c e r s (wi th s u b s t a n t i a l wastage of money, t ime and energy of the o f f i c e r s and a l s o of the v i l l a g e r s ) ; (c) the Swanirvar Committees formed in the v i l l a g e were not r e a l l y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e in c h a r a c t e r : the poor and the d i s t r e s s e d were most ly nominated c a n d i d a t e s of the r i c h and the p o w e r f u l . 2 6 N e v e r t h e l e s s , a c c o r d i n g to C h a s h i , 354 Swanirvar v i l l a g e s were e va lua t ed in 1976 and c l a s s i f i e d a c c o r d i n g to t h e i r accompl i shments . 37 v i l l a g e s d i d e x c e l l e n t l y and were put in the ' A ' c a t e g o r y , wh i le 96 v i l l a g e s were put in the ' B ' c a tegory fo r do ing f a i r l y w e l l . 157 v i l l a g e s were p l a c e d in the ' C ca t ego ry f o r do ing some work, and the ' D ' c a t ego ry i n c l u d e d 74 v i l l a g e s which d i d not do any w o r k . 2 7 In the most s u c c e s s f u l v i l l a g e s , the average income i n c r e a s e d by about t h i r t y - s e v e n per c e n t , food p r o d u c t i o n improved, the l i t e r a c y r a t e went up, and p o p u l a t i o n growth and cr ime r a t e went d o w n . 2 8 The r e s u l t s added to the enthus iasm fo r expans i on , and by 1977, wi th the encouragement of the government, each union of Bangladesh had a s e l f - r e l i a n t v i l l a g e . 2 9 These v i l l a g e s had s e l f - g o v e r n i n g l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s which can be c o n s i d e r e d to be the f o r e runne r s of the Swanirvar Gram Sarkar bod ies e s t a b l i s h e d by the government in 1980. The Swanirvar movement kept g a i n i n g momentum and more v i l l a g e s were i n c l u d e d in the programme. The idea of v i l l a g e government and the name Gram Sarkar was f i r s t used around 1977. The Swarn i rva r workers of a v i l l a g e c a l l e d Pashchim Su l tanpur in 77 Ch i t t agong d i s t r i c t named t h e i r v i l l a g e Swanirvar Committee a Gram Sa rka r , and p o r t f o l i o s e n t r u s t i n g a g r i c u l t u r e , e d u c a t i o n , h e a l t h , f a m i l y p l a n n i n g , c o o p e r a t i v e s , and o the r s were d i s t r i b u t e d among the members of the V i l l a g e Sarkar who were c a l l e d V i l l a g e M i n i s t e r s . The t i t l e s of Gram Sarkar ( v i l l a g e government) and Gram Mant r i ( v i l l a g e m i n i s t e r s ) became p o p u l a r . The Chairman of the ad jacen t Rangunia Union adopted the idea fo r h i s union by d i s t r i b u t i n g p o r t f o l i o s to the members of the Union Pa r i shad and c a l l i n g them "Union M i n i s t e r s " . These i n d i v i d u a l M i n i s t e r s i n t h e i r tu rn formed " V i l l a g e S a r k a r s " i n t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e v i l l a g e s and thus the l i n k between the v i l l a g e and the union s a r k a r s was e s t a b l i s h e d f o r the f i r s t t i m e . 3 0 The apparent success of Swarn i rvar v i l l a g e s and the d i f f e r e n c e s between them and the v i l l a g e s not covered by the Swanirvar movement began to be n o t i c e d , and g r a d u a l l y the idea was expanded in some un ions to form Union S a r k a r s , w i th a c o u n c i l composed of a l l the Gram Sarkar c h i e f s in the u n i o n . A f t e r the assumpt ion of the P res idency i n 1977, Z i au r Rahman "sought f o r m a l l y to i n t e g r a t e the Union Pa r i shad wi th Swanirvar by h i g h l i g h t i n g the r o l e of Union Pa r i shad Members and Chairmen in the p roces s of r u r a l development based on v o l u n t a r y m o b i l i z a t i o n of l o c a l r e s o u r c e s . " 3 1 In 1977, more Union Sa rkars were set up and i n those u n i o n s , Union M i n i s t e r s were a s s i g n e d r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . However, the use of the term " m i n i s t e r s " fo r v i l l a g e and union c o u n c i l members was not l i k e d by some p o l i t i c i a n s , and i t was d e c i d e d to c a l l them Gram Sarkar and Union Sarkar members. 78 The Swanirvar movement had en joyed the de f a c t o patronage of the government, and the M i n i s t r y of L o c a l Government, Ru ra l Development and Coope ra t i v e s i s s u e d a number of c i r c u l a r s a d v i s i n g i t s i n t e g r a t i o n w i th l o c a l government a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . 3 2 P re s i den t Z i a demonstrated h i s support by v i s i t i n g v a r i o u s p r o j e c t s undertaken by the Swanirvar movement and by speak ing in i t s f a v o u r . It appears tha t the Swanirvar movement was be ing p o l i t i c i z e d and used by the r u l i n g p a r t y . By 1978, a number of f a c t s about the Swanirvar movement became c l e a r . The sponsors were drawing the a t t e n t i o n of the count r y to the most s u c c e s s f u l v i l l a g e s where v i l l a g e r esources had been su rveyed , i n t e r e s t and f u n c t i o n a l groups had been o r g a n i z e d , v i l l a g e d i s p u t e s had been s e t t l e d l o c a l l y , the ra te of l i t e r a c y had gone up, the number of s o c i a l workers had i n c r e a s e d , and p lanned development of the v i l l a g e had been encouraged . But e v a l u a t o r s of the movement found some major d e f e c t s : (a) there were Swanirvar v i l l a g e s that c l a imed to have surveyed r e s o u r c e s , but t h i s was known on l y to a sma l l group of p e o p l e . (b) there were Swanirvar v i l l a g e s where v i l l a g e f a c t i o n a l i s m and d i s p u t e s s t i l l con t i nued and made the o p e r a t i o n of i n t e r e s t group o r g a n i z a t i o n s i n e f f e c t i v e ; (c) the spread of educa t i on had been r a the r slow in most Swanirvar v i l l a g e s . In many cases the i n i t i a l momentum got l o s t a f t e r a few months; (d) the t r a d i t i o n a l l e ade r s s t i l l dominated most i n t e r e s t group o r g a n i z a t i o n s and the Swanirvar Committees and as such , these o r g a n i z a t i o n s and committees c o u l d not f u n c t i o n as expec t ed . Sometimes these Swanirvar Committees were i n f i l t r a t e d by v i l l a g e t ou t s and o ther u n d e s i r a b l e e lements fo r t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s ; (e) o f t e n v i l l a g e s opted fo r the Swanirvar scheme on ly in the hope tha t they would e v e n t u a l l y get more r e sou r ces from the government; and ( f ) very l i t t l e c o u l d be done in the Swanirvar 79 v i l l a g e s f o r the poor and d i s t r e s s e d . 3 3 There were c o n t r a d i c t o r y o b s e r v a t i o n s on the p ro spec t s of the Swanirvar movement. Whi le " the i n t e l l e c t u a l and the educated of the v i l l a g e " thought of the movement as a more or l e s s f u t i l e endeavour , the l a n d l e s s , the youth and the women groups c o n s i d e r e d i t to be "good and u s e f u l " . 3 4 I t p r o v i d e d a forum fo r d i sadvan taged groups to o r g a n i z e and vo i c e t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n s in the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s . The government had a l l a l ong expressed i t s support toward the movement fo r s e l f - r e l i a n c e , and admi t ted i t s u s e f u l n e s s in n a t i o n a l deve lopment . A number of v i l l a g e s were o rgan i zed under the Swanirvar programme, and some demonstrated p r o g r e s s . T h e i r p rog ress p robab l y made the r u l i n g pa r t y apprehens i ve that a s t rong and s u c c e s s f u l l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n was d e v e l o p i n g , and that i t might be cap tu red and used by other p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s to c h a l l e n g e the BNP. In October 1978, the M i n i s t r y of L o c a l Government, Ru r a l Development and Coope ra t i v e s i s sued a n o t i c e c a n c e l l i n g the Gram Sa rka r s . The o r g a n i z e r s of Swanirvar Bangladesh p r o t e s t e d tha t the government c o u l d not suspend a movement which was s u c c e s s f u l l y p r o g r e s s i n g through non-governmental e f f o r t s . 3 5 The v i l l a g e r s ' endeavour to a t t a i n s e l f - r e l i a n c e con t inued i n many v i l l a g e s d e s p i t e the o f f i c i a l c a n c e l l a t i o n of Gram S a r k a r s . At the c e n t r e , the government ma in ta ined c o r d i a l r e l a t i o n s wi th the o r g a n i z e r s of Swanirvar Bang ladesh . In 1979, Z i a agreed to accept the cha i rmansh ip of the N a t i o n a l Swanirvar Bangladesh C o m m i t t e e . 3 6 He v i s i t e d the Naldanga union in Rangpur 80 d i s t r i c t in J u l y 1979, and s t a t e d that the Swanirvar movement had been s u c c e s s f u l in thousands of v i l l a g e s in Bang ladesh . He s a i d that h i s government was w i l l i n g to do e v e r y t h i n g needed to make the movement s u c c e s s f u l . He expressed the hope that a l l 68,000 v i l l a g e s of Bangladesh would f o l l ow the example of Naldanga u n i o n . Ac co rd ing to Z i a , the government had undertaken a massive p l an fo r making the v i l l a g e s s e l f - r e l i a n t . 3 7 Z ia was impressed by the p rog res s made at Naldanga and conv inced the l e ade r s of the BNP, members of h i s Cab inet and government o f f i c i a l s of the need fo r hav ing v i l l a g e - b a s e d o r g a n i z a t i o n s . Some BNP l e ade r s d i d not l i k e the idea i n i t i a l l y , and were r e l u c t a n t to take over an i n s t i t u t i o n a l r e a d y deve loped by the Swanirvar movement. But the p o l i t i c a l b e n e f i t s tha t would accrue to the BNP made Z i a and h i s f o l l o w e r s p e r s i s t in t h e i r endeavours . The o b j e c t i o n s were removed by p r e f i x i n g the word " Swan i r va r " to the t i t l e Gram Sarkar to d i s t i n g u i s h the proposed v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n from the e x i s t i n g o n e s . 3 8 The Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r s , t o o , were to have no patronage from the government, and were to be run by the v i l l a g e r s on t h e i r own. 81 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE POLITICAL SCENE, 1975-80 The m i l i t a r y government that took over power in November 1975, i s s u e d a new L o c a l Government Ord inance in 1976, r e t a i n i n g the Union Pa r i shads wi th some changes in t h e i r c o m p o s i t i o n . The o f f i c e of the V i ce-cha i rman was a b o l i s h e d . The Union Pa r i shads were to c o n s i s t of twelve members i n c l u d i n g two women and a Chai rman. The term of o f f i c e of the Pa r i shad was f i v e y e a r s , and the Chairman was ves t ed wi th a l l e x e c u t i v e p o w e r s . 3 9 Acco rd ing to the Ord inance , the government c o u l d e x e r c i s e s u p e r v i s i o n and c o n t r o l over the Union Pa r i shads to ensure tha t t h e i r a c t i v i t i e s conformed to the purposes s t a t e d in the o r d e r . " 0 It a l s o p rov ided the S u b - D i v i s i o n a l O f f i c e r w i th the a u t h o r i t y to d i r e c t , suspend, or o the rw ise c o n t r o l Union  Pa r i shads , " 1 In s h o r t , c e n t r a l c o n t r o l was " v i s i b l e in a l l the p a r t s of the Union P a r i s h a d . " " 2 None of the governments tha t had r u l e d Bangladesh s i n ce independence demonstrated t h e i r w i l l i n g n e s s to reduce c e n t r a l c o n t r o l over r u r a l l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . Not be ing sure of t h e i r p o l i t i c a l power and suppo r t , the new m i l i t a r y r u l e r s of Bangladesh dec i ded to postpone the n a t i o n a l e l e c t i o n s which were schedu led f o r 1977. I n s t ead , e l e c t i o n s to the l o c a l c o u n c i l s were h e l d . As p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s were not p e r m i t t e d to opera te at the t ime , c a n d i d a t e s fo r Union  Pa r i shad membership con t e s t ed the e l e c t i o n as independents . T h e i r p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n s were known to the e l e c t o r a t e , however. A survey r e vea l ed tha t about f o r t y- seven per cent of the e l e c t e d members had some " fo rm of a s s o c i a t i o n w i th the Awami 82 League" at one t ime or ano the r , and twenty-three per cent of the " e l e c t e d v i l l a g e l eade r s c l a imed to be suppo r t e r s of the Musl im League and o ther r i g h t wing p a r t i e s . " " 3 The m i l i t a r y r e cogn i zed the p o t e n t i a l t h r ea t to t h e i r p o s i t i o n in the p o l i t i c a l arena and sought to win over these l o c a l l e a d e r s . Programmes were implemented to t r a i n members of l o c a l bod ies to per form t h e i r d u t i e s b e t t e r , a t tempts were made to b r i n g the v i l l a g e l e ade r s c l o s e r to the government through meet ings and c o n f e r e n c e s , and members were sent abroad f o r t r a i n i n g . In s p i t e of the g radua l success of these s t r a t e g i e s , the need became obv ious fo r a pa r t y o r g a n i z a t i o n which would be i n s t r umen ta l in a t t r a c t i n g and h o l d i n g the suppor t of l o c a l l e a d e r s . Meanwhi le , the m i l i t a r y government under the l e a d e r s h i p of Z i a sought to r e s t o r e s t a b i l i t y and promised a r e t u rn to democracy. The f i r s t s t ep was a p l e b i s c i t e in 1977 a s c e r t a i n i n g support f o r the l e a d e r s h i p of Z i a . More than n i n e t y - n i n e per cent a f f i r m a t i v e votes were c a s t in h i s f a v o u r . T h i s was f o l l owed by a p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n in May 1978 which r e tu rned Z i a to power by a l a rge marg in . The J a t i y a t a b a d i F ront (the n a t i o n a l i s t f r o n t ) , a c o a l i t i o n of s i x p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s which put forward Z i a as the p r e s i d e n t i a l c and ida te in 1978, was d i s s o l v e d a few months a f t e r the e l e c t i o n . In i t s p l a c e , the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r ty (BNP) was formed in September 1978 w i th Z i a as Cha i rman. A f t e r the fo rmat ion of the BNP, a t tempts were made to extend tlie o r g a n i z a t i o n r a p i d l y and e s t a b l i s h power bases in r u r a l Bang ladesh . A s t rong r u r a l base was deemed e s s e n t i a l f o r 83 the BNP to compete wi th o ther p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , e s p e c i a l l y the AL, i t s most power fu l r i v a l . In a d d i t i o n to t h i s , the d i v e r g e n t f o r c e s in the pa r t y had to be made c o h e s i v e . The BNP had to form the government and run the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the c o u n t r y . The a g r a r i a n economy of Bangladesh c a l l e d fo r r a p i d deve lopment , and the pa r t y was expected to p l a y the r o l e of the g u i d i n g f o r c e fo r the government in execu t i ng r u r a l development programmes. Thus , i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g that Z i a ' s government, l i k e many o ther governments in the d e v e l o p i n g w o r l d , dec ided to i n t r oduce r e p r e s e n t a t i v e l o c a l government as a " n a t i o n - b u i l d i n g " i ns t rument . The BNP nominated 298 c and ida t e s in the p a r l i a m e n t a r y e l e c t i o n s h e l d in 1979, and 207 were e l e c t e d . The sea t s r ese r ved fo r women in the Par l i ament went to the BNP as they were e l e c t e d d i r e c t l y by the members of the P a r l i a m e n t . Some more sea ts were won by the p a r t y in subsequent b y - e l e c t i o n s , and a number of independent c and ida t e s j o i n e d the pa r t y a f t e r g e t t i n g e l e c t e d . Thus the pa r t y was in a very s t rong p o s i t i o n in the J a t i y a Sangsad ( P a r l i a m e n t ) . A s e r i e s of re forms and r e o r g a n i z a t i o n s took p l a ce w i t h i n the pa r t y immediate ly a f t e r the e l e c t i o n s . The pa r t y machinery was s t r eng thened . The Cab ine t was extended to i n c l u d e expe r t s and p r o f e s s i o n a l s . These r a p i d moves r e s u l t e d in a c o l l e c t i o n of wide v a r i e t y of p e r s o n a l i t i e s and the BNP was r i g h t l y c a l l e d " any th i ng but a cohes i ve b road-based , and w e l l - o r g a n i z e d p o l i t i c i a l p a r t y . ' " " 1 The pa r t y was formed h a s t i l y and tu rned out to be a group of people w i th w ide l y d i f f e r e n t i d e o l o g i e s and backgrounds . 84 Thus Z i a ' s government set out to e s t a b l i s h l i n k s wi th and c o n t r o l over the r u r a l a reas through r e o r g a n i z a t i o n of the l o c a l government sys tem. In June 1980, an Act of the Bangladesh Par l i ament f o r m a l l y e s t a b l i s h e d a nat ion-wide system of Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r s . These v i l l a g e - b a s e d u n i t s of e l even members were to be headed by a Gram Pradhan ( v i l l a g e headman). The Swanirvar Gram Sarkar was to be chosen through n e g o t i a t i o n and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n in an assembly of the Gram Shava ( v i l l a g e assembly) which cou ld be a t tended by a l l adu l t r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e . The assemb l i es were d i r e c t e d to ensure r e p r e s e n t a t i o n in the Swanirvar Gram Sarkars of the v a r i o u s c l a s s e s and p r o f e s s i o n s in keeping wi th the demographic na ture of the v i l l a g e c o n c e r n e d . " 5 As w e l l , a minimum of two women were to be chosen as members. Swanirvar Gram Sarkars would take ca re of l o c a l p rob lems , ma in ta in law and o r d e r , promote f a m i l y p l a n n i n g , and attempt to double food p r o d u c t i o n through a s e l f - r e l i a n t economy. By the end of 1980, s i x t y - e i g h t thousand Gram Sarkars had been o f f i c i a l l y o rgan i zed in B a n g l a d e s h . " 6 Z i a was r epo r t ed as " s e r i o u s about c r e a t i n g a new power s t r u c t u r e from the g rass r oo t s l e v e l through the e s t ab l i shmen t of Gram Sarkar at the lowest l e v e l and by i n s t a l l i n g u n i o n - l e v e l development c o o r d i n a t o r s and d i s t r i c t development c o o r d i n a t o r s h ighe r u p . " " 7 These bod ies were to be u t i l i z e d as l i n k s between the v i l l a g e r s and the c a p i t a l . Ru ra l development a c t i v i t i e s would r e c e i v e a boost as these would be a d m i n i s t e r e d l o c a l l y , thus f a c i l i t a t i n g l o c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n . The scheme would a l s o h e l p the BNP to extend i t s o r g a n i z a t i o n i n t o the r u r a l s o c i e t y 85 and win suppor t of l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s by d i s p e n s i n g b e n e f i t s to them. The Far Eas t e rn Economic Review commented tha t once Z i a was " a b l e to i n s t a l l h i s v i l l a g e government system and improve the food s i t u a t i o n through i n c r e a s e d p r o d u c t i o n , i t would be d i f f i c u l t f o r any p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . . . to d i s l o d g e h i m . " " 8 A l l p r e v i o u s a t tempts at r e fo rm ing l o c a l government had somehow stopped p r i o r to r each ing the v i l l a g e s ; t h i s was the f i r s t t ime that genuine v i l l a g e - b a s e d i n s t i t u t i o n s were e s t a b l i s h e d . The government r e c o g n i z e d tha t p r e v i o u s l y , apar t from the Union P a r i s h a d s , p e o p l e ' s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n in p l ann ing and dec i s i on-mak ing through e l e c t e d bod ies was p r a c t i c a l l y absen t . In the d r a f t of the Second F i v e Year P l a n , the government of Bangladesh s t a t e d i t s i n t e n t i o n to b r i n g l o c a l government to the g r a s s- roo t l e v e l of the v i l l a g e s through " d e m o c r a t i c a l l y e l e c t e d b o d i e s . " " 9 To summarize, s i n c e 1971 the re have been a number of changes in the area of l o c a l government in Bang ladesh . But a c l o s e r examinat ion of the P r e s i d e n t ' s O r d e r s , O r d i n a n c e s , Ru les and p a r l i a m e n t a r y amendments show that l i t t l e s u b s t a n t i a l a l t e r a t i o n was i n t ended . The changes were suggested by a d v i s o r s and p o l i t i c i a n s who opera ted in the c a p i t a l , and the M i n i s t r y i s sued n o t i c e s and c i r c u l a r s to the f i e l d o f f i c e s to a r range fo r t h e i r imp lementa t i on . Government o f f i c i a l s in the o u t l y i n g areas were put in charge of v a r i o u s l o c a l and r u r a l development p r o j e c t s . T h i s negated the b e n e f i t s tha t c o u l d be reaped from spontaneous l o c a l p a r t i c i p a t i o n . C o n t r o l by government o f f i c i a l s i n h i b i t e d the normal growth of democra t i c l o c a l 86 i n s t i t u t i o n s . T h i s c o n t r a d i c t i o n of d e s i g n i n g democra t i c l o c a l c o u n c i l s , yet r e t a i n i n g c o n t r o l through government o f f i c i a l s , made reforms in l o c a l government i n e f f e c t i v e . The b i r t h of Bangladesh r e s u l t e d in i n c r e a s e d p o l i t i c a l awareness among the r u r a l p o p u l a t i o n . The d e s i r e to p a r t i c i p a t e in l o c a l a f f a i r s r o s e , and the expans ion of l o c a l bod i e s was supposed to absorb those demands. But the s c a r c i t y of a v a i l a b l e r e sources made l o c a l government reforms ext remely d i f f i c u l t . Intense c o m p e t i t i o n among l o c a l groups to ga in c o n t r o l of meagre r e sources was r e i n f o r c e d by the f a c t that the p r e v i o u s Bas ic Democracy system from the pre- independence days had l e f t a sma l l group in an advantageous p o s i t i o n in the r u r a l a r e a s . T h i s group viewed any change in the system as a t h r ea t to t h e i r p o s i t i o n s and made a l l e f f o r t s to o b s t r u c t t h e i r imp lementa t i on . Whi le government decrees and r e g u l a t i o n s f a i l e d to make any impact , the i n i t i a t i v e of the Swanirvar Bangladesh Andolon y i e l d e d some s u c c e s s . The government dec ided to use the s t r a t e g y on a l a r g e s c a l e fo r the e n t i r e c o u n t r y , and s t eps were taken a c c o r d i n g l y . In 1980, Bangladesh was on the b r i n k of another change which was expected to b r i n g about major improvements in the f i e l d of l o c a l government. 87 NOTES 1 Syed G. Ahmed, " L o c a l Government in Bang ladesh . Concerns and P r i o r i t i e s , " L o c a l Government Q u a r t e r l y , I, 2 (June 1972), p. 25. 2 C o n s t i t u t i o n of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , 1972. A r t i c l e 59 (1 ). 3 The Bangladesh Gaze t te . June 30, 1973, A r t i c l e 11. 4 Department of P u b l i c a t i o n s , M i n i s t r y of In fo rmat ion and B r o a d c a s t i n g , Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh . "End of a b a t t l e beg inn ing of a n o t h e r . " Address to the na t i on by Bangabandhu She ikh Mu j ibur Rahman on the o c c a s i o n of N a t i o n a l Day, 1973. 5 Department of P u b l i c a t i o n s , M i n i s t r y of In fo rmat ion and B r o a d c a s t i n g , Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh . " Popu la r m o b i l i z a t i o n not t e r r o r i s m the path of r e v o l u t i o n . " Inaugura l Address of Bangabandhu She ikh Muj ibur Rahman at the B i e n n i a l C o u n c i l S e ss ion of Bangladesh Awami League on January 18, 1974. 6 S.K. C h a k r a b a r t i , The E v o l u t i o n of P o l i t i c s in Bang ladesh ,  1947-1978 (New D e l h i : A s s o c i a t e d P u b l i s h i n g House, 1978), p. 226. 7 T . Maniruzzaman, "Bang ladesh in 1975: The F a l l of the Mu j ib Regime and I t s A f t e r m a t h , " As i an Survey , 16, 2 (February 1976) , p. 1 21 . 8 T a r i q A l i , P a k i s t a n : M i l i t a r y Rule or P e o p l e ' s Power (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 129. 9 See Tushar K. Barua , P o l i t i c a l E l i t e i n Bangladesh (Berne: Pe ter Lang , 1978), Chapter I. 10 A . Z . M . O b a i d u l l a h Khan and Shahed L a t i f , " Ru ra l Development i n Bang ladesh . Problems and P r o s p e c t s , " L o c a l  Government Q u a r t e r l y , 2, 2 (June 1973), see pp . 11-25. 11 I b i d . , p. 12. '12 I b i d . , pp . 23-4. 13 See R. Sobhan, Bas i c Democrac ies , Works Programme and  Ru ra l Development in Eas t Pak i s t an (Dacca: Bureau of Economic Resea rch , U n i v e r s i t y of Dacca , 1968). 14 Khan and L a t i f , op . c i t . , p. 18. A l s o Azer A l i , Rura l  Development in Bangladesh ( C o m i l l a : Bangladesh Academy fo r Ru ra l Development, 1975), pp. 43-4. 88 15 Khan and L a t i f , op . c i t . , pp . 18-19. 16 The Bangladesh Times , December 22, 1982. 17 Khan and L a t i f , op . c i t . , p. 24. 18 Mahbub Alam C h a s h i , "Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r . " [A paper in B e n g a l i , p r esen ted at Meher Panchagram, S h a h r a s t i , C o m i l l a . ] (November 26-30, 1980), p. 2. 19 Shawkat A l i , " Swan i r va r : R e v i v a l of P o p u l i s t T r a d i t i o n of Ru ra l Deve lopment , " The J o u r n a l of S o c i a l S t u d i e s , 12 ( A p r i l 1981), p. 72. 20 I b i d . , p. 75. 21 For some c r i t i c i s m s of the Swanirvar programme, see Shaikh Maqsood A l i , " S e l f - r e l i a n c e [Swani rvar ] Movement in the 1980s The S o c i a l Worker as Change A g e n t s , " A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Sc i ence Review, 9, 2 (June 1979), e s p e c i a l l y pp. 81-3. 22 M.A. C h a s h i , "Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r , " p. 4. 23 Sha ikh M. A l i , op . c i t . , pp . 86-7. 24 M.A. C h a s h i , "Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r , " p. 5. 25 M.A. C h a s h i , "Three Years of Swan i rva r , 1976-78." Unpub l i shed paper . Quoted in Sha ikh Maqsood A l i , "The Sense and S e n s i b i l i t y of Swanirvar Gram-Sarkar Format fo r Ru ra l Deve lopment , " A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Sc i ence Review, 9, 4 (December 1979), p. 24. 26 Sha ikh M. A l i , "The Sense and S e n s i b i l i t y of Swanirvar Gram-Sarkar , " p. 25. 27 M.A. C h a s h i , "Swani rvar Gram S a r k a r , " p. 5. 28 Sha ikh M. A l i , " S e l f - r e l i a n c e Movement in the 1980s , " p. 85. 29 M.M. Khan and H.M. Z a f a r u l l a h , " I nnova t i on in V i l l a g e Government i n Bang l adesh , " A s i a n P r o f i l e , 9, 5 (October 1981), p. 448. 30 Speech of A .H .M . Noman, Member, N a t i o n a l Swanirvar Committee at the N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e of P u b l i c A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , Dhaka, January 1980. Quoted in Sha ikh M. A l i , "The Sense and S e n s i b i l i t y of Swanirvar Gram-Sarkar, p. 25 . 31 Shawkat A l i , op . c i t . , p. 86. 89 32 M.A. C h a s h i , "Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r , " p. 9. 33 Sha ikh M. A l i , " S e l f - r e l i a n c e Movement in the 1980s , " p. 91 . 34 I b i d . , p. 92. 35 In terv iew wi th Mr. Monotosh Das, Coo rd i na to r of Swanirvar Bangladesh . Dhaka, J u l y 10, 1982. 36 M.A. C h a s h i , "Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r , " p. 11. 37 F i lms and P u b l i c a t i o n D i v i s i o n , Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh . "Bang ladesher Unnat i Kebol Swanirvar Andoloner Madhyamei Hotey Parey" [Bangladesh can prosper on l y through the Swanirvar movement]. Address of the P r e s i d e n t and d i s c u s s i o n s d u r i n g h i s v i s i t to Naldanga union in Rangpur d i s t r i c t on J u l y 5 and 6, 1979. 38 In terv iew w i th Mr. Monotosh Das. Dhaka, J u l y 10, 1982. 39 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh , The L o c a l Government O r d i n a n c e , 1976 (Dacca: Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1976), A r t i c l e s 8 and 40. 40 The L o c a l Government O rd inance , 1976. A r t i c l e 68. 41 See A r t i c l e s 69, 70, 71, 72 and 73 of the L o c a l Government  O rd inance , 1976. 42 A l i Ahmed, A d m i n i s t r a t i o n of L o c a l Se l f-Government fo r  Ru ra l Areas i n Bangladesh (Dhaka: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1979), p. 174. 43 M. Rashiduzzaman, "Bang ladesh in 1977: Dilemmas of the M i l i t a r y R u l e r s , " As i an Survey , 18, 2 (February 1978), pp . 127-8. 44 M.M. Khan and H.M. Z a f a r u l l a h , "The 1979 Pa r l i amen ta r y E l e c t i o n s in Bang l adesh . " As ian Survey , 19, 10 (October 1979), p. 1033. 45 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh , Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual (Dhaka: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1980), p. V. 46 A z i z u l Haque, "Bangladesh in 1980: S t r a i n s and S t r e s s e s O p p o s i t i o n i n the Do ld rums , " As i an Survey , 21, 2 (February 1981), p. 192. 47 Far E a s t e r n Economic Review , June 6 1980, p. 28. 48 Far E a s t e rn Economic Review , June 6 1980, p. 28. 90 P l ann ing Commiss ion, Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , The Second F i v e Year P lan 1980-85 [D ra f t ] (Dacca: n . p . , 1980), p. XI I-97. 91 IV. GRAM SARKAR IN THE POLITICAL CONTEXT: LEGISLATION,  STRUCTURES AND FUNCTIONS THE EMERGENCE OF ZIA P o l i t i c s in Bangladesh en te red a new phase in 1975. A s e r i e s of m i l i t a r y coups and counte rcoups removed the Awami League (AL) from power. For the f i r s t t ime s i n ce independence, the m i l i t a r y got i n v o l v e d in p o l i t i c s . The und i spu ted l e ade r of the l i b e r a t i o n movement, She ikh Mu j ibur Rahman and h i s f a m i l y were k i l l e d by a group of young army o f f i c e r s . The AL had l o s t i t s p o p u l a r i t y and there was no o ther p o l i t i c a l pa r t y capab le or r e s o u r c e f u l enough to p rov ide the count r y wi th a l t e r n a t i v e l e a d e r s h i p . The J a t i y a Sama j tan t r i k Dal (JSD, the n a t i o n a l s o c i a l i s t p a r t y ) , p robab l y next in p o p u l a r i t y to the AL , a l s o f e l l i n t o d i s c r e d i t and i t s e f f e c t i v e n e s s ended ' w i t h the execu t i on of C o l o n e l Abu T a h e r . 1 In the absence of we l l o r g a n i z e d p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , the m i l i t a r y became the on l y c r e d i b l e source of l e a d e r s h i p . Attempts to e s t a b l i s h d i s s i d e n t l e a d e r s of the AL as head of the government had f a i l e d . Khondakar Mushtaq Ahmed, a former M i n i s t e r of She ikh Muj ibur Rahman's c a b i n e t , was i n s t a l l e d as the P r e s i d e n t a f t e r the coup of Augus t , 1975. The Mushtaq government 's achievements were few. I t "dropped the d i s t r i c t r e o r g a n i z a t i o n scheme and o rde red the r e t e n t i o n of the o r i g i n a l n ine teen d i s t r i c t s wi th Deputy Commiss ioners as the head of the d i s t r i c t a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . " 2 Mushtaq announced da tes f o r the r e v i v a l of p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s and h o l d i n g gene ra l e l e c t i o n s . W i th in th ree months, however, he was f o r c e d to r e s i g n f o l l o w i n g 92 a second m i l i t a r y coup in e a r l y November. Two other sources of n o n - p o l i t i c a l l e a d e r s h i p , the j u d i c i a r y and the bu reauc racy , were examined by the l e ade r s of the coup . U l t i m a t e l y , the Ch i e f J u s t i c e of the Supreme Court of Bang ladesh , A . S . M . Sayem was asked to assume the o f f i c e of the P r e s i d e n t . Members of the armed s e r v i c e s , the j u d i c i a r y and the bureaucracy con t i nued to p l a y prominent r o l e s in the p o l i t i c s of Bangladesh over the next few y e a r s . The m i l i t a r y , be ing the most o rgan i zed and p o w e r f u l , remained ahead of the o ther g roups . W i th in the armed f o r c e s , a power s t r u g g l e was deve l op ing between some j u n i o r o f f i c e r s who had eng ineered the August 1975 coup , and the s en i o r o f f i c e r s . The h igh- rank ing o f f i c e r s were not in agreement about the course of a c t i o n to be f o l l o w e d . As a r e s u l t , the second coup and a counte rcoup took p l a c e . By the midd le of November 1975, some of the s e n i o r o f f i c e r s were k i l l e d or removed from s e r v i c e . Major Genera l Z i au r Rahman (Z ia ) emerged as the new leader of the armed f o r c e s and , as w e l l , of Bang ladesh . J u s t i c e Sayem, the P r e s i d e n t , was a l l owed to con t i nue in o f f i c e as the Ch i e f M a r t i a l Law A d m i n i s t r a t o r w i th the th ree s e r v i c e c h i e f s as Deputy Ch i e f M a r t i a l Law A d m i n i s t r a t o r s . However, s i n ce the coun t r y was under M a r t i a l Law and the army was the most prominent branch among the armed s e r v i c e s , the army c h i e f , Z i a became the most power fu l person in Bang ladesh . Z i a rose to the o c cas i on and soon had the s i t u a t i o n under c o n t r o l . Most of the JSD l e a d e r s were a r r e s t e d , and i t seemed tha t d i s c i p l i n e had been r e s t o r e d in the army. There were 93 a t tempts by l o c a l p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s to subver t the government, and in some a r e a s , f o l l o w e r s of Mu j ib launched r a i d s from ac ross the Ind ian b o r d e r . However, Z i a s u r v i v e d a l l of these prob lems, and took over as the P r e s i den t in 1977. He c a l l e d a referendum which showed that over n i ne t y-n ine per cent of the vo t e r s suppor ted h i s l e a d e r s h i p . One of the f a c t o r s which Rashiduzzaman has a t t r i b u t e d to t h i s overwhelming endorsement was the " u n q u a l i f i e d support of a m a j o r i t y " of the newly e l e c t e d Union P a r i shad members. I t must be noted that these members had in the past been a f f i l i a t e d wi th other p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , main ly the AL and the Musl im League (ML ) . 