India and other countries chose a decentralised mode of delivering public services through elected local governments for increasing public welfare. However, great expectations of effective services increased accountability and people’s participation were widely belied in practice. Based on field research in Gujarat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, the book is a detailed examination of how state and local governments function and why decentralisation outcomes vary considerably. It locates the primary reason in governance practices that compromised autonomy and capacity of local governments. The book demonstrates that despite a constitutional mandate for decentralised governance, policy implementation got derailed in processes threading through laws, rules, and administrative actions. It shows how habitual practices create hidden institutional rigidities that thwart policy moves despite good intentions and democratic legitimacy. The book also discusses how to navigate policy to skirt hidden threats to successful implementation.