Afghan govt for coop with India in local governance

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New Delhi, July 29 (UNI) The Government of Afghanistan today evinced keen interest in forging a bilateral relationship with India in the field of local governance.

The Afghan side conveyed its interest during interactions of the Indo-Afghan joint Working Group on cooperation in field of local governance with Union Minister for Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyer.

The first meeting of the JWG, co-chaired by the Secretary in the Union Panchayati Raj Ministry A N P Sinha and Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in the Afghanistan Government, Asif Rahimi was held in Krishi Bhawan yesterday.

At the meeting, the JWG, set up as per a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in Kabul on May 17, was briefed on the various schemes and programmes being undertaken by the Afghan Government and the various programmes handled by the Panchayati Raj Institutions in India.

In fact, pursuant to the May 17 MOU, a delegation from Aghanistan led by the Director General in the country's Independent Directorate of Local governance (IDLG) and Afghan Minister Jelani Popal visited India on an exposure visit on local self Governance between July 21-27. During their visit, the eight-member Afghan delegation held meetings with Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and visited institutions like Indian Institute of Public Administration, paaarticipatory Reasearch in Asia (PRIA), Institute of Social Sciences (ISS), the National Institute of Rural Development (NIRD)and undertook many field visits to Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in Faridabad and Hyderabad.

Last week, the Afghan delagation signed MOUs with IIPA, ISS, PRIA and NIRD.

In its first meeting yesterday, the Joint Working Group finalised the future activities for mutual cooperation on the basis of the MOU signed by with IIPA, ISS, PRIA and NIRD.

It was agreed to operationalise the MOUs at the earliest possible.

It was also agreed to hold a workshop in Afghanistan in September and a meeting of the joint forum on local governance to be co-chaired by the Union Minister for Panchayati Raj M S Aiyar and Minister for Rural rehabilitation and development and DG and Minister, IDLG, Government of Afghanistan in October.

It was broadly agreed by the two sides that the institutions identified by the JWG will work on training need analysis, framework for capacity building, design of training courses, training of trainers, conducting the training courses, development of resource centre, exposure visits of elected local representatives including women and other functionaries, networking of institutions, support to policy formulation and drafting of legislation for sub national governance etc.

At the initial stage, the joint working group will meet frequently as per dates mutually agreed by the two sides.

UNI AR RR VC1735

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