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Holding India together: The role of institutions of federalism

  • Singh, Nirvikar

India is a large, heterogeneous and complex nation, with multiple languages, religions and ethnicities, and over one billion people. It stands out in having held together while sustaining a working democracy for over five decades, at relatively low levels of income. One of the main institutional aspects of managing heterogeneity to preserve national unity is the structures of Indian federalism. This paper traces some of the features of Indian federal institutions, focusing on their contribution to this ‘holding together.’ It reviews the conceptual and analytical underpinnings of the role of federal structures in sustaining unity, and summarizes historical developments and current institutional structures of the Indian case. It assesses the role of federal dimensions of political, administrative and judicial structures in the holding together function. It also examines fiscal federal institutions and their impacts, including distributional and growth issues. It also separately focuses specifically on the special treatment of what may be characterized as India’s periphery.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12432.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12432
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  1. Khemani, Stuti, 2004. "Political cycles in a developing economy: effect of elections in the Indian States," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 125-154, February.
  2. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  3. Singh, Nirvikar, 2003. "Some Economic Consequences of India's Institutions of Governance: A Conceptual Framework," Santa Cruz Center for International Economics, Working Paper Series qt94r0j02t, Center for International Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  4. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "The Breakup of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1057-90, November.
  5. Khemani, Stuti, 2001. "Decentralization and accountability : are voters more vigilant in local than in national elections ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2557, The World Bank.
  6. Nirvikar Singh & Laveesh Bhandari & Aoyu Chen & Aarti Khare, 2004. "Regional Inequality in India: A Fresh Look," Development and Comp Systems 0412006, EconWPA.
  7. Khemani, Stuti, 2007. "Does delegation of fiscal policy to an independent agency make a difference? Evidence from intergovernmental transfers in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 464-484, March.
  8. Singh, Nirvikar, 2007. "Fiscal Federalism and Decentralization in India," MPRA Paper 1447, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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