an iron hand in a velvet glove
Two decades ago, participation was anathema to the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) such as the World Bank and IMF. Now, in the aftermath of sharp criticism of their Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), not only do they embrace participation with confidence, but they also make it a condition for assistance (e.g. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) need to be prepared based on civil society participation). Given this context, Chapter One unravels how advocates of participation have envisaged this as a new development orthodoxy looking at both sides of the arguments: on the one hand, this can be meaningful in terms of generating voices from below, and, on the other, as a tool for validating external development recipe. This chapter also assesses how participation has been intermixed with civil society in developing the PRSPs, pretending to be ‘produced’ and ‘owned’ locally. It also sketches out the revival of civil society in the development circuit and how this has been combined with the rhetoric of participation, and likens this as an iron hand in a velvet glove.
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