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Is India a Flailing State?: Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization

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  • Pritchett, Lant

Abstract

India is an emerging global superpower as its rapid growth has transformed its economy and has maintained itself as the world’s largest democracy. But at the same time India lags in many dimensions—its malnutrition rate is one of the highest in the world, its immunization rates are lower than most African countries, and Bangladesh has a better infant mortality rate. I argue that this is in part because the India state is “flailingâ€â€”its very capable head is not longer reliably connected to the arms and legs of implementation. In the four-fold transition of economy, polity, administration, and society the administrative capability of the state is lagging. I use examples from services like health, education, and routine transactions like issuing driver’s licenses to show that the agents of the state routinely do not implement the tasks they are assigned—causing a massive divergence between de jure and de facto reality. The paper concludes with speculations about the causes of flailing and possible future trajectories.

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Paper provided by Harvard Kennedy School of Government in its series Scholarly Articles with number 4449106.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Publication status: Published in HKS Faculty Research Working Paper Series
Handle: RePEc:hrv:hksfac:4449106

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  1. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna, 2005. "Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School," Working Papers id:301, eSocialSciences.
  2. Panagariya, Arvind, 2011. "India: The Emerging Giant," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199751563.
  3. Rao, Vijayendra, 2005. "Symbolic public goods and the coordination of collective action : a comparison of local development in India and Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3685, The World Bank.
  4. Nazmul Chaudhury & Jeffrey Hammer & Michael Kremer & Karthik Muralidharan & F. Halsey Rogers, 2006. "Missing in Action: Teacher and Health Worker Absence in Developing Countries," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(1), pages 91-116, Winter.
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