3 T h i s demonstrates that the l o c a l government l e a d e r s h i p in Bangladesh can e a s i l y be won over by the r u l i n g pa r t y or group. T h e i r c h a n g e a b i l i t y may be due to the f a c t that no regime has yet r e tu rned to power a f t e r be ing removed from o f f i c e in Bang ladesh . In f a c t , the democrat i c p r a c t i c e of p e a c e f u l l y t r a n s f e r r i n g power through e l e c t i o n s has never taken p l a ce in Bang ladesh . At the l o c a l l e v e l , the p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n s of most of the l e ade r s are known to the v i l l a g e r s . But the l e ade r s do not want to be marked as opponents of the reg ime; t h u s , p u b l i c l y , they work fo r the government. The government, f o r i t s p a r t , does not ca re much about the past p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s of l o c a l l e a d e r s so long as they a re w i l l i n g to support the government and h e l p i t to con t i nue in power. Z i a t r i e d to u t i l i z e t h i s sent iment by a r r a n g i n g to b r i n g the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s c l o s e r to the government through seminars , workshops, and t r a i n i n g programmes conducted at the c a p i t a l . 94 Soon, a number of l o c a l l e ade r s s t a r t e d announcing t h e i r a l l e g i a n c e to Z i a i n s t e a d of to any p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . But many problems p lagued Z ia as he t r i e d to r u l e the count r y under M a r t i a l Law. An a b o r t i v e coup attempt in 1977 made i t c l e a r that the re were d i s s a t i s f i e d groups w i t h i n the army. The i n d i s c i p l i n e p r e v a l e n t among the m i l i t a r y c o u l d r e s u l t in p u b l i c resentment and r a i s e ques t i ons about the l e a d e r s h i p of m i l i t a r y o f f i c e r s . There were f requent r e p o r t s of v i o l e n c e in the r u r a l a r e a s . I t became ev iden t tha t Z ia had to have a power base ou t s i de the armed f o r c e s to e s t a b l i s h the l e g i t i m a c y of h i s reg ime. T h i s c o u l d on ly be ach i eved by o r g a n i z i n g a p o l i t i c a l pa r t y which would be ab l e to secure a ma jo r i t y of sea ts in the P a r l i a m e n t . S ince the r u r a l a reas would e l e c t most of the l e g i s l a t o r s , Z i a had to s t a r t wooing the r u r a l v o t e r s to accomp l i sh t h i s o b j e c t i v e . The L o c a l Government O rd inance , 1976 was made by the P r e s i den t in November, 1976 " t o p rov i de fo r the c o n s t i t u t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in r u r a l a reas and to c o n s o l i d a t e and amend c e r t a i n laws r e l a t i n g to l o c a l government in such a r e a s . " 0 I t a l s o a u t h o r i z e d the government to c o n s t i t u t e Gram  Pa r i shads ( v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s ) f o r the purpose of o v e r a l l development of the v i l l a g e . 5 95 THE BANGLADESH NATIONALIST PARTY A f t e r s e c u r i n g overwhelming support f o r h i s l e a d e r s h i p in the referendum h e l d in 1977, a new p o l i t i c a l p a r t y c a l l e d the J a t i y a t a b a d i Gono tan t r i k Da l (the n a t i o n a l i s t democra t i c pa r t y or JAGODAL) was o rgan i zed under the l e a d e r s h i p of Z ia in February 1978. In A p r i l 1978, Z ia o rde red p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n s to be h e l d in June of the same y e a r . The JAGODAL formed a c o a l i t i o n wi th the N a t i o n a l Awami Pa r ty (NAP, pro-P e k i n g ) , the U n i t e d P e o p l e ' s Pa r ty (UPP), the ML and the T a p s h i l i F e d e r a t i o n and c a l l e d i t the J a t i y a t a b a d i F ront (JF or N a t i o n a l i s t F r o n t ) . The o p p o s i t i o n was c a l l e d the Gono tan t r i k O ikka Jo te (GOJ) and i n c l u d e d the AL, the NAP (pro-Moscow), P e o p l e ' s League, J a t i y a Janata P a r t y , K r i shak Sramik Pa r t y , and the J a t i y a League. Z i a , the cand ida te of the J F , p o l l e d about t h r e e - q u a r t e r s of the vo tes in the p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n d e f e a t i n g the cand ida te of the GOJ, Genera l (Re t i r ed ) M.A.G. Osmany, a former member of the Muj ib c a b i n e t . The JF was d i s s o l v e d a few months a f t e r the e l e c t i o n . In i t s p l a c e , the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r ty (BNP) was formed in September 1978. S h o r t l y a f t e r w a r d s , the pa r t y announced a wide range of s o c i o -economic programmes. The l e a d e r s h i p of the BNP i n c l u d e d former members of the ML, the NAP (both pro-Moscow and pro-Pek ing f a c t i o n s ) , the AL, as we l l as m i l i t a r y o f f i c e r s and members of the j u d i c i a r y . A number of businessmen and e x e c u t i v e s from the p r i v a t e s e c to r were induc ted d i r e c t l y i n t o the c a b i n e t . The BNP f i e l d e d 298 c a n d i d a t e s in the pa r l i amen ta r y e l e c t i o n s of 1979, and 207 were 96 e l e c t e d . Z i a ' s pe r sona l image and h i s v i g o r o u s campaigning in support of h i s incumbent M i n i s t e r s and other c and ida t e s he wanted in the Pa r l i ament many of whom had very l i t t l e d i r e c t connec t i on to t h e i r c o n s t i t u e n c i e s won the sea t s fo r the BNP. 6 The AL was s p l i t i n t o two f a c t i o n s , and the l a r g e r group came under the l e a d e r s h i p of a former M i n i s t e r of She ikh M u j i b ' s c a b i n e t , Abdul Malek U k i l . The AL-MU put up 295 cand ida t e s fo r the P a r l i a m e n t . Only 39 were r e tu rned and t h i s demonstrated the tremendous p o p u l a r i t y of Z i a . 7 Thus , Z i a ' s p e r s o n a l image, a long wi th the vo tes c a r r i e d by the former members of o the r p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s , put the BNP in a s t rong p o s i t i o n in the P a r l i a m e n t . However, i t must a l s o be noted tha t f o r the f i r s t t ime in the h i s t o r y of Bangladesh , a s u b s t a n t i a l number of the members of the Pa r l i ament be longed to o p p o s i t i o n p a r t i e s . Ou t s i de the P a r l i a m e n t , the BNP needed to e s t a b l i s h a s t r ong support base fo r i t s con t i nued e x i s t e n c e . In order to p resen t a co nc r e t e programme to the e l e c t o r a t e , Z i a had prepared a n i n e t e e n - p o i n t p l a n . The n ine teen p o i n t s i n c l u d e d , among o t h e r s , the f o l l o w i n g g o a l s : to make Bangladesh a s e l f - r e l i a n t n a t i o n ; to ensure p e o p l e ' s p a r t i c i p a t i o n in a l l spheres and l e v e l s of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n ; to s t r eng then the r u r a l economy by g i v i n g top p r i o r i t y to a g r i c u l t u r e ; to make the coun t r y s e l f -s u f f i c i e n t in f o o d ; to remove the cu rse of i l l i t e r a c y ; to check p o p u l a t i o n growth ; and to d e c e n t r a l i z e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . These s teps c o u l d on l y be implemented through a w e l l - o r g a n i z e d pa r t y machine w i th a s t rong base . Z i a ' s r u r a l - o r i e n t e d p o l i c i e s were expec ted to make the BNP popu la r in the r u r a l a r e a s . The BNP 97 e x p e r i e n c e d t e n s i o n a s t h e d i v e r g e n t e l e m e n t s w i t h i n t h e p a r t y c a m e i n t o c o n f l i c t w i t h o n e a n o t h e r . A l t h o u g h s o m e p r o m i n e n t l e a d e r s l e f t t h e B N P , Z i a w a s a b l e t o h o l d t h e p a r t y t o g e t h e r . B e t t e r m a n a g e m e n t o f t h e e c o n o m y i n c o m p a r i s o n t o t h e p r e v i o u s r e g i m e a n d Z i a ' s i m a g e a s a n h o n e s t a n d d e d i c a t e d l e a d e r i n c r e a s e d t h e r u r a l e l e c t o r a t e ' s t r u s t . i n t h e a b i l i t i e s o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t . T h e g r o w i n g p o p u l a r i t y a n d s u c c e s s , h o w e v e r l i m i t e d , o f t h e S w a n i r v a r B a n g l a d e s h A n d o l o n i n d e v e l o p i n g s e l f - r e l i a n t v i l l a g e s i n d i f f e r e n t p a r t s o f t h e c o u n t r y a p p e a r e d t o h a v e p r o v i d e d a v i a b l e s o l u t i o n t o t h e p r o b l e m s o f r u r a l d e v e l o p m e n t i n B a n g l a d e s h . I n f a c t , t h e i d e a o f f o r m i n g e l e c t e d v i l l a g e - b a s e d o r g a n i z a t i o n s h a d a l s o b e e n c o n t e m p l a t e d b y o t h e r p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s . T h e G e n e r a l S e c r e t a r y o f t h e J S D , A . S . M . A b d u r R a b c l a i m e d t h a t h i s p a r t y h a d m a p p e d o u t a G r a m S a r k a r s c h e m e i n 1 9 7 6 . I n i t , t h e v i l l a g e c o u n c i l w a s t o b e e l e c t e d t h r o u g h a d u l t f r a n c h i s e i n t h e p r e s e n c e o f t h e v i l l a g e r s . 8 T h e A L a l s o w a n t e d e l e c t e d r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s t o r u l e t h e v i l l a g e s . A t t h e t i m e o f t h e i r f a l l f r o m p o w e r , t h e p a r t y l e a d e r s h a d p l a n s t o d e c e n t r a l i z e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n a f t e r f o r m i n g m u l t i l a t e r a l c o o p e r a t i v e s i n t h e v i l l a g e s . 9 I t w a s e a s i e r f o r Z i a t o s e l l t h e i d e a t o h i s p a r t y a n d m a k e p r e p a r a t i o n s t o i n t r o d u c e t h e s y s t e m w i t h i n a s h o r t p e r i o d s i n c e t h e B N P w a s i n c o n t r o l o f t h e g o v e r n m e n t a s w e l l a s t h e l e g i s l a t u r e . T h e g o v e r n m e n t f a c e d s e v e r a l p r o b l e m s a r o u n d t h i s t i m e . F l o o d s , h i g h p r i c e s o f e s s e n t i a l c o m m o d i t i e s , a d i s s a t i s f i e d u r b a n m i d d l e c l a s s , a n d i n f l a t i o n w e r e t o o m u c h t o b e h a n d l e d 98 e f f i c i e n t l y at one t ime . These prob lems , a long . w i th the expans ion of the number of unemployed and l a n d l e s s , eroded s o c i a l va lues and r e s u l t e d in a d e t e r i o r a t i o n of the law and order a l l over the c o u n t r y . There was p o l i t i c a l u n r e s t , expressed in s t r i k e s , o u t b u r s t s of p o l i t i c a l v i o l e n c e , w idespread d i s o r d e r s in p r i s o n s , and armed a c t i o n by " m i s c r e a n t s " in the Ch i t t agong H i l l T r a c t s . 1 0 The government was under tremendous p ressu re from a l l s i d e s , p r e s su re which was aggrava ted by the a b o r t i v e coup a t tempt . There was very l i t t l e t ime to expand and s t reng then Z i a ' s power base . He t r i e d to do i t by v i s i t i n g remote r u r a l a reas and propounding v i l l a g e -o r i e n t e d p o l i c i e s and programmes of d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . Ac co rd ing to the Prime M i n i s t e r , Shah A z i z u r Rahman, the BNP had "emerged as a w e l l - k n i t r u r a l based o r g a n i z a t i o n capab le of f u n c t i o n i n g as a r a l l y i n g forum of p u b l i c o p i n i o n " w i t h i n a year of i t s format i o n . 1 1 E a r l y in 1980, Z i a appo in ted twenty members of Pa r l i ament be l ong ing to the BNP as D i s t r i c t Development C o o r d i n a t o r s to a s s i s t in implement ing d i f f e r e n t development schemes in the d i s t r i c t s and to e n t e r t a i n and p rocess p u b l i c c o m p l a i n t s . 1 2 On A p r i l 16, he announced p l ans to set up Gram Sarkar in each v i l l a g e s t a r t i n g in May. The d e c i s i o n was taken at a meet ing of the Commiss ioners and Deputy Commiss ioners , and an o f f i c i a l spokesman s a i d that " i t s main o b j e c t i v e was to f o s t e r l e a d e r s h i p in the v i l l a g e s fo r t a k i n g ca re of the l o c a l p r o b l e m s . " 1 3 On A p r i l 30, Z i a i naugura ted a Gram Sarkar in a v i l l a g e under Savar p o l i c e s t a t i o n in Dhaka d i s t r i c t . 99 Meanwhi le , the d r a f t of the Second F i v e Year P lan fo r Bangladesh p u b l i s h e d in May 1980 s t a t e d that a v i l l a g e l e v e l c o r p o r a t e body was proposed " t o be c r e a t e d w i t h i n a h i e r a r c h i c a l system of l o c a l government wi th a view to under tak ing comprehensive r u r a l deve lopment . " The v i l l a g e government was to have a v i l l a g e land and employment p l an and to implement i t as f a r as p o s s i b l e without d i s t u r b i n g ownersh ip . The D r a f t c l a imed that the i s sue had been d i s c u s s e d and debated fo r two y e a r s . 1 " Thus , p l ans were be ing implemented even be fo re the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s in the Pa r l i ament had a chance to d i s c u s s the i s sue and make d e c i s i o n s . P o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s at the c en t r e appeared to be aimed at s e t t i n g up a network of c o n t r o l through the BNP. Z i a ' s n i n e t e e n - p o i n t s were p l a yed up as the r eg ime ' s answer to the problems f a c i n g Bang ladesh . The aim was to a t t r a c t p o l i t i c i a n s of v a r i o u s i n c l i n a t i o n s to the BNP by emphas iz ing Bang ladesh i n a t i o n a l i s m and s e l f - r e l i a n c e . The s t r a t e g y succeeded and the BNP took in members who p r e v i o u s l y be longed to p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s of v a r i o u s i d e o l o g i e s . In h i s e f f o r t s to appea l to the r u r a l e l e c t o r a t e , Z i a h i g h l i g h t e d the neg l i gence of the p r e v i o u s governments to improve c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e s when he addressed g a t h e r i n g s in the remote a r e a s . He r epea t ed l y s t a t e d tha t the BNP was determined to take p o l i t i c s out of the urban areas and b r i n g i t to the v i l l a g e s . In the r u r a l a r e a s , the Bas i c Democrac ies system had been r e p l a c e d by e l e c t e d bod ies at the u n i o n , thana and d i s t r i c t l e v e l s . The p o s i t i o n s of the Bas i c Democrats were occup i ed by 100 members of the r e l i e f committees c o n s t i t u t e d by the AL a f t e r independence, w i th the r e s u l t tha t l i t t l e change occu r r ed in the r u r a l power s t r u c t u r e . 1 5 The r e l i e f committees were dominated by suppo r t e r s of the AL who had some i n f l u e n c e in the r u r a l a r e a s . They were ab le to use the committees to t h e i r advantage and soon became as a f f l u e n t as t h e i r p r e d e c e s s o r s , the Bas i c Democrats . The AL had always rep resen ted the i n t e r e s t of su rp l u s farmers in the v i l l a g e s and p r o f e s s i o n a l s and sma l l en t r ep reneurs in the urban a r e a s . From 1971 to 1975, the s u r p l u s farmers became a f f l u e n t and the AL g e n e r a l l y n e g l e c t e d the i n t e r e s t s of the r u r a l poor . The end of the AL r u l e , however, d i d not b r i n g about major changes . The same group of l e ade r s a long w i th some former members of the Bas i c Democrac ies came to the fo re in the l o c a l c o u n c i l e l e c t i o n s of 1977. Thus , in most v i l l a g e s , there was a group of l e ade r s wi th some expe r i ence in l o c a l p o l i t i c s , and the v i l l a g e r s e l e c t e d them to the l o c a l b o d i e s . The group r e t a i n e d c o n t r o l in the face of t ens i ons r e s u l t i n g from some upward m o b i l i t y among i t s members and con t i nued accumula t ion of weal th by the a f f l u e n t . The BNP dec ided to use such groups to extend i t s base in the r u r a l a reas and took v a r i o u s s teps to b r i n g these l e ade r s c l o s e to the government. The s c e n a r i o thus d e s c r i b e d was ha rd l y conduc ive to the i n t r o d u c t i o n of major r e fo rms . Bangladesh had not yet r ecove red from the traumas of the l i b e r a t i o n war, nor from the coups and countercoups which shook the s o c i e t y a f t e r 1975. Even when i t seemed that Z i a was in c o n t r o l , t he re were a t tempts to undermine the a u t h o r i t y of the government. The government was composed of 101 l e ade r s of d i v e r s e i d e o l o g i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n s , some of which c o n t r a d i c t e d one ano the r . The s i t u a t i o n was not s t a b l e enough to a l l ow complete d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n . The government had to look out fo r subve r s i v e a c t i v i t i e s . The economy had not recovered s u f f i c i e n t l y from p r e v i o u s slumps to permi t a l l o c a t i o n of enough r e sou r ces fo r l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s to per form w e l l . The dominant groups from the days of Bas i c Democracy and AL r u l e were not go ing to sur render t h e i r c o n t r o l over v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n s . There was bound to be a b i t t e r s t r u g g l e over major changes in the v i l l a g e s . Due to the s c a r c i t y of r esources and an i n c r ea se in the number of r u r a l poo r , the i n f l u e n t i a l s would form f a c t i o n s to ga in c o n t r o l of the a v a i l a b l e r e sources and the l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . As the Z i a regime con t i nued in power, i n e v i t a b l e c o n f l i c t s began to emerge among the BNP l e a d e r s h i p . The 1979 p a r l i a m e n t a r y e l e c t i o n s r e tu rned the l a r g e s t number of o p p o s i t i o n members to the Bangladesh J a t i y a Sanqsad. As the o p p o s i t i o n t r i e d to o rgan i ze themselves in an attempt to c h a l l e n g e the BNP's c l a i m to power, Z i a ' s need to e s t a b l i s h a s o l i d support base fo r the pa r t y became c r i t i c a l . At the same t ime , he had to s e t t l e c o n f l i c t s w i t h i n the pa r t y and d i s c i p l i n e some l e a d e r s to ma in ta in a good image fo r the BNP and h i s own p o s i t i o n . Encoun te r i ng c h a l l e n g e s both from w i t h i n the pa r t y and o u t s i d e , Z i a had to prove to the e l e c t o r a t e tha t he was capab le of i n t r o d u c i n g major changes , e s p e c i a l l y in the r u r a l a r e a s . S ince he d i d not have conc re t e p l ans f o r ex tend ing l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s to the v i l l a g e s , he dec ided to draw upon 1 02 the e x i s t i n g s t r u c t u r e of the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s o r g a n i z e d by the Swanirvar Bangladesh Ando lan . THE ESTABLISHMENT OF SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR The government 's d e c i s i o n to go ahead wi th the proposed Gram Sa rka rs demonstrated the urgency to execute the p l a n s . Three weeks a f t e r the i n a u g u r a t i o n of the f i r s t Gram Sarkar , the Bangladesh Gazet te ( E x t r a o r d i n a r y ) c o n t a i n i n g the Swanirvar  Gram Sarkars ( C o n s t i t u t i o n and A d m i n i s t r a t i o n ) R u l e s , 1980 was p u b l i s h e d . Ru les were l a i d down fo r the fo rmat ion of Gram  Sarkar in every v i l l a g e . The C i r c l e O f f i c e r ( C O . ) was g iven the a u t h o r i t y to d e c l a r e any r u r a l a rea a v i l l a g e , and to convene a meet ing of the Gram Shava ( v i l l a g e assembly) c o n s i s t i n g of the r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e whose names appeared on the v o t e r s ' l i s t . The Gram Shava was to choose a Gram Pradhan and e leven other members, of whom at l e a s t two would be women. The Gram  Sarkar would be chosen a c c o r d i n g to the consensus of the people p resent at the meet ing " i n such a manner as may be agreed upon " . The r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of people from " a l l walks of l i f e " and " d i f f e r e n t f u n c t i o n a l / i n t e r e s t g roups " was to be e n s u r e d . The cho i ce through consensus of the Gram Sarkar was to be recorded and s igned by the C O . The term of o f f i c e of the Gram Sarkar was th ree yea rs from the date of i t s f i r s t meet ing f o r the f i r s t term and f i v e yea rs fo r subsequent te rms. The Gram Sarkar was 1 03 to assume o f f i c e w i t h i n t h i r t y days of i t s s e l e c t i o n at a meet ing to be appo in t ed by the C O . The r e q u i r e d q u a l i f i c a t i o n s fo r a Gram Pradhan or a member of Gram Sarkar were as f o l l o w s ; he/she must (a) be a c i t i z e n of Bang ladesh ; (b) have a t t a i n e d the age of twen ty- f i ve y e a r s ; (c) be l i s t e d on the e l e c t o r a l r o l l of the concerned v i l l a g e ; (d) not be a s i t t i n g member or Chairman of a Union P a r i shad; and (e) r e s i d e permanent ly in the v i l l a g e . 1 6 The Gram Sarkar was to undertake " such f u n c t i o n s as i t c o n s i d e r s necessary fo r o v e r a l l development of the v i l l a g e and , in p a r t i c u l a r , f o r (a) Increase in food p r o d u c t i o n ; (b) Mass l i t e r a c y ; (c) P o p u l a t i o n c o n t r o l and f a m i l y p l a n n i n g ; and (d) Law and o r d e r , and s e t t l i n g l o c a l d i s p u t e s . " 1 7 "Save and o therw ise p r o v i d e d in these r u l e s or in any d i r e c t i o n i s sued the reunder , the e x e c u t i v e powers of a Swanirvar Gram Sarkar s h a l l ves t in and be e x e r c i s e d by i t s Gram P r a d h a n . " 1 8 The r u l e s a l s o s t i p u l a t e d tha t there would be an o f f i c e of the Gram Sarkar w i t h i n the v i l l a g e , and that the minutes of the meet ings of the c o u n c i l be r eco rded in a book kept fo r t h i s pu rpose . The Gram Shava was to meet every th ree months to review the p rog ress of the a c t i v i t i e s of the Gram  S a r k a r . It was to be convened by the Gram Pradhan s t a t i n g the 104 da te , t ime and p l a ce of the meeting and the agenda to be d i s c u s s e d . 1 9 The f i n a n c i a l sources of Gram Sarkar were to be : (a) c o n t r i b u t i o n s from i n d i v i d u a l s , Gram Samabay  Sami t i ( v i l l a g e c o o p e r a t i v e s o c i e t i e s ) or any i n s t i t u t i o n or l o c a l a u t h o r i t y ; and (b) ,any o ther income from any l e g i t i m a t e s o u r c e . 2 0 "The government s h a l l exe r c i se- gene ra l s u p e r v i s i o n and c o n t r o l over a Swanirvar Gram Sarkar in order to ensure that i t s a c t i v i t i e s conform to the purposes of these r u l e s . " 2 1 The government c o u l d enqu i re i n t o the a f f a i r s of the Gram Sarkar through i t s o f f i c e r s and supersede the c o u n c i l fo r some t ime . In case of d i s p u t e s between two or more Gram Sarkars or between Gram Sarkars and any l o c a l p a r i s h a d , the matter was to be r e f e r r e d t o : (a) the P r e s c r i b e d A u t h o r i t y , i f the p a r t i e s concerned are in the same thana . In r e l a t i o n to Swanirvar Gram Sa rka r , the Thana Pa r i shad w i l l be the P r e s c r i b e d A u t h o r i t y . (b) the S u b d i v i s i o n a l O f f i c e r , i f the p a r t i e s concerned are in the same s u b d i v i s i o n ; (c) the Deputy Commiss ioner , i f the p a r t i e s concerned are in the same d i s t r i c t ; (d) the Commiss ioner , i f the p a r t i e s concerned are i n d i f f e r e n t d i s t r i c t s w i t h i n the same d i v i s i o n ; and (e) the Government, i f the p a r t i e s concerned are in d i f f e r e n t d i v i s i o n s ; and the d e c i s i o n of the a u t h o r i t y to which the d i s p u t e was so 1 05 r e f e r r e d would be f i n a l . 2 2 The government had l a i d down the r u l e s fo r c o n s t i t u t i n g and o p e r a t i n g Gram Sarkar in such a way as to a l l ow government o f f i c i a l s to p l ay a prominent r o l e . The C O . c o u l d determine the boundar i es of a v i l l a g e , was r e s p o n s i b l e fo r conven ing a meet ing of the Gram Shava and c o n s t i t u t i n g the Gram Sa rka r . There were p r o v i s i o n s fo r the s u p e r s e s s i o n of the v i l l a g e body in case of f a i l u r e or i n a b i l i t y to d i s cha rge i t s d u t i e s , a c t i n g in a manner c o n t r a r y to p u b l i c i n t e r e s t , or abuse of power. The sources which were expected to supp ly the r e q u i r e d funds were vague, and d i d not guarantee a r e g u l a r f low of r e s o u r c e s . The Gram Sarkar would have to depend on the government f o r funds . L a t e r , P r e s i d e n t Z ia t o l d members of Gram Sa rka rs at the c o n c l u s i o n of a t r a i n i n g course tha t the M i n i s t r y of L o c a l Government was g iven a b s o l u t e a u t h o r i t y to look i n t o the f u n c t i o n i n g of the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s . 2 3 PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL AND LEGISLATION F i n a l l y , a b i l l was prepared to l e g i s l a t e the c r e a t i o n of Gram S a r k a r . The t im ing of i n t r o d u c i n g the b i l l to the Pa r l i ament c o i n c i d e d wi th a coup le of o ther c o n t r o v e r s i a l b i l l s . The annual Budget had been brought down a few days p r e v i o u s l y , and the members were busy d i s c u s s i n g i t , when suddenly on June 21 1980, th ree b i l l s were i n t r oduced f o r l e g i s l a t i o n on the same day . E a r l y i n the day, the Dockworkers (Appointment C o n t r o l ) 1 06 B i l l was p l a c e d be fo re the House. The b i l l was on the agenda fo r d i s c u s s i o n fo r the day , but the M i n i s t e r asked the members to c o n s i d e r i t fo r l e g i s l a t i o n . Seve ra l members of the o p p o s i t i o n p r o t e s t e d and reques ted more time to review the b i l l . They c o u l d not suggest any amendment because they had not even read the b i l l . The government pa r t y found the o p p o s i t i o n unprepared and passed the b i l l w i t h i n h a l f an hour . The sugges t i on of s i x o p p o s i t i o n members not to approve a r e l a t e d o rd inance p r e v i o u s l y was o v e r r u l e d wi thout v o t i n g . The l eade r of the House s a i d tha t the dockworkers would l o se t h e i r f a i r share of wages i f the b i l l were not passed on tha t da t e . Twelve members of the o p p o s i t i o n spoke a g a i n s t the qu i ck l e g i s l a t i o n of the b i l l , and one member of the AL-MU walked out of the H o u s e . 2 " On the same day, the M u n i c i p a l (Amendment) A c t , 1980 met s t rong o p p o s i t i o n in the P a r l i a m e n t . T h i s was another attempt to conve r t an e a r l i e r o rd inance i n t o a law. P r e v i o u s l y , the appea l of some members of the o p p o s i t i o n not to approve the o rd inance was n u l l i f i e d in a v o i c e v o t e . The o p p o s i t i o n members of the House suggested tha t the b i l l be c i r c u l a t e d fo r p u b l i c o p i n i o n , and sent t o a S e l e c t Committee as we l l as the permanent Committee on L o c a l Government, Ru ra l Development and C o o p e r a t i v e s . The b i l l was l e g i s l a t e d in s p i t e of b i t t e r debate and s t i f f o p p o s i t i o n . No amendments or m o d i f i c a t i o n s were made . 2 5 La t e r on tha t f a t e f u l Sa turday , the L o c a l Government  (Amendment) A c t , 1980 was moved by Cap ta in (Re t i r ed ) Abdul Ha l im Choudhury, the M i n i s t e r f o r L o c a l Government, Ru r a l Development 1 07 and C o o p e r a t i v e s . The b i l l i n tended to "amend the Loca l  Government (O rd inance ) , 1976 wi th a view to making p r o v i s i o n fo r the c o n s t i t u t i o n of Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r s , a v i l l a g e l e v e l t i e r of l o c a l government on s e l f - h e l p b a s i s so tha t the v i l l a g e r s can be made c o n s c i o u s of t h e i r community problems and p a r t i c i p a t e in the c r e a t i o n of a s o c i e t y , v i a b l e e c o n o m i c a l l y and o the rw i se , through Swanirvar Gram S a r k a r s . " The Act would be deemed to have come i n t o f o r ce on A p r i l 29, 1980. 2 6 Before the b i l l was moved, the Deputy Leader of the o p p o s i t i o n , Mohiuddin Ahmed s a i d tha t the b i l l deserved a long and e l a b o r a t e d i s c u s s i o n in the House. I t s h o u l d , t h e r e f o r e , be moved l a t e r on when the gene ra l d i s c u s s i o n on the Budget was not in the way. He c r i t i c i z e d the p r a c t i c e of rush ing b i l l s through the House by the government. In r esponse , the l eade r of the House, Shah A z i z u r Rahman s a i d that the tenure of the Loca l  Government (Amendment) O rd inance , 1980 would l apse at midnight on the same day, and demanded tha t the b i l l be passed on June 21 , 1 980. 2 7 The o p p o s i t i o n members expressed t h e i r doubt r ega rd ing the s i n c e r i t y of the government i n i n t r o d u c i n g the b i l l in the i n t e r e s t of the v i l l a g e r s . They expressed apprehens ion tha t the government was p l a n n i n g to c r e a t e a c l a s s of " v i l l a g e t ou t s to pe rpe tua te the BNP r u l e " through Gram S a r k a r s . Abdul L a t i f M i r z a , a member from the JSD, urged the government to a l l o c a t e at l e a s t seventy per cent of the n a t i o n a l budget f o r v i l l a g e development and to award f u l l autonomy to the Gram S a r k a r s . He s a i d t ha t the Union Pa r i shads were c o n t r o l l e d by government 108 o f f i c i a l s and tha t they impeded the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l b o d i e s . Another member of the JSD, Shahjahan S i r a j , had moved a d i s a p p r o v a l motion aga ins t the o rd inance tha t e s t a b l i s h e d Gram  Sa rka r . He accused the BNP of u s i n g the system to e s t a b l i s h a d i c t a t o r s h i p . He s a i d he was not opposed to the concept of v i l l a g e governments. But he p r o t e s t e d the s teps taken by the government to set up Gram Sarkar wi thout d i s c u s s i n g i t in Pa r l i ament and without the app rova l of the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s of the p e o p l e . Shahjahan S i r a j po in t ed out the dangers of government o f f i c i a l s and BNP l eade r s go ing to the v i l l a g e s and drawing up l i s t s of Gram Sarkar members to be approved by the v i l l a g e r s by " c o n s e n s u s " . He c a l l e d fo r the e l i m i n a t i o n of the dominance of government o f f i c i a l s and fo r the c r e a t i o n of Gram Sarkars as e l e c t e d b o d i e s . There must be r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of d i f f e r e n t o c c u p a t i o n a l groups and they shou ld have adequate a u t h o r i t y to r e s i s t dominat ion by government o f f i c i a l s . Shahjahan S i r a j commented tha t Z i a was p l a y i n g w i th the Gram Sarkar system, c a n c e l l i n g and r e v i v i n g i t at h i s conven i ence . He conc luded tha t there was no o rgan i zed s t r u c t u r e or budget fo r the Gram  S a r k a r s , and tha t these bod ies c o u l d not work fo r the we l f a re of the v i l l a g e r s . 2 8 A .B .M . T a l e b A l i of the AL-MU r e cogn i zed tha t i n fo rma l v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s had opera ted in the c o u n t r y s i d e fo r many y e a r s . He expressed h i s apprehens ion over the p o s s i b i l i t y tha t a power fu l group of v i l l a g e r s would use the Gram Sarkar i n s t i t u t i o n s to t h e i r advantage. He a l s o de t e c t ed an attempt to 109 r e a l i z e the p o l i t i c a l amb i t ions of the BNP in the scheme. A .K . R a f i q u l l a h Choudhury of the Gono F ron t admi t ted the u t i l i t y of v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s and government. But he thought that t h i s was not the proper t ime to i n t roduce such a scheme, and the s o c i e t y must be p repared beforehand fo r such c h a n g e s . 2 9 S i x t een other members of the o p p o s i t i o n took pa r t in the debate and c r i t i c i z e d the b i l l , but to no a v a i l . A l l the amendment mot ions of the o p p o s i t i o n members seek ing to e l i c i t p u b l i c o p i n i o n on the b i l l and to send i t to the S e l e c t Committee were r e j e c t e d by a v o i c e vote i n the House. In response to the c r i t i c i s m of the b i l l , the M i n i s t e r f o r L o c a l Government assured the House tha t the Swanirvar Gram Sarkars would remain above the " p o l i t i c a l f e u d s " . He s a i d that the b i l l was i n t r oduced as P r e s i den t Z ia b e l i e v e d in t a k i n g p o l i t i c s to the v i l l a g e s and t h e i r i n h a b i t a n t s , and had a l r e a d y e s t a b l i s h e d a l i n k w i th the v i l l a g e p e o p l e . The M i n i s t e r s a i d that the o p p o s i t i o n members d i d not l i k e the b i l l because Z i a had made p o l i t i c s d i f f i c u l t f o r those who p r a c t i s e d p o l i t i c s wi th bases on ly i n the t o w n s . 3 0 The L o c a l Government (Amendment) A c t , 1980 was passed amidst o b j e c t i o n s from the o p p o s i t i o n members. No i n fo rma t i on i s a v a i l a b l e r e g a r d i n g the v o t i n g procedure f o l l o w e d in the House on t h i s b i l l . Gram Sarkar had been p l anned , i n i t i a t e d and was a l r e a d y in o p e r a t i o n when the government approached the Pa r l i ament fo r a p p r o v a l . None of the sugges t i ons put forward by the o p p o s i t i o n members were i n c o r p o r a t e d in the A c t . The b i l l was i n t r o d u c e d a long w i th two o ther c o n t r o v e r s i a l b i l l s in the 1 10 middle of the d i s c u s s i o n on the Budget. The government was determined to rush the b i l l s through the l e g i s l a t u r e , and had them passed w i th l i t t l e o p p o r t u n i t y f o r debate or d i s c u s s i o n . The o p p o s i t i o n had no success in s topp ing or mod i f y i ng any of the b i l l s . SOME OBSERVATIONS The sequence of s teps taken by the government in b r i n g i n g about Gram Sarkar i s i n t e r e s t i n g . Ins tead of f o l l o w i n g the normal procedure of making p r o p o s a l s , l e g i s l a t i n g the b i l l and f o r m u l a t i n g r u l e s , the government of Bangladesh under the l e a d e r s h i p of the BNP d i r e c t l y l a i d down the r u l e s fo r c o n s t i t u t i n g and o p e r a t i n g l o c a l government. Next , the p r o p o s a l s fo r v i l l a g e o r g a n i z a t i o n s were p u b l i s h e d w i th the d r a f t of the Second F i v e Year P l a n . A f t e r t h a t , the b i l l e s t a b l i s h i n g Gram Sarkar was p resen ted to the P a r l i a m e n t . The government was in a hur ry to e s t a b l i s h the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s and have i t s s u p p o r t e r s i n s t a l l e d as l e a d e r s . Two days a f t e r the l e g i s l a t i o n of the b i l l , Z i a inaugura ted a t r a i n i n g course fo r Gram Sarkar Pradhans and Sach ibs ( S e c r e t a r i e s ) . He s a i d tha t p o l i t i c a l o p p o r t u n i s t s were oppos ing Gram Sa rka r , but h i s pa r t y had the mandate of the p e o p l e . 