Patna, November 30, 2015 : Political Scientist Professor James Manor delivered the ADRI Silver Jubilee Curtain Raiser Lecture titled India’s States – The Struggle to Govern’ at a hotel here on Monday. ADRI is celebrating its Silver Jubilee Year in 2016-17 and this lecture was the curtain raiser event of the forthcoming celebrations of ADRI.
Former Chief Minister Shree Laloo Prasad was the chief guest on the occasion. Shree Laloo Prasad said Bihar’s revenue remains in the hands of Delhi and there are enough reasons to claim that Bihar is still being marginalised in allocation of funds.” He said that the fight of social justice has still a long way to go before Bihar can move on the path of prosperity.
Earlier Dr. Shaibal Gupta welcomed the guests and Dr. Sunita Lall introduced the guests to the audience.
Professor Manor in his half an hour lecture talked about how some Indian states have seen large scale centralization and strengthening of chief ministers of those states. At the outset only, Prof. Manor declared that his lecture is not much about Bihar in particular but about many Indian states.
Prof. Manor said: “It is not easy being a Chief Minister of an Indian state.Â Demands from many different interest groups are hard to satisfy. Voters are sophisticated and impatient. Development is difficult to achieve. Most political party organisations are weak. Bureaucracies in some states are in bad shape. A Chief Minister needs to be a good administrator, a good communicator, a clever manipulator of people and interests – and much more. The job has become easier since 2003 when government revenues began to increase rapidly. That trend continues even now. State governments have more money to spend and can do much more than before 2003. But life is still very challenging for any Chief Minister. States have always been very important in India. It is there that most of the governing occurs.”
Finance Minister Shree Abdul Bari Siddiqui, Energy Minister Shree Bijendra Prasad Yadav, Tourism Minister Smt. Anita Devi, Former Vidhan Sabha Speaker Shree Udai Narayan Chaudhary, several new legislators and politicians, senior bureaucrats including AK Chauhan, Manoj Srivastava and others were present on the occasion.
Indias States: The Struggle to Govern
This lecture will examine the problems and opportunities that Chief Ministers and their close associates in Indias states have faced in recent years. It will also discuss important changes that have occurred, especially since 2003. It will consider marked variations in approaches to governance and development in different states. Those variations mean that the Indian state, as citizens experience it, takes rather different forms in different states.
In the years between 1989 and mid-2014, no single party could gain a majority in the Lok Sabha. That caused a major redistribution and decentralisation of power away from the once dominant Prime Ministers Office horizontally to other institutions at the national level and vertically downward to governments and forces at the state level. (The 2014 parliamentary election gave the BJP a majority, so that a re-centralisation of power is now underway. But other institutions that gained substantial power after 1989 may now be able to retain much of it.)
Ironically, this decentralisation of power at the national level, and within the federal system, was accompanied by a marked centralisation of power in the hands of Chief Ministers within many (though not all) states. This lecture will explain how this happened. It is connected with two trends: (a) a surge in state and central governments revenues after 2003, and (b) Indias far from neo-liberal economic order which leaves huge discretionary power in the hands of Chief Ministers.
The lecture will also analyse the various devices which Chief Ministers centralisers and non-centralisers use as they seek to increase their influence and to survive in power. Some of these devices are legitimate while others are illicit. Both have implications for state governments development strategies.