ASARC presents Problems, Potential, and the Paradox of Power of Indian States

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Australia South Asia Research Centre

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 11 April 2012


Hedley Bull Centre, Seminar Room 3


Harsh Shrivastava - Australia India Institute & India's Planning Commission


Prof Raghbendra Jha
Power in India is shifting from the federal government to the 28 Indian states (and the National Capital Territory of Delhi). These states not only have the power to block many federal initiatives, but also the power and the opportunity to move forward with reforms at their own level and at their own pace-and many are doing so. This is one paradox. Voters in these states are also demanding more from their governments, which are being elected and re-elected on how well they deliver services. Yet, these rising expectations are not being matched by any financial, institutional, or human capacity in their respective governments. This is the second paradox. States complain that the federal government centralizes too much power and is stingy about money. Yet, districts and cities complain that state governments also centralize power. This is the third paradox. India-level business indicators are trending down, but all state capitals and other large urban bodies across the entire country all have huge traffic problems-car drivers see ads for the same national brands all over. This is the fourth paradox.

Given all these paradoxes, Australia needs a more in-depth understanding of India and its 29 states and their own concerns. This also offers a lot of potential from a government-to-government perspective. India’s state governments need ideas on the ‘how’ of policy making and also institutional reforms-both of which Australia has shown clear leadership in the last two decades

Harsh Shrivastava is a policy and communication’s expert. Currently, an Emerging Leaders Fellow at the Australia India Institute (University of Melbourne), he is researching how the Australian federal and Victoria state governments communicate laws and regulation to citizens after the laws are enacted.

Harsh is Consultant (Planning) with India’s Planning Commission. He’s a director on the board of the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship, which is an entity promoted by the Government of Meghalaya to foster entrepreneurship.

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