Since the last few years we are witnessing a paradigm shift, armed with the Right to Information and a hyper-active media, the citizenry is getting more active and participative towards felt needs based governance and has a heightened expectation form public services delivery. This may finally see India reinvented in the Panchayati Raj vision of Mahatma Gandhi and the championing of the cause by Rajiv Gandhi through the introduction of the 73rd and 74th amendments. Agreement on linking the people of India and making their voices reach up the administrative layers is by and large complete at least in the major political parties. Sadly, the action on the ground leaves a lot to be desired.
First and second generation reforms have become hackneyed expressions. Key pending reforms are in areas like infrastructure, the rural sector, taxes, the legal system and public expenditure. There are certain things the government needs to do. This is rethinking the role of the government. There is an optimal level of government at which these goods and services can be efficiently delivered. Above and below this level, there are diseconomies of scale and scope. This is the unfinished agenda of decentralization. To perform these tasks, the government needs resources. A new architecture for the tax system is a key ingredient of this. Other than delivering an enabling environment for growth, one needs to ensure inclusion. This means that one has to have a new approach towards poverty alleviation. Since markets and reforms involve greater exposure to risk and uncertainty, there must also be inclusive social security systems that can transcend the formal/organized sector and encompass self-employment. Aadhar is a first step in this process of identification and may become a key catalyst for a permanent shift towards demand side governance. The word governance is over-used. But its key components are participation, law and order and appropriate regulation.
Focused on the theme of Reinventing India, the 25th Skoch Summit would be deliberating on imperatives of the demand side governance as opposed to supply side governance.