Journal Article


Ambiguous Institutions: Traditional Governance and Local Democracy in Rural South India

Published on 1 April 2010

In India, ‘customary village councils’ are generally believed to be disappearing vestiges of a pre-democratic, hierarchical socio-political order. However, while remaining informal and maintaining a low public profile, in Karnataka state they are actively taking on new roles, adapting to the democratic, competitive political environment, becoming more representative and pluralist, and providing a wide range of services that are highly valued by the populations they serve. The relationship of customary village councils to the formal, elected local councils (Grama Panchayats) – and to electoral democracy generally – is more synergistic and complementary than competitive.


Mick Moore

Professorial Fellow

Publication details

AnanthPur, K. and Moore, M.P.
Journal of Development Studies, volume 46, issue 4


About this publication

Related content


Immersive Research for Safer Sanitation in Bihar and Maharashtra, India

SLH Learning Paper;14

2 May 2023