The three member Task Force chaired by Dr.T.M.Thomas Isaac that proposed the formation of Kudumbashree had made it clear that the proposed community organisation was to work together with the PRIs without one being subordinated to the other. CDS was not to be an appendage of the PRI committee; PRIs were to respect the autonomy of the community organisation. CDSs were to respect PRIs as institutions of local governance.
“The PRI-community organisation strategy for poverty eradication was based on a substantive recommendation of the three member task force”, says S.M. Vijayanand, the then LSG Secretary, who was a member of the committee along with Dr. Prakash Bakshi, General Manager, National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). “It was the vision of Paloli Mohammad Kutty, the then Minister for Local Self-Government that Kudumbashree should not be subordinate to any government department”.
Kudumbashree was proposed as a solution to the many limitations faced by the departmental approach to poverty eradication. Narrow departmental approach and implementation had been identified as a serious lacuna affecting the development initiatives of the State. Therefore, while it was created under the Department of Local Self-Government of the State government, care was taken to ensure that it emerged as a common platform for various departments.
Historically Kudumbashree evolved as the next logical step of democratic decentralisation in Kerala. That way, the network of Neighbourhood Groups is the social organisation of local governments. This community based organisation of the poor was visualised as partners to local governments; not as parallel to them. At the same time, the autonomy of the community organisation has been protected. They cannot be subordinated to the local governments; they have the space to work for the poor, the women, and the common people in partnership with local governments.
“The beauty of the community organisation system is its autonomy while working closely with local government”, says S.M. Vijayanand. “If they were under the local governments, their autonomy would have been compromised; if they worked independently of local governments, they would not have got the gains of democratisation”.