‘Punjab, Sindh, Gujarat, Maratha, Dravida, Utkala, Banga, Vindhya, Himachal, Yamuna, Ganga, Uchala Jaladhi Tiranga’. India is mother to many mothers. Each region nurtures her own cultures, her own cuisines and arts. From the karigari on monuments, to the bolis spoken with great love, to the tadkas on the daals and the varieties of aam, and the weaves on the saree, each region does its own thing and yet it all comes together like a family born to one mother.

A poet’s idea of federalism is so simple and beautiful. Allama Iqbal wrote about nations being born in the hearts of poets but usually, we find only two schools of thought being talked about when we think of nations; fiscal and administrative federalism. I believe, the way ideas, advice and money flows from one government to another and the journey it takes, requires a serious rethink.

The conventional argument for decentralizing is that local governments are likely to be more informed of and far more responsive, making quick decisions that save both cost and time in their response. The national authorities may tend to aggregate needs and supplies may end up putting states in a race of funds. The political friction between the Centre and a particular state may then damage the allocation of funds.

The school of thought that favours greater centralisation, argues that the Centre can today manage advanced data dashboards and take both a macro approach of national policies as well as a micro focus on specific regions and communities that require more attention. The framers of the Indian constitution too had opted for a centralised quasi-federal system, citing concerns of stability and inequality and the institution of the planning commission tilted the scales in favour of economy-wide public policy. Beyond these methods, government data suggests that funds allocated to various schemes by public systems are not utilised well. A stark example here is that of the Nirbhaya Fund. Back in 2019, the Government Data suggested that the Rs 2,264 crore allocated to States and Union Territories, 89% of funds remained unused. No state had reported utilisation of over 50% of the fund and utilisation in 18 states and UTs was less than 15%. In December 2022, an exact decade after a young girl lost her life to an incident that shook the conscience of India, only 30 per cent of the Fund has been utilised. The panel said that out of the allocated funds of Rs 9,549 crore, of which Rs 4,241 crore were released. If one digs deeper into these figures, it turns out that the journey public money undertakes, the numerous sanctions and approvals and a long and complex chain of implementation makes it harder to optimise usage of public funds.

The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Finance Commissions have been a departure from previous methods. There has been a structural shift in federal finances with the abolition of the Planning Commission. The higher devolution under the 14th Finance Commission has seen marginal increases in social sector allocations, with pressures to increase allocations to the centrally sponsored schemes (CSS) for higher expenditure on health and education. At a time when the growth prospects of the economy are uncertain, good use of targeted granted and evidence-backed interventions at the state, local and national level is what will trigger reform.

In the social impact space, we feel that boxing big and small economies into binaries of autonomy and the absolute lack of it, does not work. Today, a new approach that blends and borrows from various methods and takes away the burdens of public policy from government systems mostly stuck in a protocol trap and a time warp, putting the job in the hands of professionals, private players, big international organisations, those are willing to invest in impact. This intervention enhances delivery of government systems.

At GDi, we realise that the earth is one small dot, the problems that communities and economies battle may vary but the end goal – that of an equitable & sustainable society, remains the same. We take pride in identifying ourselves as a border & sector agnostic firm and are presently headquartered at India’s national capital, New Delhi.
Our mandate is four-fold:

  1. Governance Transformation
  2. Digital Transformation
  3. Programme Management and
  4. Strategy Design.

In the Republic of India, to deliver projects across sectors of Education, Agriculture, Women's Economic Empowerment, Energy and climate, GDi has partnered with 7 States and Union Territories, NITI Aayog (apex public policy think tank of the Government of India), National Rural Livelihood Mission (A poverty alleviation project implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India). GDi collaborates with domain experts, academic institutions, private organisations and foundations to successfully deliver mandates.

Public policy may tell a story of big numbers but it is ultimately a deeply personal lived experience. Farmers battle an unfair market after toiling in tropical heat; women tumble in and out of the workforce; children wade through the schooling system without learning enough to live a life of dignity & progress; days turn into years and the only thing that changes in newspaper headlines is the question to what has remained unanswered.

At GDi, we feel it is the time to collaborate and align all our energies, our ideas and our resources to create new answers to our problems.

We strive to create new methods, keep experimenting, do things differently, open new doors, and give Bharat Mata the motherhood she deserves not merely in the rhyme & meter of poetry but in the sobriety of action. We are not seeking imaginary pride and chanting perfunctory rhymes in her name, we are willing to hold the hands of elected governments to help them build her better & stronger so that India remains an eternal experiment with truths.