Nov 18, 2019
International Review of Administrative Sciences
Public policies designed to advance governance reform without the corresponding legal frameworks that secure democratic values can exacerbate the power imbalance between the government and the policies’ targets. This article discusses India’s post-liberalization changes through the governance paradigms of New Public Management and technocracy. Using the case of Direct Benefits Transfer reform, it traces the emergence of technocracy as a governance paradigm. It discusses the implications of technocracy’s complementarity with contemporary populism for the restructuring of social citizenship. It makes a case for a neo-Weberian transformation through a renewed commitment to a legal approach to public administration in order to reinforce the public’s faith in the role of the administrative state as an instrument of emancipation and social progress. Points for practitioners Public administration, especially in non-Western contexts, is characterized by the prioritization of managerial innovations in government over the establishment of legal frameworks. In that context, this article illustrates two central points for practitioners: • The powers of delegated legislation should be exercised transparently and by establishing a clear relationship to the formally stated policy objectives. • The operations of the administrative state should be structured in order to advance the goals of both distributive and procedural justice.