3 1 O p p o s i t i o n l e a d e r s con t i nued to c r i t i c i z e the scheme, but the government i n s i s t e d tha t i t was e s s e n t i a l to b u i l d a j u s t s o c i e t y . 3 2 111 The c r e a t i o n of v i l l a g e - b a s e d l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s was observed w i th i n t e r e s t by peop le not i n v o l v e d d i r e c t l y i n the p o l i t i c s of Bang ladesh . An American p o l i t i c a l s c i e n t i s t , Harry B l a i r c o n s i d e r e d v a r i o u s c r i t i c i s m s l e v e l l e d a g a i n s t the Gram S a r k a r . 3 3 He agreed tha t the programme appeared too vague and nebu lous . There were bound to be c o m p l i c a t i o n s in the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the Gram Sarkars and the Union P a r i s h a d s , the I n t eg ra t ed Rura l Development Programme, the Rura l Works and Food fo r Works Programme. The pace of expans ion of the new i n s t i t u t i o n was too r a p i d . There were p o s s i b i l i t i e s of new avenues fo r c o r r u p t i o n . The Gram Sa rka rs cou ld be taken over by the same dominant e l i t e s that c o n t r o l l e d l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s p r e v i o u s l y , and the b e n e f i t s c o u l d be d i v e r t e d to a l r e a d y a f f l u e n t r u r a l e l i t e s . There was a l s o the danger that patronage might be funne led down to the l o c a l l e v e l by the r u l i n g pa r t y so tha t v i l l a g e e l i t e s c o u l d be u t i l i z e d as a support base fo r the pa r t y in power at the c e n t r e . B l a i r admi t ted tha t a l l these consequences were p o s s i b l e , but he s t i l l c o n s i d e r e d Gram Sarkar an a b s o l u t e l y necessa r y , a l though not s u f f i c i e n t , c o n d i t i o n fo r long term r u r a l deve lopment . He regarded the r e c o g n i t i o n of the d i f f e r e n t i n t e r e s t groups that make up v i l l a g e s o c i e t y and t h e i r i n c l u s i o n w i t h i n a s t r u c t u r e of governance as a major advancement in the h i s t o r y of l o c a l government on the s u b c o n t i n e n t . The poor r u r a l ma jo r i t y had the o p p o r t u n i t y to v o i c e t h e i r demands. B l a i r r e a l i z e d tha t i n i t i a l l y the poor v i l l a g e r s c o u l d p robab l y be i n t i m i d a t e d and dominated by the r u r a l e l i t e . But over the 1 12 l onger term, a f t e r a h ighe r l e v e l of l i t e r a c y and consc iousness had been a c h i e v e d , the mechanism c o u l d be used to serve the i n t e r e s t s of the p o o r . 3 4 The government deve loped a Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual f o r h e l p i n g Gram Sarkar members to unders tand and execute t h e i r d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . The d u t i e s and s p e c i f i c f u n c t i o n s of each Gram Sarkar member were e l a b o r a t e d . The Gram Pradhan was to be in charge of f i n a n c e , p l a n n i n g and c o o r d i n a t i o n in the v i l l a g e . He would convene a meet ing of Gram Sarkar every f o r t n i g h t and in form the v i l l a g e r s of the d a t e , t ime and p l a c e of the mee t ing . He would ma in ta in c l o s e l i n k s with the government o f f i c i a l s working in the v i l l a g e . A l l d e c i s i o n s were to be made by the e n t i r e c o u n c i l and not by the Gram Pradhan on h i s own. The Sadasya-Sachib (Member-Secretary) of the Gram Sarkar was to be in charge of o f f i c e management and r e l i g i o u s a f f a i r s . He would a s s i s t the Gram Pradhan in a l l mat te rs and ma in ta in r e co rds of Gram Sarkar b u s i n e s s . The other ten members were to be e n t r u s t e d w i th one of the f o l l o w i n g : law, order and s e c u r i t y ; food and a g r i c u l t u r e ; f i s h e r i e s and l i v e s t o c k ; c o o p e r a t i v e s and c o o p e r a t i v e banks ; communicat ion, works and t r e e p l a n t a t i o n ; mass e d u c a t i o n ; you th , s p o r t s and c u l t u r a l a f f a i r s ; f am i l y p l a n n i n g and women's a f f a i r s ; co t t age i n d u s t r i e s ; and h e a l t h . 3 5 The manual l i s t e d v a r i o u s problems and suggested how Gram Sarkar members c o u l d t a c k l e them in each of these a r e a s . A survey of each v i l l a g e was emphasized to determine p o s s i b l e s o l u t i o n s . F i n a n c i a l management, i n c l u d i n g the maintenance of funds , 1 1 3 budge t i ng , a c coun t i ng and a u d i t i n g , was s t a t e d to be very important in the manual . The Gram Sarkar must ma in ta in account books and r e co rds of o ther t r a n s a c t i o n s and these would be a u d i t e d r e g u l a r l y . 3 6 In another p u b l i c a t i o n of the M i n i s t r y of Lo ca l Government, food d e f i c i e n c y , i l l i t e r a c y , improper f a m i l y p l a n n i n g , poor law and order maintenance , and the absence of c o o p e r a t i v e s were po in t ed out as major problems o b s t r u c t i n g n a t i o n a l deve lopment , and Gram Sarkars were asked to pay a t t e n t i o n to these p r o b l e m s . 3 7 The N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e of L o c a l Government p u b l i s h e d a Swanirvar Gram Sarkar T r a i n i n g Guide which i n c l u d e d d e t a i l e d d i s c u s s i o n of problems and the s y l l a b i to be f o l l o w e d in t r a i n i n g members of Gram S a r k a r . 3 8 But t h i s guide on l y i n c l u d e d a g r i c u l t u r e , f am i l y p l a n n i n g , e r a d i c a t i o n of i l l i t e r a c y , c o o p e r a t i v e s , l i v e s t o c k ca re and p i s c i c u l t u r e as the areas i n which the members needed t r a i n i n g , and d i d not s t r i c t l y f o l l ow the d i v i s i o n e l a b o r a t e d in the Swanirvar Gram Sarkar  Manua l . The gu ide a t t ached more importance to these p rob lems . T h i s was an i n d i c a t i o n of poor c o o r d i n a t i o n among d i f f e r e n t government agenc i e s and depar tments . Each emphasized d i f f e r e n t problems in the v i l l a g e s . The government put the Gram Sarkar in o p e r a t i o n , fo rmu la ted an o r d i n a n c e , framed d e t a i l e d r u l e s and r e g u l a t i o n s , and then l e g i s l a t e d the b i l l . A l l o p p o s i t i o n to the government ' s p l ans was i gnored and Gram Sarkar was e s t a b l i s h e d e x a c t l y the way the government wanted i t . A l l the p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s f avoured the idea of v i l l a g e government, but apprehens ions were v o i c e d about the r o l e of p u b l i c o f f i c i a l s and p o l i t i c a l o p p o r t u n i s t s in the 1 1 4 system. The Genera l S ec re t a r y of the JSD commented that Z i a ' s Gram Sarkar would favour the b o u r g e o i s i e and not the p r o l e t a r i a t s i n ce t h i s was not go ing to be an e l e c t e d b o d y . 3 9 In the summer of 1980, Gram Sarkar s t a r t e d to f u n c t i o n and soon faced p rob lems . Z ia v i s i t e d s e v e r a l v i l l a g e s and addressed Gram Sarkar de l ega t e s in the c a p i t a l , u rg ing them to make the scheme s u c c e s s f u l . L o ca l c o n f l i c t s and r i v a l r y emerged in some c a s e s . In one i n s t a n c e , there were three c and ida t e s fo r the p o s i t i o n of Gram Pradhan in a v i l l a g e in Ch i t t agong d i s t r i c t . The C O . r e a l i z e d that a l l th ree cand ida tes were i n f l u e n t i a l , and o r a l l y d i v i d e d the v i l l a g e i n t o three v i l l a g e s . Three p o s i t i o n s of Gram Pradhan were c r e a t e d , so tha t a l l th ree c and ida t e s c o u l d be accommodated. " 0 There were r e p o r t s of e l e c t i o n , s e l e c t i o n by consensus , and f r e q u e n t l y , s e l e c t i o n of Gram Sarkar c o u n c i l s by the few people who bothered to come to the i naugu ra l mee t ing . Many v i l l a g e r s were not even informed about the mee t ings . There were i n c i d e n c e s of v i o l e n c e and in a few cases l i v e s were l o s t over the fo rmat ion of Gram Sa rka r . The c o u n c i l s were formed in d i v e rgen t ways in d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s and the v i o l e n c e i n d i c a t e d that consensus was not a lways reached i n these m a t t e r s . There have been some s t u d i e s on the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s and backgrounds of Gram Sarkar l e a d e r s in i t s e a r l y s t a g e s . Manjur-ul-Alam found tha t in most c a s e s , the p o s i t i o n of Gram Pradhan was occup i ed by r e l a t i v e l y younger p e o p l e , hav ing educa t i on from grades s i x to t e n . They owned, on an ave rage , s i x a c res of l a n d , and 41.67 per cent of the sample surveyed were a f f i l i a t e d 1 15 wi th the BNP. Over 98 per cent of the Gram Pradhans "be longed to h ighe r f a m i l i e s who t r a d i t i o n a l l y dominated the p o l i t i c o -economic and s o c i a l scenes of the r u r a l s o c i e t i e s . " * 1 Other surveys con f i rmed the f a c t tha t Gram Sarkar members came from the b e t t e r - o f f groups in the v i l l a g e . The on ly n o t i c e a b l e d i f f e r e n c e was tha t the average age of the v i l l a g e l e ade r s was l e s s . But as these young people came most ly from the i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l i e s in the v i l l a g e s , the same e l i t e group con t i nued to dominate r u r a l p o l i t i c s . Alam and Mukabber found tha t 61 per cent of the Gram Sarkar Member-Secretar ies i n t e r v i ewed by them were under 30 years of age , and they had a h ighe r l e v e l of educa t i on than the Gram Pradhan. A s i g n i f i c a n t p r o p o r t i o n of these l e ade r s came " f rom l a rge l a n d h o l d i n g c l a s s . " " 2 Barket-e-Khuda, Khan and Saha added more ev idence through t h e i r r e sea r ch in a v i l l a g e in C o m i l l a d i s t r i c t . They s t a t e d tha t the Gram Sarkar l e ade r s " r e p r e s e n t the top (rung of ) s o c i a l and economic l adder in the v i l l a g e and have become i n v o l v e d in the Gram Sarkar to f u r t h e r t h e i r own i n t e r e s t at the cos t of the gene ra l i n t e r e s t s of the poor and needy v i l l a g e r s at l a r g e . " 4 3 They found tha t Gram Sarkar in the v i l l a g e s ' under study r ep resen ted the "same o l d ves t ed groups who have always been in c o n t r o l of p r o d u c t i v e r e sou r ces and v a r i o u s i n s t i t u t i o n s at v i l l a g e l e v e l . " 4 4 The i l l s and b e n e f i t s l i k e l y to r e s u l t from Gram Sarkar have been p o i n t e d out in d i f f e r e n t s t u d i e s . These f a c t o r s must have i n f l u e n c e d the outcome of a t tempts to reform l o c a l government at the v i l l a g e l e v e l . It w i l l be u s e f u l , in t h i s 1 16 c o n t e x t , to compare the government ' s p r e s c r i b e d form of Gram  Sarkar wi th those o p e r a t i n g in the v i l l a g e s . D id the s e l e c t i o n and o r g a n i z a t i o n of Gram Sarkar conform to the procedures suggested by the government? D id the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l s f o l l ow the Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual and other t r a i n i n g manuals p u b l i s h e d fo r t h e i r use? D id the Gram Sarkars have enough r e sou r ces and adequate a u t h o r i t y to opera te e f f i c i e n t l y ? D id l o c a l c o n f l i c t s and r i v a l r y impede the ope r a t i on of Gram Sarkars ? How fa r was the scheme s u c c e s s f u l as a re form in the l o c a l government system? What were the reasons f o r success or f a i l u r e ? So f a r , I have c o n s i d e r e d the view from the t op , and surveyed l o c a l government reforms in Bang ladesh . Whi le the f o r e i g n r u l e r s always r e t a i n e d c o n t r o l of l o c a l b o d i e s , the governments in independent Bangladesh neg l e c t ed l o c a l government fo r some t ime . F i n a l l y , a major change was ushered in 1980 by ex tend ing l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s to the v i l l a g e s . In order to unders tand the reasons fo r f a i l u r e of l o c a l government r e fo rms , i t i s a l s o e s s e n t i a l to c o n s i d e r the view from the bottom. An examinat ion of the fo rmat ion and o p e r a t i o n of Gram  Sarkar in the v i l l a g e s w i l l r e v e a l more about the problems encountered in re fo rming l o c a l government in Bang ladesh . With t h i s purpose in mind, I have examined Gram Sarkar in th ree v i l l a g e s of Bang ladesh . A v i l l a g e was chosen from each of the d i s t r i c t s of Mymensingh, C o m i l l a and R a j s h a h i . They r ep resen t the c e n t r a l , s o u t h - e a s t e r n , and north-western r eg ions of the c o u n t r y . The v i l l a g e s were chosen at random, w i th some 1 17 a t t e n t i o n p a i d to a c c e s s i b i l i t y and a v a i l a b i l i t y of d a t a . I l i v e d in each v i l l a g e fo r about a month in the summer of 1982. Gram Sarkars were almost i n o p e r a t i v e by that t ime , and in J u l y 1982, were o f f i c i a l l y a b o l i s h e d . N e v e r t h e l e s s , I have t r i e d in the next th ree chap te r s to draw a p i c t u r e of the p rog res s and problems f aced by the new v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n s du r i ng t h e i r shor t term of o p e r a t i o n . 118 NOTES 1 For d e t a i l s on the J SD ' s r o l e and C o l o n e l T a h e r ' s c o n t r i b u t i o n to the counte rcoup of November 7, 1975, see Lawrence L i f s c h u l t z , Bang ladesh : The U n f i n i s h e d Revo lu t i on (London: Zed P r e s s , 1979). 2 T . Maniruzzaman, "Bangladesh in 1975: The F a l l of the Mu j i b Regime and I t s A f t e r m a t h , " As i an Survey , 16, 2 (February 1976), p. 124. 3 M. Rashiduzzaman, "Bangladesh in 1977: Dilemmas of the M i l i t a r y R u l e r s , " As i an Survey , 18, 2 (February 1978), pp . 127-8. 4 M i n i s t r y of Law and Pa r l i amen ta r y A f f a i r s , The L o c a l  Government O rd inance , 1976 (Dacca : Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1976), p. TT 5 The L o c a l Government O rd inance , 1976, A r t i c l e 85. 6 M.M. Khan and H.M. Z a f a r u l l a h , "The 1979 Pa r l i amen ta r y E l e c t i o n s in B ang l adesh , " A s i a n Survey , 19, 10 (October 1979), p. 1034. 7 The f i g u r e s were ob ta ined from A . K . M . S h a h i d u l l a h , " P a r l i amen ta r y E l e c t i o n s in Bang ladesh , 1979: An A n a l y s i s , " A d m i n i s t r a t i v e Sc i ence Review, 9, 3 (September 1979), p. 65. 8 In te rv iew p u b l i s h e d in the weekly B i c h i t r a . October 3, 1980, p. 23. 9 T h i s was s t a t e d by Mr. Anwar Choudhury, a former O f f i c e S e c r e t a r y of the Awami League. He was i n t e r v i ewed in Dhaka on J u l y 19, 1982. 10 A z i z u l Haque, "Bang ladesh in 1980: S t r a i n s and S t r e s ses O p p o s i t i o n in the Do ld rums , " A s i a n Survey , 21 , 2 (February 1981), pp . 188-9. 11 The Bangladesh Obse r ve r , January 21, 1980. 12 A z i z u l Haque, op . c i t . , p. 192. 13 The Bangladesh Obse r ve r , A p r i l 17, 1980. 14 P l ann ing Commiss ion, Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh , The Second F i v e Year P lan 1980-85 , [D ra f t ] (Dhaka: n . p . , 1980), pp . 7-6,7 . 15 M.R. Khan, "Gramin Kshamata-Kathamor Swarup." [The Rea l R u r a l Power S t r u c t u r e ] . T r a n s l a t e d by Abdur Razzak. The D a i l y Sangbad , Dhaka, Ju l y 5, 1982. 1 19 16 The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , E x t r a o r d i n a r y (Dacca: Bangladesh Government P r e s s , May 24, 1980), Rule 9. 17 The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1980, Rule 17. The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1980, Rule 18 (2) The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1980, Rule 23 (d) The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1980, Rule 24 (2) The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1 980, Rule 29. The Bangladesh G a z e t t e , May 24, 1 980, Rule 34. 23 The Bangladesh Obse rve r , May 30, 1980. 24 The Da in i k Bang la , June 22, 1980. 25 The Da in i k Bang la , June 22, 1980. 26 The Bangladesh Obse rve r , June 22, 1980. 27 The Bangladesh Obse rve r , June 22, 1980. 28 T r a n s c r i p t s of pa r l i amen ta r y debates dated June 21, 1980. The t ex t of the debates i s yet to be p u b l i s h e d . 29 T r a n s c r i p t s of pa r l i amen ta r y debates dated June 21, 1980. 30 The Bangladesh Obse rve r , June 22, 1980. 31 The Da in i k Bang la , June 24, 1980. 32 The M i n i s t e r f o r L o c a l Government, Rura l Development and Coope ra t i v e s made the statement at the c o n c l u s i o n of a t r a i n i n g course for Gram Sarkar Pradhans and S a c h i b s . The Da in i k Bang l a , June 25, 1980. 33 Harry B l a i r , "Why Bangladesh Needs Gram S a r k a r . " The Bangladesh T imes, October 28, 1980. 34 I b i d . 35 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bangladesh , Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual (Dhaka: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1980), p. 5~. 36 I b i d . , pp . 24-5. 37 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , Jonogoner Sangathan Swanirvar Gram Sarkar [The p e o p l e ' s o r g a n i z a t i o n --- Swanirvar Gram Sarkar ] (Dhaka: M i n i s t r y of L o c a l Government, Ru ra l Development and C o o p e r a t i v e s , 1 20 1980). 38 Syed Nuruzzaman, e d . , Swanirvar Gram Sarkar T r a i n i n g Guide [ i n Benga l i ] (Dhaka: N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e of L o c a l Government, n . d . ) . 39 In terv iew p u b l i s h e d in B i c h i t r a , October 3, 1980. 40 Reported in a l e t t e r to B i c h i t r a , September 5, 1980. 41 Man jur-u l-A lam, " L e a d e r s h i p P a t t e rn Under Swanirvar Gram Sarkar in Bangladesh : An Examinat ion of Some C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of Gram Prodhans in S e l e c t e d Areas of C o m i l l a D i s t r i c t , " J ou rna l of the Bangladesh Academy fo r  Rura l Development, C o m i l l a , 10 7~i & 2 ( Ju ly 1980 and January 1981), pp . 36-46. 42 B.A. Alam and M. Mukabber, "Gram Prodhans and Sach ibs of Swanirvar Gram Sa rka r : Some Background I n f o r m a t i o n , " L o c a l  Government Q u a r t e r l y , 10, 1-2 (March-June 1981), pp . 73-4. 43 Barket-e-Khuda, Nuru l Is lam Khan and S u n i l Kumar Saha, Power S t r u c t u r e in Rura l Bangladesh : Some R e f l e c t i o n s from  a V i l l a g e in C o m i l l a (Occas iona l Paper No. 28, Development S tud i e s C e n t r e , The A u s t r a l i a n N a t i o n a l U n i v e r s i t y , 1981, p. 15. 44 I b i d . , p. 28. 121 V. ISOLATION AND INACTION: GRAM SARKAR IN MANTALA, MYMENSINGH The new scheme of Gram Sarkar ha rd l y a f f e c t e d the way of l i f e in Man ta l a , a v i l l a g e l o c a t e d in the d i s t r i c t of Mymensingh. F o r m a l l y , the scheme brought about a new i n s t i t u t i o n w i th a set of l e a d e r s in charge of v a r i o u s t asks in the v i l l a g e . But the l a ck of p reparedness on the pa r t of Manta la to respond to the new l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n negated any p r o g r e s s . S t i l l in the very e a r l y stage of m o b i l i z a t i o n , the v i l l a g e has not deve loped a "commitment to a c t i o n " . The e f f o r t s to ensure c o n t r o l by the f o l l o w e r s of the r u l i n g pa r t y r e s u l t e d in the e x c l u s i o n of capab le v i l l a g e r s from the Gram Sa rka r . The i s o l a t i o n of Manta la from the r e s t of the coun t r y c o u l d not be b roken , and g r a d u a l l y Gram Sarkar became i n a c t i v e long be fo re the i n s t i t u t i o n was a b o l i s h e d . THE VILLAGE Mymensingh, an a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d i s t r i c t of Bangladesh , i s s i t u a t e d in the n o r t h - c e n t r a l pa r t of the c o u n t r y . I t cove r s an area of 5039.76 square m i l e s and has a p o p u l a t i o n of 6 , 5 4 3 , 0 0 0 . 1 Mymensingh i s the t h i r d most p o p u l o u s , d i s t r i c t of Bangladesh ; an average of 1,745 peop le i n h a b i t one square m i l e , and t h i s means the re i s 0.37 ac re of l and per p e r s o n . 2 The d i s t r i c t i s famous as a producer of j u t e , the p r i n c i p a l cash c rop of Bang ladesh . Manta la i s l o c a t e d in the sou th-eas te rn pa r t of Mymensingh d i s t r i c t under B a j i t p u r p o l i c e s t a t i o n of K i sho regan j 1 22 s u b d i v i s i o n . Manta la i s a smal l v i l l a g e w i th an a rea of l e s s than h a l f a square m i l e . No h i s t o r y has ever been w r i t t e n of M a n t a l a , but i t can be assumed that l i k e most o ther Bangladesh v i l l a g e s , i t deve loped over c e n t u r i e s as farmers assembled to c u l t i v a t e the f e r t i l e l ands of the Brahmaputra b a s i n . A c co rd ing to the r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e , Manta la has been i n h a b i t e d fo r over three c e n t u r i e s . A g r i c u l t u r e i s s t i l l the p r i n c i p a l o c cupa t i on in Man ta l a . The procedures of managing v i l l a g e a f f a i r s in the e a r l y days were s i m i l a r to those found in v i l l a g e panchayats a l l over the Ind ian s u b c o n t i n e n t . The v i l l a g e e l d e r s and l o c a l i n f l u e n t i a l s were i n c l u d e d in the panchayat which aimed p r i n c i p a l l y at m a i n t a i n i n g law and o r d e r . The advent of B r i t i s h r u l e and the subsequent r e o r g a n i z a t i o n of the revenue system genera ted the need fo r l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . Beg inn ing i n the l a t e r h a l f of the n i ne t een th c e n t u r y , l o c a l bod ies were i n s t i t u t e d i n Mymensingh fo r the purpose of c o l l e c t i n g the money on beha l f of the government. At f i r s t , the l o c a l bod ies d i d not extend as f a r as Man ta l a , but' were c o n s t i t u t e d at the s u b d i v i s i o n headqua r t e r s , K i s h o r e g a n j . Then a M u n i c i p a l i t y was e s t a b l i s h e d in 1869 in B a j i t p u r , 3 about two m i l e s away from the v i l l a g e . In Man ta l a , v i l l a g e e l d e r s met to d i s c u s s mat te rs of common c o n c e r n , and a r r i v e d at d e c i s i o n s on v a r i o u s p rob lems . As f a r as anyone can remember, the v i l l a g e d i d not expe r i ence any major c o n f l i c t among the v i l l a g e r s in i t s e a r l y days . Manta la has r e c e i v e d very l i t t l e ou t s i de a s s i s t a n c e fo r 1 23 deve lopmenta l works, and l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e are s t i l l p r i m i t i v e . The p o p u l a t i o n of about a thousand v i l l a g e r s has on l y one pr imary s c h o o l , and no q u a l i f i e d p h y s i c i a n . Indigenous p r a c t i t i o n e r s p rov i de med ica l s e r v i c e s . Roads are narrow and muddy. A g r i c u l t u r e s u f f e r s due to l ack of i r r i g a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s in the dry season . The economy i s based on a g r i c u l t u r e . R i ce and j u t e are the p r i n c i p a l c r o p s . P i s c i c u l t u r e i s c a r r i e d on on a sma l l s c a l e and the re i s a p o u l t r y farm. There are no sma l l i n d u s t r i e s . The p o p u l a t i o n of Manta la has i n c r ea sed by about 20 per cent in the l a s t decade. Approx imate l y 85 per cent of the v i l l a g e r s are engaged in a g r i c u l t u r e . A n e g l i g i b l e number of r e s i d e n t s work in the nearby towns. About 25 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n c o n s i s t of non-workers, i n c l u d i n g c h i l d r e n , the e l d e r l y and the h a n d i c a p p e d . " A g r i c u l t u r e i s s t i l l c a r r i e d on in p r i m i t i v e ways in Manta la , except fo r the use of a few sha l low and deep tube we l l s and power pumps. P r o d u c t i v i t y of r i c e v a r i e s from twenty to f o r t y maunds per ac re f o r the d e s i ( l o c a l ) v a r i e t y , and f i f t y to e i g h t y maunds per a c re f o r the h igh y i e l d i n g v a r i e t i e s . 5 In most c a s e s , h i r e d c u l t i v a t o r s bear the c o s t of c u l t i v a t i o n and r e c e i v e h a l f of the o u t p u t . In o ther c a s e s , the c o s t s are shared e q u a l l y by the landowner and the h i r e d c u l t i v a t o r , and the output i s shared e q u a l l y . The landowners are ab l e to engage in g a i n f u l employment e l sewhere , and the combined income from t h e i r l and and o ther sources are adequate f o r l i v i n g comfo r t ab l y in Man ta l a . The l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s f i n d i t ext remely d i f f i c u l t 1 24 to make ends meet. The loans from the government fo r p i s c i c u l t u r e and p o u l t r y farming have not been u t i l i z e d p r o p e r l y to expand these a c t i v i t i e s . A g r i c u l t u r a l p roduc t s are marketed p r i n c i p a l l y at B a j i t p u r and D u l a l p u r , both b i g markets w i t h i n a coup le of m i l e s from Manta la . There were two a u t h o r i z e d f e r t i l i z e r d e a l e r s in the v i l l a g e , but they have c l o s e d down. At p r e s e n t , a dea l e r in B a j i t p u r s u p p l i e s the f e r t i l i z e r s . Loans fo r the purchase of f e r t i l i z e r s are a v a i l a b l e from the Thana I r r i g a t i o n P r o j e c t of the government through the K r i s h i Bank 6 at B a j i t p u r . A branch of the S o n a l i Bank, another n a t i o n a l i z e d bank, in the same town i s a l s o used by the peop le of Manta la . P r i v a t e money l end ing bus iness has never been prominent in the v i l l a g e . Apar t from mat te rs of great u rgency , very l i t t l e i n t e r a c t i o n takes p l ace between Manta la and B a j i t p u r . Manta la i s f i v e m i l e s from the neares t r a i lway s t a t i o n , Sarar Char . Par t of the road to the v i l l a g e i s m e t a l l e d , and r i ckshaws and moto r i zed s c o o t e r s are used to t r a n s p o r t people and goods . Te l eg raph and te lephone f a c i l i t i e s are a v a i l a b l e at B a j i t p u r . Newspapers reach Manta la from the c a p i t a l w i t h i n one day , but on l y a few of the v i l l a g e r s care to read them. The number of r a d i o r e c e i v e r se t s i s h i g h , and the re are a few b a t t e r y - o p e r a t e d t e l e v i s i o n s e t s . E l e c t r i c i t y has not yet come to M a n t a l a . The p o p u l a t i o n of Manta la i s f a i r l y homogenous. There are no Hindus or f o l l o w e r s of r e l i g i o n s other than I s l am. The v i l l a g e has a p o p u l a t i o n of 980 among whom 507 are males and 473 1 25 f ema les , l i v i n g in 190 h o u s e h o l d s . 7 The l e a d e r s h i p of Manta la i s p r o v i d e d by th ree i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l i e s . These f a m i l i e s are r e l a t e d to one ano ther , and have never been engaged in d i r e c t c o n f l i c t . Among themse lves , these th ree f a m i l i e s own about a t h i r d of the l and in the v i l l a g e . Members of these f a m i l i e s have he l d important p o s i t i o n s in the l o c a l bod ies throughout the h i s t o r y of Man t a l a . Over the l a s t four decades , some members of these f a m i l i e s have gone out to work in v a r i o u s p r o f e s s i o n s , i n c l u d i n g medic ine and e n g i n e e r i n g in the d i s t r i c t town of Mymensingh, and the c a p i t a l , Dhaka. Others have gone i n t o bus i nes s and a c q u i r e d wea l t h . But these people do not r e s i d e permanent ly in the v i l l a g e . They ma in ta in l i n k s wi th the f a m i l y and v i s i t Manta la p e r i o d i c a l l y . A l l these f a c t o r s have c o n t r i b u t e d to the i n f l u e n c e of these f a m i l i e s in Man ta l a . S i nce they own a s u b s t a n t i a l amount of l a n d , they are ab l e to employ sha rec roppe r s and l a b o u r e r s to c u l t i v a t e the l a n d . Sometimes, the poor v i l l a g e r s compete w i th one another to secure c u l t i v a t i o n r i g h t s , and the owner awards such r i g h t s to peop le he t r u s t s . The p r o f e s s i o n a l s working in the c i t i e s are ab l e to p r o v i d e jobs to the i l l i t e r a t e or l i t t l e educated v i l l a g e p o o r . The r e c i p i e n t s of such favours are g r a t i f i e d and repay i t by s t a y i n g l o y a l to the f ami l y of the donor . T h i s f a c t o r adds to the i n f l u e n c e of the f a m i l i e s w i th connec t i ons in the c i t i e s . In Manta la , these f a m i l i e s con t i nue to be the l e a d e r s . There has been no n o t i c e a b l e change in the s o c i a l compos i t i on of Manta la over the l a s t few y e a r s . L i t e r a c y i s around 12 per c e n t , about the same average as in B a j i t p u r t hana , 1 26 but on ly approx imate l y 5 per cent of the female p o p u l a t i o n of the v i l l a g e i s l i t e r a t e . The number of s tudents in the pr imary s choo l i s on the i n c r e a s e . However, l e s s than h a l f the c h i l d r e n of s choo l age a t t e n d . There are very few s tudents from the poor f a m i l i e s . The use of consumer goods has i n c r e a s e d , but few are a v a i l a b l e in Man ta l a . Some v i l l a g e r s demonstrated t h e i r awareness of the d i f f e r e n c e s between the landed and the l a n d l e s s , but there has been no e f f o r t so f a r to o rgan ize p o l i t i c a l l y fo r r educ ing the gap. Economic d i f f i c u l t i e s in recent t imes have made more v i l l a g e r s c o n s c i o u s of such d i f f e r e n c e s , but they appeared to be r e s i g n e d to f a t e and s u r p r i s i n g l y , have become more a p a t h e t i c to p a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l a f f a i r s . The economy of Manta la i s not d i f f e r e n t from most v i l l a g e s in Bang ladesh . The income of the f a m i l i e s has gone up, but not in r e a l te rms. There are no e x t r a employment-generat ing f a c i l i t i e s in Man ta l a , and m i g r a t i o n to c i t i e s has not o c cu r r ed on a l a r g e s c a l e . The v i l l a g e seldom gets t o g e t h e r , except fo r the two g a t h e r i n g s fo r o f f e r i n g E i d p r a y e r s . 8 The a t tendance at the weekly Ju'ma p raye r s i s s l i m . Large cong rega t i ons c o u l d be observed on l y at the a d j u d i c a t i o n of l o c a l d i s p u t e s . At one of these mee t ings , about twenty people were p r e s e n t . P o l i t i c s i s not one of the p r i n c i p a l i n t e r e s t s of the r e s i d e n t s of Man t a l a . Only about h a l f the peop le I i n t e r v i ewed showed any concern fo r the p o l i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n in the c o u n t r y . Of t h e s e , most expressed t h e i r d e s i r e to see the government keep the p r i c e of b a s i c n e c e s s i t i e s down. They d i d not ca re which 127 p o l i t i c a l pa r t y was in power. A sma l l s e c t i o n does have p re f e r ence fo r p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s . Manta la has t r a d i t i o n a l l y suppor ted the Awami League (AL ) , b u t , a c c o r d i n g to the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s , the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Par ty (BNP) p o l l e d the ma jo r i t y of vo tes in the l a s t p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n . I t was r epo r t ed tha t the workers of the BNP from other v i l l a g e s worked hard f o r the pa r t y in M a n t a l a . There i s no permanent pa r t y o r g a n i z a t i o n in the v i l l a g e . P o l i t i c a l pa r t y o r g a n i z a t i o n s emerge j u s t be fo re the e l e c t i o n s , and l a t e r fade away. In the absence of permanent p o l i t i c a l pa r t y o r g a n i z a t i o n s in Man ta l a , pa r t y l o y a l t i e s are overshadowed by l o y a l t i e s to l o c a l groups and i n d i v i d u a l s . P o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s c o u l d be used as l i n k s to secure a s s i s t a n c e from the government in t imes of need. With no such l i n k in Man ta l a , people form a l l i a n c e s wi th those who are ab l e to h e l p them in d i f f i c u l t t i m e s . These he lps i n c l ude the g r a n t i n g of c u l t i v a t i o n r i g h t s to l a n d , employment i n s i d e or o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e , or even smal l amounts of c a s h . T h e r e f o r e , the b e t t e r - o f f and i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l i e s l e ad Man ta l a , r e g a r d l e s s of the p o l i t i c a l p a r t y in power at Dhaka. The v i l l a g e defence pa r t y which was to be o r g a n i z e d w i th ten peop le in each v i l l a g e to " p r o v i d e s e c u r i t y " e x i s t s on paper in M a n t a l a , but not in r e a l i t y . A c co rd ing to both the Gram  Sarkar and Union P a r i shad l e a d e r s , l i t t l e h e l p i s a v a i l a b l e from the B a j i t p u r p o l i c e s t a t i o n , and i t i s l e f t e n t i r e l y to the v i l l a g e r s to ma in ta in everyday law and o r d e r . However, law and order i s not a major problem faced by the v i l l a g e r s . 