Institutions improve access to qualitative services and are therefore considered to be important for rural development. In post-independence India, panchayats and cooperatives were entrusted with the responsibility of social and economic development at the village level. The vision was that these two institutions must function harmoniously and in a complementary manner for the speedy rural development.
Subsequently, these two rural institutions have gone in different ways. In view of the worldwide recognition for decentralization and the role that decentralized institutions can play in rural development, several countries have embarked the path of decentralization and development approach to rural development. The strengthening of cooperatives for providing economic services has also been emphasised. It is in this context that this volume addresses the following questions: Are these two institutions collaborating with each other at the ground level? If yes, in what areas? If not, what are the potential areas of collaboration? What constraints exist in this collaboration?
The papers in this volume explore the links between panchayats and cooperatives for rural development. While doing so, the papers discuss the promise of decentralization by taking Panchayat Raj Institutions in India as an example, and identify best practices that could be adopted in the South Asian countries for cooperative and rural development. Specifically, the papers discuss the evolution of panchayats and cooperatives in India, their role in rural development, and their problems and prospects. The way forward in developing an interface between these two institutions for rural development is also discussed. This volume will be of interest to academicians, students and policy makers.