Too much decentralisation
Apropos of the column ‘Our cities must get fit to get smart’ (February 5), the authors have the right idea as far as states delegating power to city administrations is concerned. However, sparing a thought on the premise, would these learned columnists also endorse greater power for gram panchayats and gram sabhas? Our villages are also aspirational. Every time a gram sabha decision interferes with the industry’s plans to set up shop, everybody rushes to the industry’s defence and call for the scrapping of the various laws empowering gram sabhas and gram panchayats. The thing is the kind of micro-level, decentralised administration the authors talk about has more downsides than upsides. It is very difficult to ignore local interests for national interests while, at the same time, the larger nation may not even take an interest in the uplifting of the cities. Decentralisation is seductive, but defeats the larger agenda often. It will be better to adopt a multi-stakeholder consultation approach to planning than go for power devolvement. This can be a mandate for the newly-created NITI Aayog. There is a necessity to focus on national priorities while accomodating local needs to the maximum extent possible.
Prahlad Bhasin, Mumbai
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