1 28 TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT Manta la was ha rd l y a f f e c t e d by changes in the l o c a l government system du r i ng the c o l o n i a l p e r i o d . The c o n s t i t u t i o n of the F e r r y f u n d 9 and the D i s t r i c t Board C o m m i t t e e s 1 0 had no impact on v i l l a g e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . The D i s t r i c t and Loca l Boards were set up at the d i s t r i c t and s u b d i v i s i o n l e v e l s r e s p e c t i v e l y . The f i r s t s i g n s of d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n were noted in the 1920s w i th the e s t ab l i shment of Union Boards . But Manta la on ly had i t s f i r s t t a s t e of l o c a l government about a h a l f cen tu ry l a t e r , when the Bas i c Democracy system was i n t r o d u c e d in 1960. Union C o u n c i l s r e p l a c e d the Union Boards as the pr imary u n i t s of l o c a l government. The ne ighbour ing v i l l a g e of D u l a l p u r became the Union C o u n c i l headquar ter as the Chairman was a r e s i d e n t of tha t v i l l a g e . Manta la was r ep resen ted by the Sec r e t a r y of the Counc i l . L o c a l government c o u l d now be observed in the v i l l a g e s . L o c a l bod ies were now be ing used to implement development programmes, in a d d i t i o n to pe r fo rm ing other f u n c t i o n s , such as the maintenance of law and order and the s u p e r v i s i o n of roads and s c h o o l s . The v i l l a g e r s n o t i c e d that l o c a l people were e l e c t e d to the Union C o u n c i l s to p a r t i c i p a t e in p u b l i c a f f a i r s . A f t e r independence in 1971, Union C o u n c i l s were r ep l a ced by Union Panchaya ts . They were l a t e r named Union P a r i s h a d s . The S e c r e t a r y of the Union C o u n c i l who be longed to an i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l y of Man t a l a , con t i nued as the S e c r e t a r y of the new Union  P a r i s h a d . The Chairman of the Union P a r i shad was from the ad jacen t v i l l a g e of D u l a l p u r . 129 SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR Frequent changes of the government in Dhaka and i n t e r r u p t i o n s in ongoing p r o j e c t s s topped development a c t i v i t i e s in Manta la s i n c e independence. L o c a l a f f a i r s were managed by the S e c r e t a r y of the Union P a r i shad w i th the h e l p of o ther v i l l a g e l e a d e r s . The e s t ab l i shmen t of Gram Sarkar in 1980 sought to r e v i t a l i z e the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the v i l l a g e . In accordance w i th the r u l e s l a i d down by the government, the C i r c l e O f f i c e r o f f i c i a l l y announced the c o n s t i t u t i o n of Gram  Sarkar in M a n t a l a . The sma l l number of v i l l a g e r s who a t tended the meet ing agreed to s e l e c t Mohammad Shamsuzzoha as the Gram  Pradhan, and he submi t ted a l i s t of names to be approved as o ther Gram Sarkar members. The Gram Pradhan a l s o a l l o c a t e d p o r t f o l i o s among the Gram Sarkar members. The background, expe r i ence and accompl ishments of Manta la Gram Sarkar members were v a r i e d . The Gram Pradhan, Shamsuzzoha, was s i x t y years o l d and had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s seven . He be longed to one of the i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l i e s in the v i l l a g e . H i s f a m i l y once owned a c o n s i d e r a b l e amount of p r o p e r t y in Man ta l a , but i t had dec reased over the years through l i t i g a t i o n and f r a g m e n t a t i o n . He s u p e r v i s e d h i r e d l a b o u r e r s who worked on h i s l a n d , and a l s o worked as a c o n t r a c t o r in the c o n s t r u c t i o n b u s i n e s s . By owning l and and not c u l t i v a t i n g i t h i m s e l f , Shamsuzzoha had f o l l o w e r s both among the landowners and the farmworkers . The landowners c o n s i d e r e d him as one of t h e i r peers because he owned l a n d , but d i d not per form the " i n f e r i o r " 130 work of c u l t i v a t i n g i t h i m s e l f . The farmworkers d e r i v e d b e n e f i t by c u l t i v a t i n g h i s land on a sha rec ropp ing b a s i s and thus obeyed h im. Shamsuzzoha had always been a suppor te r of the Musl im League (ML) on r e l i g i o u s grounds . Two years ago, h i s a l l e g i a n c e s h i f t e d to the BNP. Thanks to h i s f am i l y c o n n e c t i o n s , he had always been i n v o l v e d in v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s . But he was never ab le to serve on e l e c t e d l o c a l bod ies p r e v i o u s l y . Moreover , as a r e s u l t of h i s p ro-Pak i s t an a c t i v i t i e s du r i ng the l i b e r a t i o n war, Shamsuzzoha l o s t r espec t among the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s . The es t ab l i shment of Gram Sa rka r , however, gave him an o p p o r t u n i t y to r ega in h i s p o s i t i o n . Desp i t e h i s long a s s o c i a t i o n wi th p u b l i c a f f a i r s in Man ta l a , Shamsuzzoha had not sought e l e c t i o n to l o c a l bod ies in the p a s t . He was s e l e c t e d as Gram Pradhan in 1980. Shamsuzzoha f e l t tha t the v i l l a g e r s had c o n f i d e n c e in him as a l e a d e r . He s a i d f r a n k l y tha t he wanted to c o n t r o l the v i l l a g e . From p rev i ous e x p e r i e n c e , he thought t h i s was e s s e n t i a l f o r the improvement of Man ta l a . He p r e s i d e d over Gram  Sarkar meet ings and a t tended n a t i o n a l con fe rences addressed by the P r e s i d e n t of Bang ladesh . The s u p e r v i s i o n of Gram Sarkar was h i s p r i n c i p a l t a s k . Shamsuzzoha c o n s i d e r e d the new v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n to be f a i r l y s u c c e s s f u l in Man ta l a , e s p e c i a l l y in the e r a d i c a t i o n of i l l i t e r a c y and the c o n t r o l of p o p u l a t i o n growth. He a s s e r t e d tha t the v i l l a g e was h i s f i r s t i n t e r e s t , and that he would work fo r i t s we l f a re r e g a r d l e s s of h i s p o l i t i c a l p a r t y p r e f e r e n c e . The Gram Pradhan p roud l y s t a t e d 131 that a l l d i s p u t e s in the v i l l a g e had been s e t t l e d l o c a l l y over the l a s t two yea rs wi th the h e l p of Gram Sa rka r . The body had not been s u c c e s s f u l in the task of promot ing f i s h e r i e s and l i v e s t o c k . He a t t r i b u t e d t h i s f a i l u r e to the shor t p e r i o d d u r i n g which Gram Sarkar opera ted in M a n t a l a . 1 1 A c c o r d i n g to Shamsuzzoha, the S u b d i v i s i o n a l O f f i c e r and the C i r c l e O f f i c e r had come to the v i l l a g e in mid-1980 to e x p l a i n the concept and p rocedures of Gram Sarkar to the v i l l a g e r s . The Gram Pradhan c l a imed that Gram Sarkar met once or twice every month, and d i s c u s s e d l o c a l p rob lems . He f e l t tha t the v i l l a g e r s of Manta la were very r e s p o n s i v e , and were a v a i l a b l e fo r h e l p i n g wi th l o c a l p r o j e c t s . She ikh A z i z u r Rahman was s e l e c t e d as the Member-Secretary of Gram Sarkar i n Man ta l a . He was in h i s m id- twen t i e s , and was occup i ed in a g r i c u l t u r e . She ikh had more years of s c h o o l i n g beh ind him than any o ther Gram Sarkar member in Man ta l a . He had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s t e n . He den ied a l l e g i a n c e to any p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . But i t was we l l known in Manta la that She ikh was an a c t i v e member of the AL in the p a s t , and was the Sec r e t a r y of the Food P roduc t i on Committee of tha t pa r t y in Man t a l a . He s t a t e d tha t i t was sa fe not to owe a l l e g i a n c e to any p o l i t i c a l p a r t y . She ikh was a nephew of the Gram Pradhan, and t h i s e x p l a i n e d h i s i n c l u s i o n in the Gram Sarkar in s p i t e of h i s p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n s w i th the AL . She ikh was e n t r u s t e d w i th keeping books fo r the body, and m a i n t a i n i n g i t s f i l e s . He f e l t that he was s e l e c t e d to the Gram Sarkar because the v i l l a g e r s wanted him 1 32 to be in i t . T h i s c o i n c i d e d wi th h i s i n t e n t i o n to serve the p e o p l e . The o f f i c e of the Gram Sarkar was l o c a t e d in the Bangla  Ghar of the S h e i k h ' s house. I t was a separa te room in f r on t of the house, where male gues ts were u s u a l l y s ea t ed . The o f f i c e was in very bad shape, and c o u l d c o l l a p s e at any t ime . Sheikh d i d not c o n s i d e r Gram Sarkar to be an improvement upon p rev i ous systems of v i l l a g e a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . Manta la had not changed under the new i n s t i t u t i o n , a l though the law and order s i t u a t i o n had d e f i n i t e l y improved. Noth ing had been accompl i shed in other a r e a s . 1 2 Ka la Miah was t h i r t y - f i v e years o l d and had a t t ended schoo l up to c l a s s t h r e e . He owned two ac res of l and and c u l t i v a t e d them h i m s e l f . H i s expe r i ence in v i l l a g e d i s p u t e a d j u d i c a t i o n and h i s s h i f t i n g of support from the Pak i s t an Democrat ic Par ty to the BNP had r e s u l t e d i n the v i l l a g e r s wanting him as a Gram  Sarkar member . 1 3 He was e n t r u s t e d w i th the p o r t f o l i o of law and order which he i n t e r p r e t e d as i n fo rm ing the v i l l a g e r s about s e c u r i t y measures and p u n i s h i n g the o f f e n d e r s fo r t h e i r w r o n g d o i n g s . 1 4 Abdur Rash id was in h i s m i d - s i x t i e s . He owned th ree ac res of l and which he c u l t i v a t e d h i m s e l f . He was i l l i t e r a t e , and s t i l l a s taunch suppor te r of the ML. He was an unc le of the Gram Pradhan, and t h i s might have been the reason fo r h i s i n c l u s i o n in the Gram Sa rka r . The l i s t of the members showed tha t Rash id was g i ven the p o r t f o l i o of food and a g r i c u l t u r e , a l t hough he expressed h i s ignorance on the ma t t e r . He was s e l e c t e d , he f e l t , as a v i l l a g e e l d e r and f o r h i s long 1 33 exper i ence in v i l l a g e a f f a i r s . Rash id was ignoran t about Gram  Sarkar a c t i v i t i e s , and spoke i n c o h e r e n t l y . He accused the other v i l l a g e l e ade r s of f a i l i n g in t h e i r d u t i e s to improve c o n d i t i o n s in Man ta l a . But h i s views were not taken s e r i o u s l y by the v i l l a g e r s , who c o n s i d e r e d him a c lown . Rash id d i d not a t t end a s i n g l e meet ing of the Gram Sa rka r . 1 5 Abul Hashem was twenty-s ix yea rs o l d and had very l i t t l e e d u c a t i o n . He owned and c u l t i v a t e d a h a l f acre of l a n d . He had suppor ted the BNP fo r over a y e a r , and c l a imed that he j o i n e d the Gram Sarkar f o r the good of the v i l l a g e . Hashem s t a t e d tha t he was in charge of e d u c a t i o n , a l though the Gram Sarkar f i l e s showed that he was runn ing the department of f i s h e r i e s and l i v e s t o c k in Man ta l a . In Hashem's o p i n i o n , Gram Sarkar had been s u c c e s s f u l in reduc ing c o r r u p t i o n in the v i l l a g e . He was r e f e r r i n g to the misuse of p u b l i c funds fo r p r o j e c t s through l o c a l b o d i e s . But Gram Sarkar in Manta la had no funds that c o u l d be m i s u s e d . 1 6 A s i r u d d i n was a c u l t i v a t o r in h i s l a t e twent i es wi th no educa t i on or expe r i ence in l o c a l a f f a i r s . He suppor ted any p a r t y tha t came to power. He d i d not know when he was s e l e c t e d to the Gram Sarkar , and had not a t tended any of i t s mee t ings . In a b s e n t i a , A s i r u d d i n was put in charge of c o o p e r a t i v e s and c o o p e r a t i v e banks in Man ta l a . He f e l t that Gram Sarkar had f a i l e d in a l l a r e a s , except fo r t each ing the i l l i t e r a t e v i l l a g e r s to w r i t e t h e i r n a m e s . 1 7 Suruj Miah was a l a n d l e s s l abou re r in h i s l a t e f o r t i e s . He, t o o , b e l i e v e d in suppo r t i ng the r u l i n g p a r t y . He was a 134 r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s in Man ta l a , and understood tha t h i s p l a ce in the Gram Sarkar was merely t oken . Suruj Miah d i d not know what h i s d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s as a member of the v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n were, and was not i n t e r e s t e d to f i n d o u t . He d i d not a t t end the Gram Sarkar mee t ings . He thought that the body had on l y succeeded in s e t t l i n g d i s p u t e s l o c a l l y , and f a i l e d in a l l o ther t a s k s . Suruj Miah d i d not know that he was in charge of communicat ion and works in Manta la over the p r e v i ous two y e a r s . 1 8 A r i f u r Rahman was twenty-seven years o l d , had s c h o o l i n g up to c l a s s f i v e , and earned h i s l i v i n g c u l t i v a t i n g h i s own l a n d . He d i d not suppor t any p o l i t i c a l pa r t y and had no idea as to why or when he was s e l e c t e d to the Gram Sa rka r . The o f f i c e f i l e s showed that A r i f u r was e n t r u s t e d w i th the task of promot ing educa t ion i n the v i l l a g e . But he was not i n t e r e s t e d in becoming a l eader and had not enqu i r ed about the purposes of Gram Sa rka r , or how they c o u l d be f u l f i l l e d . A r i f u r f e l t that the new i n s t i t u t i o n shou ld have been a b o l i s h e d s i n ce i t was s e r v i n g no p u r p o s e . 1 9 Mastu Miah was s t i l l unaware tha t he had served fo r two years as the Gram Sarkar member in charge of you th , s p o r t s and c u l t u r a l a f f a i r s in Man ta l a . He was f o r t y yea r s o l d wi th no e d u c a t i o n , and c u l t i v a t e d h i s own th ree ac res of l a n d . He d i d not ca re about p o l i t i c s and suppor ted any pa r t y tha t he l d power. Mastu had n o t i c e d no change in Manta la s i n ce Gram Sarkar was c o n s t i t u t e d . He a t tended on l y one meet ing of the v i l l a g e c o u n c i l , and f e l t tha t the Gram Pradhan d i d not t r y hard to 1 35 accompl i sh the o b j e c t i v e s of Gram S a r k a r . 2 0 Abdus Sabur was l i s t e d in h i s nickname, Chhot tu Miah , in the o f f i c i a l books of Gram Sa rka r . He d i d not know that he was i n charge of the h e a l t h department of the Gram Sarkar in Man ta l a . Sabur expressed anger because he was not c o n s u l t e d by the Gram Pradhan in making d e c i s i o n s . T h i s might have happened because Sabur was a sma l l farmer wi th no e d u c a t i o n . Sabur c o n s i d e r e d the BNP to be a p a r t y of the m i l i t a r y who fought fo r the l i b e r a t i o n of Bang ladesh . He c l a imed to have a t tended a l l the meet ings of Gram Sarkar in M a n t a l a . 2 1 A s i a Khatoon was one of the two female members of Gram  Sarkar in Man ta l a . The l i s t of members i n d i c a t e d tha t she was e n t r u s t e d w i th the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of promot ing co t t age i n d u s t r i e s in the v i l l a g e . But she s o l d her meagre amount of p rope r t y and moved wi th her f am i l y to Dhaka a few months a f t e r Gram Sarkar was formed. A s i a c o u l d not be c o n t a c t e d f o r her comments on the v i l l a g e body. The p o s i t i o n had remained vacant s i n ce her d e p a r t u r e . The other female member, Rabeya Khatoon, no r e l a t i o n , was a twenty-two year o l d housew i fe . She had never been to s c h o o l and had no idea about Gram Sarkar and i t s o p e r a t i o n s . Rabeya d i d not know that she was in charge of p o p u l a t i o n c o n t r o l and f am i l y p l a n n i n g in M a n t a l a . 2 2 1 36 AN OVERVIEW Gram Sarkar was e s t a b l i s h e d in Manta la in l a t e 1980. S ince then , on l y two meet ings were reco rded in the books . On January 20 1981, about twenty v i l l a g e r s and ten Gram Sarkar members gathered in a meet ing to d i s c u s s the problems of i l l i t e r a c y and law and o rder in Man ta l a . By the t ime of the next meet ing on March 25 1981, i n t e r e s t had waned. Only s i x members and two v i l l a g e r s were present to d i s c u s s the purchase of paddy wi th money p r o v i d e d by the government. The paddy was to be purchased at low p r i c e s a f t e r the ha rves t and s t o r e d . I t was to be used l a t e r to h e l p the v i l l a g e r s when the p r i c e s went up. It appeared tha t Gram Sarkar had a l r e a d y been rendered an i n e f f e c t i v e i n s t i t u t i o n . The v i l l a g e r s were not in formed about these mee t ings . Even some members were not i n v i t e d to a t t e n d . Most of the v i l l a g e r s were aware of the e x i s t e n c e of Gram  Sa rka r . Some had even a t tended a few meet ings of the Gram Shava The Gram Sarkar members were known to the v i l l a g e r s , and s i n c e Manta la i s very sma l l in s i z e , they came a c ros s the members very f r e q u e n t l y . Yet in t imes of d i f f i c u l t y , the v i l l a g e r s tended to tu rn to the t r a d i t i o n a l v i l l a g e l e ade r s fo r h e l p . The Gram Pradhan was approached by some, s i n c e he was a l s o a t r a d i t i o n a l v i l l a g e l e a d e r . The other members, however, were not c o n s i d e r e d r e l i a b l e by the v i l l a g e r s . Moreover , the Gram Sarkar i t s e l f was not c o n s i d e r e d h e l p f u l because i t d i d not have the necessa ry f i n a n c i a l r e s o u r c e s . A l though some v i l l a g e r s thought the Gram Sarkar was be ing run e f f i c i e n t l y , the response to the q u e s t i o n of changes in the v i l l a g e had been l a r g e l y 1 37 n e g a t i v e . No th i ng , i t seems, had been accompl i shed in Manta la through i t s Gram Sa rka r . C r e d i t can on l y be awarded fo r i t s r o l e in the a d j u d i c a t i o n of l o c a l d i s p u t e s and the ope r a t i on of a n igh t s choo l f o r some t ime . The a n t i c i p a t e d c o m p l i c a t i o n s i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the Gram Sarkar and other l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s cou ld be observed in Man ta l a . The Union Pa r i shad c o v e r i n g Manta la had a d i f f i c u l t t ime a d j u s t i n g to the new s t r u c t u r e of Gram Sa rka r . The Sec r e t a r y of the Union P a r i s h a d , who was a permanent r e s i d e n t of Man ta l a , f e l t tha t the two bod ies were not be ing c o o r d i n a t e d w e l l . The Union Pa r i shad l e ade r s looked upon the new i n s t i t u t i o n as an attempt to undermine the a u t h o r i t y of the fo rmer . The c o n t r o l of the non-e l ec t ed Gram Sarkar would have g iven the BNP a s t rong base in the v i l l a g e to counter the e l e c t e d , non-BNP dominated Union P a r i s h a d s . But the scheme was not p lanned w e l l , and the pe r sonne l s e l e c t e d f o r the purpose d i d not have the c a p a b i l i t y and i n t e g r i t y to c a r r y i t ou t . Based on h i s twenty years of expe r i ence w i th un ion and v i l l a g e p o l i t i c s , the S e c r e t a r y of the Union Pa r i shad had conc luded tha t the Gram  Sarkar was not an e s s e n t i a l i n s t i t u t i o n fo r the v i l l a g e s , and i t was i n e f f e c t i v e because i t was dependent on the Union Pa r i shad Chairman f o r funds to execute v a r i o u s programmes. The Gram  Pradhan, on the o ther hand, accused the Union Pa r i shad Chairman of o b s t r u c t i n g the f u n c t i o n i n g of Gram Sa rka r , and p r e ven t i ng i n f o rma t i on and d i r e c t i v e s of the government from reach ing the new v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n . T h i s e x e m p l i f i e s the r e l u c t a n c e of l e a d e r s at the i n t e rmed ia t e l e v e l to a l l ow d e c e n t r a l i z a t i o n of 1 38 power to the lowest l e v e l s . The l ack of t r u s t between the l e ade r s at these two l e v e l s works to the de t r iment of re form attempts in l o c a l government . The compos i t i on of Gram Sarkar in Manta la r e f l e c t e d the d e s p e r a t i o n of the BNP and the government to assemble a body of permanent r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e . Ac co rd ing to some prominent r e s i d e n t s , the capab le v i l l a g e r s d i d not take i n t e r e s t in the Gram Sarkar because i t was c o n s t i t u t e d under the patronage of the BNP and was dominated by i t s s u p p o r t e r s . They d i d not l i k e the i n t e r v e n t i o n of BNP workers from other v i l l a g e s i n the fo rmat ion of a c o u n c i l fo r Man t a l a . They p robab l y a l s o saw the development of a new set of l e ade r s which may c h a l l e n g e the t r a d i t i o n a l i n f l u e n t i a l f a m i l i e s in course of t ime . Moreover , the t r a d i t i o n a l l e ade r s d i d not want to get i n v o l v e d in a scheme which d i d not seem to be p r a c t i c a l . The absence of prominent f a c t i o n a l c l eavages in the v i l l a g e seemed to have c o n t r i b u t e d to the l a ck of i n t e r e s t in Gram  Sa rka r . The l o c a l l e ade r s d i d not t r y to use the new i n s t i t u t i o n as a support base to f i g h t o ther f a c t i o n s , s i n c e the re were none. The educated s e c t i o n of the v i l l a g e r s avo ided i t because they were r e s i d i n g ou t s i de the v i l l a g e fo r bus i nes s and p r o f e s s i o n a l pu rposes . Thus people w i th no idea of l o c a l c o u n c i l s and no f o l l o w i n g i n the v i l l a g e were e l e v a t e d to the s t a t u s of v i l l a g e l e a d e r s , sometimes wi thout t h e i r own knowledge or consen t . They were not in formed about the procedure of Gram  Sa rka r , or what was expected of the members under the sys tem. Manta la i s i s o l a t e d from the c o u n t r y , and the Gram Pradhan 1 39 used the f a c t to h i s advantage . The government had no p h y s i c a l presence in the v i l l a g e . There were no o f f i c e s of the government in Man ta l a . The Gram Pradhan took the l i b e r t y of choos ing peop le who, he knew, would e i t h e r be too d i s i n t e r e s t e d to ca re about the l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n , or be under h i s c o n t r o l and would not c h a l l e n g e h i s d e c i s i o n s . Thus , the inducements or c o e r c i o n to become members of Gram Sarkar and remain l o y a l to the Gram Pradhan d i d not come d i r e c t l y from the c e n t r a l government. Workers of the BNP from other v i l l a g e s worked hard to r e c r u i t suppo r t e r s fo r the pa r t y in Man ta l a . The v i l l a g e d i d not have s t rong l i n k s wi th the c en t r e and the government on l y had to ensure the s e t t i n g up of a l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n i n Man ta l a . Only the Gram Pradhan r e c e i v e d some b e n e f i t from Gram  Sarkar as i t e s t a b l i s h e d him as the l e g i t i m a t e l eade r of Man t a l a . The o ther members d i d not ga in a n y t h i n g . Most of the members d i d not expect the new i n s t i t u t i o n to accomp l i sh i t s o b j e c t i v e s . Others were f r u s t r a t e d wi th the a u t h o r i t a r i a n manner in which the Gram Pradhan ran the Gram Sa rka r , and l o s t i n t e r e s t . Gram Sarkar in Manta la remained a body on paper which was p r a c t i c a l l y u s e l e s s . In c o n t r a v e n t i o n of the b a s i c p r i n c i p l e s of the i n s t i t u t i o n , i t was run a lmost s i ng l e-handed l y by the Gram Pradhan w i th the h e l p of the Member-Secretary . A l though these two l e a d e r s c l a imed tha t Gram Sarkar met at l e a s t once a month, t h e i r r e co rds show on ly two meet ings were he l d over the p e r i o d of i t s e x i s t e n c e in Man ta l a . At l e a s t two members were 140 below the s t i p u l a t e d age l i m i t of twenty- f i ve y e a r s . Most f u n c t i o n s expected to be c a r r i e d out by the Gram Sarkar have been n e g l e c t e d . Feeb le a t tempts at e r a d i c a t i n g i l l i t e r a c y and c o n t r o l l i n g the growth of the p o p u l a t i o n had not brought about any s i g n i f i c a n t change in the v i l l a g e . Even the c o n s t r u c t i o n of an o f f i c e fo r the Gram Sarkar c o u l d not be accompl i shed in two y e a r s . Manta la remains wi thout an e f f e c t i v e l o c a l government sys tem. The v i l l a g e r s have l o s t i n t e r e s t in p a r t i c i p a t i n g in l o c a l a f f a i r s a f t e r t h e i r two-year expe r i ence w i th Gram Sa rka r . The f a i l u r e of the new i n s t i t u t i o n to r a i s e popu la r consc i ousness about l o c a l problems w i l l make i t even more d i f f i c u l t f o r f u tu r e a t tempts to do so . P a r t i c i p a t i o n was encourag ing at the b e g i n n i n g , but g r a d u a l l y dropped to a minimum. A sma l l but capab le and we l l - in fo rmed group had been r e l e g a t e d to the background e i t h e r because they d i d not want to p a r t i c i p a t e in such a scheme, or because they were d e l i b e r a t e l y exc luded by the BNP suppor t e r s in the v i l l a g e to ensure c o n t r o l of the Gram Sarkar by t h e i r own partymen. A l though the i n s t i t u t i o n was supposed to be n o n - p a r t i s a n , most of the Gram  Sa rka rs in the count r y were dominated by f o l l o w e r s of the BNP. In Man ta l a , due to the low l e v e l of p o l i t i c a l c o n s c i o u s n e s s , the Gram Pradhan was ab l e to i n c l ude inep t people in Gram Sarkar . T h i s was done to r e c r u i t peop le to the BNP. The v i l l a g e r s had no r o l e in the s e l e c t i o n of the members. To a t t r a c t people to Gram Sa rka r , i l l i t e r a t e and i n capab l e v i l l a g e r s were e l e v a t e d to the s t a t u s of v i l l a g e l e a d e r s . 141 The demise of Gram Sarkar d i d not s u r p r i s e anyone in Manta la , nor were the v i l l a g e r s s o r r y . Even the s taunches t suppor te r of the BNP admi t ted that Gram Sarkar had ach i eved f a r l e s s than was d e s i r e d . A l l round development in Manta la through the e f f o r t s of the v i l l a g e r s i s s t i l l a d i s t a n t v i s i o n . Manta la had not been prepared adequate l y to run l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . The l ack of t r u s t of the v i l l a g e r s in the l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s , and the attempt by the Gram Pradhan to run Gram Sarkar in an a u t h o r i t a r i a n manner g r a d u a l l y c r i p p l e d the new i n s t i t u t i o n . The s t r a t e g y of l o c a l government reforms f o l l owed by the BNP regime d i d not r e s u l t in spontaneous p a r t i c i p a t i o n from the g rass r o o t s . Rather i t s i m p o s i t i o n from the top ove r l ooked the r e a l i t i e s and necessary p r e c o n d i t i o n s . The v i l l a g e of Manta la c o u l d not overcome i t s apathy as the Gram  Sarkar was i n t r oduced without p r e p a r i n g the ground by making the v i l l a g e r s aware of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the new i n s t i t u t i o n and t h e i r r o l e in i t . The problems p r e v a i l e d , and the chances of t a c k l i n g them through l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s became even remote in the i s o l a t e d v i l l a g e . 1 42 NOTES 1 From a p r e l i m i n a r y r epo r t on the second p o p u l a t i o n census of Bangladesh , 1981. P u b l i s h e d in the weekly B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981. 2 The weekly B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981. 3 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , Bangladesh D i s t r i c t Gaze t t ee r s Mymensingh (Dacca: Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1978), p. 350. 4 Most of the f i g u r e s in the v i l l a g e s t a t i s t i c s are based on an i n t e r v i ew wi th the S e c r e t a r y of the Union Pa r i shad of Du l a l pu r u n i o n . The Sec r e t a r y i s a permanent r e s i d e n t of Man ta l a , and has been i n v o l v e d in l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s fo r many y e a r s . He was i n t e r v i ewed on June 15, 1982. 5 One maund i s e q u i v a l e n t to 82.3 l b s . or 37.3 kgs . • 6 A s p e c i a l i z e d bank des igned to serve the a g r i c u l t u r i s t s . 7 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , V i l l a g e  P o p u l a t i o n S t a t i s t i c s , K i sho reqan j S u b d i v i s i o n (Dhaka: Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1 976) . 8 The major r e l i g i o u s f e s t i v a l s of the Mus l ims . They are c e l e b r a t e d twice every year based on the lunar c a l e n d a r . 9 The Fund was c o n s t i t u t e d under Bengal Act VII I of 1851 and t o l l s were l e v i e d on roads and f e r r i e s . 10 A Committee c r e a t e d in 1871 to determine the r a t e of c e s s and how i t was to be spen t . 11 The Gram Pradhan was i n t e r v i ewed on June 1, 1982. 12 She ikh A z i z u r Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed on June 13, 1982. 13 The p o l i t i c a l pa r t y has ceased to e x i s t in Bangladesh s i n ce independence. Ka la Miah c l a imed he had no p o l i t i c a l a f f i l i a t i o n a l l these y e a r s . 14 Ka la Miah was i n t e r v i ewed on June 10, 1982. 15 Abdur Rash id was i n t e r v i ewed on June 4, 1982. 16 Abul Hashem was i n t e r v i ewed on June 14, 1982. 17 A s i r u d d i n was i n t e r v i ewed on June 8, 1982. 18 Suruj Miah was i n t e r v i ewed on June 9, 1982. 19 A r i f u r Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed on June 2, 1982. 143 20 Mastu Mian was i n t e r v i ewed on June 5, 1982. 21 Abdus Sabur was i n t e r v i ewed on June 6, 1982. 22 Rabeya Khatoon was i n t e r v i ewed on June 13, 1982. 144 V I . NEW LEADERSHIP AND DOMINATION: GRAM SARKAR IN COLIPUR, COMILLA Gram Sarkar f a red m a r g i n a l l y b e t t e r in C o l i p u r in the d i s t r i c t of C o m i l l a . The p rocess of m o b i l i z a t i o n has been i n i t i a t e d in t h i s v i l l a g e , but has not p rog ressed very f a r . Ye t , r e g u l a r i n t e r a c t i o n s w i th other p a r t s of the c o u n t r y , and a s l i g h t l y more p o l i t i c a l l y consc i ous p o p u l a t i o n r e s u l t e d in some opt imism about the new l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n . However, in the absence of a l t e r n a t i v e l e a d e r s h i p and because of cons tan t dominat ion by the o l de r l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s , Gram  Sarkar was rendered i n e f f e c t i v e in C o l i p u r . The on l y s ign of change was the emergence of a new set of l e ade r s fo r the v i l l a g e . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , the two l e ade r s be long to the same f a m i l y , and are ab le to dominate C o l i p u r in c o o p e r a t i o n wi th one ano the r . . THE VILLAGE The a d m i n i s t r a t i v e d i s t r i c t of C o m i l l a i s s i t u a t e d on the T r o p i c of Cancer in the sou th-eas te rn reg ion of Bang ladesh . The B r i t i s h East I nd ia Company c r e a t e d the d i s t r i c t of T i p p e r a in 1790 . 1 The Government of P ak i s t an changed the name of the d i s t r i c t to C o m i l l a in 1960. C o m i l l a covers an area of 2594 square m i l e s w i th a p o p u l a t i o n of 6 , 8 8 0 , 0 0 0 . 2 A f t e r Dhaka, i t i s the second most populous d i s t r i c t in Bang ladesh . The average d e n s i t y of p o p u l a t i o n in C o m i l l a i s 2654 persons per square 144a MAP 3. C O M I L L A D I S T R I C T 1 45 m i l e , which works out to 0.23 a c r e s of l and per p e r s o n . 3 A g r i c u l t u r e i s the p r i n c i p a l o c cupa t i on of most of the r e s i d e n t s . R i c e , j u t e , o i l s e e d s , c h i l l i e s and wheat are the major c r o p s . C o l i p u r i s l o c a t e d in the western s i d e of the d i s t r i c t in Muradnagar p o l i c e s t a t i o n under the C o m i l l a Sadar (North) s u b d i v i s i o n , about twenty-one m i l e s west of the town of C o m i l l a . C o l i p u r cove rs an area of 1318 a c r e s and i s i n h a b i t e d by 3547 v i l l a g e r s , of whom 1818 are males and 1729 females l i v i n g in 578 h o u s e h o l d s . " There are no w r i t t e n accounts of the o r i g i n of the v i l l a g e . It i s assumed tha t the f e r t i l e l ands a t t r a c t e d s e t t l e r s , and more peop le came l a t e r to p rov ide v a r i o u s s e r v i c e s to the c u l t i v a t o r s . The v i l l a g e has been known to e x i s t f o r over th ree hundred y e a r s . I t i s a v i l l a g e of a g r i c u l t u r i s t s and f i s h e r m e n . There i s a popu la r b e l i e f tha t C o l i p u r has p rospe red s i n ce a Musl im f a q i r (a ho l y man) p i t c h e d h i s ten t in the v i l l a g e a hundred years ago . I n i t i a l l y , there was l i t t l e need fo r a body to manage l o c a l a f f a i r s as the s i z e of the se t t l ement was s m a l l . G r a d u a l l y , the expans ion of government and the e s t ab l i shmen t of s t r u c t u r e d revenue a d m i n i s t r a t i o n r e s u l t e d in f r equent v i s i t s by the tax c o l l e c t o r . At the same t ime , the i n c r ea se in p o p u l a t i o n genera ted the need f o r a formal l o c a l body fo r making d e c i s i o n s as we l l as f a c i l i t a t i n g the c o l l e c t i o n of revenue. At the beg inn ing of i t s r u l e , the B r i t i s h East I nd ia Company made no changes in the e x i s t i n g system of v i l l a g e government and con t i nued to c o l l e c t revenue and adm in i s t e r the 1 46 d i s t r i c t w i th the h e l p of o f f i c e r s of the l o c a l Nawab. 