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Past Issue • Oct-Dec 2015

Minimum Government, Maximum Governance: From Rhetoric to Reality

Minimum Government, Maximum Governance: From Rhetoric to Reality

Good governance for the 21st century is about narrowing the distance between the governor and the governed and the gap between promise and delivery. The author suggests that to take governance to the doorsteps of the poorest-of-the-poor in the remotest areas, focus should be on simplification of procedures and reduction of the levels of decision-making in the Government by leveraging technology.
The idea of minimum government, maximum governance implies that smaller bureaucracy with more skilled people will be more effi cient at delivering "public" services than a larger one. As such, the goal is worth pursuing. This article will address what appears to be critical baskets of reform that are essential for minimum government, maximum governance initiative to have a real impact. The traditional notion of the State (and thereby the government) was of a "Leviathan" that demanded obedience and to which the subjects voluntarily gave up their individual sovereignty to an extent for the greater public good. This political structure came about because as Thomas Hobbes articulated, the original state of nature was brutish. The economic argument about the existence of state (government) on the other hand, is to mitigate and smooth over the various market failures that arise in the context of voluntary transactions among willing buyers and sellers. These market failures include public goods, adverse selection, moral hazard, race to the bottom, etc. that distort incentives in the market process. Finally, the progressive view of the State (government) that adds to the minimalist view articulated by conventional economics; stands on the premise that markets are not always the best intermediaries for allocating resources in as much as they favour the strong in preference to the weak. As such, letting markets allocate resources may perpetuate social inequities. The progressive school of thought thus advocates a much larger role for the government; one that positively discriminates in favour of minorities by inter alia, participating in the market processes or regulating them.


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    Mandar Kagade

    Mandar Kagade is Analyst at Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business.
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