1st Edition

Decentralization, Local Governance, and Social Wellbeing in India
Do Local Governments Matter?

ISBN 9781138086449
Published May 18, 2017 by Routledge
256 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

USD $52.95

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Book Description

Over the past three decades, decentralization has been seen as the means for allowing local governments to become more accountable, and for encouraging the deepening of democracy and the building of village communities. By drawing on original village-level case studies of six villages in three different Indian states, this book presents a systematic analysis of the impact of decentralization on the delivery of social services at the local level within India.

Supplementing national and state-level data and analyzing the different historical legacies in each state, the book argues that decentralization is not simply a function of the structure of the decentralization program or of the relationship between higher-tiered and local government. Rather, the possibility of decentralization affecting social outcomes depends on several interacting factors, including the distribution of power among local elites, the dynamics of political competition, and the level of civil society mobilization. By examining constitutionally-mandated political decentralization across India, this book identifies the circumstances under which local government structures can lead to improved social services and societal wellbeing, as well as presenting a substantial contribution to studies on South Asian Politics and Local Government.

Table of Contents

1. The Promise of Decentralization  2. Decentralization in India - Rooting the State  3. Karnataka - Advances with the Help of Competitive Local Governments  4. West Bengal - Continuity and Domination at a Cost  5. Uttar Pradesh - Fractionalized Power and Local Governments  6. Political Power, Local Governments, and Social Welfare  Appendix A: Powers to be Delegates to Panchayats by State Governments  Appendix B: Methodology  Appendix C: Field Research Questionnaire

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Rani D. Mullen is Assistant Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, USA. She is currently a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, India. She has written articles on Indian politics and current developments in Afghanistan.


"This book is an excellent effort in examining the impact of decentralization on the delivery of social services at the grassroots levels in India. It succeeds in bringing home the key message, namely mere decentralization is not enough to improve social well-being." - S. S. Meenakshisundaram; Pacific Affairs, 2013.