5 L a t e r , l o c a l bod ies were set up to f a c i l i t a t e the c o l l e c t i o n of revenue and to p rov i de s e r v i c e s o u t s i d e the urban a r e a s . But most of the v i l l a g e s i n c l u d i n g C o l i p u r were not touched by these expans i ons . L o c a l and D i s t r i c t Boards were i n s t i t u t e d at the s u b d i v i s i o n and d i s t r i c t l e v e l s . The d i s t r i c t and s u b d i v i s i o n headquar te r s were both l o c a t e d in the town of C o m i l l a . Communication wi th the town was d i f f i c u l t and t ime consuming. C o l i p u r i s about two m i l e s no r th o f f the Dhaka-Chi t tagong highway. The d i s t a n c e can be walked in the dry season . At o the r t imes , the t r i p by boat takes over an hour . The economy of the v i l l a g e i s based on a g r i c u l t u r e , but fa rming i s s t i l l c a r r i e d on in p r i m i t i v e ways. There are a few sha l low tube w e l l s , but a g r i c u l t u r e s u f f e r s due to l a ck of water in the dry season . P r o d u c t i v i t y of r i c e i s approx imate l y t h i r t y maunds per a c r e , and ju te and wheat r e t u r n s are about twenty and twenty-two maunds r e s p e c t i v e l y . Most of the v i l l a g e r s th ink b e t t e r i r r i g a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s w i l l s u b s t a n t i a l l y i n c r ease the p r o d u c t i v i t y of these c r o p s . Most of the v i l l a g e r s c u l t i v a t e t h e i r own t i n y p l o t s of l and in C o l i p u r , in a d d i t i o n to c u l t i v a t i n g o t h e r s ' l and as s h a r e c r o p p e r s . About ten per cent are l a n d l e s s . Many a d u l t s of the same f a m i l y share a sma l l amount of l a n d , and are in no b e t t e r c o n d i t i o n than the l a n d l e s s . Only the Bhuiya f a m i l y , which owns most of the l a n d , r en ts out t h e i r l and fo r s h a r e c r o p p i n g . The tenure arrangements vary a c c o r d i n g to the b a r g a i n i n g c a p a c i t y of the t e n a n t s . In most c a s e s , the tenant 147 has to bear the c o s t s of s eed , f e r t i l i z e r s and o ther i n p u t s , and the c rops are shared e q u a l l y by the owner and the t enan t . In o ther c a s e s , the cos t of the input i s shared e q u a l l y , and a t h i r d of the output goes to the t enan t . The tenants wi th long reco rds of l o y a l t y get to c u l t i v a t e the b e t t e r l a n d s . Due to l a ck of i r r i g a t i o n f a c i l i t i e s and t r a d i t i o n a l farming methods and implements , p r o d u c t i v i t y i s low. The l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s wi th no a l t e r n a t i v e employment o p p o r t u n i t i e s are f i n d i n g i t ext remely d i f f i c u l t to s u r v i v e on these r e t u r n s . Another arrangement of tenure i s to a cqu i r e c u l t i v a t i n g r i g h t s by pay ing a f i x e d sum of money to the landowner. The c u l t i v a t o r i s then e n t i t l e d to r e t a i n the c r o p . Some lands are be ing c u l t i v a t e d f o r gene r a t i ons by the same tenant f a m i l y who have become de f a c t o owners. The l e g a l owners are not even aware of the l o c a t i o n of the p l o t , and thus are s a t i s f i e d w i th whatever amount of r e t u r n i s handed over by the c u l t i v a t o r s . There are no sma l l i n d u s t r i e s or o ther sources of employment in C o l i p u r . The p o p u l a t i o n has i n c r e a s e d by about t h i r t y per cent over the l a s t decade . Ac co rd ing to the Union  P a r i shad Cha i rman, n e a r l y f o r t y per cent of the v i l l a g e r s can not work due to o l d age, p h y s i c a l hand icaps and o ther r easons . T h i s f i g u r e appears to be somewhat exagge ra ted . By obse r v ing the v i l l a g e and t a l k i n g to o ther v i l l a g e r s , I got the impress ion tha t the percentage of non-workers in C o l i p u r i s around t h i r t y . Another ten per cent work i n the d i s t r i c t headquar te rs and other towns. The remainder of the p o p u l a t i o n are engaged in a g r i c u l t u r e . The a g r i c u l t u r a l p roduc t s are marketed at 1 48 E l l i o t g a n j , a b i g market ing cen t r e on the Dhaka-Chi t tagong highway. There i s a bank in E l l i o t g a n j which se rves C o l i p u r , but the v i l l a g e r s are not yet used x t o the banking system. P r i v a t e money l e n d i n g no longer appears to be common in the v i l l a g e . The neares t r a i lway s t a t i o n i s twenty-one m i l e s away in C o m i l l a . The v i l l a g e i s a c c e s s i b l e by road from Dhaka, Ch i t t agong and C o m i l l a . Te l eg r aph and te lephone f a c i l i t i e s are a v a i l a b l e at E l l i o t g a n j . Newspapers can reach C o l i p u r from Dhaka in a few hours , but very few peop le read them. There are many r a d i o r e c e i v e r se t s as we l l as a few t e l e v i s i o n s e t s . There were a few Hindu f a m i l i e s s e r v i n g as barbers and washermen in C o l i p u r , but they d i d not r e tu rn from Ind ia a f t e r the war of l i b e r a t i o n . T h e i r homesteads were purchased by l o c a l r e s i d e n t s at cheap p r i c e s . At p r e s e n t , there are no Hindus or f o l l o w e r s of r e l i g i o n s o ther than Is lam in C o l i p u r . The s o c i a l compos i t i on of the v i l l a g e has not changed markedly over the l a s t few y e a r s . The r a te of l i t e r a c y ranges around e igh teen per c e n t , about the same as Muradnagar thana and C o m i l l a Sadar (North) S u b d i v i s i o n , but we l l below the d i s t r i c t average of about 24 per c e n t . 6 There are one pr imary s choo l and th ree Madrasas (a s choo l f o r t e a c h i n g r e l i g i o u s sub j e c t s and A r a b i c ) . About two hundred s tudents a t t e n d these i n s t i t u t i o n s , but a ve ry sma l l percentage complete t h e i r s t u d i e s and go on to the h i g h s choo l in E l l i o t g a n j . There are no d i s p e n s a r i e s or q u a l i f i e d med ica l p r a c t i t i o n e r s i n C o l i p u r . The roads and b r i d g e s l i n k i n g the v i l l a g e w i th other a reas have not been p r o p e r l y m a i n t a i n e d . 1 49 Some v i l l a g e r s have set up b u s i n e s s e s , s t o r e s , or r i c e m i l l s , and work at other jobs in E l l i o t g a n j . These people b r i n g in consumer and luxury goods to be used in the v i l l a g e . Many people go out of C o l i p u r to seek employment i n the towns and c i t i e s . Thus there i s a cons tan t f low of peop le from the v i l l a g e to the towns and back . In s p i t e of these exposures , C o l i p u r remains h i g h l y c o n s e r v a t i v e wi th p r i m i t i v e l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s . The ma jo r i t y of peop le who earn s u b s t a n t i a l amounts of money p r e f e r to purchase p r o p e r t i e s and l i v e in the urban a reas because of the b e t t e r l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s and e d u c a t i o n a l f a c i l i t i e s fo r t h e i r c h i l d r e n . A smal l pe rcentage inves t in l and in the v i l l a g e , but con t i nue to l i v e in the urban a r e a s . They look at these p r o p e r t i e s as insurance a g a i n s t the f a i l u r e of t h e i r bus iness or the l o s s of a j o b . T h i s u n c e r t a i n t y i n h i b i t s them from i n v e s t i n g in improving l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e . C o l i p u r does not b e n e f i t from i t s people ea rn ing money in the towns. There are e leven mosques in C o l i p u r , and r e g u l a r cong rega t i ons are he l d in each . There i s a l a r g e open space des i gna t ed f o r h o l d i n g the E i d p r a y e r s . These are the b i gges t g a t h e r i n g s where the i n f l u e n t i a l persons and r e l i g i o u s l e ade r s get a chance to address the v i l l a g e r s . At o ther t imes , the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s convene meet ings in t h e i r ba i thak-khana• 7 The volume of a t tendance v a r i e s depending on the i n f l u e n c e of the l e a d e r s and the urgency of the i s s u e s to be d i s c u s s e d . The number of such meet ings seems to be d e c r e a s i n g . 1 50 TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT L o c a l government began to deve lop in C o m i l l a a f t e r the format ion of the Union Boards under the V i l l a g e Sel f-Government  Act of 1919. Some time l apsed be fo re the Union Boards c o u l d be formed in the remote v i l l a g e s . The r i c h e s t and most i n f l u e n t i a l man in C o l i p u r , Ra f i qudd in Bhu i ya , d i d not get i n v o l v e d h i m s e l f . I n s t ead , h i s e l d e s t son , A l i A sga r , was nominated the Union Board P r e s i d e n t in the 1920s, and remained in the post u n t i l the l a t e 1950s. He enjoyed e f f e c t i v e c o n t r o l over the v i l l a g e , o b v i o u s l y due to h i s f a t h e r ' s p o s i t i o n in C o l i p u r . H i s f am i l y owned about two- th i rds of the l and in and around the v i l l a g e . A l i Asgar f aced no problem as long as R a f i q u d d i n Bhuiya was a l i v e , and o ther members of the f am i l y d i d not c h a l l e n g e h im. The p a r t i t i o n of I nd ia in 1947 d i d not a f f e c t the compos i t i on of the v i l l a g e , s i n c e there was no prominent Hindu f am i l y in C o l i p u r . A l i Asgar was a i ded by a number of sma l l farmers in runn ing the Union Board and managing l o c a l a f f a i r s in the v i l l a g e . T h i s group of farmers r e c e i v e d sha rec ropp ing r i g h t s to the l and owned by the B h u i y a s . 8 They were tenants of the f am i l y of A l i A sga r , and g r a d u a l l y a c q u i r e d more l and to become midd le f a rmers . They were g e t t i n g b e n e f i t s out of suppo r t i ng A l i A sga r , and i n r e t u r n , he lped him in dominat ing the v i l l a g e . T h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p r e s u l t e d i n the c o n t i n u a t i o n of the s t a t u s quo , and the v i l l a g e has not deve loped i n s t i t u t i o n s and l e ade r s to take over in the changed c i r cums tances a f t e r Bangladesh became independent in 1971. The dominat ion of R a f i q u d d i n Bhuiya went uncha l l enged u n t i l 151 h i s death in the l a t e 1940s. C o l i p u r was not a f f e c t e d by p o l i t i c a l movements a g a i n s t c o l o n i a l r u l e . Compet i t i on fo r power and r e sou r ce s was not a c u t e . The dominant l eade r was ab le to keep the p o p u l a t i o n s a t i s f i e d by g i v i n g them l and to be c u l t i v a t e d on a sha rec ropp ing b a s i s , dona t ing money fo r sma l l l o c a l p r o j e c t s , and l e n d i n g money to the v i l l a g e r s in p e r i o d s of need. H i s death r e s u l t e d in a s p l i t in the f a m i l y . The homestead was d i v i d e d i n t o the Eas t e rn and Western h i shyas ( s e c t i o n s ) , a l ong wi th the landed p r o p e r t y , among the sons of h i s two w ives . There were s i x sons in each h i s h y a . The homestead became f ragmented, and a f t e r g i v i n g the daughters t h e i r sha re , the landed p rope r t y became c o n s i d e r a b l y s m a l l e r . In s p i t e of these d i v i s i o n s , each son owned more l and than most of the other v i l l a g e r s in C o l i p u r . The d i v i s i o n of the p rope r t y was not accep ted by a l l the concerned p a r t i e s as f a i r , and cou r t cases have con t i nued over the l a s t t h i r t y y e a r s , r e s u l t i n g in r i v a l r y and c o n f l i c t between the Ea s t e rn and Western h i s h y a s . A l i Asgar assumed the l e a d e r s h i p of C o l i p u r . A l though he se rved as the P r e s i den t of the Union Board fo r s e v e r a l y e a r s , h i s a u t h o r i t y was c o n t i n u a l l y c h a l l e n g e d by the Bhuiyas from the Ea s t e rn h i s h y a . A l i Asgar was the e l d e s t b ro the r in the Western h i s h y a . Meanwhi le , the Ea s t e rn h i shya was t r y i n g to b u i l d up a l l i a n c e s w i th some sma l l farmers in the v i l l a g e a g a i n s t the l e a d e r s h i p of A l i Asga r . T h e i r p r i n c i p a l o b j e c t i v e was to take back by f o r c e some of the p rope r t y awarded to the Western h i shya by the c o u r t s . They d i d not succeed , but the Eas t e rn h i shya became s t ronge r as some of A l i A s g a r ' s b ro the r s were out of the 1 52 v i l l a g e a t t e n d i n g the U n i v e r s i t y of Dacca . A f t e r comp le t ing t h e i r e d u c a t i o n , they secured jobs in the urban a r e a s , and v i s i t e d C o l i p u r once or twice a y e a r . One of them l a t e r became a l eade r of the Awami League (AL ) , and was e l e c t e d twice to the P r o v i n c i a l Assembly of East P a k i s t a n . A l i Asgar had to c u l t i v a t e and win the l o y a l t y of v i l l a g e l e a d e r s ou t s i de the f a m i l y . He turned to some of h i s l o y a l suppor t e r s who had been en joy i ng h i s patronage in b u i l d i n g up a p o l i t i c a l base in C o l i p u r . These people saw as very v a l u a b l e the Western h i s h y a ' s connec t i on wi th the government through the members of the f ami l y working in the towns. Dur ing the r a p i d growth of i n d u s t r i e s in the 1950s and 1960s, m i l l s and f a c t o r i e s in Dhaka, Ch i t t agong and Khulna were employing u n s k i l l e d l a b o u r . The next gene ra t i on of the Bhu i yas , from both the Eas te rn and Western h i s h y a s , were now e n t e r i n g the job market , and because of t h e i r e d u c a t i o n , he l d good p o s i t i o n s . They were ab le to c r e a t e a wide network fo r a r r a n g i n g job o p p o r t u n i t i e s fo r the r u r a l poor of C o l i p u r . These o p p o r t u n i t i e s d i d not l a s t l o n g . S ince the Western h i shya Bhuiyas went out to the towns f i r s t , they were ab le to p rov ide more j o b s . The Bhuiyas con t inued to p rosper ou t s i de C o l i p u r , and were ab le to h e l p some v i l l a g e r s by p r o v i d i n g them wi th jobs in the c i t i e s . But the p h y s i c a l absence of t h i s gene r a t i on from the v i l l a g e r e s u l t e d in the beg inn ing of the e r o s i o n of c o n t r o l . N e v e r t h e l e s s , A l i Asgar s t i l l commanded respec t as the e l d e s t b r o t h e r , and won over the suppor t of the l o c a l peop le by r e n t i n g out h i s own as we l l as h i s b r o t h e r s ' l and to h i s f o l l o w e r s fo r 1 53 c u l t i v a t i o n . He dec ided on beha l f of h i s b r o t h e r s who was to get t h e i r l a n d s . The death of A l i Asgar in 1973, the absentee s t a t u s of the landowning Bhu i yas , and the i n c r e a s e d importance of l o c a l bod ies a f t e r the independence of Bangladesh made the v i l l a g e r s consc i ous of the need fo r l o c a l l e a d e r s . AL r e l i e f committees were set up in many v i l l a g e s to d i s t r i b u t e r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s , and the r e s i d e n t s of C o l i p u r thought t h e i r v i l l a g e needed government a s s i s t a n c e , which on ly capab le l e ade r s cou ld a c q u i r e . By t h i s t ime , on l y one b ro the r was l i v i n g permanent ly in the v i l l a g e in each of the h i s h y a s . Mahtabuddin , a former businessman from the Western h i s h y a and Zahed A l i , a r e t i r e d schoo lmaster from the Eas te rn h i s h y a , were both too o l d and d i s i n c l i n e d to p rov i de l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . Meanwhi le , some f o l l o w e r s of A l i Asgar had e s t a b l i s h e d themselves as i n t e rmed i a t e l e ade r s in communicat ing g r i e vances of the v i l l a g e r s to the Bhuiyas and sometimes succeeded in g e t t i n g r e s u l t s . They had a l s o improved t h e i r economic c o n d i t i o n s through the urban c o n n e c t i o n s . One midd le farmer f a m i l y , the S a r k a r s , ga ined c o n s i d e r a b l e i n f l u e n c e over t h i s p e r i o d . The f a m i l y a c q u i r e d weal th by o p e r a t i n g bus i nes s e s t a b l i s h m e n t s i n E l l i o t g a n j , and subsequent l y purchased more l and in C o l i p u r . The Sa rka rs had l i n k s w i th the AL, and l a t e r the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r ty (BNP). G r a d u a l l y , the f a m i l y ga ined the s t a t u s of v i l l a g e l e a d e r s . The Chairman of the Paharpur (South) Union Pa r i shad under which C o l i p u r was i n c l u d e d , was e l e c t e d wi th the support of A l i Asgar i n 1960. The Cha i rman, Mozammel Hossa in S a r k a r , 1 54 was a permanent r e s i d e n t of C o l i p u r , and had a c q u i r e d c o n s i d e r a b l e i n f l u e n c e over the next ten y e a r s . The v i l l a g e r s accep ted him as a l eade r s i n ce he had become the most i n f l u e n t i a l man. Even today , he con t i nues to ma in ta in h i s l i n k s w i th the Western h i s h y a , and a long w i th h i s b r o t h e r , recommends c u l t i v a t o r s f o r sha rec ropp ing to the members of the Bhuiya f a m i l y l i v i n g in the urban a r e a s . Thus the two b r o t h e r s from the Sarkar B a r i 9 have emerged as l e ade r s in C o l i p u r , and p r o v i d e d l e a d e r s h i p in the Union Pa r i shad and Gram Sarkar wi thout be ing c h a l l e n g e d by o t h e r s . The a l l i a n c e of these l e a d e r s wi th the Western h i shya made them fo rm idab l e in the v i l l a g e , and t h e i r l i n k s w i th the AL made them even s t r o n g e r . N a t i o n a l p o l i t i c s has not had a major impact on C o l i p u r . The v i l l a g e r s are p r i m a r i l y concerned wi th s i t u a t i o n s p r e v a i l i n g i n C o l i p u r , e s p e c i a l l y the h igh p r i c e s of e s s e n t i a l commodi t i es , and a l s o f a c i l i t i e s fo r c u l t i v a t i o n and communicat ion . A sma l l percentage expressed t h e i r support f o r p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s . The AL has always been very s t r ong h e r e , and a b ro the r of A l i Asga r , H a f i z u d d i n Ahmed, was e l e c t e d to the P r o v i n c i a l Assembly of East P ak i s t an in 1954 and 1970 on the p a r t y ' s t i c k e t . The p resen t l e a d e r s h i p of the Gram Sarkar worked fo r the BNP in the p r e s i d e n t i a l e l e c t i o n of 1981 because they got d i s i l l u s i o n e d w i th the AL . The BNP wanted the l e a d e r s to work f o r the p a r t y , and they thought i t would be wise to be on the government 's s i d e . But i n t e r - p a r t y c o n f l i c t has been kept to a minimum in C o l i p u r . * There are no government o f f i c e s , not even a post o f f i c e in the v i l l a g e . The p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s have not set up 155 permanent o f f i c e s . Only du r i ng e l e c t i o n s , the l o c a l f o l l o w e r s and workers from other v i l l a g e s gather to ho ld meet ings and woo . vo te r s . But they have not been e f f e c t i v e because l o c a l a l l i a n c e s determine the v o t i n g p a t t e r n s . The p e r s o n a l images, f o l l o w i n g s and a l l i a n c e s of l o c a l c and ida t e s are the key f a c t o r s in t h e i r e l e c t i o n . Thus l o c a l p o l i t i c s and e l e c t i o n s have been conducted on l i n e s comple te l y u n l i k e those at the n a t i o n a l l e v e l . SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR L i k e most o ther v i l l a g e s in the a r e a , C o l i p u r f e l t no impact of the changes in l o c a l government du r i ng the B r i t i s h r u l e . The c r e a t i o n of the Union Boards in the 1920s p r o v i d e d the f i r s t , a l b e i t l i m i t e d , o p p o r t u n i t y for l o c a l l e a d e r s to p a r t i c i p a t e in p u b l i c a f f a i r s . The next major change came wi th the Bas i c Democrac ies e l e c t i o n s h e l d in 1960. For the f i r s t t ime , v i l l a g e r s from o u t s i d e the dominant f a m i l i e s were e l e c t e d to r ep resen t C o l i p u r in the Union C o u n c i l . In 1980, the Government of Bangladesh sought to b r i n g about another important change by c r e a t i n g a l o c a l government un i t in the v i l l a g e . The C i r c l e O f f i c e r of Muradnagar thana announced the fo rmat ion of Gram Sarkar i n C o l i p u r in a meet ing a t tended by the v i l l a g e r s and the Union Pa r i shad members. Taher Hossa in S a r ka r , b ro the r of the Union Pa r i shad Chai rman, was s e l e c t e d as the Gram Pradhan He submi t ted a l i s t of peop le to be s e l e c t e d as Gram Sarkar 1 56 members, and they were accep ted by the Gram Shava. Many of the nominated members were not p resen t at t h i s meet ing . The members of Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r have not ma in ta ined r eco rds of i t s c o n s t i t u t i o n and o p e r a t i o n . I have had to draw these out from the r e c o l l e c t i o n s and o p i n i o n s of Gram Sarkar members on the o r i g i n and o p e r a t i o n of the new i n s t i t u t i o n in the v i l l a g e . - These w i l l a l s o h e l p in a s s e s s i n g the extent of success or f a i l u r e in the performance of t h e i r d u t i e s . The Gram  Sarkar l e ade r s were i n t e r v i ewed w i th the i n t e n t i o n of e x p l a i n i n g the f a t e of the i n s t i t u t i o n in C o l i p u r . As can be seen in the f o l l o w i n g summaries of t h e i r background and e x p e r i e n c e , they c o n s i s t of a v a r i e t y of peop le wi th w ide ly d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of c a p a b i l i t y . Taher Hossa in Sarkar was s e l e c t e d as the Gram Pradhan, thanks to the i n f l u e n c e of h i s b r o t h e r , the Union Pa r i shad Chai rman. Taher was s i x t y - f i v e yea rs o l d , and c a l l e d h imse l f a n o n - M a t r i c . 1 0 He was a businessman and owned r i c e and o i l m i l l s in E l l i o t g a n j . He had been i n v o l v e d i n l o c a l a f f a i r s f o r a long time and was the commander of the l o c a l guards du r i ng the B r i t i s h and P a k i s t a n i p e r i o d s . L a t e r , Taher j o i n e d government s e r v i c e , but subsequent l y came back to the v i l l a g e . He was an a c t i v e member of the AL and se rved as the Chairman of the Sangram C o m m i t t e e 1 1 du r i ng the l i b e r a t i o n war. A f t e r independence, he became a member of the R e l i e f Committee in the a r e a . Taher s a i d tha t he s h i f t e d h i s support to the BNP a f t e r he became the Gram Pradhan. He d i d not face any p r e s s u r e from the 157 pa r t y in s e l e c t i n g Gram Sarkar members. He thought he was s e l e c t e d as the Gram Pradhan because the v i l l a g e r s wanted him to l ead and deve lop C o l i p u r . H i s job as Gram Pradhan was to convene meet ings and a d j u d i c a t e d i s p u t e s . He had a t tended meet ings and con fe rences in o ther v i l l a g e s , towns and the c a p i t a l . But he demonstrated t o t a l d i s r e g a r d f o r the b a s i c p rocedures of o r g a n i z i n g Gram Sa rka r , such as a l l o c a t i n g s p e c i f i c r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s to the members and conven ing r e g u l a r mee t ings . He c o u l d not name the d i f f e r e n t Gram Sarkar members h o l d i n g the v a r i o u s p o r t f o l i o s . Taher c l a imed tha t he had worked hard to improve l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s in C o l i p u r , and that most v i l l a g e r s a p p r e c i a t e d h i s e f f o r t s . A " h a n d f u l " d i d not l i k e h i s l e a d e r s h i p and d i sobeyed h i s d e c i s i o n s . He thought Gram Sarkar had been f a i r l y s u c c e s s f u l in C o l i p u r , and s a i d tha t over f i f t y v i l l a g e r s a t t ended the b i-weekly meet ings of the c o u n c i l . He s t a t e d tha t many peop le wanted to j o i n Gram Sa rka r , but on l y the honest v i l l a g e r s had been i n c l u d e d . Taher admi t ted that h i s c o n t r o l over l o c a l peop le was g r a d u a l l y d e c r e a s i n g . He s t a t e d that the BNP and Z i a had b e n e f i t t e d from Gram Sa rka r , but c i t e d the honest p o l i c y of the BNP as h i s reason fo r j o i n i n g the p a r t y . A l though he c l a imed tha t e v e r y t h i n g had been go ing a c c o r d i n g to p lan i n C o l i p u r , he c o u l d on ly name cana l d i g g i n g and a n igh t s choo l as the accompl ishments of Gram Sarkar in the v i l l a g e . He s a i d tha t much c o u l d not be done due to l a ck of f unds . Taher had e s t a b l i s h e d h imse l f as a l eade r i n the v i l l a g e . H i s l i n k w i th the BNP and h i s f a i r l y s u c c e s s f u l bus iness ca ree r 158 were c o n s i d e r e d u s e f u l a s s e t s by the v i l l a g e r s . H i s c l o s e c o n t a c t s w i th the Union Pa r i shad members and h i s b r o t h e r ' s i n f l u e n c e as i t s Chairman had added to h i s s t a t u s . The l a ck of other s t r o n g c and ida t e s fo r the p o s i t i o n of Gram Pradhan a l s o made Taher an unanimous c h o i c e . H i s a l l i a n c e w i th the Bhuiyas put him at an advantage over o t h e r s . But h i s success as a l eader i s open to q u e s t i o n . Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r d i d not have an o f f i c e of i t s own, p o r t f o l i o s were not a l l o c a t e d among the members, and the o b j e c t i v e s of Gram Sarkar had not been unders tood by the members or the v i l l a g e r s . Mohammad Baz lu r Rahman was the Member-Secretary of Gram  Sarkar in C o l i p u r . He was t h i r t y - t w o years o l d and taught at a h igh s choo l in E l l i o t g a n j . Baz lu r he ld bache lo r degrees in Commerce and E d u c a t i o n , and was the most educated permanent r e s i d e n t of C o l i p u r . He owned some p l o t s of l and which were rented out fo r c u l t i v a t i o n . He c l a imed that he was p o l i t i c a l l y n e u t r a l when he served on the Gram Sa rka r , a l though he was an a c t i v e suppor t e r of the AL and had not f o r m a l l y l e f t the p a r t y . He thought he was s e l e c t e d over o the r s because the v i l l a g e r s c o n s i d e r e d him to be an e n t h u s i a s t i c and educated worker , and a good l e a d e r . He accep ted the p o s i t i o n because he b e l i e v e d tha t the v i l l a g e c o u l d be deve loped by c o o p e r a t i n g w i th the government . 1 2 B a z l u r admi t t ed tha t Gram Sarkar had f a i l e d in C o l i p u r . The government d i d not l i v e up to i t s promises of h e l p i n g the v i l l a g e o r g a n i z a t i o n in a l l r e s p e c t s . Only a d u l t educa t ion p r o j e c t s were t r i e d , but they f a i l e d due to l a ck of funds fo r 159 a r r a n g i n g l i g h t s , b l ackboards and remunerat ion of t e a c h e r s . Baz lu r thought Gram Sarkar had not been ab le to deve lop l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . He p o i n t e d out h igh unemployment as the most s e r i o u s problem in C o l i p u r . He d i d not f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t to work wi th the BNP-dominated Gram Sa rka r , and f e l t tha t v i l l a g e based p l ann ing was e s s e n t i a l to so l ve l o c a l p rob lems. Baz lu r found f a u l t w i th the fo rmat ion of Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r . The v i l l a g e r s were not p r o p e r l y informed of the meet ing to be h e l d fo r t h i s purpose . The Union Pa r i shad Chairman made a l i s t of members. Nobody ob j e c t ed and the members were s e l e c t e d . However, Baz lu r made no attempt to p r o t e s t because he knew that the i n f l u e n t i a l Gram Pradhan, w i th the h e l p of the Union Pa r i shad Chairman, would have the peop le he wanted on the Gram Sa rka r . The meet ings were not h e l d r e g u l a r l y , and the p roceed ings were not r ecorded or f i l e d . They were wa i t i ng fo r the system to opera te on a f u l l s c a l e be fo re r e c o r d i n g them. In o c c a s i o n a l meet ings l o c a l problems were d i s c u s s e d by the few people p r e s e n t , but no conc re t e programmes c o u l d be adop ted . The o the r Gram Sarkar members in C o l i p u r had w ide l y d i f f e r e n t o p i n i o n s on these m a t t e r s . A l f u Mia was t h i r t y - f i v e years o l d , and had read up to c l a s s seven. He owned a g roce r y s t o r e in E l l i o t g a n j , and a s i z e a b l e amount of l and which was ren ted out f o r c u l t i v a t i o n . 1 3 He thought he was s e l e c t e d to Gram  Sarkar s i n ce he was p o w e r f u l . He always suppor ted the p a r t y in power because g e t t i n g e l e c t e d was proof that the pa r t y was r i g h t and p o p u l a r . The v i l l a g e c o u l d b e n e f i t on l y by f o l l o w i n g the 160 govern ing p a r t y . The government would a i d in the development of a v i l l a g e on l y when i t r e c e i v e d suppo r t . A l f u d i d not a t t end a l l Gram Sarkar meet ings but s t a t e d tha t a l a r g e number of peop le were present at the mee t ings . Abdul Ma j id Majhi was t h i r t y years o l d and has a t tended s choo l up to c l a s s seven. He suppor ted the N a t i o n a l Awami Par ty (pro-Moscow) u n t i l 1975. S ince the pa r t y had no chance of g e t t i n g i n t o o f f i c e , Majhi s h i f t e d h i s support to the BNP which was in power in 1 9 7 9 . 1 0 He came to know about h i s s e l e c t i o n to the Gram Sarkar about two months a f t e r h i s name was approved . S u r p r i s i n g l y , he c l a imed tha t he had a t tended a l l the meet ings of Gram Sarkar and thought that the system c o u l d so l v e most of the problems of C o l i p u r . Sabdar A l i Sarkar was seventy years o l d , had hea r i ng problems and d i d not want to t r a v e l ou t s i de h i s v i l l a g e . 1 5 He a t t ended s choo l up to c l a s s e i gh t and made a l i v i n g c u l t i v a t i n g h i s own l a n d . At p resen t h i s sons t i l l the f i e l d s and he he lps them. Sabdar suppor ted the AL u n t i l 1974, but c l a imed to be n e u t r a l when he was i n t e r v i e w e d . He thought the government o f f i c i a l s shou ld t e l l the v i l l a g e r s how to so l ve t h e i r p rob lems . Sabdar d i d not demonstrate any unders tand ing or i n t e r e s t in v i l l a g e se l f -gove rnment . He was p robab l y s e l e c t e d as a member s i n ce he suppor ted the Gram Pradhan. He s t a t e d r epea t ed l y tha t Gram Sarkar was never put i n t o o p e r a t i o n in C o l i p u r , and he d i d not a t t e n d any of the mee t ings . F o r t y - f i v e year o l d Chand Mia was an i l l i t e r a t e farmer and was a p p a r e n t l y s e l e c t e d to the Gram Sarkar to r ep resen t the 161 southern areas of C o l i p u r . 1 6 He was p r e v i o u s l y a suppor te r of the AL, but s t a r t e d suppo r t i ng the BNP a f t e r the e s t ab l i shmen t of Gram Sa rka r . He knew on ly two o ther members, and accep ted membership to the body because the o the r two d i d . He a t t ended on ly one meet ing which was a t tended by seven or e i g h t p e o p l e . Chand thought tha t the main o b s t a c l e to the success of Gram  Sarkar in C o l i p u r was the d i ve rgence of views among the c o u n c i l members and the v i l l a g e r s . Kadam A l i Bepar i was s i x t y yea rs o l d , c u l t i v a t e d h i s meagre amount of l and and rowed b o a t s . 1 7 He had no e d u c a t i o n , and s h i f t e d h i s a l l e g i a n c e from the AL to the BNP because everybody e l s e d i d . He b e l i e v e d that Gram Sarkar c o u l d be u s e f u l to the v i l l a g e , but i t was not p r o p e r l y r un . He a t tended a coup le of mee t ings , but compla ined tha t the Gram Pradhan d i d not l i s t e n to the views of o t h e r s . Kadam f e l t tha t Gram Sarkar c o u l d be e l i m i n a t e d , and tha t the Union P a r i s h a d would s t i l l be ab l e to p rov ide guidance to the v i l l a g e r s . J oyna l Hoq was over f i f t y yea rs o l d and c u l t i v a t e d h i s own l a n d . He l e f t the AL a f t e r the death of Sheikh Mu j ibur Rahman in 1975. 1 8 The pa r t y became c o r r u p t , arid s i n ce the o ther v i l l a g e l e ade r s j o i n e d the BNP, Joyna l f o l l o w e d them. He f e l t tha t he was s e l e c t e d because he was honest and c a p a b l e . He a t t ended f i v e mee t ings , and thought that he missed on l y one. J oyna l Hoq worked fo r the BNP du r i ng e l e c t i o n s . He f e l t that Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r d i d not get enough t ime to a ccomp l i sh i t s o b j e c t i v e s . Mansur Ahmad was f o r t y - f i v e yea r s o l d and had read up to c l a s s f i v e . He ren ted h i s own l and out fo r c u l t i v a t i o n and 162 worked as a c o n t r a c t o r ' s a s s i s t a n t in the c o n s t r u c t i o n b u s i n e s s . 1 9 He suppor ted the BNP because he had always suppor ted the govern ing p a r t y . The v i l l a g e r s wanted him as a Gram Sarkar member because he was a good worker. The d e c i s i o n was not w i se . Mansur was f r e q u e n t l y out of the v i l l a g e , working at h i s j o b . He c o u l d not a t t end any meet ing over the two year p e r i o d of Gram  Sarkar in C o l i p u r . He d i d not know other members, but f e l t tha t the members shou ld a l l be s e l e c t e d from the government pa r t y suppo r t e r s to secure c o o p e r a t i o n based on s i m i l a r ou t l ooks and i n t e r e s t s . Maksud A l i K h a l i f a was s i x t y - f i v e years o l d and had a t t ended schoo l f o r a few y e a r s . 2 0 He was ext remely pas s i v e in v i l l a g e a c t i v i t i e s and was made a member of the Gram Sarkar wi thout h i s knowledge or consen t . He a t tended a meeting of Gram  Sarkar a c c i d e n t a l l y because he happened to v i s i t the Union  P a r i shad o f f i c e at the t ime fo r some o ther pu rpose . K h a l i f a had no idea about the o b j e c t i v e s and o p e r a t i o n of Gram Sa rka r , and had done no th ing as i t s member. H i s i n c l u s i o n appears to be an attempt to have a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e from the south-eas te rn border of the v i l l a g e , as w e l l as to have a d i s i n t e r e s t e d member who would not c h a l l e n g e the Gram Pradhan. K h a l i f a f e l t that Gram  Sarkar cou ld be e l i m i n a t e d without f ea r of adverse consequences in the v i l l a g e . Jobeda Khatun, a f i f t y year o l d housewi fe , d i d not unders tand most of the q u e s t i o n s I a sked . She was s e l e c t e d to the Gram Sarkar because she was a female wi th f i v e years of s c h o o l i n g , which i s r a re in C o l i p u r . 