The Untouchables

--- a national shame

Gandhi believed that once power was restored to the villages, vested interests would lose authority over the oppressed, the gram sabha would rationalise land rights, and an egalitarian society would emerge. The leadership instituted a centralised system under which the vested interests connived with higher level politics and local revenue and police officials, tied disputes in litigation and fortified exploitation.

Illiteracy is often stated a reason for not restoring power to the villages. While education is important for responsible democracy, denial of empowerment is worse, for the weak can then never come out of the exploitation trap.

Since ages, people of different social strata and faiths have lived in harmony at the local level. If the village assembly controls all village resources, officials and decision-making, vested interests will not be able to exploit the community. True local empowerment is the only route to social and economic regeneration.

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