Monday, September 24, 2012


New Localism refers to an arrangement where urban local governance is seen provided with a uniform framework under an order of central government. New Localism evolved in the U.K in order to provide a uniform agenda and framework for local governance throughout the nation.

It was observed that in the absence of some uniform framework, the local governance institutions developed various disabilities and there was widespread inconsistency in regards to the functioning of such institutions. The Tony Blair govt. came out with a solution that was in the form of a framework in which the structure and functions of local self government institutions were specified under an order of the central govt. and they were to be instructed to operate as per the central govt. directives. 

Some concerns have been raised in regards to the imperatives coming from the central govt. for the local govt. institutions and it has been observed that in such an arrangement decentralisation will be forced to the reverse and take a backseat leading to heavy centralisation thus defeating the very purpose of local self governance.

However, lets take a look at the good practices

New Localism has infused in many countries,even though not implemented fully but definitely does give some food for thought and bettering the local self governance. It has been applied as a method of coordination between local governing institutions across a country. It has provided for more autonomy for foundation hospitals. It has provided for a structural framework where service providers in a local region coordinate with one another while executing their schemes. It has provided for a more comprehensive development at local areas as financial management has been become more active with better forged relations with the centre. It has provided for a better networking arrangement through the various agencies operational in a local area.
Difference between OLD LOCALISM and NEW LOCALISM ?

New localism differs from the implicit 'old localism' in two important senses. First, it accepts the role of central government in driving change at the local level, something that the localists of the 1980s strongly resisted. Second, it does not centre on the role of the local authority, but takes a wider view of the locality that includes communities and other public service organisations such as health and police services.

New Localism can be characterised as a strategy aimed at devolving power and resources away from central control and towards front-line managers, local democratic structures and local consumers and communities, within an agreed framework of national minimum standards and policy priorities.
In short it represents a practical response to a significant practical challenge: how to manage a substantial variety of state service provision and interventions in a world that defies the application of simple rule- driven solutions and where the recipient of the service has to be actively engaged if the intervention is going to work.
Building a road or providing electricity is a task that requires of level of state capacity in building a better environment for citizens. Creating the conditions for a damaged child or community to achieve their potential requires a rather different and more subtle capacity.
The case for New Localism rests on three 

  •  First it is a realistic response to the complexity of modern governance. 
  • Second it meets the need for a more engaging form of democracy appropriate to the 21st century.
  • Third New Localism enables the dimensions of trust, empathy and social capital to be fostered and as such encourages civil renewal.


