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Title: Essays on state capacity, governance and public good
Authors: Manchanda, Stuti
Keywords: Social sciences::Economic development
Social sciences::Political science::Political institutions
Social sciences::Political science::Public administration
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Manchanda, S. (2022). Essays on state capacity, governance and public good. Doctoral thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: The thesis consists of three different essays which together present a structure to look at and understand the multi-dimensional concept of state capacity. Each essay, in its inquiry, assesses a specific aspect of state capacity (administrative, political/territorial, legislative) and its impact on governance of three different outcomes of public good respectively. The first essay examines why corruption in public services may prove to be antithetical to environment protection efforts. People are consumers of the ‘environment’ as a public good as well as producers of ‘environment protection efforts’ as public goods. Using instrumental variable approach on a cross-country dataset, the study assesses the causal impact corruption can have in distorting people’s environmental preferences. When people face corruption or observe prevalent bribery to access public services, it diminishes their trust in government as well as lowers social capital, thereby diminishing reciprocity. Creating externalities and free riding behavior, this negatively impacts their green morality leading to not so pro-environment choices. Applying public goods theory and environmental insights, the study lays a framework to understand how corruption in public services shapes morality and behavioral responses, and thereby can aid the design of public policies to nudge human choices. The second essay addresses the rising prominence of legislators with criminal backgrounds in Indian politics. While patterns in growth are often traced to differences in institutions, political agents who steer these institutions have also attracted much scholarly attention recently. Politics has witnessed a rise in participation of legislators with criminal backgrounds. Providing muscle and cash to political parties in the face of competitive electoral politics and serving as substitutes to poor public machinery for the voters, these agents have shifted from the periphery of politics (where they served as musclemen to politicians) to the core of politics as elected legislators. Once elected, how do they perform in the provision of public goods and services? Why are politicians with criminal footprints advancing into mainstream politics and rising to prominence? Analysis in this essay, using cross-state data from India, indicates that election of such legislators is associated with a rather unexpected positive performance in provision of roads and bridges. This essay then provides a coherent explanation of their apparent fulfilment in delivery of the public good through the astute (mis)use of public infrastructure projects, which has assisted them to parachute from centrifugal to centripetal positions in electoral politics. In the face of heightened communal tensions, increasing political competition and the use of identity politics, what is the role of political reservations in shaping or reducing violence, if any? Looking at affirmative action through the lens of political selection, the third study examines the incidence of communal violence across states of India. It endeavors to understand the role of political empowerment of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), through the institutional provision of political reservation, in affecting communal violence. Using Negative Binomial Regression, statistical evidence indicates that reservation for STs is associated with lower events of communal violence while reservation for SCs lacks statistical significance. Given their socio-economic disadvantages, these groups typically depend upon political leaders to access public resources, who in exchange deploy pork-barrel mechanisms to fuel communal tensions for electoral gains. It is argued that reservation brings disadvantaged groups into the formal structure of governance and reduces their dependence on such legislators with notorious records, thereby lowering violence.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/163115
Schools: School of Social Sciences 
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SSS Theses

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