Power to the People? The Politics and Progress of Decentralisation
The 73rd and the 74th Amendments to the Indian Constitution which came into effect in 1993 represents a major systemic change in the structure of government in India. It has the potential to provide for multi-level governance ensuring empowerment of local governments and their accountability to the people.
After tracing briefly the past efforts towards decentralisation in the country under stalwarts like Nehru and its decline and derailment in the subsequent years, the book discusses the progress of the amendment exercises during the government of Rajiv Gandhi, V P Singh and Narasimha Rao. The book is based on an extensive and in depth study of the debates in the Parliament and critical review of the various state laws enacted to conform to the Constitutional Amendment.
The book identifies the pending issues in the functional and financial domain of the local bodies, the ambivalence and contradictions in the state laws and their implementation, the conflicts emerging already between different levels of elected leadership and how state control continues to hinder progress. The prospects for the future are also discussed.