India Webinar Series Part 1: The Federal Paradox – Governing India’s Capital

• Shakti Sinha, Director, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Policy Research and International Studies, MS University, Vadodara.

Host and Discussant
• Rupak Chattopadhyay, CEO and President of the Forum of Federations

Shakti Sinha is currently the Director of Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Policy Research and International Studies, MS University, Vadodara, and was the director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). Previously, he had a long and distinguished career as an officer in Indian Administrative Service from 1979 to 2013. He has held positions in different capacities at the federal, provincial and local levels, including as Private Secretary to the former Prime Minister, Shri A.B. Vajpayee, as head of Delhi’s power utility, Finance Secretary in Delhi Provincial Government, and as Chief Secretary (Chief Executive) of the Andaman government, among others. Internationally, he has headed the United Nation’s governance & development team in Afghanistan (2006-09) coordinating donor support to the Afghan government, and was earlier a Senior Advisor to Executive Director on the World Bank board (2000-2004).
Having experience with various think tanks in India (Observer Research Foundation) and Singapore (Institute of South Asian Studies), Mr. Sinha has written many book chapters, working papers, briefs, columns etc on the political economy of India, Indian foreign policy & strategic affairs.

Rupak Chattopadhyay is the CEO and President of the Forum of Federations and has authored, co-authored, and edited multiple publications on federalism and governance that give him insight into the Indian federal system. These publications include Unity in Diversity: Learning from Each Other, Finance and Governance of Capital Cities in Federal Systems, Governance and Finance of Metropolitan Area in Federal Countries, Apex-level Intergovernmental Relations in Federal Systems: Comparative Perspectives and Lessons for the Indian Context.

Session Focus

Governing and managing India’s capital, Delhi, has always been challenging. The recent amendments in 2021 raised concern and unending discussion over the power and authority of Delhi’s Governor and democratically elected Chief Minister. The recent NCT Amendment Act 2021 is at the center of the conflict, arguably leading Delhi’s more than 2.5 million core population confused and uncertain on the question of representation. Despite being a union territory, Delhi has a legislative assembly similar to any other state except the assembly does not have legislative authority in aspects of public order, land, and police.

This session focuses on the governance of capital cities with characteristics of states in federal systems but with special attention on Delhi. The discussion will consider special arrangements made in countries around the world to ensure cooperation between local city governments and governments at the center and the challenges this cooperation faces when constitutional ambiguity exists in defining limits of power and authority among local and central governments.

The speakers will also consider the difficulties of power-sharing in situations where there is a conflict between elected representatives and selected administrators. The conflict between administrators and elected representatives raises questions related to federalism and those of democracy, representation, and citizens’ right to elect their own legislative assembly