Big-picture transformation takes more than just chasing targets

We Indians love large numbers. We also love big ideas. This probably was one of the reasons why Narendra Modi, as a new Prime Minister in 2014, embarked on a series of mega initiatives – all touted as game-changing ideas – to accompany the promise of ramping up implementation of existing schemes. Investing political capital …

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Democratic decentralisation depends on a vibrant ‘gram sabha’

Decentralisation is a strategy to empower citizens to control their own destinies. At its core, decentralisation signals that citizen collectives can come together to make decisions of allocation and expenditure of public resources. ‘Democratic decentralisation’ as practised in India is where this power is devolved to elected local governments – this was the spirit of …

One year of decentralisation and turf wars in Kenya

Ken Opalo has a great post on decentralisation in Kenya. He writes:Kenya’s new government structure has 47 capitals handling billions of shillings each year. If all else fails, the system will at least create strong politically autonomous regional elites with sufficient power to check Nairobi. And that is a fantastic thing. Already a few governors (including …

Panchayati raj institutions and the burden of expectations

My latest livemint column is upIn my last column (Why the traditional model of NGO-led development must end), I argued that NGOs must cede the space for providing services to panchayati raj institutions (PRIs). Already, most of the government’s flagship schemes have roles for gram panchayats—to either manage funds or manage the implementation processes determining the …