2 1 She seemed to th ink tha t 1 63 the on ly purpose of l o c a l government reforms and Gram Sarkar was the expans ion of mass l i t e r a c y . Anowara Begum, another housewife aged twen t y- f i v e , had a s i m i l a r l e v e l of educa t ion and was expected to deve lop co t t age i n d u s t r i e s in C o l i p u r on beha l f of Gram Sarkar . 2 2 She a t tended some meet ings , but d i d not speak about l o c a l problems on those o c c a s i o n s . She had complete f a i t h in the Gram Pradhan, and had i n i t i a l l e d papers sent by him without r ead ing them. AN OVERVIEW Gram Sarkar was c o n s t i t u t e d in C o l i p u r in 1980. S ince no reco rds were ma in t a i ned , i t i s d i f f i c u l t to p o i n t out any accompl ishments of the i n s t i t u t i o n in the v i l l a g e , or even i t s i n t e n t i o n s and p l a n s . Ac co rd ing to the members and the Gram  Pradhan, the number of meet ings v a r i e d from one in two yea rs to one every week. Not on l y the v i l l a g e r s , but most of the members were not in formed about and i n v i t e d to these mee t ings . The v i l l a g e r s d i d not ca re to f i n d out about the t ime and p l a ce of these mee t ings , nor of t h e i r consequences . The v i l l a g e r s were aware of the e x i s t e n c e of Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r . Many v i l l a g e r s s a i d they went to at l e a s t one meet ing of the v i l l a g e body. About h a l f of the r e s i d e n t s s a i d they knew the members, a few knew on l y the Gram Pradhan. Yet they d i d not go to the members or the Gram Pradhan in t imes of need. Most of the people turned to the t r a d i t i o n a l l e a d e r s and the Union 164 Pa r i shad members. Due to h i s c o n n e c t i o n s with these l e a d e r s , the Gram Pradhan was sometimes c o n s u l t e d . Two v i l l a g e r s compla ined tha t they d i d not r e c e i v e h e l p when they approached the Gram Sa rka r . The l o c a l peop le had w i tnessed no change in C o l i p u r s i n ce the c r e a t i o n of Gram Sa rka r , and most thought the i n s t i t u t i o n was not be ing p r o p e r l y r u n . Even the members c o u l d not c i t e i n s t ances of ach ievements . Gram Sarkar seems to have f a i l e d comp le te l y in C o l i p u r . The dominant presence of the Chairman and th ree members of the Union P a r i shad in the v i l l a g e had c o n t r i b u t e d to the weakness of the Gram Sa rka r . The Chairman was a permanent r e s i d e n t , and was we l l known among the v i l l a g e r s . He had demonstrated h i s l i n k s wi th the government and an a b i l i t y to secure funds fo r l o c a l p r o j e c t s . He had a c q u i r e d a l a rge f o l l o w i n g w i th these a c t i v i t i e s . The c e n t r a l government had no d i r e c t presence in the v i l l a g e , but e x e r t e d i t s r o l e through the l o c a l l e ade r s and p u b l i c o f f i c i a l s in the r e g i o n . The l e ade r s at the union l e v e l c o u l d secure funds f o r l o c a l p r o j e c t s i f they had c l o s e l i n k s w i th the government o f f i c i a l s . N e v e r t h e l e s s , the shor t l i f e span of Gram Sarkar had f u r t h e r undermined the i n f l u e n c e of i t s l e a d e r s . Due to the l a ck of c o n f i d e n c e of the v i l l a g e r s and non-performance of t h e i r d u t i e s by the Gram Sarkar , many of my in fo rmants among the v i l l a g e r s i n c l u d i n g two Union  Pa r i shad members, suggested tha t Gram Sarkar shou ld be e l i m i n a t e d . 2 3 The c o n t i n u a t i o n of two r i v a l i n s t i t u t i o n s pe r fo rm ing more or l e s s the same type of f u n c t i o n s , sometimes wi th o v e r l a p p i n g j u r i s d i c t i o n s , would on l y r e s u l t in c o n f l i c t s . 1 65 They p r e f e r r e d the expe r i enced and somewhat s u c c e s s f u l Union  P a r i shad over the u n s u c c e s s f u l Gram Sarkar . F a c t i o n a l g roup ings in C o l i p u r were no longer c l e a r l y d e f i n e d . In the p a s t , the two s e c t i o n s of the Bhuiya f a m i l y had l e d f a c t i o n s and the v i l l a g e r s were l o y a l to one or the o t h e r . The emergence of a new l e a d i n g f a m i l y , the S a r k a r s , and the d e c l i n e of the Bhuiyas had l e d to a change in a l l p r e v i o u s a l i g n m e n t s . The new l e ade r s were not f a c i n g s t rong c h a l l e n g e s from t h e i r opponents . Most of the v i l l a g e r s had accep ted the new l e a d e r s . The s t ronge r f a c t i o n had succeeded in dominat ing l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in C o l i p u r . Unequal s t r e n g t h of the f a c t i o n s had h inde red the p rospec t of deve l op ing an a l t e r n a t e set of l e a d e r s . The compos i t i on of Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r demonstrated the l ack of i n t e r e s t of the v i l l a g e r s in l o c a l a f f a i r s . T o t a l l y d i s i n t e r e s t e d peop le were i n c l u d e d without t h e i r knowledge or consen t . The Union Pa r i shad Chairman made up a l i s t of members, i n s t e a d of the v i l l a g e r s s e l e c t i n g them. The l a n d l e s s and the f i shermen were not i n c l u d e d , and d e c i s i o n s were made by the Gram  Pradhan without c o n s u l t i n g the members. They were not g i ven s p e c i f i c r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , and the Gram Pradhan demonstrated no i n t e n t i o n of o r g a n i z i n g them. An o f f i c e c o u l d not be set up d u r i n g the two yea rs of Gram S a r k a r ' s e x i s t e n c e . The Union  P a r i shad o f f i c e was used fo r o c c a s i o n a l g a t h e r i n g s . The members were i ncapab le of comprehending t h e i r p o s i t i o n and r o l e s i n the sys tem. They compla ined that these were not e x p l a i n e d to them by the Gram Pradhan or the government o f f i c i a l s . Most of the 166 members expressed t h e i r p r e f e r ence to be gu ided and i n s t r u c t e d by the government o f f i c i a l s . I t i s obv ious that some Gram Sarkar members in C o l i p u r were induced to j o i n by the Onion Pa r i shad Chairman who was a l eader of both the businessmen and the a g r i c u l t u r i s t s . They appeared keen to p l e a se the new l e a d e r s of the v i l l a g e and a l l owed the Gram Pradhan to dominate Gram Sa rka r . T h e i r reward was p robab ly r e c o g n i t i o n as v i l l a g e l e a d e r s which would make i t easy f o r them to a c q u i r e more power in the f u t u r e . Other Gram Sarkar members were not i n t e r e s t e d or a c t i v e and t h i s he lped the Gram Pradhan to e x e r c i s e c o n t r o l over the new i n s t i t u t i o n . Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r d i d no th ing to make the v i l l a g e r s u s e f u l p a r t i c i p a n t s in l o c a l a f f a i r s . Meet ings were not announced or p u b l i c i z e d . The v i l l a g e r s d i d not ca re to f i n d o u t . The o f f i c e of the Gram Sarkar was dominated by the Gram  Pradhan. No records of the o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s a c t i v i t i e s were ma in t a i ned . I t i s c l e a r tha t Gram Sarkar c o u l d not accompl i sh any of the o b j e c t i v e s f o r which i t was c r e a t e d . The on ly attempt at a d u l t l i t e r a c y was h a l f - h e a r t e d and had to be d i s c o n t i n u e d . A l l the members c o u l d not be brought toge the r fo r a meet ing at which p o r t f o l i o s and t asks c o u l d be d i s t r i b u t e d among them. The chances of a r e v i v a l of i n t e r e s t in l o c a l a f f a i r s have decreased i n C o l i p u r . The v i l l a g e s u f f e r e d because the re was no attempt to e x p l a i n the o b j e c t i v e s and s t r a t e g i e s of Gram Sarkar to the v i l l a g e r s by the l e ade r s and the government. The dominant p o s i t i o n s of the Union P a r i sha d Chairman and Gram 167 Pradhan n u l l i f i e d the b a s i c aim of Gram Sa rka r , which was to be a body r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of a l l groups and i n t e r e s t s . The l e v e l of p a r t i c i p a t i o n became low, e s p e c i a l l y a f t e r members were s e l e c t e d in a b s e n t i a , wh i l e those who were present and showed i n t e r e s t were o v e r l o o k e d . The BNP sought to u t i l i z e the Gram Sarkar and i n s t r u c t e d i t s members to work fo r the p a r t y ' s c and ida t e s in the e l e c t i o n s . In C o l i p u r , which t r a d i t i o n a l l y suppor ted the AL, Gram Sarkar was the on ly base that c o u l d be used by the BNP. Gram Sarkar ceased to operate i n C o l i p u r by the end of 1981. The v i l l a g e r s l o s t i n t e r e s t , and the l e a d e r s r e a l i z e d t h e i r h e l p l e s s n e s s . Both groups l o s t f a i t h in deve l op ing the v i l l a g e through the c o o p e r a t i v e e f f o r t s of the v i l l a g e r s c o o r d i n a t e d by the Gram Sarkar . L o c a l government c o u l d not be reformed by c r e a t i n g an i n s t i t u t i o n without educa t i ng the v i l l a g e r s and making them aware of t h e i r r o l e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . The p rocess of p r e p a r i n g C o l i p u r to run l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s had not been comp le ted . The c o n f l i c t w i t h i n the l e a d i n g f am i l y has he lped the development of new l e a d e r s , but the v i l l a g e as a whole l a cked the p r e p a r a t i o n r e q u i r e d to r e c e i v e power. Leaders at the un ion l e v e l used t h e i r advantageous p o s i t i o n in C o l i p u r to assume c o n t r o l of the new i n s t i t u t i o n . Gram Sarkar i n C o l i p u r proved i t s e l f i n capab l e of p l a n n i n g and e x e c u t i n g even sma l l p r o j e c t s . I t was not equipped to b r i n g about major changes , s i n ce the peop le s e l e c t e d a r b i t r a r i l y by a dominant p e r s o n a l i t y to l ead the v i l l a g e had no idea about t h e i r d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . 168 NOTES 1 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , Bangladesh D i s t r i c t Gaze t t e e r s C o m i l l a (Dacca: Supe r i n t enden t , Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1977), p. 41 . 2 P r e l i m i n a r y r epo r t on the census of 1981, in the weekly B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981, p. 16. 3 The weekly B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981, p. 16. 4 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , V i l l a g e  P o p u l a t i o n S t a t i s t i c s , C o m i l l a Sadar (North) S u b d i v i s i o n (Dacca : Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1977). 5 A t i t l e c o n f e r r e d on people of wea l th . There were a few Nawabs in the d i s t r i c t at the t ime . 6 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh , V i l l a g e  P o p u l a t i o n S t a t i s t i c s , 1977. 7 A separa te room u s u a l l y l o c a t e d in f r o n t of the homestead. Male v i s i t o r s are sea ted and the head of the househo ld meets o ther v i l l a g e r s in the " b a i t h a k - k h a n a " . Other terms are used in some other d i s t r i c t s . 8 A t i t l e c o n f e r r e d on , or assumed by, owners of l a r g e amounts of l a n d . In t h i s c a s e , i t seems to have been assumed by a f a m i l y . 9 " Sa rka r B a r i " means the "house of the S a r k a r s " . Sarkar i s a t i t l e c o n f e r r e d on , or assumed by, peop le who ma in ta in accounts fo r o t h e r s . 10 The term was used to d e s c r i b e peop le who sat f o r M a t r i c u l a t i o n f i n a l examinat ions a f t e r ten years of s c h o o l i n g , but f a i l e d . Taher Hossa in Sarkar was i n t e r v i ewed at the Union Pa r i shad o f f i c e in C o l i p u r on May 2, 1982. 11 A committee set up to h e l p the l i b e r a t i o n war in 1971. Such bod ies e x i s t e d in a lmost every v i l l a g e of Bangladesh . 12 Baz lu r Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed on May 4, 1982 at E l l i o t g a n j H igh S c h o o l . 13 A l f u Mia was i n t e r v i ewed on May 9, 1982 in h i s s to re in E l l i o t g a n j b a z a r . 14 " M a j h i " means a person who rows a boa t . But the occupa t i on of t h i s member's f am i l y i s a g r i c u l t u r e . Abdul Ma j id Majhi was i n t e r v i ewed on May 10, 1982. 15 Sabdar A l i Sarkar was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 22, 1982. 169 16 Chand Mia was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 26, 1982. 17 " B e p a r i " i s a t i t l e used by t r a d e r s . Kadam A l i Bepar i was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 23, 1982. 18 J oyna l Hoq was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 30, 1982. 19 Mansur Ahmad was i n t e r v i ewed in C o m i l l a town on J u l y 25, 1 982. 20 " K h a l i f a " means a t a i l o r . Maksud A l i K h a l i f a s t i l l does some t a i l o r i n g , but the major p o r t i o n of h i s ea rn ings comes from the l and he owns. He was i n t e r v i ewed on May 6, 1982. 21 Jobeda Khatun was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 26, 1982. Her son and a ne ighbour he lped her in answer ing q u e s t i o n s . 22 Anowara Begum was i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 29, 1982. 23 Two Union Pa r i shad members, Mohammad Jamal Mia and Ezazudd in were i n t e r v i ewed on A p r i l 23 and 24, 1982. Both c l a imed tha t were a u t o m a t i c a l l y s e l e c t e d as Gram Sarkar members due to t h e i r Union P a r i shad membership. It was l a t e r found that they were not Gram Sarkar members. Even the v i l l a g e r s d i d not know that the Union P a r i s h a d members were to be exc luded from Gram Sarkar membership. 170 V I I . FACTIONALISM AND VILLAGE LEADERSHIP: GRAM SARKAR IN RAINAGAR, RAJSHAHI The v i l l a g e of Ra inagar seemed to be we l l -p repa red fo r implement ing changes in the system of l o c a l government. A c o n s i d e r a b l e degree of urban i n f l u e n c e has f a c i l i t a t e d the m o b i l i z a t i o n of Ra inagar and c o n t r i b u t e d to i t s preparedness to e s t a b l i s h and opera te new l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . But the attempt by the c e n t r a l government to i n s t a l l i t s suppor t e r s as v i l l a g e l e ade r s and s t i f f o p p o s i t i o n from a s t ronge r r i v a l f a c t i o n c r e a t e d o b s t a c l e s in the way of re forms in l o c a l government. S t rong f a c t i o n a l i s m a f f e c t e d the performance of Gram Sa rka r . However, the accompl ishments of Gram Sarkar demonstrate the importance of p r e p a r a t i o n fo r l o c a l government reforms to be s u c c e s s f u l . The d i s t r i c t of Ra jshah i i s s i t u a t e d i n the nor th-western r eg ion of Bangladesh . P r i o r to the takeover of the d i s t r i c t by the B r i t i s h East I nd ia Company, Ra jshah i formed a p r i v a t e e s t a t e of the Raja of N a t o r e . The B r i t i s h d i d not b r i n g about any major change in the a d m i n i s t r a t i v e m a c h i n e r y . 1 The boundar ies of the d i s t r i c t underwent changes over the years as the B r i t i s h r e o r g a n i z e d a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the s u b c o n t i n e n t . 2 More r e o r g a n i z a t i o n took p l a c e l a t e r when Ind ia was p a r t i t i o n e d in 1947. MAP *f. RAJSHAHI DISTRICT 171 THE VILLAGE Ra jshah i D i s t r i c t cove rs an area of 3,652 square m i l e s and i s i n h a b i t e d by 5,263,000 p e o p l e . 3 On ave rage , 1,754 persons l i v e i n a square m i l e , w i th 0.36 acre of l and per p e r s o n . " Ra j shah i i s e s s e n t i a l l y an a g r i c u l t u r a l d i s t r i c t and more than 79 per cent of i t s p o p u l a t i o n are d i r e c t l y dependent on a g r i c u l t u r e fo r t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d . 5 R i c e , j u t e , sugar cane and wheat are the p r i n c i p a l c r o p s . The v i l l a g e Ra inagar i s s i t u a t e d in the south-western pa r t of the d i s t r i c t under Paba p o l i c e s t a t i o n of Ra jshah i Sadar s u b d i v i s i o n . Ra inagar i s a r e l a t i v e l y l a r g e v i l l a g e c o v e r i n g an area of 3078 ac res wi th a p o p u l a t i o n of 3042, of which 1,547 are males and 1,495 f e m a l e s . 6 There are 557 households and the r a te of l i t e r a c y was 13 per cent in 1976. There i s one government f r e e pr imary schoo l and one madrasa in Ra inaga r , and o ther e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s are l o c a t e d in i t s v i c i n i t y . The v i l l a g e l e ade r s c l a i m tha t the r a t e of l i t e r a c y now stands near t h i r t y - f i v e per c e n t . Ra inagar l i e s j u s t o u t s i d e the boundary of Ra jshah i town, and because of i t s p r o x i m i t y to the town, has a c q u i r e d many urban c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . Due to the sandy s o i l c o n d i t i o n and the demand f o r v a r i o u s types of s e r v i c e s by the semi-urban community tha t i n h a b i t s Ra inaga r , a g r i c u l t u r e i s not the p r i n c i p a l means of l i v e l i h o o d h e r e . I n s t ead , a number of o ther o c cupa t i ons i n c l u d i n g s e r v i c e in the e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s in the v i c i n i t y and bus iness have become prominent . Ra inagar i s l o c a t e d about three m i l e s eas t of Ra jshah i 172 town, on the highway to Dhaka. I t extends up to the r i v e r Padma in the s o u t h . L i k e most suburbs , Ra inagar p r o v i d e s a cheap r e s i d e n t i a l a rea fo r those of i t s i n h a b i t a n t s who work in the town and in l o c a l sma l l i n d u s t r i e s . The e s t ab l i shmen t of the U n i v e r s i t y of Ra jshah i i n 1954-55, the Ra jshah i M e d i c a l C o l l e g e in 1958, and the Ra jshah i E n g i n e e r i n g C o l l e g e in 1964 c o n t r i b u t e d to some changes in the s o c i a l compos i t i on of Ra inagar . The v i l l a g e began to be i n h a b i t e d not on ly by the permanent r e s i d e n t s , but a l s o by employees of these i n s t i t u t i o n s and s t u d e n t s . The v i l l a g e r s a l s o had the o p p o r t u n i t y to f i n d employment i n the U n i v e r s i t y and c o l l e g e s . A number of c o n t r a c t o r s who were s u p e r v i s i n g the c o n s t r u c t i o n of new b u i l d i n g s fo r these i n s t i t u t i o n s were a t t r a c t e d to the a r e a . Thus , Ra inagar g r a d u a l l y became the r e s i dence of people of v a r i o u s p r o f e s s i o n s wi th d i f f e r e n t i n t e r e s t s . The U n i v e r s i t y of Ra jshah i i s s i t u a t e d a c r o s s the highway from the v i l l a g e , and the E n g i n e e r i n g C o l l e g e , Med i c a l C o l l e g e , the r a d i o b r o a d c a s t i n g s t a t i o n , and two ju te and sugar m i l l s are on ly a few m i l e s away. The consequence i s tha t Ra inagar l ooks d i f f e r e n t from most o the r v i l l a g e s of Bang ladesh . The v i l l a g e i s not composed most ly of a g r i c u l t u r a l l a n d , a l though some c u l t i v a t i o n i s done on l and tha t p e r i o d i c a l l y emerges from the r i v e r Padma. About 25 per cent of the v i l l a g e r s pursue a g r i c u l t u r e as an o c c u p a t i o n . Sugar cane , r i c e and j u t e are the p r i n c i p a l c r o p s . The p r o d u c t i v i t y i s low; the y i e l d f o r r i c e per acre i s 24 maunds and fo r j u t e , 15 maunds. For sugar cane , the y i e l d i s much h i g h e r , rang ing around 800 maunds per a c r e . 7 1 73 Approx imate l y 15 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n i s employed in sma l l i n d u s t r i e s which i n c l u d e weaving and bamboowork. P roducts of both a g r i c u l t u r e and sma l l i n d u s t r i e s are marketed at Ra jshahi town and o ther bazaars in the ne ighbourhood. About 30 per cent of the r e s i d e n t s of Ra inagar work in Ra jshah i town. Another s u b s t a n t i a l s e c t i o n are employed in the e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s s i t u a t e d c l o s e to the v i l l a g e . The percentage of non-workers and unemployables i n c l u d i n g the hand icapped , e l d e r l y and c h i l d r e n i s approx imate l y 20. 85 per cent of the p o p u l a t i o n of Ra inagar are Mus l ims , and the remain ing 15 per cent are H indus . There are th ree mosques and one temple fo r these two r e l i g i o u s g roups . There are no m e t a l l e d or conc r e t e roads in the v i l l a g e . E l e c t r i c i t y and te lephone c o n n e c t i o n s , however, have been p rov ided to Ra inagar . There i s a Post O f f i c e and th ree branches of the S o n a l i , the Rupa l i and Agran i Banks s e r v i n g the v i l l a g e r s . Rea l e s t a t e va lue has gone up c o n s i d e r a b l y over the past ten yea rs as more people working in the v i c i n i t y t r y to a cqu i r e p rope r t y in the v i l l a g e . The permanent r e s i d e n t s of Rainagar s t a r t e d to take advantage of the developments near the v i l l a g e . As the c o l l e g e s and u n i v e r s i t y b u i l d i n g s were be ing c o n s t r u c t e d , they p rov ided employment o p p o r t u n i t i e s fo r l o c a l u n s k i l l e d workers . They were appo in ted by the people who had c o n t r a c t s fo r the c o n s t r u c t i o n j o b s , and thus the l o c a l c o n t r a c t o r s ga ined i n f l u e n c e by p r o v i d i n g these b e n e f i t s to the v i l l a g e r s . More jobs were a v a i l a b l e a f t e r the f i r s t phase of c o n s t r u c t i o n was comple ted , 174 and the i n s t i t u t i o n s s t a r t e d o p e r a t i n g . The c o n t r a c t o r s e x e r c i s e d t h e i r connec t i ons and i n f l u e n c e at these i n s t i t u t i o n s to d i s t r i b u t e jobs to t h e i r f o l l o w e r s . They were a l s o ab l e to p a t r o n i s e sma l l bus inesses by the v i l l a g e r s who set up s t o r e s on the p remises of these i n s t i t u t i o n s . The most s u c c e s s f u l among these c o n t r a c t o r s was F a z l u r Rahman, a r e s i d e n t of Ra inagar in h i s l a t e f o r t i e s . He was a suppor te r of the N a t i o n a l Awami Pa r ty [pro-Moscow] (NAP-M) from the days when he a t tended c o l l e g e i n R a j s h a h i . With the support of o ther c o n t r a c t o r s and l o c a l peop le who r e c e i v e d h e l p from him in a c q u i r i n g jobs and s e t t i n g up sma l l s t o r e s , and thanks to h i s i n i t i a t i v e s in s o l v i n g l o c a l p rob lems , F a z l u r Rahman soon e s t a b l i s h e d h imse l f as a l eader in Ra inagar . H i s f am i l y has always been prominent in the v i l l a g e . He has a good number of r e l a t i v e s in Rairtagar who f o l l ow h im. T h e r e f o r e , he d i d not face any compe t i t i on w i t h i n the v i l l a g e when he c o n t e s t e d fo r the Cha i rmansh ip of the Shamla Union C o u n c i l in the 1960s. F a z l u r Rahman e a s i l y de fea ted the c and ida t e s from other v i l l a g e s and remained Union C o u n c i l Chairman fo r s e v e r a l y e a r s , and a f t e r the independence of Bang ladesh , con t i nued as Chairman of the Union P a r i shad u n t i l 1977. F a z l u r Rahman was ab l e to ma in ta in h i s l e a d i n g p o s i t i o n in the v i l l a g e because he was wea l thy , and had c l o s e c o n t a c t s w i th government o f f i c i a l s as we l l as the communit ies around the v i l l a g e . H i s a l l e g i a n c e to the NAP-M was not c o n s i d e r e d a th rea t to the Awami League (AL) which formed the f i r s t government of Bang ladesh . The NAP-M suppor ted most of the 1 75 p o l i c i e s pursued by the AL . The AL d i d not c o n s i d e r i t necessary to deve lop a l t e r n a t e l e a d e r s h i p fo r the a rea as i t looked upon the NAP-M as an a l l y . G r a d u a l l y , Ra inagar s t a r t e d a c q u i r i n g the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of a sma l l town. Houses were be ing c o n s t r u c t e d and ren ted out to peop le from o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e . As i n d i c a t e d , the compos i t i on of the v i l l a g e changed and there was a r i s e in l i t e r a c y . A g r i c u l t u r e became l e s s impor tan t , and s e r v i c e s with government and p r i v a t e o r g a n i z a t i o n s and independent bus iness e n t e r p r i s e s were be ing taken up by more v i l l a g e r s . They were aware of o p p o r t u n i t i e s and r e sou r ces that e x i s t e d ou t s i de Ra inaga r . As a r e s u l t , the c o m p e t i t i o n fo r m a i n t a i n i n g c o n t r o l over the v i l l a g e d i d not become a c u t e . However, there were o ther educated v i l l a g e r s who a s p i r e d to p o l i t i c a l prominence , but were not ab l e to s u c c e s s f u l l y c h a l l e n g e F a z l u r Rahman. The f a l l of the AL government i n 1975 f o l l owed by the fo rmat ion of a new p o l i t i c a l pa r t y by Z iaur Rahman p r o v i d e d an o p p o r t u n i t y f o r these p e o p l e . The scope of r i s i n g to prominence through the new p o l i t i c a l p a r t y was made conven ien t w i th the government 's i n tended scheme of e s t a b l i s h i n g Gram Sarkar . The Gram Pradhan and o ther members of the new c o u n c i l were to be s e l e c t e d in a meet ing of the v i l l a g e r s . Once the Gram Pradhan was ab l e to p i c k members of h i s c h o i c e , i t would be easy f o r him to l u r e them i n t o working f o r the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r t y (BNP). With the back ing of the r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l p a r t y , these peop le c o u l d put up a s t rong o p p o s i t i o n to the dominant l e ade r of Ra inagar , F a z l u r Rahman. 176 Some of the v i l l a g e r s who were eager to c h a l l e n g e F a z l u r Rahman campaigned hard du r i ng the Union P a r i shad e l e c t i o n s of 1977 i n which F a z l u r Rahman l o s t the Cha i rmansh ip to Mansur I s l am, a r e s i d e n t of an ad jacent v i l l a g e . One of these c h a l l e n g e r s was A l i Ansa r , ho lde r of two Master degrees i n P o l i t i c a l Sc ience and Psycho logy . Before the independence of Bangladesh , he was a l e c t u r e r in Dhaneswar C o l l e g e , about 20 m i l e s from Ra inaga r . A l i Ansar was an a c t i v e suppor te r of the AL . A f t e r independence, he became the P r i n c i p a l of a c o l l e g e in K a l a k h a l i . At the end of the AL reg ime, A l i Ansar l o s t h i s job and was charged w i th c o r r u p t i o n . He was f i n e d and j a i l e d a f t e r c o n v i c t i o n . A f t e r h i s r e l e a s e , he worked as the P r i n c i p a l of another c o l l e g e i n Ratanpur in Ra jshah i f o r a coup le of y e a r s . He was aga in accused of m i s a p p r o p r i a t i n g c o l l e g e funds and was f i r e d . He man ipu la ted an appointment fo r h imse l f as a S e c t i o n O f f i c e r in the U n i v e r s i t y of R a j s h a h i , but the appointment was l a t e r d e c l a r e d i l l e g a l . A l l through h i s c a r e e r , A l i Ansar kept in touch wi th the v i l l a g e r s and v i s i t e d Ra inagar f r e q u e n t l y . F i n d i n g i t d i f f i c u l t to secure employment w i th h i s pas t r e c o r d , he r e tu rned to Ra inagar in 1979-80, and j o i n e d the BNP. Meanwhi le , F a z l u r Rahman had l o s t some i n f l u e n c e w i th the f a l l of the AL . A l i Ansar expressed support f o r the new regime and i t s p o l i t i c a l p a r t y , the BNP. By the t ime Gram Sarkar was e s t a b l i s h e d i n 1980, A l i Ansar was ab le to win enough f o l l o w e r s t o be i n s t a l l e d as the Gram Pradhan of Ra inaga r . 177 TRADITION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT In the pre-Mughal p e r i o d , the v i l l a g e headman in the area had to c o l l e c t one-s i x th of the a g r i c u l t u r a l produce and pay the amount as rent to the Zaminda r . 8 The B r i t i s h assumed c o n t r o l of the d i s t r i c t in 1765. The t r a d i t i o n a l l o c a l a d m i n i s t r a t i v e system c o n t i n u e d , u n t i l the f i r s t L o c a l Boards were i n s t i t u t e d . In 1916, there were three L o c a l Boards at the s u b d i v i s i o n a l headquar te r s of Rampur-Boal ia , Natore and Naogaon . 9 These bodies managed v i l l a g e roads , pounds, pr imary educa t i on and water supp ly in r u r a l a r e a s . But the v i l l a g e s remained i s o l a t e d from the L o c a l Boards which had t h e i r o f f i c e s in the urban a r ea s . Ra inagar was l o c a t e d ad jacen t to the M u n i c i p a l i t y of Rampur-B o a l i a e s t a b l i s h e d in 1 8 7 6 . 1 0 I t l a t e r became the M u n i c i p a l i t y of R a j s h a h i . T h i s arrangement con t i nued u n t i l the b i r t h of P ak i s t an in 1947. Ra jshah i became a d i s t r i c t of East P a k i s t a n , but no changes were made in the l o c a l government system in the v i l l a g e s . When Bas ic Democracy was put i n t o o p e r a t i o n in 1959, Ra inagar was s t i l l a v i l l a g e wi th no l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . But the p o p u l a t i o n was i n c r e a s i n g , and the re were demands fo r more s e r v i c e s and a c l e a r need fo r deve lopmenta l work. The v i l l a g e f e l l under Shamla u n i o n , as i t was ou t s i de the boundary of Ra jshah i M u n i c i p a l i t y . Shamla union had a p o p u l a t i o n of 17,612 in 1 9 7 6 . 1 1 The Union C o u n c i l assumed charge of a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in the v i l l a g e s , and implemented a few a g r i c u l t u r a l and deve lopmenta l p r o j e c t s . The l e a d e r s of the Union C o u n c i l , i t s Chairman and the members, p r o v i d e d l e a d e r s h i p to t h e i r 1 78 r e s p e c t i v e v i l l a g e s in s e t t l i n g d i s p u t e s , a r r a n g i n g funds fo r l o c a l p r o j e c t s , and in m a i n t a i n i n g l i n k s between the v i l l a g e r s and the government o f f i c i a l s in the urban a r e a s . Ra inagar d i d not b e n e f i t immensely from these a c t i v i t i e s , and very l i t t l e was accompl i shed in the v i l l a g e in the f o l l o w i n g years by the l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . SWANIRVAR GRAM SARKAR Gram Sarkar was i n s t i t u t e d in Ra inagar in June, 1980, in the presence of the v i l l a g e r s and government o f f i c i a l s . At the same mee t ing , e l even peop le were s e l e c t e d as Gram Sarkar members and e n t r u s t e d w i th s p e c i f i c r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Many of the d e t a i l s about the fo rmat ion and o p e r a t i o n of Gram Sarkar in Rainagar are not a c c e s s i b l e . The r e co rds were kept at the house of the Gram Pradhan, A l i Ansa r . He was under d e t e n t i o n when I conducted my i n v e s t i g a t i o n in May, 1982. A l i Ansar was a r r e s t e d on charges of c o r r u p t i o n a f t e r the m i l i t a r y took over power from the BNP i n 1982. It was not p o s s i b l e to i n t e r v i ew the Gram  Pradhan and ana l yze h i s v iews on the o p e r a t i o n and success or f a i l u r e of Gram Sarkar in Ra inaga r . From the statements of h i s c o l l e a g u e s and of Ra inagar v i l l a g e r s , the f o l l o w i n g account of Gram Sarkar can be r e c o n s t r u c t e d . A l i Ansar was a suppor te r of the BNP and had c l o s e c o n t a c t s wi th i t s l e ade r s at the d i s t r i c t and n a t i o n a l l e v e l s . He a t tended some meet ings and con fe rences as Gram 179 Pradhan at the c a p i t a l , Dhaka. Most of the Gram Sarkar members c o n s i d e r e d him to be a good l eader who was capab le of d e a l i n g wi th l o c a l p rob lems . However, when M a r t i a l Law was d e c l a r e d in March, 1982, A l i Ansar was accused of g i v i n g l e s s than the schedu led amount of wheat to the v i l l a g e poor and then s e l l i n g the r e s t of the r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s . H i s f o l l o w e r s s a i d that the Gram Pradhan reduced the amount to be g iven to each i n d i v i d u a l so tha t more people c o u l d be awarded r e l i e f . 1 2 The r e c o l l e c t i o n s of the Gram Sarkar members form the p r i n c i p a l b a s i s f o r unders tand ing the nature and ope ra t i on of the c o u n c i l in Ra inaga r . T h e i r v i ews , a long w i th those of the v i l l a g e r s , w i l l be used in a s s e s s i n g the success or f a i l u r e in the performance of t h e i r d u t i e s as members of a v i l l a g e - b a s e d un i t endeavour ing to so l ve problems through l o c a l p l ann ing and p r o j e c t s . Mohammad Rash idu l Hoq was s e l e c t e d Member-Secretary of Gram  Sarkar i n Ra inaga r . He was a t h i r t y - f o u r year o l d commerce g radua te , and worked as an Accounts A s s i s t a n t i n Ra jshah i Sugar M i l l s , a few m i l e s from the v i l l a g e . Rash idu l d i d not own c u l t i v a b l e l a n d . He became a suppor te r of the BNP when the Gram Sarkar Committee was be ing formed, and c o u l d not s t a t e any s p e c i f i c reason as to why he became a suppor te r of the p a r t y . 