This study analyses governance reforms in two southern states in India’s federal system, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Two reforms are considered in each state: one rural and one urban.
In Karnataka, we examine the Bhoomi programme, which used information technology to provide farmers with land documents, and the Bangalore Agenda Task Force, which changed the operations of several municipal agencies.
In Andhra Pradesh, we examine the reform of Metro Water, the body that oversees the provision of water to the state capital, Hyderabad, and the Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA) programme, which sought to provide rural women with credit in order to gain greater skills, confidence and autonomy.
The first three initiatives achieved a substantial degree of success. The fourth, DWCRA, met with significant problems, but entailed enough change for the better to qualify as a partial success. The first three programmes were mainly intended to improve service delivery, but also had positive impacts in other areas, such as strengthening the capacity of state agencies. All were designed to avoid undermining fiscal stability.
The four initiatives varied in their breadth (that is, the number of sectors or agencies they were intended to affect), and in the degree of change they sought to induce within them. Two of the four programmes examined – those from Karnataka – were entirely new initiatives, which other state governments are now considering replicating. The other two cases, from Andhra Pradesh, saw the state government pumping new energy and resources into pre-existing programmes.
Three of the four initiatives (the exception being Bhoomi) entailed, to varying degrees, attempts to catalyse modest or substantial participation by ordinary people and demands from them upon government. All four initiatives qualify as programmes rather than sweeping macro-systemic policies for reform, and they entailed incremental rather than radical changes; both these factors made them comparatively easy to pursue.