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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

(p.464) 11 Re-energizing Democratic Decentralization in India
Rethinking Public Institutions in India

T.R. Raghunandan

Oxford University Press

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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