September 5, 2011
at the grassroots
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity of facilitating a workshop on decentralization of health services in Maldives. This is a decision the Maldivian government recently took to bring public decision-making closer to the community. Laudable is this move, and I must say is the essence of democracy. People must be the deciders of their fate in the ultimate analysis. That is what we understand by the concept of democratic governance. Hopefully, this will be the first step to our local voices being heard in the mainstream of public decision making. As a nation that has espoused full fledged democratic governance only just about three years or so ago (with the separation of powers etc.), this decision must necessaritly go with an understanding of the power of our voices to shape the future. This is what democratic governance claims to bring in. But it must also be said that much of our past Maldives history is crowded with top-down approachs to public decision making and so to get voices to emerge from these layers of public silence will take a lot of doing. Especially at the island level to which this devolution has taken place, needs a lot of coaching and coaxing to bring the leadership there to both understand this sea change in the way we would now help people lead their lives, and change their style to truly seek the voice of the people. "To each one a voice" is the drive that is needed for a refreshing beginning that must lay aside the centuries old silent and passive generations.