Responsive Governance and Decentralized Participatory Institutions An Analytical Study in Indian State of Andhra Pradesh

The concept of (good) governance has emerged as the essential part of sustainable development. Experience from different countries has shown that while good governance can help secure human well-being and sustained development, it is equally important to recognize that poor governance could erode individual capabilities as well as institutions and community capabilities to meet even the basic needs of sustenance for large segments of the population, particularly the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalized sections. Democratic decentralization is considered vital for overall development. It is argued that decentralization leads to improved governance and better delivery, hence improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty. The relationship between decentralization and governance are manifold. Decentralization leads to transparency in policies, responsiveness of the policy makers, accountability of implementers, openness and enhanced flow of information, and hence reduces corruption. The state of Andhra Pradesh stood second while introducing the Panchayati Raj system in India in order to establish democratic institutions at the grassroots level. In the recent past, however, Andhra Pradesh had adopted different institutional arrangements in the name of participatory institutions as decentralized delivery systems. These emerging institutions effectively by-passed the democratic institutions and are also known as parallel institutions or community based organizations (CBOs) or user committees. Financially these institutions are much stronger than the PRIs. Important issues addressed in the paper include: how do the parallel institutions function and perform in achieving the stated program objectives? Have these institutions improved the delivery of pro-poor policies? What are the linkages between the participatory and the democratic institutions? The basic thrust of my empirical study done in the state of Andhra Pradesh is on accountability of institutions in fostering responsive governance.
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