Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The State of Indian State

This is a very interesting analysis about the functions of Indian State in the modern era. You can agree or disagree, everyone of us are looking at The State with some special attention musing that IT CAN DO EVERYTHING FOR US! 

The following few para are from a article by Dr Mehta. There is also a interesting lecture titled The Burden of Democracy – India After 65 Years by him. The video is here.

"The architecture of the Indian state is now being seriously contested. Indian practices of exercising power were founded on six principles that are no longer tenable."
  • " The first principle was vertical accountability. To be held accountable meant being held accountable by your superiors, not by citizens or other parts of the system. So long as the powers that be did not ask questions, did not prosecute or pursue you, no one else did. This is slowly beginning to change. There are potentially a lot more sites for horizontal accountability within the state. But most importantly, there is a clamour to be held accountable to citizens, not just in some diffuse way through elections, but in terms of the services the state provides."
  • " The second principle was relative secrecy. The state had a great informational advantage over citizens in two senses. The state’s own inner workings were relatively secret. And the state was a primary source of information about our well-being. Both those propositions are no longer true. It would be foolish for any state to now assume that its legitimacy can rest on keeping secrets. But perhaps more importantly, citizens craft a sense of well-being through information outside of the state. A couple of decades ago, you may not have known your water or air was poisoned because the state did not tell you."
  • "The third principle of state power was wide discretion. To a degree, all states require discretionary power. But they need to justify its use through an exercise of public reason, where those reasons take into account all stakeholders. In every major decision the government has been involved in, whether allocating spectrum or land, siting SEZs or designing water schemes, it has failed to engage in public reason. It assumed it could get away with shoddy justifications for its actions." 
  • "The fourth principle of the state was relative centralisation. Despite the fact that you have so many regional parties that share power, India remains one of the most administratively centralised states in the world. The degree of centralisation, where the Planning Commission micromanages every small rule associated with a centrally sponsored scheme with tragically perverse effects, is untenable in a society as vibrant and complex as India. Local bodies, whether urban or rural, are still not seen as instruments of self-government, as institutions that will resolve local conflicts."

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