“Is Devolution Democratisation”. In World Development, 29 (12), 2001, 2007-2024.
Recent attempts at introducing new forms of governance in forest management in India have focussed on devolution to user-groups or village level “participatory committees”. Success or failure is attributed to the presence or absence of “social capital” among these groups. However, these groups have never existed outside the state, and social relations, including social capital, are continually being transformed by administrative and market forces. This paper argues that what matters is not the degree of government intervention, i.e. more or less devolution, or the degree of social capital among local communities, but state accountability. This can only be ensured through addressing questions of political reform.
Key words: Devolution, Social Capital, State, Forestry, Asia, India
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