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The institutional structure of the Panchayati Raj, the local self-government system in India, and the implementation of rural development programmes in the context of a participatory approach have been examined in this paper. Although the Panchayati Raj institutions have existed for many years, owing to inherent weaknesses in the systems they were not very effective in the implementation of rural development programmes. Through constitutional amendments a third tier of local self-government has been set up and steps have been taken to remove the inherent shortcomings of the system. It is expected that the new Panchayati system should now provide the much needed non-bureaucratic institutional support to rural development programmes. With a more aware rural population, the prospects for success are perhaps brighter. The functioning of the new decentralized system has been examined with three case studies concerning rural roads planning and their implementation. Policy conclusions are drawn based on a general analysis of the new set-up, past experience and the findings from the three case studies.

This issue of the Bulletin comprises of four articles:

Article 1: Panchayati Raj and Planning in India: Participatory Institutions and Rural Roads - by Yoginder K. Alagh;

Article 2: Tambon Administration Organization: Are the People in the Dramatis Personae or in the Audience? - by Chaiyan Rajchagool;

Article 3: Community Participation and Environmental Protection in the Construction of Mountain Roads: Promotion of the “Green Road” Approach in Nepal - by Suresh Sharma and. Madhuban Lal Maskay; and

Article 4: Revisiting Participation: “Win-Win” Strategy in Negotiations with Railway Authorities and Squatters, Mumbai, India - by Sheela Patel.