Thursday, January 08, 2009

Bring the government closer to home

Nilekani in his latest blog post "Where was the mayor?" and Basab Pradhan in his "Singapore and Indian Cities" proposes the need for India to have more local government especially in cities. Our cities have specific problems which they need solved and a "closer" government may be able to help us further on this front.

Are we sure that the solution is more local government power? What makes us think that an additional set of 'responsible' local government functionaries would be able to fix the problems of our cities as compared to the state government? For example, in Mumbai's case, the state government sits in Mumbai, so I doubt that they aren't aware of the issues with Mumbai. Shouldn't the state government just have a sort of departmental system where urban centres in the state are managed separately and solutions are created for their specific problems. I agree that the west and some cities have prospered very well with stronger local govt. within cities and districts. However I'm unable to agree with the proposition that our unique problems may be solved with their solutions. This is central to my thinking on all governmental and policy related topics so I'll quote it.

"We have our own unique problems. We need to create our own unique solutions to these problems. Just like Newton's laws of motion does not apply to subatomic particles we can't use someone else's solutions to our problems."

I am against increasing the complexity in the governmental system by adding another layer that I as a taxpayer pay for. Although my resultant tax burden may remain the same, however the total cost to the govt. would increase to handle the logistics of this extra layer, leaving aside lesser money for more important uses. Obviously my argument being, if the state government couldn't get it right what makes me feel that a special local government could.

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