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Local Self-Governance: Understanding Municipalities and Panchayats

Starts on: 1 st & 15 th of every month | Duration: 6 Months | Registration open

Course Developers

Dr. Alok Pandey

Dr. Alok Pandey, PRIA, has been actively involved with the development sector for over 10 years and possesses a rich and diverse experience. His core strength lies in using participatory processes to help different stakeholders identify and plan out their development agenda needs. To help develop the capacity of different stakeholders, he has conceptualized and conducted programmes using Participatory Training methodologies, to develop the capacities of these audiences on issues which include RTI, social audits, conflict management, mediation, negotiation, etc. His career span has taken him on several important assignments, where he has coordinated programmes and facilitated trainings on behalf of various prominent development organizations such as UNICEF, Aga Khan Foundation etc. His experience also includes writing books and articles on issues related to development, planning and have presented papers at various national and international seminars and conferences.

Mr. Manoj Rai

Mr. Manoj Rai, Director, PRIA, has a career spanning more than 20 years in development research and advocacy. He has developed a strong analytical understanding of the contemporary social, political and economic dimensions of development. He has extensive experience in citizen participation and local governance with special focus on Rural Governance and Rural Development. Mr. Rai is dazzlingly skilled at Policy Advocacy, Policy Research, and Networking with Government, NGOs, Media and Academic Institutions. He is member of various specialised committees including the C-DAP committee of the Planning Commission of India, Expert Group of National Institute of Health and Family Welfare, etc. Mr. Rai has authored and co-authored many books and articles, which have been published in IIZ/DVV journal, Journal of International Adult Education, Indian Pediatrics, Journal of Family Welfare and Health, Journal of Indian Economic Association, The Economic and Political Weekly, NFI Bulletin, Participation and Governance, etc.

Dr. Rajesh Tandon

Dr. Rajesh Tandon, PRIA, New Delhi, is an internationally acclaimed leader and practitioner of participatory research and development. He founded the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), a voluntary organisation providing support to grassroots initiatives in South Asia, twenty-eight years ago, and continues to be its Chief Functionary since 1982. A renowned authority on participatory research, Dr. Tandon has championed the cause of building organisations and capacities of the marginalised through their knowledge, learning and empowerment. He has contributed to the emergence of several local, national and international groups and initiatives to promote authentic and participatory development of societies.

Ms. Shrdha Kumar

Ms. Shrdha Kumar, has completed her Master's in Social Work, from Barkatullah University, Bhopal. For over a decade she has been involved in issues of democracy, strengthening decentralisation processes, 'accountability and transparency. She has done pioneering work in developing tools of social accountability and has published a citizen report card detailing the status of key urban services, in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh.

About the Course Special Features Target_Audience Learning Outcomes Course Format


PRIA's experience of 30 years in the arena of Governance, Citizenship and Participation demonstrates that the strengthening of local self-governing institutions and empowering the people on local government is a task that insists on accountability and transparency on the part of the government and its varied offices. The contents of this course establish and illustrate the need for local self-governance and decentralization; it also highlights the challenges faced in reaching these objectives. This course examines the constitutional mandates, statutory provisions and functional organization related to local self-governing institutions. Reference is also made to the financial status of local bodies, and decentralized planning as accountability mechanisms used in local self-governing institutions. India, which has one of the oldest and most robust systems of local self-governance, is used as a base example to explain the concept.


  • This innovative course is one of its kind, at the national, regional and international level, offered in a distance education mode.
  • It gives an overview of the concept of decentralized governance; the rationale behind the massive shift towards it, both in the rural and the urban areas across the globe
  • It draws together theory and practice of local self-governance through field case studies and practical illustrations.
  • The course material is designed and developed, to meet the special requirements of a distance mode of education. It includes inbuilt exercises and in-text questions aimed at stimulating critical thinking and analysis.
  • Moodle the preferred web-based platform, used by educational institutions across the world, is used to maximize interaction between the instructors and the learners. Lively discussions take place in an asynchronous mode, enabling learners from across the globe to participate and share their comments, queries, suggestions, views and experiences in their virtual classroom.
  • Learners can also access the instructor through the Moodle, via emails, Skype and even over the telephone.


This course is designed for practitioners, adult educators, managers (staff of international and national voluntary development organisations, bi-lateral and multi-lateral development agencies, and government departments), researchers and policy makers from countries of the South, who are currently engaged in or interested in learning about local self-governance.

This course is also intended as an in-service career opportunity for practitioners, who could be mid-career professionals or young professionals, with some practical experience of being engaged in the process of social change.


