Politics in India’s Decentered Polity
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Politics in India’s Decentered Polity book
India enters the new millennium with a dramatically transformed political system. Until the 1990s, power and authority in the Indian polity were concentrated in the Congress Party. The Congress dominated the party system and determined the terms of partisan competition. The party played an important role in coordinating the exercise of authority within the central government and throughout India’s federal system. Today, no single party has won a parliamentary majority for more than a decade. The inability of parties to win strong parliamentary majorities has encouraged national institutions such as the Supreme Court and Election Commission to be more assertive in their relations with the government. Economic reforms, in the balance, are decentralizing authority by curtailing central government dirigisme, establishing independent regulatory agencies, and shifting economic decision-making authority to the private sector. State governments are more active than ever in promoting economic development even while the central government takes measures to impose fiscal discipline on them. Together, these changes have decentered power and authority in India’s polity.