ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Powerful Tool to Rejig Decentralisation and Horizontal Equity

The Mission Antyodaya Project

This article outlines the significance of the decentralisation reforms, which turned the dual federation of India into a multi-tier system, mandating systemic outcomes in democracy, accountability, local economic development, and social justice. It also examines how the grand design to strengthen the process of horizontal equity at the local level failed and probes into the potential of the Mission Antyodaya project to give an improved lease of life to the reforms and rural development.

The third tier in the Indian federal system has acquired constitutional status following the decentralisation reforms heralded by the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, made fully operational from April 1994. This has considerably widened the scope for policy choices, transfer arrangements, and delivery of equity in India’s architecture of cooperative federalism.1

Drèze and Sen (1995, 2002, 2013) in their three books on India’s development written over a span of 18 years have strongly affirmed the role of what they call the “panchayat amendments”2 for democratic practice as well as for effective and equitable management of public services, which are critical to the quality of life of the citizens. For them local demo­cracy and decentralisation are different entities that need to be mutually nourished for public welfare. The received theories of fiscal federalism with reference to local governments are not suited to the decentralisation reforms as exemplified in the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. Even so, it is important to note that the microeconomic theory of consumer choice or the theory of the firm is inapplicable to the social and economic realities of the multi-tiered federalism of India.

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Updated On : 29th Aug, 2022
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