On completion of the course the learner would be enabled to:

  • Understand the constitutional provision and broad legal framework under which the local governance institutions are intended to operate
  • Understand the meaning of the term local self-governance and appreciate its relevance in development
  • Comprehend the various forms of decentralization and the forces driving it
  • Gain familiarity with decentralization in urban India and outline the challenges faced in urban management, using India as a case
  • Analyze the status of devolution of functions, finances and functionaries
  • Understand the challenges in local administration in terms of human, financial and statutory powers available to Local Government Institutions


This course intends to stimulate the learner's interest in the concepts and rationale of local self-governance. It aims to provide basic background information and tools, including case studies, to build their conceptual clarity, as well as use this knowledge to strengthen field based programmes.


  • 6 units of study
  • Four evaluative exercises – Reflection note, quizzes and project based assignment.
  • 2–3 videos for the course
  • Powerpoint presentation giving the highlights of each unit
  • Additional readings per unit


Unit 1: Relevance and importance of Local Self Governance in large representative oriented democracies (Basic framework for participation in Governance)

Unit 2: Constitutional Mandate, Statutory Provisions and Functional Organization of Local Governance Institutions

Unit 3: Financial Status of Local Bodies

Unit 4: Decentralized Planning - Methods, outcomes and challenges

Unit 5:Accountability in Local Bodies

Unit 6: Capacities Deficiencies and Interventions

Select A Course You Want to Register For (atleast one course should be select)

Appreciation Programmes
  Adult Education and Social Change
  Monitoring of Adult Education Programme
  Participatory Enumeration and Mapping
  Participatory Integrated District Planning
  Participatory Social Audit: A Tool for Social Accountability
  Participatory Urban Planning: Making Cities Inclusive of Urban Poor
  Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace
  Women’s Political Empowerment and Leadership
Certificate Programmes
  International Dimensions of Adult Education and Lifelong Learning
  Civil Society Building
  International Perspectives in Citizenship, Democracy and Accountability
  International Perspectives in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation
  International Perspectives in Participatory Research
  NGO Management Foundation Course
  Occupational Health and Safety: Legal and Operational Guide
  Understanding Gender in Society: Concepts and Trends
  Participatory Training Methodology
Training Capsule
  Understanding the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013

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  • For INR Transfer

  • Name of the Account Holder: PRIA Educational Trust
  • Name of the Bank: Axis Bank Ltd.
  • Address of the Bank: K - 1998, Chittranjan Park, New Delhi - 110019
  • Account Number: 913010024103220
  • IFSC Code: UTIB0000430

  • For Dollar Transfer

  • Name of the Account Holder: PRIA Educational Trust
  • Name of the Bank: Axis Bank Ltd
  • Address of the Bank: K - 1998, Chittranjan Park, New Delhi - 110019
  • Account Number: 913010024103220
  • Axis Bank New Delhi Swift code:AXISINBB049
  • Corresponding Bank: JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York
  • Swift Code of Corresponding Bank: CHASUS33
  • IFSC Code: UTIB0000430


  • Drawn in favour of: PRIA EDUCATIONAL TRUST
  • Payable at: New Delhi


  • I am an example of the Kishori Panchayat Programme which gave young girls the desire to do something, a reason to embrace life

    Kishori Panchayat Member
  • We learnt multi-stakeholder dialogue as a tool for advocacy from PRIA…it is a wonderful tool for organising people

    Ashok Kadam
  • PRIA has helped to build a large movement for citizens to use Panchayati Raj Institutions at the local level, to use their leadership, their voice, to bring about democracy from below

    Dr John Gaventa, Director of Research
    Institute of Development Studies
    Sussex, UK
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of being able to enroll myself in the course…this program has opened my eyes to possibilities for my life which were previously unconsidered

    Tripti Vinita Pal, Alumnus
    Appreciation course
  • Participatory Approaches for Social Inclusion course was undoubtedly beneficial for my research work, providing a deep understanding of theoretical aspects and the applied side of participation

    Pallavi Mishra
    PhD Research Scholar
    Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • I am a third party facilitator for three large institutions but I did not know half the things we have discussed in the Third Party Facilitator Training I attended organized by PRIA

    Joint Secretary of Lakshmi, an NGO
  • Thank you PRIA -- for helping me gain the confidence to speak up. Today, I do not hesitate to speak with the sarpanch.

    Renu Joshi
    ASHA worker
    Hinglaz gali Anganwadi Centre, Siwana Block, Barmer, Rajasthan
  • Elected members & officials from Northern Province, Sri Lanka visited PRIA to learn about their exemplary work in developing citizen participation in governance and service delivery. JGU thanks PRIA.

    Prof. R. Sudarshan
    Dean, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy
    O.P. Jindal Global University
  • Undeniably good work done by PRIA. My visits to the communities they work with let me hear grassroots voices and stories...deeply rewarding for my personal growth, work and future research

    Loreen Regnander
    Intern, University of Victoria, Canada
  • PRIA facilitators listen, engage and explain at the level where participants understand and learn through many practical exercises. The best workshop on gender that our employees have attended

    Tsering Youdon
    Program Officer, Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief
    SOIR-IM, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

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