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

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‘No Formalities Please!’ Broker Practices in the Municipal Governance of New Delhi

This paper analyses the ways in which informal mediation channels facilitate service delivery in the Citizen Service Bureaus at the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and give rise to an interplay between formal and informal institutions. In particular, the personal backgrounds of brokers as informal mediators and how they ensure their acceptance amongst service seekers are explored. Further, the motivations of the service seekers to solicit help from these mediators as well as institutional responses from the municipal administration along with other relevant actors like the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi are examined.


Planning, provision, and access to services across all cities in India, including the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), are marked by the presence of a parallel form of service delivery mechanism that facilitates informal governance. The inadequacy of the supply-side apparatus to deliver public services creates a conducive environment for brokers to emerge and sustain themselves as intermediaries between the bureaucracy and service seekers.

This paper seeks to answer the question of how informal mediation channels facilitate service delivery in the Citizen Service Bureaus (CSBs) at the MCD. In order to fully understand the dynamics of the informal institutions within the MCD, the paper focuses on the following three sub-questions: First, who are these informal mediators and how do they ensure their sustenance and acceptance amongst service seekers? Second, how do service seekers access services from the CSBs? Third, how do formal institutions perceive and respond to these informal mediation practices?

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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