INDIAN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Topic: Accountability of local and state governments in India: an overview of recent research.
Dilip Mookherjee (Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Issue 1: Volume 7: 2014
Recently study of the phenomenon of Government Failure has begun where the behavior and outcome of real-world political and bureaucratic processes are analyzed and compared against normative benchmarks. In past two decades the literature on political economy and accountability of state government developed drastically and because of this the performance of Indian state and local governments with regard to anti-poverty programs, rural development, and public service delivery.
There are many possible reasons that affect the effectiveness of election mechanism: Government accountability for its citizens, Voter characteristics, Politicians or party characteristics, Special interested groups, Political clientelism (Vote Buying), etc. Here the question is how well local democracy is functioning, especially in last two decades since 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments usher in the three-tier structure of local government. Annual aggregate report on rural development varies because of poor performance in West Bengal and southern states. The system is unable to deliver in terms of actual performance is because of Voting on caste or communal identity and political dynasty and this reflects on working of elected officials. Reservation of political position in the state legislature and Panchayat for SC/ST group is not productive and enhances the flow of benefits to SC/ST groups.
India now needs high-quality leaders and concentrates on development activities rather than working on unproductive activities or supporting any communal extreme groups and maintaining law and order in a state to protect its citizen and property loss. Media plays an important role in democracy and division of media houses for and against government itself is a matter of great concern.
With respect to the conduct of elections, patterns of political participation and awareness, states that have been studied exhibit symptoms of a healthy, well-functioning democracy. Elections are free and fair for the most part, exhibiting high levels of turnout. Gram Sabhas appear to allow space for representation of diverse citizen groups minimizing across caste and class groups, though less so with respect to the representation of women.
There are many worrying trends of diminishing credibility of the state in various parts of the country in the face of Maoist rebellions and separatist movements fuelled by poor leadership and a failure to deliver basic security, infrastructure or coherent development efforts. But there are a number of hopeful signs. Established incumbents have lost power in recent state elections in Assam and Uttar Pradesh and competition in Gujrat election following the disappointing performance on developmental dimensions. These indicate voters are increasingly becoming more aware and more demanding of their elected representatives. This is happening because of raising education level, ideology affinity and the youngster with modern brain except for few groups, those who believe themselves above Supreme Court.
As Agriculture Sector is diminishing and migration to the urban area increased and spread of Television, Communication and Internet facilitates to connect with the rest of the world. As living standards rise, citizens are more concerned with infrastructure, educational and health services, and non-agricultural employment opportunities.