Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Subsidiarity and state formation

Since my previous post highlighting the role that the principle of subsidiarity can play in devolving power, there have been three excellent columns in the Indian Express dealing with precisely the same question. Bibek Debroy makes a case for small states, Karthik Muralidharan weighs up the pros and cons of smaller states, and Pratap Bhanu Mehta underscores the need to consider state 'building' alongside state creation. What is striking in all of these commentaries is that they ignore sub-nationalism as a possible basis for further state-formation. Instead, each of them analyses different aspects of democratic representation and efficiency---the twin pillars that underpin the principle of subsidiarity. The Telengana issue could well trigger the second wave of state formation in India: if this happens, subsidiarity should be a useful guide for the second states reorganisation commission. Of course, subsidiarity will also require far stronger local governments than we have at the moment--will our policy makers travel that far?

On an unrelated matter, Flavia Agnes draws attention to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Shabana Bano case, which will have important implications for a divorced Muslim woman's right to maintenance.
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