No formalities please! A study of informal institutions & broker practices in municipal governance of New Delhi
Sushant Anand (International Institute of Social Studies)
Sylvia Bergh (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
Paper short abstract:
The study looks at day to day practices of street-level brokers in the MCD (Delhi) and how they mediate citizen services. The paper further looks at citizen (& stakeholder's) response to these informal institutions through the Helmke & Levitsky framework and also its reflection of good governance.
Paper long abstract:
The Citizen Services Bureau (CSB) at the Municipality of Delhi (MCD) commenced in 2003 to provide basic administrative services like registrations, revenue collection, bookings etc. to facilitate with ease the most tangible inter-actions a citizen may have with the closest form of government. This included the installation of not just new infrastructural logics of public governance, but also a bid to reconfigure a new civic culture of accessibility, transparency, ac-countability and efficiency (Dudley et al, 2015). Under these conditions, access to citizen services often gets partially compromised due to private interests through informal means. This paper situates itself in the bewildering world of informal mediation peopled by brokers, touts, middlemen in New Delhi that has over the years embedded itself within the CSB initiatives. Located in this complex intersection between the State and these extra-state private players are the 'public', that interface with both. While interrogating these cultures of in-formality, this study probes the key motivations for brokers to engage (& sus-tain) in mediation work along with their legitimacy with service seekers, not to mention the different institutional and governmental responses (e-governance, doorstep delivery of services) to these practices. The study findings were analysed under the Helmke & Levitsky (2014) framework on the interplay between formal and informal institutions and combined with an assessment against selected Good-Governance indicators to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of informal brokerage practices for (administrative) service delivery. The paper also provides some policy recom-mendations around e-governance and administrative reforms in Delhi.
- Opening (up) Development Practice