Examples of New LOCALISM in INDIA

1. Introduction of Bhagidaari System in DELHI.
2. Khanavali in Mumbai.
3. Service Delivery system in Bengaluru.

The case New Localism against rests around concerns about local decision-making either failing in some way or leading to more inequitable outcomes. These arguments for and against New Localism will be explored further below.
There are very few problems confronting communities today that have simple solutions. Protecting the environment, creating a sound economy, sustaining healthy communities or helping to prevent crime all require a complex set of actions from people and agencies at different spatial levels and from different sectors.
It would be nice to argue that we should stop doing complexity and instead think about simplicity.
That might wash in a self improvement book but when it comes to running the business of a modern society; the attraction of simplicity is false. As the saying goes 'to every complex problem there is a simple answer and it is always wrong.
We need to find ways of living with complexity. We need to understand any problem or issue in its multiple dimensions and find mechanisms that enable us to not get swamped by complexity but to deal with it effectively.
That is where the message of New Localism has got something to offer. The path to reform is not to allow local institutions complete autonomy or equally to imagine that the centre can steer the whole of the government system.
We need a form of central-local relations that allows scope for all institutions to play an active role and we need to find ways of involving a wider range of people in the oversight of the services that are provided through public funds and in the search for solutions to complex problems.
Complexity comes in a range of forms: 
structural, technical or over the allocation of responsibilities, one of the key challenges to democracy today lies precisely in the sheer complexity of modern govern­ment and governance.
Complexity is inevitable because of the range of activities that governments and public services are now engaged in. There are as a result a lot of organisations involved in delivery. Governing operates a range of levels and through a range of organisations.
New Localism is attractive because it is only through giving scope for local capacity building and development of local solutions, in the context of a national framework, which we can hope to meet challenge posed by these complexities.
The solution to complexity is networked community government because it is only through such an approach that local knowledge and action can be connected t wider network of support and learning. In that way we can get solutions designed for diverse and complete circumstances.
Democracy: engaging participants
To commit to New Localism means recognising that conventional understanding of democracy are able but limited. We can agree that several of the features of conventional vision of democracy essential: the protection of fundamental citizen rights and freedom of organisation and assembly groups and individuals.
But we need different answers to two fundamental questions: 
what are building blocks of democracy and what is the nature of accountability.
The conventional answer to the two questions sees the nation state, national assemblies and central government as the ultimate indeed prime building blocks of democracy and accountability as led by elected representatives held to account by their electorates.
This top-down view of democracy is not appropriate when we about making democracy work in our complex societies.
New Localism draws in broad terms from the ideas of associative democracy advocated by Paul democracy must have a strong local dimension; the core institution of democracy not the nation state.
Democracy is made real through its practice at local, regional and international Levels as well as the level of the nation state. More than that, the central government should be an enabler, regulator and maybe a standard setter but not a direct provider nor the level for coming judgments about detailed directions or the substance of services.
Second, that provision itself must be plural through a variety of organisations and associations so that everyday citizens have an opportunity to be involved in decisions about services and judge the capacity of different institutions to deliver. 
Third, democracy can be organised through functional as well as territorial forms.
Finally, this understanding of democracy sees accountability as a more rounded process. The elec­torate choosing their representatives remains important but people should have more opportunities to be involved in direct discussion with service providers and be in a position to judge their performance. In short, accountability involves reason-giving, questioning and a continuous exchange between the pro­vider and the relevant public. The service providers will also have accountability to the centre in terms of the minimum standards. The lines of accountability are multiple and overlapping.
Building social capital and the capacity for civil renewal
One key area where this new vision of democracy has the potential to deliver is with respect to the hidden social fabric of trust, social capital and citizenship that make a key contribution to tackling the complex service and policy issues that we now face.
We need to find ways in which these resources among ordinary citizens can be fostered and replenished. A New Loyalist policy has the potential to be| centrally important in developing these resources.
We know that involvement and exchange are the crucial ways in which trust and social capital are created and sustained. A democracy of strangers loses these dimensions yet both trust and social capital are essential for encouraging the commitment and providing the glue that allows solutions to complex problems to be identified and followed through.
Trust and the sense of shared values, norms and citizenship that is encouraged through social capital can make people willing to go the extra mile in the search for solutions; it can enable agreements and collective action. A local dimension to governance can draw particularly effectively on these social dimensions of decision-making.
The essential insight of social capitalists is that the quality of social relations makes a difference to the achievement of effective outcomes when it comes to activities that involve complex exchange of ideas and the co-ordination of a variety of actors.
Civil renewal is about giving people a stronger sense of involvement in their communities and a [greater say over their lives. The greater sense of efficacy and autonomy it offers people combines rights and responsibilities.
People have rights to: respect for themselves, a quality of life, decent public ser­vices and the opportunity to influence their environment. But equally they have responsibilities to re­spect others, make a contribution to supporting their environment and their fellow citizens and to engag­ing in and accepting as legitimate the outcomes of the democratic process.
