[PDF Notes] Brief notes on Strategic Options for Reform (India)

Building a more responsive state requires working on mechanisms that increase openness and transparency, increase incentives for participation in public affairs, and where appropriate, lessen the distance between government and the citizens and communities it is intended to serve. This yields four broad imperatives for policymakers:

» Where appropriate, ensure broad-based public discussion of key policy directions and priorities. At a minimum this includes making available information in the public interest and establishing consultative mechanisms–such as deliberation councils and citizen committees-to gather the views and m known the preferences of affected groups.

» Encourage, where feasible, the direct participation of users and other beneficiaries in the des’ implementation, and monitoring of local public goods and services.

» Where decentralization is considered desirable, adopt a carefully staged and/or sectoral approach) priority areas. Introduce strong monitoring mechanisms and make sure sound intergovernmental rules are in place to restrain arbitrary action at the central and the local level.

» At the local level, focus on mechanisms–and horizontal incentives in government’s relations with rest of the community-that build accountability and competition.

Of course, a strategy of more openness and greater decentralization has its dangers. The mo numerous the opportunities for participation, the greater the demands that will be made on the stat this can increase the risk of capture by vocal interest groups, or of gridlock. Bringing government closer to some people must not result in taking it even further away from others.

Equally, without clear cut rules to impose restraints on different tiers of government, and incentives to encourage local accountability, the crisis of governance that afflicts many centralized governments will simply be passing down to lower levels.

But there are some safe ways to start the ball rolling, including the use of communication and consensus building to render reform intelligible to citizens and firms and enhance its chances of success.

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