From Government to Governance: Seeing the Shift in Indian ‘State’

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During last couple of decades, the institutions and authority of the state have been challenged from within the society as well as outside the society. Deregulation and liberalisation have deprived the state much of its traditional capabilities to govern the economy; sub-national units have become politically more assertive challenging the nation state; and cohesive social-networks have challenged the state’s capacity to impose its will. These developments signify retreat of the state, which is referred as ‘hollowing out of the state’. Theories on ‘hollow state’ and ‘governing without government’ claim that there is a shift from government to governance. These theories premise on the argument that the state is dead in the governance era.

Drawing on these arguments, the paper interrogates the shift in Indian ‘state’ over a period of last two decades. The paper finds that there is no shift but there is a change in the role of government. Governance is not taking place without the government; rather the centrality of government has changed under the new model. Although the state has been ‘pluralised’ and shares power and responsibilities with newly emerging non-state actors, the citizens still have high expectations from the state for service delivery. While non-state actors are sharing responsibilities of the state in social sector (health, education, etc.), much of the larger services (including infrastructure) are still delivered by the state. The state remains important player in the policy process and in governance more generally. Much of the policy decisions are being made by the governments, while stakeholder involvement is emphasised and sought in the implementation. It is true that intervention of non-state actors have contributed to greater accountability and transparency. Despite many changes identified in the governance regime, a great deal of change occurs through state institutions.

Keywords: Government, Governance, State, India
Stream: Politics, Public Policy and Law
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Ashwini K Swain

PhD Student, Department of Politics, University of York
York, Yorkshire, UK

Ashwini K Swain holds MA & MPhil degrees from Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and currently pursuing PhD at Department of Politics, University of York, UK. His research broadly concerns with governance and the politics of participatory development both in theory and practice. His PhD work is on 'Macro Implications of Micro-Participation: Participatory Management of Electricity Distribution in Eastern India'. He has previously studied policy process in India, politics and practice of regulation in India, and governance with a focus on the Indian electricity sector. He recently served as an Honorary Fellow at La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison, working on 'Community Participation, Development, & Democracy: A Study of Rural Electric Cooperatives in the United States'.

Ref: I08P0420