Addressing competence and equity concerns
There are two common grounds for objecting to local decision-making. One line of argument is that the perspective of communities is inherently limited and limiting.
The danger of too much local decision-making is that it opens up too much decision making to the parochial concerns of narrow-minded indi­viduals and threatens the ideas and practice of a wider welfare politics.
Behind the romantic notions of community lurks a real world of insular, 'not in my own backyard' politics. Most forms of progressive politics need a wider canvass than local politics can provide, it is argued.
The second objection is that if the problems faced by communities are going to be addressed there is a need for interventions to address the inequalities faced by particular communities.
To tackle in­equality requires national or even international intervention and creating more scope for local decision making simply helps to foster or even reinforce existing inequalities. Rich areas will stay rich and poor areas will be allowed the freedom to spend non-existent resources on addressing the problems they confront.
It is precisely because of recognition of these concerns that 'new' is added to the localism. New Localism is crucially set in the context of national framework setting and funding. Indeed the localism that is advocated is part of a wider system of multi-level governance.
Moreover, there is nothing in New Localism that means that it simply assumes that local politics is automatically devoid of the tensions that characterise politics at other levels. Conflict between interests and the resolution of those conflicts remain at the heart of politics wherever it is conducted.
Localism does not imply a sort of romantic faith in communities to come up with solutions for the common good. Nor is incompatible with a redistribution of resources provided through the power of higher levels of government
The argument for New Localism is an argument for a shift in the balance of governance, one that allows more scope for local decision making and local communities. It is premised on the idea that involving people in the hard, rationing choices of politics in the context of a shared sense of citizenship is a way of delivering a more mature and sustainable democracy.
It is also based on the idea that meeting the challenge of equity does not mean treating all communities or individuals the same but rather it involves tailoring solutions to meet particular needs.
That proposition would be widely accepted and localism can play as part in ensuring the tailoring process succeeds and is responsive to local needs and circumstances.
Summary and review
The complexity of what the modern state is trying to achieve, the need for a more engaging form of politics and a recognition of the importance of issues of empathy and feelings of involvement to enable social and political mobilisation make the case for a New Localism because it is at the local level that some of these challenges can best be met. The point is not that all social and political action and decision should be local but rather that more of it should be.
The vision of New Localism needs to be carefully specified in a way that recognizes diversity in communities and a concern with equity issues.
The argument is not for a romantic return to community decision making or a rampant 'beggar by neighbour' localism. It is about a key and growing role for local involvement in decision making about the public services and the public realm as part of a wider system of multi-level governance.
To make sure that sustainable development takes place within the urban local government, the following measures have to be implemented.
(i) In order to ensure their effective participation, these forms of Government cannot be the state governments at their own will and to ensure inclusive development and women position, women should be given appropriate reservation in district council.
(ii) State level finance commission should be granted more powers to recommend for develop finances to Local Self Government.
(iii) Perspective plan for a period of 25 years should be prepared by the state government and should implement through Urban Local bodies.
(iv) In order to ensure transparency in administration, people participation should be encouraged at level in policy formulation.
(v) Control of elected representatives over employees of local bodies by clearly defining the roles powers of local bodies. It should also ensure flow of funds easier and quicker to local bodies.
(vi) Allocation of funds by the centre to the state government should be conditioned upon the of the state in implementing the provisions of the 7th Amendment.
(vii) Preparing guidelines for the states for facilitating cities in levying taxes, user charges, borrowing funds and incurring expenditure.
(viii) Facilitating necessary municipal reforms to allow municipal bodies to raise requisite funds.
(ix) Creating awareness for all segments of communities for active people participation.
(x) Laws, rules and regulations should be specifically formulated for local bodies for effective implementation of local projects.
(xi) Promoting Public-Private Partnership at local level as single agency or government is not effectively addressing the issues of poverty.
(xii) To ensure transparency in administration, simplifying laws, rules and procedures to make them e understandable to an average person.
(xiii) Improving efficiency of local bodies through enhanced technical, administrative and financial. Development of appropriate municipal information systems for the people to conduct process of governance at the local level
(xiv) Computerisation of various departments of local bodies and usage of geographical information tem for better decision making.
(xv) Assessment of training needs of people involved in Urban Administration.
(xvi) Creation of interactive platform for sharing municipal innovation, experience among municipal ad istration.
The problems and challenges faced by mankind are global in nature but they have to be dealt at local level.
To fight the problems of environmental degradation, poverty, unemployment, it was suggested that the stakeholders should be involved at the grassroots level and governance should be g; due importance, involvement of community in decision making powers can only provide effective to the problems of urban areas.
Politics should be delinked from administration in urban areas the adoption of the concept of New Localism.
Techniques of New Public Management should be at the local level to increase the efficiency and also to ensure the accountability of administration to stake holders. Governance should include apart from traditional institutions under Local Self Government, NGO's, civil society, User Groups, pressure groups and the people themselves.
Participation management of the local level can only provide effective solution to the challenges of administration urban bodies at the local level.


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