ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Debating Environmental Governance

Environmental Governance: Approaches, Imperatives and Methods edited by Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, Kanchan Chopra and Nilanjan Ghosh (New Delhi: Bloomsbury Publishing India), 2012; pp x + 386, Rs 1,200.

Governance has become a talk of everyday life. For instance, in a recently held national level seminar on environmental governance (Lele et al 2010), it was viewed by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) as a problem, essentially with administrative structures. It was stated that a credible environmental policy and an adequate set of laws and rules are already in place, but the problem is with implementation. If the judiciary has stepped in, it is because of a weak executive at both the central and state levels, having limited capacity for environmental regulation. It further suggests that the weaknesses are principally located in the lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities and lines of control, and specifically, lack of independence of the regulatory arms from the policymaking ones. But, squaring government or executive agency as the sole responsible institution for delivering governance is certainly a narrow view. It is like putting all eggs in one basket.

Several years back Ravi Kanbur, Vijayendra Rao and myself (2007) had also written about governance, but in the context of Karnataka’s development. A wider perspective had been proposed there that the discourse on governance had to be as important as the one on development. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the issues of governance emerge when the playing field is unequal between the delivery agencies such as the government, the providers or suppliers of development, the beneficiaries of them, and the institutions of justice as oversight agents. The assumption is that if these skews are not there, the level playing field would otherwise have been taken care of by the competitive forces and agents in the management of development.

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