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Discuss the three main arguments cited in favor of democratic decentralization. Do you agree with these arguments that they are in favor of the democratic decentralization in the Indian context?

Discuss the three main arguments cited in favor of democratic decentralization. Do you agree with these arguments that they are in favor of the democratic decentralization in the Indian context?

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1 Answer

Post-modernist, New Public Management and Public Choice views are the three main arguments cited in favor of democratic decentralization. For instance, public-participatory planning processes incorporating indigenous ideas and allowing for the same in public policy is what post modernist theory asserts. The objective of post-modernist theory is to impart a pluralist representative character to the modem nation-state and move beyond the limitations of ‘oneness’ to incorporate diversity on ethnic, religious, linguistic, etc. lines. The New Public Management is in favor of rolling back the state in order to make governance, more broad based, participatory and representative. It advocates democratic decentralization in the sense of creating options/ alternatives to government ‘monopoly’ over public goods services provision.

This entails introducing the private corporate sector and other civil society actors, like pressure groups, non government and community based organizations and interest groups in matters of governance to build a polycentric system. Public choice approach finds the prevailing democratic set up as oriented towards majority which negates democracy because the opportunity cost of options foregone in policy choices in favor of one alternative translates into real costs to the society both in tangible and intangible terms.

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According to this view, apart from the political marginalization of affected groups, democracy is becomes less representative; as a result policy choices and decisions, get tinged with arbitrary character which confuses the purpose of public interest. This type of governance is not efficient because it is less rational.

Pubic choice approach argues for a decentralized politico-administrative system where people can vote with their feet. The democratic decentralization argued by the above theories is appropriate in the Indian context also because people can vote to relocate to a different jurisdiction, where services are comparatively cheaper and/or more efficient. As has been the case our country has remained a largely regulated or has, been under ubiquitous government control, rent seeking opportunities/behaviour on the part of public officials is alleged, which means a compromise on public interest, The situation is due to the fact that people lack the information/ awareness to question administration or hold it accountable for omissions/ commissions.

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June 13, 2019
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