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‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’: The Restructuring of Power in Modi's India

journal contribution
posted on 2024-03-07, 21:05 authored by Sanjay RupareliaSanjay Ruparelia

This article examines the politics of development during the first year of the new Modi government. In particular, it explores the meaning of its guiding maxim, ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’, by analysing specific reforms and broader changes in state–society relations. First, the Modi government has imposed greater discipline in public administration through a personalistic, centralised and technocratic style of rule. But it has bolstered executive power by limiting political transparency, parliamentary government and social dissent. Second, the new government has promoted urbanisation, manufacturing and infrastructure through greater economic liberalisation, public investment and institutional reform. Yet it has weakened many labour protocols, environmental regulations and participatory mechanisms regarding land acquisition and forest conservation. Lastly, the Modi administration has introduced new insurance schemes and championed digitally-enabled cash transfers to deliver social entitlements. However, it has reduced public spending on primary education and basic health, and undercut many rights-based welfare acts introduced by the previous administration, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). These three trends have narrowed the spaces of power and contestation in contemporary Indian democracy, frustrating the promise of ‘maximum governance’.





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