In the current trajectory of development literature and practice few words are as central as that of participation, inclusion and identity. Located within a template of a yet to be fully democratic society and nation, efforts have been directed to address the wide range of exclusions that stem from class, caste and gender based differences in India. In deploying these terms the discourse of development has shifted emphasis from the unilinear Rostowian paths of West-based, imitative growth to focusing on issues of agency, identity, voice, and participation. Yet, significant as these are in the milestones of development, they also adumbrate the complexities and challenges that any development agenda faces in realizing them. This volume emanating from the Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), an institution that is engaged in a range of development activities, is the result not of just academic pontification but is culled from reflections that have resulted from development encounters, experiences and expressions.
The introduction by the editors summarises the key perspectives and definitions; the need for participatory citizenship to factor in the differential power of people, their ability to engage with institutions and the need to challenge the range of domination and oppression, and the role of the State in facilitating these.