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In deliberations on reforms, or arguments about public expenditure, there is an excessive focus on the central government. Yet, on reforms and public expenditures, we also need to focus on examining the states”. Discuss.

Topic: Government Budgeting. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.

4. In deliberations on reforms, or arguments about public expenditure, there is an excessive focus on the central government. Yet, on reforms and public expenditures, we also need to focus on examining the states”. Discuss. (250 words)

Reference:  Indian Express

Why the question:

The article highlights the excessive focus on the Union government and the lack of scrutiny of the functioning of the States in various areas.  Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

Discuss in detail the need to focus on States when it comes to deliberations on reforms or about discussing public expenditure.

Directive:

Discuss – This is an all-encompassing directive – you have to debate on paper by going through the details of the issues concerned by examining each one of them. You have to give reasons for both for and against arguments.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Start with the fact that it is often witnessed in discussions on reforms or debates about public expenditure, there is an excessive focus on the Union government.

Body:

The answer body must have the following aspects covered:

Explain why there is a need to focus upon States. Focus reflects our mindset that there is a “Centre”, though constitutionally, there is no “Centre”. There is the Union government. There is not as much interest in State Finance Commissions and their recommendations as it is in the Union Finance Commission’s recommendations.

Alternatively, there is limited scrutiny of state-level expenditure, or fiscal devolution and decentralisation of decision-making within states, or tracking functioning of state legislatures.

Most factor markets we seek to reform are on the concurrent list or the state list.

Take hints from the article and suggest what needs to be done.

Conclusion:

Conclude that scrutinizing States on various areas of their functioning is important to hold them accountable. The availability of data from state legislatures is an opportunity to monitor them better.