With the introduction of Panchayati Raj Institutions in India, new spaces and initiatives have been designed to deepen democracy at the local level and make it more inclusive. These strengthened Grama Panchayats often co-exist with a range of intersecting local institutions particularly those that are apparently rooted in traditions and customs - Customary Panchayats. Research in Karnataka indicates that rather than shrinking in face of modernity, these institutions have found ways to interact, often positively, with Grama Panchayats. There is some evidence to suggest that Customary Panchayats themselves both influence and adapt to the existence of Grama Panchayats. A deeper understanding of the dynamics of this interaction would enhance the capacity of government agencies and social movements to intervene effectively to help promote the interests of the poor and disadvantaged and strengthen local governance.
MIDS Working Paper No. 187, Chennai: Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS), May 2004, 26 pp.