(2004) JLP 50: 161-172
In the last two decades while ‘decentralized governance’ and ‘participation’ have become buzz words among policy planners and bureaucrats, in actual practice communities are being pushed to the margins. National and state laws still define the major concerns of Indian society and polity. The present paper aims to highlight the dominance of statutory laws over local self-governing institutions and how community space is constricted in the name of participatory governance. It argues that communities are treated as mere beneficiaries rather than as active partners. It also highlights the fact that the introduction of New Joint Forest Management in 1996 has overridden the customary claims of communities on forests practiced over decades. Further, it shows how boundaries and fences have become sites of anxiety, creating artificial enclaves and plots, and in the process excluding communities from their rightful access to resources.