The principle of subsidiarity means that a central authority should not exercise functions which can be carried out efficiently by immediate or local level, rather it should support the latter and help coordinate its activity with the activities of the whole community. It ensures that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen and that constant checks are made as to whether action at community level is justified in the light of the possibilities available at national, regional or local level.
Importance of the principle:
- Greater democratic participation: Subsidiarity helps democratic system derive its full legitimacy and promotes self-reliance at the local level as well as greater ownership of programmes by the local communities.
- Improved administrative and economic efficiency: People have better knowledge of problems in their localities. They also have better ideas on where to spend money and how to manage things more efficiently.
- Clear delineation of responsibilities: Since whatever can be done best at a particular level should be done at that level only and not at higher levels, this necessitates a rational and realistic analysis of the functions that are required to be discharged at different levels. Thus, clearly delineating responsibilities at different levels.
- Better decision and policy making: Once decision-making and its consequences are integrally linked at the local level, people can better appreciate that hard choices need to be made in governance. Further, it also helps in formulating such policy which has the concurrence of all stakeholders. Principles of subsidiarity especially gains relevance for India due to large geographical expanse