1 3 He j o i n e d Gram Sarkar because he wanted to u t i l i z e h i s spare t ime i n community a c t i v i t i e s . The main task of Rash idu l as Member-Secretary was to h e l p the Gram Pradhan in a r r ang ing meet ings which were h e l d twice every week. Rash idu l c o n s i d e r e d Gram Sarkar to be ext reme ly u s e f u l , and 180 p o i n t e d out improvements of l o c a l roads as an example of i t s s u c c e s s . He found very l i t t l e was accompl i shed in the f i e l d of p i s c i c u l t u r e . Rash idu l admi t ted tha t he had no c o n t a c t s w i th the Gram Sarkar o f f i c i a l s , but quoted the Gram Pradhan who s a i d that o f f i c i a l s had been c o o p e r a t i n g w i th Gram Sarkar in Ra inaga r . It appears that the Gram Pradhan s e l e c t e d a Member-Sec r e t a r y who was very dependent on h im. Ra sh idu l compla ined that the government d i d not de l ega t e power to the Gram Sa rka r , and thus the i n s t i t u t i o n was c o n t r o l l e d by i n f l u e n t i a l peop le in the v i l l a g e . For t h i s r eason , Gram Sarkar c o u l d not a ccomp l i sh most of i t s o b j e c t i v e s in Ra inaga r . Naresh Chandra Sarkar was the on ly Hindu member of Gram  Sarkar in Ra inaga r . He was a f o r t y - t h r e e year o l d bus inessman, and ran a j ewe l ry s t o r e in Ra jshah i t o w n . 1 " He had read up to c l a s s n i n e , and had p a r t i c i p a t e d in s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l a c t i v i t i e s wi th a l o c a l c l u b . Sarkar den ied p o l i t i c a l i n c l i n a t i o n s of any k ind and r e f u s e d to d i s c u s s p o l i t i c s . He s t a t e d tha t he c o u l d not de t e c t any t e n s i o n or r i v a l r y among Gram Sarkar members, and thought p o l i t i c a l p a r t i s a n s h i p was i r r e l e v a n t at t h i s l e v e l . Sarkar was in charge of a g r i c u l t u r e and f o r e s t r y development in Ra inaga r . He s t a t e d tha t h i s job as Gram Sarkar member was to d i s t r i b u t e m a t e r i a l s p r o v i d e d by the government fo r b e t t e r c u l t i v a t i o n of l a n d , but compla ined tha t the government s u p p l i e s were inadequate and i r r e g u l a r . Mohammad Kamrul Alam was t h i r t y - f i v e yea rs o l d , and worked as a c l e r k in the U n i v e r s i t y of R a j s h a h i . He had passed the H igher Secondary C e r t i f i c a t e e x a m i n a t i o n . 1 5 P r e v i o u s l y , Alam 181 supported the AL. He j o i n e d the BNP in 1980. He was a s t rong suppor te r of Z iaur Rahman and the BNP's N ine teen-Po in t programme. Alam was in charge of law and order in Ra inaga r . He c l a imed tha t Gram Sarkar had been s u c c e s s f u l in r educ ing the i n c idence of q u a r r e l s and v i o l e n c e in the v i l l a g e . About two-t h i r d s of the t ime spent in the two weekly meet ings were used in a d j u d i c a t i n g l o c a l d i s p u t e s . Alam thought that he was s e l e c t e d because the v i l l a g e r s wanted an honest and educated man. He was e n t h u s i a s t i c about Gram Sarkar and thought i t r ep resen ted the best s t r a t e g y fo r l o c a l deve lopment . Ye t , he r e s i gned from the c o u n c i l on November 2 1 , 1981 because of h i s p r eoccupa t i ons wi th h i s f am i l y and j o b . He d i d not have the t ime to spare f o r Gram  Sa rka r . Mohammad Nas i r A l i was t h i r t y - f o u r years o l d and a commerce g radua te . He worked at Ra jshah i Jute M i l l s and a l s o owned and opera ted a f u r n i t u r e s t o r e . Nas i r was a freedom f i g h t e r du r i ng the l i b e r a t i o n war in 1971, suppor ted the AL, and was the Chairman of the l o c a l R e l i e f Committee a f t e r i n d e p e n d e n c e . 1 6 He l e f t the pa r t y a f t e r 1975, and took a l i k i n g to the BNP when i t was formed. N a s i r j o i n e d the Gram Sarkar because he wanted to improve c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e . He was g i ven the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of o r g a n i z i n g v i l l a g e c o o p e r a t i v e s and c o o p e r a t i v e banks in Ra inaga r . He r e g r e t t e d the f a c t tha t the government was supposed to a r range f o r the t r a i n i n g of Gram  Sarkar members to o rgan ize c o o p e r a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s , but no th ing m a t e r i a l i z e d . Nas i r a t t ended most of the meet ings of Gram  Sarkar and s a i d that the body had on l y succeeded in improv ing 1 82 roads in the v i l l a g e . He b e l i e v e d tha t wi th adequate time and proper implementat ion of programmes, Gram Sarkar would have been ab le to so l ve most of the problems in Ra inaga r . However, in h i s v iew, on ly i f wealthy and educated v i l l a g e r s got i n v o l v e d w i l l i t be a s u c c e s s . Mohammad Baz lu r Rahman was a c o u s i n of F a z l u r Rahman. He was t h i r t y - n i n e years o l d , and worked at the U n i v e r s i t y of Ra jshah i as a c l e r k . ' 7 He was a commerce graduate and owned two b ighas of l a n d . He was an a c t i v e member of the l o c a l c l u b in Ra inagar , and was on the BNP Committee in Ra inagar in 1981. Baz lu r was not p resent at the meet ing which s e l e c t e d him as a member of Gram Sa rka r . H i s duty i n c l u d e d the o r g a n i z a t i o n and expans ion of mass e d u c a t i o n . In h i s o p i n i o n , R a i n a g a r ' s Gram  Sarkar i n c l u d e d some d i shones t p e o p l e . It seems tha t s i n ce he was r e l a t e d to F a z l u r Rahman, the Gram Pradhan d i d not t r u s t h im. Baz lu r on l y a t tended a few of the Gram Sarkar meet ings and had l i t t l e knowledge of the i n s t i t u t i o n ' s a c t i v i t i e s in Ra inaga r . Mohammad Mat iu r Rahman was a t h i r t y - e i g h t year o l d bus inessman. He owned a s a w m i l l , and no a g r i c u l t u r a l l a n d . He was a member of the AL, but was l a t e r a t t r a c t e d by the p e r s o n a l i t y of Z iaur Rahman. Mat iu r became a member of the BNP youth wing i n 1 980. 1 8 He d e s c r i b e d h i s job as a Gram Sarkar member as i n v o l v i n g the ca re of l a n d l e s s farmers and the d i s t r i b u t i o n of khas lands among them. Ma t iu r thought Gram  Sarkar had succeeded in improv ing the law and o rder s i t u a t i o n , in r o a d b u i l d i n g and in a d m i n i s t r a t i o n in Ra inaga r . Cot tage 183 i n d u s t r i e s were the l e a s t s u c c e s s f u l as very l i t t l e time was a v a i l a b l e to i n i t i a t e programmes. Ma t iu r a t t ended a l l the meet ings of Gram Sarkar which were h e l d twice every week. Mohammad J a l a l u d d i n was f o r t y - t h r e e years o l d . He was a m a t r i c u l a t e w i th no l and of h i s own. He served in the Accounts S e c t i on at the U n i v e r s i t y of R a j s h a h i . He suppor ted the AL u n t i l 1975, but l e f t the pa r t y due to the "m isdeeds " of i t s l e a d e r s . 1 9 He j o i n e d the Gram Sarkar wi th the i n t e n t i o n of s e r v i n g the v i l l a g e r s . He was e n t r u s t e d wi th the p o r t f o l i o of r u r a l development and h e a l t h . J a l a l u d d i n found many i r r e g u l a r i t i e s w i th i n Gram Sarkar and s t a t e d that no th ing worth ment ion ing had been accomp l i shed in Ra inagar by t h i s i n s t i t u t i o n . He thought the Union P a r i shad shou ld get c r e d i t f o r improv ing the roads . He d i d not know i f the government gave f i n a n c i a l h e l p fo r these p r o j e c t s , and s a i d tha t the Gram  Pradhan a lone conducted a l l such t r a n s a c t i o n s . Unders tand ing that a l l a t tempts to work would be f u t i l e , J a l a l u d d i n stopped a t t e n d i n g the Gram Sarkar mee t ings . He c l a imed tha t some o ther members, t o o , had l e f t the Gram Sarkar in Ra inagar f o r s i m i l a r r easons . Mohammad Bad iur Rahman was fo r t y-seven years o l d and had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s t e n . 2 0 He d i d not own any l a n d , and p u l l e d a r ickshaw f o r a l i v i n g . He appeared con fused in h i s ideas about p o l i t i c s . Bad iu r admi t ted tha t a l t hough he p r e f e r r e d the AL a f t e r independence, s i n ce he was a Gram Sarkar member from the BNP, he suppor t s that p a r t y now. I t must be noted tha t Gram  Sarkar members were not supposed to be s e l e c t e d on p a r t i s a n 1 84 grounds . Bad iur had some expe r i ence in f i s h c u l t i v a t i o n , and was t h e r e f o r e put in charge of l i v e s t o c k and p i s c i c u l t u r e development in Ra inagar . U n f o r t u n a t e l y , he d i d not get adequate t ime to work on these p r o j e c t s . He a t tended most of the Gram  Sarkar mee t ings , and thought tha t there had been c o n s i d e r a b l e improvements in the law and order s i t u a t i o n and l o c a l se t t l ement of d i s p u t e s a f t e r the fo rmat ion of Gram Sa rka r . Nas r i n Jahan was a twenty-two year o l d housewife who had a t tended s choo l up to c l a s s n i n e . She was extremely shy and c o u l d not answer most of my q u e s t i o n s . 2 1 She was in charge of Fami l y P l ann ing and Women's A f f a i r s in Ra inaga r . Nas r i n Jahan a t tended a l l meet ings of the Gram Sarkar u n t i l she got mar r i ed and l e f t the v i l l a g e . Her p o s i t i o n remained vacant and was not f i l l e d by s e l e c t i n g another member. Raz ia Su l t ana was twenty-two years o l d , had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s n i n e , and was s e l e c t e d as the Gram Sarkar member in charge of co t t age i n d u s t r i e s in Ra inagar because of her e x p e r t i s e in sewing and k n i t t i n g . She was a housewife and her f am i l y d i d not own c u l t i v a b l e l a n d . She c o u l d not a f f o r d spare time fo r Gram  Sa rka r , however, and tendered her r e s i g n a t i o n to the Gram  P r a d h a n . 2 2 Another Gram Sarkar member informed me tha t her r e s i g n a t i o n was not a c c e p t e d . However, Raz ia Su l tana l o s t i n t e r e s t and s topped a t t e n d i n g the mee t ings . 185 AN OVERVIEW Gram Sarkar was e s t a b l i s h e d in Ra inagar in June 1980. With a few e x c e p t i o n s , most of i t s members had p o s i t i v e views of i t s accompl ishment in the v i l l a g e , and expressed the hope that i f i t were a l l owed adequate t ime , major changes c o u l d have been s u c c e s s f u l l y i n i t i a t e d . Regular meet ings were he l d to d i s c u s s l o c a l p rob lems , but most of the t ime they were devoted to s e t t l i n g d i s p u t e s . Gram Sarkar members c l a imed tha t t h e i r v e r d i c t on such mat ters was g e n e r a l l y accepted by the concerned p a r t i e s . The members c o u l d on ly c i t e the r e p a i r of roads and d i s t r i b u t i o n of r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s as other accompl ishments of Gram Sarkar . The r e s i d e n t s of Rainagar seemed to be aware of gene ra l p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e problems due to i t s p r o x i m i t y to a d i s t r i c t headquar ter town. Many people s a i d they a t tended meet ings of the Gram Sa rka r . Over two- th i rds of the v i l l a g e r s i n t e r v i ewed s a i d they knew Gram Sarkar members, a sma l l percentage knew on ly the Gram Pradhan. However, none of the members were c o n s i d e r e d capab le or r e l i a b l e enough when i t came to h e l p i n g the v i l l a g e r s in t imes of need. Most peop le would go e i t h e r to the present Chairman of the Union P a r i s h a d , Mansur Rahman, or to the former Cha i rman, F a z l u r Rahman. The Gram  P radhan ' s name was not ment ioned, p robab l y because he was in j a i l at the t ime the i n t e r v i ews were conduc ted . S u r p r i s i n g l y , about h a l f the respondents thought Gram Sarkar was run e f f i c i e n t l y in Ra inaga r , and approached and r e c e i v e d he lp from i t s l e a d e r s . About f o u r - f i f t h s of my respondents in Ra inagar 186 s a i d Gram Sarkar had brought about changes in the v i l l a g e . But they c o u l d s p e c i f y on l y road r e p a i r s and d i s t r i b u t i o n of wheat to widows in the v i l l a g e as the on l y s u c c e s s f u l e f f o r t s . The d i s t r i b u t i o n of p o r t f o l i o s among Gram Sarkar members in Ra inagar showed tha t t h i s u n i t depar ted s l i g h t l y from the p a t t e r n suggested by the government. The Gram Sarkar Manual l i s t e d the f o l l o w i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s to be a l l o c a t e d among the members: food and a g r i c u l t u r e ; p i s c i c u l t u r e and l i v e s t o c k ; f am i l y p l a n n i n g and women's a f f a i r s ; communicat ion , works and f o r e s t r y ; o f f i c e management and r e l i g i o u s a f f a i r s ; c o o p e r a t i v e s and c o o p e r a t i v e banks ; law and o r d e r ; mass e d u c a t i o n ; you th , s p o r t s and c u l t u r a l a f f a i r s ; co t t age i n d u s t r i e s ; and h e a l t h . 2 3 In Ra inaga r , the Gram Sarkar amalgamated the p o r t f o l i o s of a g r i c u l t u r e wi th f o r e s t r y , and r u r a l development wi th h e a l t h , and put a member in charge of a new department to dea l w i th l a n d l e s s peasan t s . The l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p thus demonstrated the w i l l i n g n e s s to modify the proposed set-up to ad ju s t to the c o n d i t i o n s i n the v i l l a g e . The Gram Pradhan was ab l e to conv ince h i s c o l l e a g u e s of the u t i l i t y of Gram Sa rka r . But h i s r i v a l s were more s u c c e s s f u l w i th the v i l l a g e r s , who r e a l i z e d by the end of 1981 that Gram  Sarkar had b e n e f i t t e d i t s members and not the common v i l l a g e r s . They c o u l d approach o ther i n f l u e n t i a l people in the v i l l a g e and the Union P a r i s h a d , and r e c e i v e b e t t e r a s s i s t a n c e . Most Gram  Sarkar members worked f u l l t ime at t h e i r jobs or b u s i n e s s e s . They c o u l d n o t , or would n o t , devote enough t ime to Gram Sarkar as the volume of i t s work i n c r e a s e d . S ince membership d i d not 187 b r i n g f i n a n c i a l r emunera t ions , the members had no i n c e n t i v e to work f o r the body. W i th in e igh teen months of i t s e s t a b l i s h m e n t , two members had r e s i g n e d , one got mar r i ed and l e f t the v i l l a g e , and a few o the r s had l o s t i n t e r e s t and i n i t i a t i v e . In Ra inaga r , the s e l e c t i o n of the Gram Sarkar members was p r e s i d e d over by the Gram Pradhan, who was anx ious to s e l e c t people l i k e l y to s t reng then h i s b i d fo r l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . The e s t ab l i shmen t of Gram Sarkar came as an o p p o r t u n i t y fo r the Gram  Pradhan to secure h i s p o s i t i o n as the l eade r of the v i l l a g e . He succeeded in assembl ing a group of members w i l l i n g to work under h i s l e a d e r s h i p in the v i l l a g e body. These members were hoping to e s t a b l i s h a l i n k w i th the r u l i n g p o l i t i c a l pa r t y through Gram  Sa rka r . They t r i e d to a t t a i n p o l i t i c a l b e n e f i t s by working fo r the BNP. Thus the pa r t y succeeded in deve l op ing a l o c a l group which, in t h e i r a t tempts to win f a c t i o n a l b a t t l e s , demonstrated support f o r the pa r t y in power. But t h i s mutual exchange of b e n e f i t s between the Gram Sarkar members and the BNP was used by the r i v a l f a c t i o n to t a r n i s h the image of the new i n s t i t u t i o n and i t s l e a d e r s h i p . There were two c l e a r l y d e f i n e d f a c t i o n s l e d by F a z l u r Rahman and the Gram Pradhan, A l i Ansa r . The l a t t e r ' s source of power was h i s a f f i l i a t i o n w i th the r u l i n g p a r t y and h i s c o n t r o l over the new v i l l a g e i n s t i t u t i o n . But F a z l u r Rahman had e s t a b l i s h e d h i m s e l f as a power fu l l eade r in the l o c a l i t y over a long p e r i o d of t ime . H i s bases of power were h i s wea l th which was u s e f u l in h e l p i n g the v i l l a g e r s , and h i s connec t i ons w i th i n f l u e n t i a l peop le in the urban a r e a s . The c o n f l i c t between the 188 two l e a d e r s arose over the c o n t r o l of Ra inagar , in t h i s c a se , to be e x e r c i s e d through the i n s t i t u t i o n of Gram Sa rka r . The new l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n had to overcome the i n f l u e n c e of F a z l u r Rahman in the v i l l a g e to be e f f e c t i v e in i t s o p e r a t i o n . The Union P a r i s h a d , meanwhile, c o n t r i b u t e d to the weakness of Gram Sarkar in Ra inaga r . F o l l o w i n g past e x p e r i e n c e , the v i l l a g e r s had more con f i dence in the Union Pa r i shad l e a d e r s h i p . The Chairman of the Union Pa r i shad was a c c e s s i b l e and so was another member, M a f i z u d d i n , who l i v e d in Ra inaga r . They had c l o s e r l i n k s wi th the h ighe r l e v e l of l o c a l government, and thus access to funds fo r l o c a l p r o j e c t s . Be ing c l o s e to a d i s t r i c t town, the government c o u l d send i t s o f f i c i a l s to Rainagar and demonstrate i t s p r e sence . But t h e i r c o n t a c t s in the v i l l a g e were l i m i t e d to on ly a few l e a d i n g p e r s o n a l i t i e s , and t h e r e f o r e , these union l e v e l l e a d e r s deve loped c l o s e l i n k s wi th the government o f f i c i a l s . Gram Sarkar was bypassed by the v i l l a g e r s who were h a b i t u a t e d to go d i r e c t l y to the Union Pa r i shad l e a d e r s , who made a l l e f f o r t s to prevent power from t r i c k l i n g down to the lowest l e v e l . Gram Sarkar members had not e s t a b l i s h e d themselves as capab le l e ade r s be fo re assuming the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s . Moreover , F a z l u r Rahman who l o s t the o f f i c i a l l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p a f t e r the BNP i n i t i a t e d Gram Sa rka r , con t i nued h i s e f f o r t s to undermine the p o s i t i o n of the new c o u n c i l . H i s c o n t a c t s and weal th he lped in i n f l u e n c i n g l o c a l d e c i s i o n s , and i n making Gram Sarkar b a r e l y e f f e c t i v e in Ra inaga r . The accompl ishments of Gram Sarkar in Ra inagar are 189 impress i ve in compar ison w i th the o ther v i l l a g e s which were s t u d i e d . A r e l a t i v e l y h igher degree of m o b i l i z a t i o n had prepared the ground fo r the i n i t i a t i o n of a l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n fo r the v i l l a g e l e v e l . There were some s i gns of p r o g r e s s , namely, a c o n s c i o u s and educated c o u n c i l , the o r g a n i z a t i o n of the Gram Sarkar and the execu t i on of some l o c a l p r o j e c t s . But the success was l i m i t e d because r i v a l v i l l a g e f a c t i o n s came i n t o c o n f l i c t w i th one ano the r . The f a c t i o n tha t ga ined c o n t r o l of Gram Sarkar by e x p r e s s i n g support f o r the government d i d not have a s t rong support base in the v i l l a g e to make the new i n s t i t u t i o n s u c c e s s f u l . A l though Gram Sarkar was q u i t e a c t i v e in Ra inagar d u r i n g 1980-81 and the members were aware of t h e i r d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , very few of the o b j e c t i v e s of the i n s t i t u t i o n were a c c o m p l i s h e d . The members admi t ted that the on l y a reas in which some work had been done were law and order and road r e p a i r s . These ha rd l y j u s t i f i e d the c r e a t i o n of a new l o c a l body s i n ce they c o u l d be c a r r i e d out by the e x i s t i n g b o d i e s . The l a ck of funds and the absence of a f i x e d source of income c o n t r i b u t e d to the l o s s of i n t e r e s t by some Swanirvar Gram  Sarkar members. The i n s t i t u t i o n c o u l d not undertake any major p r o j e c t and demonstrate i t s u s e f u l n e s s t o the v i l l a g e r s . Gram Sarkar in Ra inagar succeeded in a l l o c a t i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s to i t s members, r e n t i n g a room fo r the o f f i c e , conduc t i ng r e g u l a r mee t ings , and m a i n t a i n i n g r e co rds of i t s o p e r a t i o n . The v i l l a g e r s demonstrated a p o s i t i v e a t t i t u d e towards i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s as an ins t rument fo r l o c a l 190 development . But the p r i o r i t i e s accorded to v a r i o u s a c t i v i t i e s were not c o n s i s t e n t w i th i t s o b j e c t i v e s . Inc reased food p r o d u c t i o n , development of c o o p e r a t i v e b o d i e s , and employment-gene ra t i ng r u r a l development p r o j e c t s c o u l d l e a d to development in o ther a r e a s . But R a i n a g a r ' s Gram Sarkar l e a d e r s h i p concen t r a t ed on law and order and the d i s t r i b u t i o n of r e l i e f m a t e r i a l s , the l a t t e r be ing c r u c i a l in winning over the l o y a l t y of the r u r a l poo r . Gram Sarkar l e a d e r s h i p in Ra inagar accorded p r i o r i t y to b u i l d i n g up a support base in the v i l l a g e through patronage and used government-awarded r e l i e f m a t e r i a l f o r t h i s purpose . V i l l a g e r s were soon d i s i l l u s i o n e d about the s i g n i f i c a n t changes Gram Sarkar was supposed to be i n i t i a t i n g . Pe t t y squabb les among the v i l l a g e l e a d e r s h i p negated any p o s s i b i l i t y of implement ing l o c a l p r o j e c t s . The l a ck of f i n a n c e s , combined w i th s t rong r e s i s t a n c e from the e s t a b l i s h e d l e ade r s in Ra inaga r , r e s u l t e d in a s i t u a t i o n wi th which Gram  Sarkar c o u l d not cope . 191 NOTES 1 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh . Bangladesh D i s t r i c t Gaze t t e e r s Ra jshah i (Dacca : S p e c i a l O f f i c e r , Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1976), pp . 34-5. 2 See W.W. Hunter . A S t a t i s t i c a l Account of Benga l , V o l . VI I I (London: Trubner & C o . , 1876. R e p r i n t e d , D e l h i : D.K. P u b l i s h i n g House, 1974), pp. 20-21. 3 P r e l i m i n a r y Report on the Census of 1981 in the weekly B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981, p. 17 4 B i c h i t r a , J u l y 3, 1981, p. 17. 5 Bangladesh D i s t r i c t Gaze t t ee r s R a j s h a h i . p. 83 . 6 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh . V i l l a g e  P o p u l a t i o n S t a t i s t i c s , Ra jshah i Sadar S u b d i v i s i o n (Dacca: Bangladesh Government P r e s s , 1976) . 7 These f i g u r e s were ob ta ined by an employee of the U n i v e r s i t y of R a j s h a h i , who was a permanent r e s i d e n t of the v i l l a g e from the former Gram Pradhan a f t e r h i s r e l e a s e from de ten t i o n . 8 Bangladesh D i s t r i c t Gaze t t e e r s R a j s h a h i . p. 248. 9 See The Imper i a l G a z e t t e e r s of I n d i a , V o l . XXI (Ox fo rd : C l a rendon P r e s s , 1908), pp. 160-168. 10 Bangladesh D i s t r i c t G a z e t t e e r s R a j s h a h i . p. 324. T h i s become the present s i t e fo r Ra j shah i town. 11 V i l l a g e Popu l a t i on S t a t i s t i c s , Ra jshah i Sadar S u b d i v i s i o n . 12 S t a t ed by two Gram Sarkar members in t h e i r i n t e r v i e w s . 13 R a s h i d u l Hoq was i n t e r v i ewed on May 21, 1982. 14 Naresh Chandra Sarkar was i n t e r v i ewed in h i s house on May 23, 1982. 15 E q u i v a l e n t to grade 12. Alam was i n t e r v i ewed on May 18, 1 982. 16 N a s i r A l i was i n t e r v i ewed in h i s f u r n i t u r e s t o r e on May 22, 1982. 17 Baz lu r Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed on May 16, 1982. 18 Ma t i u r Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed i n h i s sawmi l l on May 19, 1982. 192 19 J a l a l u d d i n was i n t e r v i ewed on May 20, 1982. 20 Bad iur Rahman was i n t e r v i ewed in h i s house on May 23, 1982. 21 Nas r i n Jahan was i n t e r v i ewed in her b r o t h e r ' s house on May 23, 1982 when she came to v i s i t h im. Her b r o t h e r , another Gram Sarkar member, he lped her answer some q u e s t i o n s . 22 Raz i a Su l t ana was i n t e r v i ewed on May 17, 1982. Another Gram Sarkar member, A ta r A l i S a rda r , who has an H . S .C . degree and was in charge of youth a f f a i r s in Ra inaga r , c o u l d not be i n t e r v i e w e d . He made two appo in tments , but f a i l e d to show up each t ime . 23 Government of the P e o p l e ' s Repub l i c of Bang ladesh . Swanirvar Gram Sarkar Manual (Dhaka: L o c a l Government I n s t i t u t e , 1980), pp . 7-8. 193 V I I I . GRAM SARKAR IN PRACTICE: A COMPARATIVE OVERVIEW Gram Sarkars were i n t roduced w i th the i n t e n t i o n of improv ing l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s i n the v i l l a g e s of Bang ladesh . The f o r e g o i n g examinat ion of th ree v i l l a g e s in the coun t r y shows tha t most of the s p e c i f i c o b j e c t i v e s d e s i r e d by the government were not a c h i e v e d . S i g n i f i c a n t l y , however, the degree of accompl ishment v a r i e d among the v i l l a g e s . My o b j e c t i v e in t h i s chapte r i s to show that a comparat ive a n a l y s i s of l o c a l government performance in the three v i l l a g e s I observed r e v e a l s a number of reasons fo r such v a r i a t i o n s , and p r o v i d e s c l u e s to the c o n d i t i o n s necessary f o r l o c a l government reforms to succeed . There are s e v e r a l f a c t o r s tha t must be c o n s i d e r e d in comparing the v i l l a g e s of M a n t a l a , C o l i p u r and Ra inaga r . The h i s t o r y of l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s and t h e i r l e ade r s o b v i o u s l y has some i n f l u e n c e on the recen t at tempts at change. The d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e s of the v i l l a g e s and the p o l i t i c a l , economic and s o c i a l a spec t s of l i f e t h e r e i n must a l s o be unde r s tood . I w i l l now t r y to compare the ind igenous c o n d i t i o n s in the v i l l a g e s when Gram Sarkar was i n t r o d u c e d , as we l l as the s t r u c t u r e that was deve l oped . The members of the new l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n and t h e i r p o s i t i o n in the v i l l a g e s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e w i l l be examined to see i f the re have been changes in l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . The f u n c t i o n s per formed by the Gram Sarkars in the d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s w i l l a l s o be^ compared to a s sess t h e i r accompl i shments . A compar ison of a l l these f a c t o r s w i l l r e vea l the reasons behind the v a r i a t i o n s in the degree of success 1 94 expe r i enced by Gram Sarkar in the th ree v i l l a g e s . HISTORY The e v o l u t i o n of a v i l l a g e and i t s past h i s t o r y are u s e f u l i n a n a l y z i n g the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . They r e v e a l some of the reasons f o r the p resen t low l e v e l of p a r t i c i p a t i o n by the v i l l a g e r s and the monopoly of l e a d e r s h i p by a few weal thy f a m i l i e s . The h i s t o r i c a l con tex t w i l l a l s o enable us to compare the p rog ress made under the Gram Sarkar scheme to tha t a ch i e ved under p r e v i o u s l o c a l government programs. The i n f o r m a t i o n a v a i l a b l e about the past of Man ta l a , C o l i p u r and Ra inaga r , though s can t y , w i l l be used f o r t h i s pu rpose . The h i s t o r y of Manta la has w i tnessed l i t t l e change over the p e r i o d tha t the r e s i d e n t s can remember. There are no r eco rds of any attempt to i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e l o c a l government. The v i l l a g e r s got used to f o l l o w i n g the d i r e c t i o n s of the l e a d e r s who be longed to the weal thy f a m i l i e s and c o n t r i b u t e d very l i t t l e to the making of d e c i s i o n s on l o c a l a f f a i r s . The s e t t i n g up du r i ng B r i t i s h r u l e of a M u n i c i p a l i t y in B a j i t p u r , on ly two m i l e s from the v i l l a g e , h a r d l y a f f e c t e d Manta la or i t s l e a d e r s . None of the v i l l a g e l e ade r s ever t r i e d to p a r t i c i p a t e in the a f f a i r s of B a j i t p u r M u n i c i p a l i t y . The dominance of a s i n g l e f a m i l y and the absence of any c h a l l e n g e from the o the r s seem to have dampened the v i l l a g e r s ' i n t e r e s t in p a r t i c i p a t i n g in l o c a l a f f a i r s . Over g e n e r a t i o n s , the v i l l a g e r s r e t a i n e d the a t t i t u d e of l e a v i n g 195 important d e c i s i o n s to the d i s c r e t i o n of the l e a d e r s . The l e a d i n g f a m i l i e s have l i n k s ous ide the v i l l a g e in the urban c en t r e s which most v i l l a g e r s do not have. As a r e s u l t , these b e t t e r - o f f f a m i l i e s of Manta la were ab le to e x e r c i s e c o n t r o l over the new l o c a l government bod ies c r ea t ed by the Gram Sa rka r . C o l i p u r has been dominated fo r about a cen tu ry by a s i n g l e f a m i l y . So long as the f am i l y was u n i t e d , there was no c h a l l e n g e to i t s l e a d e r s h i p . The v i l l a g e r s con t i nued to tu rn to the Bhuiya f a m i l y fo r h e l p in a l l m a t t e r s . The independence of P ak i s t an and the expans ion of economic a c t i v i t i e s opened up some o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r v i l l a g e r s who were w i l l i n g to migra te to o ther a reas in sea rch of j o b s . Even when they moved, however, they remained dependent on the Bhuiya f a m i l y . T h i s was because some members of the f ami l y had migra ted to the urban areas e a r l i e r , and he ld p o s i t i o n s of importance t h e r e . They he lped the v i l l a g e r s in s e c u r i n g jobs in i n d u s t r i e s and in government o f f i c e s . By the end of P a k i s t a n i r u l e , a few of C o l i p u r ' s v i l l a g e r s had earned and saved enough money to launch sma l l bus inesses on t h e i r own in the nearby commerc ia l c e n t r e , E l l i o t g a n j . In the p e r i o d f o l l o w i n g the independence of Bang ladesh , some of them re tu rned to take up permanent r e s i dence in C o l i p u r . One f am i l y in p a r t i c u l a r , which had a reasonab le amount of l and in the v i l l a g e and f l o u r i s h i n g bus ines ses in E l l i o t g a n j emerged as the new l eader in p l a ce of the Bhuiya f a m i l y . Thus , C o l i p u r has w i tnessed the t r a n s f e r of l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p from a t r a d i t i o n a l l y dominant f am i l y to a r i s i n g midd le farmer and bus iness f a m i l y . The h i s t o r y of the v i l l a g e 196 p o i n t s to the f a c t tha t some changes have taken p l a ce over the years and that the v i l l a g e r s have r e a l i z e d tha t p a r t i c i p a t i o n in l o c a l a f f a i r s can be reward ing . Some v i l l a g e r s had done we l l in bus iness and s e r v i c e in the towns, and were be ing exposed to urban i n f l u e n c e s . L o c a l r e s i d e n t s were p l a y i n g important r o l e s not on l y in v i l l a g e a f f a i r s but in union l e v e l p o l i t i c s , t o o . Ra inagar i s more a pe r i -u rban community than a t y p i c a l Bangladesh v i l l a g e . 