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Rethinking Public Institutions in India$
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Devesh Kapur, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, and Milan Vaishnav

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199474370

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199474370.001.0001

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Re-energizing Democratic Decentralization in India

Re-energizing Democratic Decentralization in India

Chapter:
(p.464) 11 Re-energizing Democratic Decentralization in India
Source:
Rethinking Public Institutions in India
Author(s):

T.R. Raghunandan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199474370.003.0012

This chapter describes the current status of democratic decentralisation to local governments (LGs) in India. The political support for decentralisation has been fitful and typically driven by a few champions. The transition to a system of LGs as autonomous spheres of government has been caught in limbo because administrative and fiscal arrangements have not kept pace with well-intentioned legal provisions. This has resulted in LGs that are burdened with a wide array of devolved functions on paper, but with little fiscal space and low administrative capability to execute these effectively. The earlier paradigm of top-down devolution should be supplanted by a demand-driven approach that incentivises elected representatives from LGs to build a body of effective practice from below. Several interesting experiments in building collaborative knowledge networks and awarding local initiative might trigger the transformation that has eluded efforts made so far.

Keywords:   local government, devolution, functional assignment, fiscal decentralisation, fiscal transfers, Finance Commission, elections, capacity development, property taxes, expenditure tracking

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