The way India’s political system is structured, elections happen every year, sometimes multiple times in a year. So, some state or the other is always going to the polls every few months. In this situation, there is a sort of N+1 syndrome that creeps into policy-making – the hard decisions are put off because the next election is round the corner.
As a result, it is almost as if the Union government in India stumbles along. Because of these state elections, the oil companies haven’t increased the price of petrol and are losing hundreds of crores daily. Key reform bills are stuck because of either lack of initiative or because some regional alliance partner doesn’t want it to disturb the equation due to elections.
As a result, the engines of India’s growth have now become the states. With a central government that is paralysed and almost seems to be working on auto mode, the states are where the real innovations in policy and service delivery are taking place. We are seeing many states now starting to focus on better policies – for them, they have five years of clear runway to deliver.