1 However, the d e s c r i p t i o n f i t s many v i l l a g e s s i t u a t e d on the o u t s k i r t s of towns and c i t i e s . The pace of change has been r a p i d , and Rainagar i s n o t i c e a b l y d i f f e r e n t from the other two v i l l a g e s I examined. Ra inagar remained i n s i g n i f i c a n t throughout the B r i t i s h p e r i o d . A f t e r the independence of P ak i s t an and the es t ab l i shment of s e v e r a l e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s on R a j s h a h i ' s o u t s k i r t s , Rainagar ga ined in impor tance . The v i l l a g e r s became c o n s c i o u s of the need fo r l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s and of t h e i r own r o l e in managing l o c a l a f f a i r s . Wealthy r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e who assumed l e a d e r s h i p of the l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s r e t a i n e d c o n t r o l throughout the P a k i s t a n i r u l e , and con t i nued to do so fo r some time beyond 1971. Meanwhi le , due to the pe r i -u rban nature of Ra inaga r , the v i l l a g e r s were exposed to d i s t r i c t and n a t i o n a l l e v e l p o l i t i c s w i t h i n a sho r t p e r i o d . The d i f f e r e n c e s i n h i s t o r i c a l e v o l u t i o n are very c l e a r . In the p a s t , Manta la has expe r i enced very l i t t l e change and has seen no p recedents f o r the i n c o r p o r a t i o n of new people in l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . The v i l l a g e r s were not aware of the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of new i n s t i t u t i o n s and d i d not ca re to t r y them o u t . In 197 C o l i p u r , a r i f t w i t h i n the f am i l y tha t has dominated the v i l l a g e in the p a s t , r e s u l t e d i n i t s l o s s of d i r e c t c o n t r o l over the v i l l a g e . The v i l l a g e r s were w i t n e s s i n g the r i s e of new l e a d e r s h i p and the use of l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s by these l e ade r s to ga in c o n t r o l . They c o u l d see that though change in l e a d e r s h i p was p o s s i b l e , l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s had f a i l e d to p rov ide the needed s e r v i c e s and encourage p a r t i c i p a t i o n . Ra inaga r , on the other hand, has deve loped from a sma l l community to a l a r g e and b u s t l i n g v i l l a g e in a shor t span of t ime . The l e a d e r s h i p has changed over the years and there are c l e a r l y d e f i n e d groups engaged in c o n f l i c t w i th one ano the r . However, some s e r v i c e s have been p rov ided by l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s and p a r t i c i p a t i o n by v i l l a g e r s has been g rea t e r in Ra inagar than in Manta la or C o l i p u r under Gram Sa rka r . POLITICS AND ECONOMY IN THE VILLAGE SOCIETIES A compar ison of the d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e s of each v i l l a g e r e v e a l s the economic , s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l f o r c e s i n o p e r a t i o n . These f a c t o r s p l a y important r o l e s in the compos i t i on and o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . In p a r t i c u l a r , I w i l l t r y to compare the economic a c t i v i t i e s and t h e i r impact on the p o l i t i c a l and s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n s i n the th ree v i l l a g e s of Man ta l a , C o l i p u r and Ra inaga r . L i k e most of the v i l l a g e s i n Bang ladesh , Manta la i s an a g r i c u l t u r a l v i l l a g e . There has not been much improvement in 198 the methods of c u l t i v a t i o n or changes in the d i s t r i b u t i o n of l a n d . The th ree wealthy f a m i l i e s s t i l l own among themselves most of the l and i n Man ta l a . The ma jo r i t y of the 190 households in the v i l l a g e own sma l l pa tches of l a n d , and the number of l a n d l e s s l a b o u r e r s i s low compared to other v i l l a g e s . As a r e s u l t , very few people have ventured ou t s i de the v i l l a g e to look fo r g a i n f u l employment. The v i l l a g e r s have not been ab le to reduce t h e i r dependence on the wealthy f a m i l i e s , f o r they have not d i s c o v e r e d an a l t e r n a t i v e source of income to support themse lves . N a t u r a l l y , p o l i t i c i a n s at h igher l e v e l s have to win over on l y some members of these l e a d i n g f a m i l i e s to ensure t h e i r c o n t r o l over the v i l l a g e . A l though Manta la has t r a d i t i o n a l l y been a suppor te r of the Awami League (AL ) , the l e ade r s of i t s Gram Sarkar c l a imed a l l e g i a n c e to s e v e r a l p a r t i e s . The Gram Pradhan c l a imed to be a suppor te r of the Musl im League (ML), but was a c t u a l l y working f o r the Bangladesh N a t i o n a l i s t Pa r ty (BNP) i n Manta la L i k e w i s e , the p o l i t i c a l pa r t y p r e f e r e n c e s of a l l the l e ade r s seemed s u p e r f i c i a l . So l o n g , however, as the Gram Pradhan d i d not have a c h a l l e n g e r from w i t h i n one of the dominant f a m i l i e s , there was no t h r e a t to h i s p o s i t i o n . The v i l l a g e r s accep ted h i s l e a d e r s h i p because they r e c e i v e d f avours from h i s f a m i l y . H i s p o s i t i o n was secure because there was no a l t e r n a t i v e l eade r fo r l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . S o c i a l l y , Manta la has always been very harmonious . Be ing a sma l l community w i th f o l l o w e r s of on l y one r e l i g i o n and composed p r i n c i p a l l y of c u l t i v a t o r s , the v i l l a g e has not encountered 199 major s o c i a l c o n f l i c t s . The th ree l e a d i n g f a m i l i e s have had c o r d i a l r e l a t i o n s in the p a s t , and t h e i r a t tempts to expand weal th have o c c u r r e d o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e in the urban a r e a s . The a c q u i s i t i o n of more wea l th by one has not r e s u l t e d in the r e d u c t i o n of the o t h e r ' s l a n d . The v i l l a g e has , t h e r e f o r e , remained p e a c e f u l and l i t t l e change has taken p l a c e . In sum, a lmost no development has taken p l a c e in Man ta l a . There are no good roads and other amen i t i e s of l i f e are meagre. The s tandard of l i v i n g i s ext remely low. The v i l l a g e r s have not been p o l i t i c a l l y m o b i l i z e d , and remain a p a t h e t i c about the s t a t i c c o n d i t i o n s in Man ta l a . C o l i p u r , t o o , i s an a g r i c u l t u r a l v i l l a g e , a l t hough i t c o n t a i n s a sma l l community of f i shermen as w e l l . G r a d u a l l y , workers from the v i l l a g e s t a r t e d m i g r a t i n g to the urban a r e a s , and the exposure to urban l i f e made them aware of economic o p p o r t u n i t i e s o u t s i d e C o l i p u r . At the same t ime , the Bhuiya f am i l y s p l i t i n t o two f a c t i o n s and the r i f t cut t h e i r i n f l u e n c e even f u r t h e r . Thus , by the end of P a k i s t a n i r u l e , some of C o l i p u r ' s v i l l a g e r s were not e n t i r e l y dependent on landed p r o p e r t y in the v i l l a g e or on the Bhuiya f am i l y fo r t h e i r l i v e l i h o o d . C o l i p u r had been a s t r o n g h o l d of the AL fo r a long t ime , and most of the l o c a l l e a d e r s admit that they had suppor ted the pa r t y at some p o i n t . S ince the Bhu i yas , who worked fo r the AL, are no longer p h y s i c a l l y p resen t and dominant , the new l e ade r s found i t conven ien t to s h i f t t h e i r a l l e g i a n c e to the pa r t y in power, the BNP. The Union Pa r i shad Chairman and the Gram 200 Pradhan had not tu rned a g a i n s t the Bhu iyas . They had , however, taken advantage of the c o n f l i c t and d i s i n t e g r a t i o n w i t h i n the f ami l y to i n c r ease t h e i r i n f l u e n c e in C o l i p u r . S ince most members of the Bhuiya f am i l y d i d not l i v e in the v i l l a g e , the v i l l a g e r s found the new l e ade r s to be the best a l t e r n a t i v e as a source of h e l p in t imes of need because they possess a s u b s t a n t i a l amount of wea l th and have connec t i ons w i th the urban power c e n t r e s . C o l i p u r i s a l a r g e v i l l a g e composed e n t i r e l y of Mus l ims . Seve ra l peop le are engaged in bus iness and government s e r v i c e in a d d i t i o n to a g r i c u l t u r e . Due to the h igh d e n s i t y of p o p u l a t i o n , the v i l l a g e r s are p ressed fo r l and and there have been some v i o l e n t i n c i d e n t s over the ownersh ip and s a l e of l a n d s , p a r t i c u l a r l y among members of the l e a d i n g Bhuiya f a m i l y . S ince the ownership a f f e c t s many s h a r e c r o p p e r s , many o ther v i l l a g e r s get i n v o l v e d in these d i s p u t e s . The v i l l a g e r s resen t the f a c t that they are t o t a l l y dependent on a few l e a d i n g f a m i l i e s , but have not been ab l e to dec ide on a course of a c t i o n to change the s i t u a t i o n and take s teps to put i t i n t o e f f e c t . C o l i p u r was q u i t e a c t i v e in the l i b e r a t i o n s t r u g g l e and the p o l i t i c a l consc i ousness of the v i l l a g e r s i s demonstrated in t h e i r e x p e c t a t i o n s of improvements in l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s . There are a few s i g n s of past e f f o r t s a t c o n s t r u c t i o n of roads and b r i d g e s . C o l i p u r has been s u p p l i e d w i th e l e c t r i c i t y s i n c e 1981. The p r o j e c t s aimed at improvements were not con t i nued beyond the i n i t i a l s t a g e s , and the v i l l a g e remains at the p o i n t i t was when deve lopmenta l a c t i v i t i e s were i n i t i a t e d . 201 The economy of Rainagar i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from that of Manta la and C o l i p u r . A l though some c u l t i v a t i o n i s c a r r i e d o u t , i t s sandy s o i l and extremely hot and dry summers are not s u i t a b l e fo r ex t ens i v e f a rm ing . The v i l l a g e r s have had to exp lo r e r e sou r ces ou t s i de Ra inagar , and have en te red the v a r i o u s e d u c a t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s s i t u a t e d around the v i l l a g e as employees. Some v i l l a g e r s have e s t a b l i s h e d l i n k s wi th Ra jshah i town through bus iness and other c o n t a c t s . Thus , the v i l l a g e r s l i v e on incomes earned most ly o u t s i d e Ra inaga r . However, they con t i nue to l i v e in the v i l l a g e because i t i s c l o s e to t h e i r p l a ce of work. Rainagar has begun to look l i k e a suburb w i th b r i c k b u i l d i n g s , e l e c t r i c i t y and te lephone f a c i l i t i e s , and a p o p u l a t i o n tha t r e g u l a r l y commutes to Ra jshah i town. The l e a d e r s in Rainagar are o b v i o u s l y weal thy businessmen who have c l o s e l i n k s wi th the d i s t r i c t headquar te rs of R a j s h a h i . L o c a l power i s d i s t r i b u t e d on the b a s i s of wea l th and a b i l i t y to h e l p v i l l a g e r s , most ly in f i n a n c i a l ma t t e r s . S ince the l o c a l l e ade r was a suppor te r of the N a t i o n a l Awami Pa r t y [pro-Moscow] (NAP-M), he was c h a l l e n g e d by an AL l eader from the v i l l a g e . H i s wea l th , i n f l u e n c e and connec t i ons he lped him to overcome the c h a l l e n g e . However, the f r u s t r a t e d AL l eader j o i n e d the BNP in 1980. He was ab l e to d i s l o d g e the p r ev i ous v i l l a g e l eader w i th d i r e c t h e l p from the BNP. But he d i d not have a s t rong enough support base to con t inue as the l eade r of Ra inagar and h i s f a c t i o n soon l o s t c o n t r o l as v i l l a g e r s kept on go ing back to the p r e v i o u s l eade r fo r a s s i s t a n c e . Ra inagar i s the l a r g e s t v i l l a g e among the th ree in s i z e . 202 The d e n s i t y of p o p u l a t i o n i s low as most of the v i l l a g e i s composed of char l a n d , which o c c a s i o n a l l y i s submerged beneath the r i v e r . 2 Ra inagar has a s i z e a b l e p r o p o r t i o n of Hindus among i t s r e s i d e n t s (15 per c e n t ) , and the v i l l a g e r s are engaged in v a r i o u s k inds of o c c u p a t i o n s . However, the most power fu l peop le , are the c o n t r a c t o r s and bus inessmen, and l o c a l l e ade r s must have the support of these people in order to be s u c c e s s f u l . There are c o n f l i c t s among the v a r i o u s i n t e r e s t s , and these become man i f es t in a t tempts to o b s t r u c t p roceed ings of l o c a l c o u n c i l mee t ings . At such meet ings , r i v a l f a c t i o n s who are not in power t r y to prove the l o c a l body i n e f f e c t i v e and q u e s t i o n i t s a c t i o n s . Smal l s c u f f l e s have taken p l a ce over such i n c i d e n t s . There are s i gns tha t the v i l l a g e r s have become consc i ous of the i s s u e s and s takes and have taken s i d e s to s t reng then the f a c t i o n s . There are more v i s i b l e s igns of improvement than in most v i l l a g e s of Bangladesh . Deve l opmen ta l l y , Ra inagar seems to have been b e t t e r m o b i l i z e d and has p rog re s sed f u r t h e r than e i t h e r C o l i p u r or Man ta l a . I t i s ext remely d i f f i c u l t to measure the extent of p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n tha t has taken p l a ce in the v i l l a g e s of Bang ladesh . N e t t l has d e s c r i b e d m o b i l i z a t i o n as an " i n d u c e d " p rocess which l eads to s u b s t a n t i a l c h a n g e s . 3 Us ing the degree of such changes as the b a s i s , assumpt ions can be made about the l e v e l of m o b i l i z a t i o n a ch i e ved in the th ree v i l l a g e s tha t were s t u d i e d . The exposure to urban i n f l u e n c e , l i n k s w i th d i s t r i c t p o l i t i c a l and a d m i n i s t r a t i v e e l i t e s , and the presence of an a l t e r n a t e group of l e a d e r s have c o n t r i b u t e d to a h igh l e v e l of 203 p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n in Ra inaga r . Manta la has not been touched by o u t s i d e i n f l u e n c e s , and has not expe r i enced a change of l e a d e r s h i p . I t can be s a i d t h a t , on a p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n cont inuum, Manta la and Ra inagar seem to r ep resen t the two extremes wh i l e C o l i p u r i s near the c e n t r e . Manta la remains a b s o l u t e l y a g r i c u l t u r a l , wh i le in Ra inagar , a g r i c u l t u r e i s the occupa t i on of on l y a qua r t e r of the working p o p u l a t i o n . E c o n o m i c a l l y , Ra inagar , w i th the lowest d e n s i t y of p o p u l a t i o n , i s b e t t e r - o f f , wh i le the o ther two v i l l a g e s face h igh p o p u l a t i o n p r e s s u r e . The v i l l a g e r s of Manta la are a lmost e n t i r e l y dependent on the r esources in the v i l l a g e , wh i l e those of Rainagar r e l y most ly on r e sou r ces o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e . In C o l i p u r , one f i n d s a combinat ion of b o t h . In a l l the v i l l a g e s , t r a d i t i o n a l i n f l u e n c e i s no longer the so l e de terminant of l o c a l l e a d e r s h i p . At p r e s e n t , p o s s e s s i o n of weal th and access to the r u l i n g p a r t y p o l i t i c i a n s and government o f f i c i a l s c o n t r i b u t e more to the a c q u i s i t i o n of i n f l u e n c e . The l e ade r s in Manta la and C o l i p u r worked fo r the pa r t y in power, wh i le in Ra inaga r , the a s p i r a n t l e ade r j o i n e d the BNP be fo re assuming v i l l a g e l e a d e r s h i p . Manta la d i d not expe r i ence f a c t i o n a l c o n f l i c t s , wh i le in C o l i p u r , f a c t i o n a l c o n f l i c t w i t h i n the l e a d i n g f a m i l y p rov ided the o p p o r t u n i t y f o r a new f am i l y to emerge as l e a d e r s . In Ra inaga r , the f a c t i o n s were more e v i d e n t . The l o c a l c o n d i t i o n s in the th ree v i l l a g e s were v a r i e d and r e q u i r e d ad jus tments of the r u l e s f o r Gram Sarkar to opera te e f f i c i e n t l y . But the scheme des igned by the government p r e s c r i b e d the same i n s t i t u t i o n fo r a l l the r e g i o n s , and made no 204 a l lowance fo r such d i v e r s i t y . The r u l e s were framed by the M i n i s t r y of L o c a l Government, Ru ra l Development and C o o p e r a t i v e s , and r ep resen ted the views of the o f f i c i a l s who are s t a t i o n e d at the S e c r e t a r i a t in Dhaka. The government approved them without any change ; " t hus , the v i l l a g e s had the new i n s t i t u t i o n s imposed upon them. LOCAL GOVERNMENT; STRUCTURE, FUNCTIONS, PERSONNEL In a d d i t i o n to the l o c a l c o n d i t i o n s in which i t o p e r a t e d , the o p e r a t i o n of Gram Sarkars in the th ree v i l l a g e s must i t s e l f be compared. T h i s w i l l r e vea l the d i f f e r e n c e s , i f any, in t h e i r s t r u c t u r e s , f u n c t i o n s , and the pe r sonne l i n v o l v e d . D i f f e r e n c e s in these areas may account fo r t h e i r v a r y i n g degrees of s u c c e s s . The same scheme was i n e v i t a b l y implemented in d i f f e r e n t ways in each v i l l a g e . A l though the b a s i c s t r u c t u r e suggested by the government was f o l l o w e d , the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the peop le i n v o l v e d in l o c a l government accen tua ted the d i f f e r e n c e s r e s u l t i n g from l o c a l v a r i a t i o n s . 205 STRUCTURE Manta la had i t s f i r s t l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n under the Gram Sarkar scheme. In 1980, a sma l l number of v i l l a g e r s a t tended the C i r c l e O f f i c e r ' s i n a u g u r a t i o n of Gram Sarkar fo r Man ta l a . The Gram Pradhan was chosen by the v i l l a g e r s who were asked to a t t end the mee t ing . The Gram Pradhan then submi t ted a l i s t of names fo r s e l e c t i o n as Gram Sarkar members. S ince on l y the suppo r t e r s of the Gram Pradhan were p r e s e n t , nobody ob j e c t ed and Gram Sarkar was c o n s t i t u t e d . F i v e of the e leven members s e l e c t e d on that day were not p resen t at the mee t ing . The members who were present were not in formed of t h e i r d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s at the t i m e . Gram Sarkar was not C o l i p u r ' s f i r s t expe r i ence of a l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n . P r e v i o u s l y , v a r i o u s r e s i d e n t s of the v i l l a g e had served as the Chairman and members of the Union  P a r i s h a d , and be fo re t h a t , the Union Board . The C i r c l e O f f i c e r ( C O . ) of Muradnagar thana a r ranged the fo rmat ion of Gram Sarkar in C o l i p u r in 1980. The meet ing was s p a r s e l y a t t e n d e d . The b ro the r of the Union P a r i shad Chairman was s e l e c t e d as the Gram  Pradhan. He got h i s l i s t of Gram Sarkar members approved wi thout any d i f f i c u l t y . About h a l f of the v i l l a g e r s who were s e l e c t e d as members were not p resen t at the mee t i ng . A l though the Gram Pradhan c l a imed tha t the members were a s s i g n e d s p e c i f i c r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , most of the members den ied t h i s , and s t a t e d that they had no knowledge about t h e i r a s s ignments . Ra inagar has had the o p p o r t u n i t y of see ing l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s in a c t i o n s i n c e the l a t e 1960s when the Union 206 C o u n c i l Cha i rmansh ip of the Shamla Union was won by a r e s i d e n t of the v i l l a g e . When the Gram Sarkar scheme was announced, the v i l l a g e r s showed i n t e r e s t and about f i f t y v i l l a g e r s a t tended meet ings of the new c o u n c i l . F a z l u r Rahman, the most power fu l man in the v i l l a g e , had a l r eady se rved as a union l e a d e r , and d i d not wish to r e tu rn to the l e v e l of a v i l l a g e l e a d e r . However, he a l s o d i d not want the new v i l l a g e l e a d e r s to succeed , e s p e c i a l l y i f they be longed to another f a c t i o n , s i nce he c o n s i d e r e d them to be a p o t e n t i a l t h r ea t to h i s p o s i t i o n in Ra inagar . But F a z l u r Rahman and h i s f o l l o w e r s were unable to prevent A l i Ansar from be ing s e l e c t e d as the Gram Pradhan. A l i Ansar s u c c e s s f u l l y man ipu la ted the s e l e c t i o n of h i s own f o l l o w e r s as Gram Sarkar members. Only two of the . s e l e c t e d members were l o y a l to F a z l u r Rahman. The v i l l a g e assembly s e l e c t e d a c o u s i n of F a z l u r Rahman and one of h i s suppo r t e r s to serve on the c o u n c i l . Only one of the members was s e l e c t e d in a b s e n t i a . The d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of a l l the members were prompt ly a s s i g n e d . The c o n s t i t u t i o n and procedure of Gram Sarkar in the three v i l l a g e s were s i m i l a r because they f o l l o w e d the Manual p u b l i s h e d by the government. They were d i s s i m i l a r in most o the r r e s p e c t s . The v i l l a g e r s in Manta la and C o l i p u r compla ined tha t they were not in formed about the meeting tha t was he l d to c o n s t i t u t e Gram  Sarkar and accused the Gram Pradhans of man ipu l a t i ng the s e l e c t i o n of t h e i r suppor t e r s as members. The members of Gram  Sarkar in these two v i l l a g e s had no idea about the s t r u c t u r e proposed by the government. B a s i c a l l y , they d i d not know what 207 they c o u l d do w i th the new i n s t i t u t i o n imposed upon them. The Gram Sarkar members in Ra inagar seemed to have unders tood the i n s t r u c t i o n s c o n t a i n e d in the Manual and set up an o r g a n i z a t i o n a c c o r d i n g l y . I t can be conc luded that the l e a d e r s in Manta la and C o l i p u r f a i l e d to f o l l ow the i n s t r u c t i o n s f o r e s t a b l i s h i n g a s t r u c t u r e of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n . T h i s was the f i r s t e s s e n t i a l s t ep tha t shou ld have been taken be fo re the Gram  Sa rkars c o u l d s t a r t f u n c t i o n i n g . FUNCTIONS Gram Sa rka rs were set up wi th the i n t e n t i o n of execu t i ng a number of s p e c i f i c f u n c t i o n s which would c o n t r i b u t e to the o v e r a l l development of the v i l l a g e s . A compar ison of the f u n c t i o n s per formed and the achievement of the th ree v i l l a g e s in these areas w i l l demonstrate the degree of success of Gram  Sa rka rs• It i s unreasonab le to expect that a l l the a s s i g n e d f u n c t i o n s c o u l d be c a r r i e d out in the shor t p e r i o d over which Gram Sarkar o p e r a t e d . Some of the f u n c t i o n s r e q u i r e d a l onger p e r i o d of t ime to be comp le ted . T h e r e f o r e , I w i l l attempt to i n c l u d e the i n i t i a t i o n of some of these f u n c t i o n s among those accompl i shed by Gram Sa rka r . Gram Sarkar in Manta la per formed a lmost none of i t s expected f u n c t i o n s . The l e a d e r s c o u l d not even set up an o f f i c e fo r the c o u n c i l . A d i l a p i d a t e d room in the Member-Secre ta ry ' s r e s i d e n c e was used f o r the mee t ings , and the Member-Secretary 2 0 8 k e p t i n a d e q u a t e r e c o r d s o f t h e m e e t i n g s i n a c o p y b o o k i n h i s h o u s e . T h e m e m b e r s a n d v i l l a g e r s w e r e n o t i n f o r m e d o f t h e f u n c t i o n s o f t h e G r a m S a r k a r . T h e r e w a s a l i s t k e p t b y t h e M e m b e r - S e c r e t a r y w h i c h s h o w e d t h e p o r t f o l i o s h e l d b y e a c h m e m b e r , b u t i t d i d n o t a l w a y s c o i n c i d e w i t h t h e p o r t f o l i o s t h e m e m b e r s c l a i m e d t o h a v e h e l d . A l t h o u g h t h e l e a d e r s c l a i m e d t h a t m e e t i n g s o f G r a m S a r k a r w e r e h e l d r e g u l a r l y , o n l y t w o m e e t i n g s w e r e a c t u a l l y r e c o r d e d o v e r a p e r i o d o f t w o y e a r s . A m o n g t h e s p e c i f i c l i s t o f f u n c t i o n s a s s i g n e d t o G r a m S a r k a r , t h e a d j u d i c a t i o n o f s o m e l o c a l d i s p u t e s s e e m e d t o b e i t s o n l y a c c o m p l i s h m e n t . M o s t o f t h e o t h e r f u n c t i o n s c o u l d n o t b e i n i t i a t e d , a n d a t t e m p t s a t a d u l t e d u c a t i o n t h r o u g h a n i g h t s c h o o l l a s t e d f o r o n l y a f e w d a y s . M o r e t h a n h a l f o f t h e G r a m S a r k a r m e m b e r s i n M a n t a l a who w e r e a v a i l a b l e f o r c o m m e n t t h o u g h t t h a t t h e v i l l a g e c o u n c i l h a d f a i l e d t o p e r f o r m i t s f u n c t i o n s . A l t h o u g h s o m e o f t h e v i l l a g e r s s a i d t h a t G r a m S a r k a r w a s b e i n g r u n e f f i c i e n t l y , t h e y c o u l d n o t p o i n t t o a n y s p e c i f i c i n s t a n c e o f i m p r o v e m e n t . T h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e v i l l a g e r s w h o w e r e i n t e r v i e w e d s t a t e d t h a t l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s h a d n o t c h a n g e d i n M a n t a l a s i n c e t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f G r a m  S a r k a r i n t h e v i l l a g e . G r a m S a r k a r i n C o l i p u r f a r e d m a r g i n a l l y b e t t e r i n p e r f o r m i n g i t s f u n c t i o n s . T h e v i l l a g e h a d t h e h i g h e s t n u m b e r o f r e s i d e n t s a m o n g t h e t h r e e u n d e r s t u d y a n d t h e r e f o r e , r e q u i r e d m o r e s e r v i c e s f r o m t h e l o c a l b o d i e s . T h e b a s i c f u n c t i o n o f o r g a n i z i n g G r a m S a r k a r w a s n o t c o m p l e t e d i n C o l i p u r . T h e r e w a s n o s e p a r a t e o f f i c e f o r t h e c o u n c i l , a n d t h e o f f i c e o f t h e U n i o n 209 Pa r i shad was used fo r o c c a s i o n a l meet ings . Ac co rd ing to the Gram Pradhan, the d u t i e s and r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s were a l l o c a t e d among the members. But many of the members den ied hav ing any knowledge r ega rd ing what they were expected to do . The p roceed ings and reco rds of the meet ings were not f i l e d , and the Member-Secretary s a i d tha t they were wa i t i ng fo r Gram Sarkar to opera te on a f u l l s c a l e be fo re r e c o r d i n g i t s f u n c t i o n s . 5 Over a t h i r d of the Gram Sarkar members in C o l i p u r c o n s i d e r e d the new i n s t i t u t i o n to be a f a i l u r e . Another t h i r d had no idea about i t s expected f u n c t i o n s and t h e r e f o r e , c o u l d not comment on i t s f u n c t i o n s . The members who thought Gram  Sarkar had been s u c c e s s f u l in C o l i p u r c o u l d c i t e on l y c a n a l -d i g g i n g and a n igh t s choo l as i t s accompl i shments . The v i l l a g e r s w i tnessed no change f o l l o w i n g the i n t r o d u c t i o n of Gram  Sa rka r . In terms of pe r fo rming i t s des igna ted f u n c t i o n s , the new i n s t i t u t i o n has f a i l e d in C o l i p u r . In Ra inaga r , however, i t seems that Gram Sarkar was ab l e to per form some of the f u n c t i o n s f o r which i t was e s t a b l i s h e d . A l l but one member was present at the meet ing which s e l e c t e d the c o u n c i l . A room was ren ted f o r use as the o f f i c e of Gram Sarkar A c c o r d i n g to the v i l l a g e r s , most of the members c o u l d be found at the o f f i c e in the e v e n i n g s . O f f i c i a l s t a t i o n e r y was p r i n t e d and the l e t t e r h e a d i n c l u d e d the names, q u a l i f i c a t i o n s and departments of the Gram Pradhan, the Member-Secretary and the members. The members were g e n e r a l l y aware of the f u n c t i o n s they were expec ted to per form f o r the new c o u n c i l . S ince Ra inagar i s not an a g r i c u l t u r a l v i l l a g e , ex t ens i v e 210 e f f o r t s to i n c r ease food p roduc t i on were not under taken . Both the v i l l a g e r s and members of Gram Sarkar agreed that the law and order s i t u a t i o n had improved and d i s p u t e s were be ing a d j u d i c a t e d l o c a l l y in i n c r e a s i n g numbers. Some r e p a i r s were made on the e x i s t i n g roads and a number of v i l l a g e r s gave c r e d i t to the Gram  Sarkar fo r these works. The other a reas in which the new c o u n c i l d i d some work, but was not very s u c c e s s f u l , were mass l i t e r a c y and f am i l y p l a n n i n g . C o n t r a c e p t i v e s were d i s t r i b u t e d by the member in charge of f am i l y p l ann ing be fo re she got mar r i ed and l e f t the v i l l a g e . As in the o ther v i l l a g e s I obse r ved , n igh t s choo l s fo r adu l t educa t i on s u r v i v e d on ly fo r a shor t p e r i o d of t ime . Members of Gram Sarkar f e l t tha t the other f u n c t i o n s c o u l d not be per formed because the new i n s t i t u t i o n was not -al lowed adequate t ime . A h igh government o f f i c i a l in Dhaka gave the same reason fo r the f a i l u r e of Gram  Sarkar to per form i t s f u n c t i o n s , and added tha t by the end of the second or t h i r d y e a r , the r e s u l t s would have become v i s i b l e . 6 Among the th ree v i l l a g e s under s tudy , Gram Sarkar in Ra inagar was ab l e to per form more f u n c t i o n s than the o ther two. The i n s t i t u t i o n was we l l o rgan i zed and r e g u l a r meet ings were h e l d . At the mee t ings , l o c a l problems were d i s c u s s e d and p r o j e c t s f i n a l i z e d . A r e l a t i v e l y h igh degree of p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n had p repared the v i l l a g e to u t i l i z e the new i n s t i t u t i o n . In Man t a l a , meet ings were ra re and the a t tendance was s l i m . An ext remely low l e v e l of p o l i t i c a l m o b i l i z a t i o n was man i f e s t in the l i t t l e i n t e r e s t d i s p l a y e d by the v i l l a g e r s 21 1 toward the l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n . The meet ings of Gram Sarkar i n C o l i p u r were a t t ended by some v i l l a g e r s as we l l as some members. The r e co rds of the performance of a s s i gned f u n c t i o n s to improve l i v i n g c o n d i t i o n s in Manta la and C o l i p u r were not i m p r e s s i v e . Thus v a r y i n g degrees of r e ad ines s a f f e c t e d the performance of Gram Sarkar in the three v i l l a g e s . PERSONNEL The background, q u a l i f i c a t i o n s , and expe r i ence of the Gram  Sarkar members d i f f e r e d in the th ree v i l l a g e s . These f a c t o r s shou ld be compared, and t h e i r impact on the r e l a t i v e success of the new c o u n c i l s in d i f f e r e n t v i l l a g e s a s s e s s e d . The c h a r a c t e r of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s i s de te rmined , to a l a rge e x t e n t , by the q u a l i t y of pe r sonne l o p e r a t i n g the l o c a l counc i I s . Manta la had never had a l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n p r i o r to the c r e a t i o n of Gram Sarkar . As a r e s u l t , the v i l l a g e r s had no expe r i ence of p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n , or p r o v i d i n g l e a d e r s h i p f o r , l o c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s . A few of the v i l l a g e r s who had some expe r i ence w i th the Union P a r i s h a d , e i t h e r d i d not want to get i n v o l v e d w i th Gram Sa rka r , or were d e l i b e r a t e l y exc luded by the Gram Pradhan. The people p i c k e d by the Gram Pradhan as members were e i t h e r h i s l o y a l suppo r t e r s or so t o t a l l y a p a t h e t i c that they would not q u e s t i o n h i s d e c i s i o n s . Some of them were not i n t e r e s t e d and never showed up at mee t ings . 212 F i ve out of the ten Gram Sarkar members who were in te r v i ewed in Manta la were i l l i t e r a t e ; one c o u l d on l y w r i t e h i s name, and two o the r s had two to three years of s c h o o l i n g . The Gram Pradhan had a t tended schoo l up to c l a s s seven . The Member-S e c r e t a r y , who had the most yea rs of s c h o o l i n g , had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s t e n . On the whole, the ext remely low l e v e l of l i t e r a c y and l a ck of expe r i ence in l o c a l government s e v e r e l y reduced the p o s s i b i l i t y of a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a t i o n by Gram Sarkar members in Man ta l a . The average age of M a n t a l a ' s Gram Sarkar members, e x c l u d i n g the s i x t y year o l d Gram Pradhan, was t h i r t y - t h r e e y e a r s . In c o n t r a v e n t i o n of the r u l e tha t a member had to be at l e a s t twenty- f i ve yea rs o l d , two members aged twenty and twenty-two were s e l e c t e d . 7 In accordance w i th the i n s t r u c t i o n s of the government, two women were s e l e c t e d as members, but n e i t h e r of them was ever c a l l e d to the meet ings or asked to per form any f u n c t i o n s . About h a l f of the members were sma l l farmers owning between a h a l f a c re to th ree ac res of l a n d , and the o the r s were l a n d l e s s . The Gram Pradhan and the Member-Secretary be longed to the wealthy f a m i l i e s , and owned more l and than any of the o t h e r s . The dependence of the sma l l farmers and the l a n d l e s s on the wealthy f a m i l i e s rendered Gram Sarkar i n e f f e c t i v e . The Gram  Pradhan ran the c o u n c i l in an a u t h o r i t a r i a n way, and the members c o u l d not c h a l l e n g e h i s d e c i s i o n s . C o l i p u r had housed the Union P a r i shad o f f i c e f o r some t ime , and some of the v i l l a g e r s were f a m i l i a r w i th the o p e r a t i o n of l o c a l government i n s t i t u t i o n s . The Union Pa r i shad members were 213 dominated by t h e i r Chairman who a l s o had i n f l u e n c e over h i s b r o t h e r , the Gram Pradhan. The members of the Gram Sarkar were p i c ked by the Union Pa r i shad Cha i rman. Though he attempted to i n c l ude r e p r e s e n t a t i o n from a l l a reas of the v i l l a g e in the new c o u n c i l , i t s members were e i t h e r the Cha i rman ' s l o y a l suppor te r s or o the r s who were u n l i k e l y to c h a l l e n g e h i s a u t h o r i t y . In C o l i p u r , t o o , meet ings fo r the Gram Sarkar were r a r e l y h e l d , and a l l members and the v i l l a g e r s were not i n fo rmed . As a r e s u l t , the a t tendance was s l i m , and the Gram Pradhan d i d not face any o b j e c t i o n to h i s d e c i s i o n s . The average age of the pe r sonne l s e l e c t e d as Gram Sarkar members in C o l i p u r was f o r t y - s i x y e a r s . The l o c a l l e ade r s were, t h e r e f o r e , much o l d e r in compar ison to those in Manta la or Ra inagar . Two of the members were i l l i t e r a t e and f i v e had pr imary e d u c a t i o n . 8 Three members and the Gram Pradhan had s t u d i e d up to c l a s s seven and t e n . The Member-Secretary had two bache lo r deg rees . The Gram Pradhan had some p r e v i o u s exper i ence in l o c a l a f f a i r s as the commander of the v i l l a g e guards . One other member was i n v o l v e d in v i l l a g e a f f a i r s a long time ago, but he was too o l d to p a r t i c i p a t e now and was i n c l u d e d in the Gram Sarkar wi thout h i s knowledge or c o n s e n t . F i ve of the members were sma l l farmers and the two female members were housewives from sma l l farmer f a m i l i e s . One member was a boatman as we l l as a fa rmer . A l l the members owned sma l l p l o t s of l a n d . The Gram Pradhan, the Member-Secretary and two other members owned more l and and were a l s o engaged in bus i nes s or o ther s e r v i c e s o u t s i d e the v i l l a g e . The membership of C o l i p u r ' s Gram 214 Sarkar was thus composed of peop le w i th v a r i e d backgrounds . The pe r sonne l i n v o l v e d in Gram Sarkar in Ra inagar were d i f f e r e n t as the re were no farmers in the c o u n c i l . F i v e of the ten members who were i n t e r v i ewed were engaged in s e r v i c e . Three members se rved at the U n i v e r s i t y of Ra jshah i and two were employed in the Jute and Sugar M i l l s . One employee of a M i l l a l s o owned a f u r n i t u r e s t o r e . Two members were f u l l t ime bus inessmen, one was a r ickshaw p u l l e r , but the two female members d i d not ho ld j o b s . The Gram Pradhan was a c o l l e g e p r o f e s s o r be fo re j o i n i n g Gram Sarkar . None of the members gave up t h e i r jobs or bus inesses to work fo r the new i n s t i t u t i o n . The average age of the members e x c l u d i n g the Gram Pradhan was t h i r t y - f i