IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Indian health policy in the light of Covid-19: The puzzles of state capacity and institutional design


  • Ajay Shah

    (xKDR Forum and Jindal Global University)


The pandemic has constituted a severe stress test for the Indian health system. In this article, we review India's experience with Covid-19 in 2020. An array of initiatives are required in response to these experiences, in public health and in health care. In testing and in health care, the substantial role of the private sector needs to be recognised, and integrated into thinking about health policy. There is a need to reform government organisations, which wield coercive power or spend public money, so as to refocus them upon addressing market failure, and achieving state capacity. There is considerable knowledge, in the field of state capacity in India, which can help in this task.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajay Shah, 2021. "Indian health policy in the light of Covid-19: The puzzles of state capacity and institutional design," Working Papers 4, xKDR.
  • Handle: RePEc:anf:wpaper:4

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2021
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Minu Philip & Debraj Ray & S. Subramanian, 2021. "Decoding India's Low Covid-19 Case Fatality Rate," Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(1), pages 27-51, January.
    2. Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2004. "Solutions When the Solution is the Problem: Arraying the Disarray in Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 191-212, February.
    3. Patnaik, Ila & Roy, Shubho & Shah, Ajay, 2018. "The rise of government-funded health insurance in India," Working Papers 18/231, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Matt Andrews & Jesse McConnell & Alison Wescott, 2010. "Development as Leadership-led Change," CID Working Papers 206, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    2. Larson, Greg & Ajak, Peter Biar & Pritchett, Lant, 2013. "South Sudan's Capability Trap: Building a State with Disruptive Innovation," Working Paper Series rwp13-041, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Ghazala Mansuri, 2004. "Community-Based and -Driven Development: A Critical Review," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 19(1), pages 1-39.
    4. Husein Abdul-Hamid & Sarah Mintz & Namrata Saraogi, 2017. "From Compliance to Learning," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 26331, December.
    5. Gibson, Christopher & Woolcock, Michael, 2005. "Empowerment and local level conflict mediation in Indonesia : a comparative analysis of concepts, measures, and project efficacy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3713, The World Bank.
    6. Vandana Tamrakar & Ankita Srivastava & Nandita Saikia & Mukesh C Parmar & Sudheer Kumar Shukla & Shewli Shabnam & Bandita Boro & Apala Saha & Benjamin Debbarma, 2021. "District level correlates of COVID-19 pandemic in India during March-October 2020," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 16(9), pages 1-17, September.
    7. Asongu Simplice, 2014. "Development thresholds of foreign aid effectiveness in Africa," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 41(11), pages 1131-1155, November.
    8. Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Escaping Capability Traps Through Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA)," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 234-244.
    9. Chen Hao & Maurice Simiyu Nyaranga & Duncan O. Hongo, 2022. "Enhancing Public Participation in Governance for Sustainable Development: Evidence From Bungoma County, Kenya," SAGE Open, , vol. 12(1), pages 21582440221, March.
    10. Simplice Asongu, 2014. "The Questionable Economics of Development Assistance in Africa: Hot-Fresh Evidence, 1996–2010," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 455-480, December.
    11. Lant Pritchett & Michael Woolcock & Matt Andrews, 2013. "Looking Like a State: Techniques of Persistent Failure in State Capability for Implementation," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 1-18, January.
    12. Schattan P. Coelho, Vera & Favareto, Arilson, 2008. "Questioning the Relationship between Participation and Development: A case study of the Vale do Ribeira, Brazil," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2937-2952, December.
    13. Brendan Whitty & Jessica Sklair & Paul Robert Gilbert & Emma Mawdsley & Jo‐Anna Russon & Olivia Taylor, 2023. "Outsourcing the Business of Development: The Rise of For‐profit Consultancies in the UK Aid Sector," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 54(4), pages 892-917, July.
    14. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Ricks, Jacob I. & Doner, Richard F., 2021. "Getting institutions right: Matching institutional capacities to developmental tasks," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    16. Andrews, Matthew, 2008. "Are One-Best-Way Models of Effective Government Suitable for Developing Countries?," Working Paper Series rwp08-014, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    17. Andrew McNee, 2012. "Illuminating the local: can non-formal institutions be complementary to health system development in Papua New Guinea?," Development Policy Centre Discussion Papers 1215, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
    18. Yuen Yuen Ang, 2017. "Beyond Weber: Conceptualizing an alternative ideal type of bureaucracy in developing contexts," Regulation & Governance, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 11(3), pages 282-298, September.
    19. Ludger Wossmann, 2010. "Families, schools and primary-school learning: evidence for Argentina and Colombia in an international perspective," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(21), pages 2645-2665.
    20. Lant Pritchett & Salimah Samji & Jeffrey S. Hammer, 2012. "It's All about MeE: Using Structured Experiential Learning ('e') to Crawl the Design Space," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2012-104, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    21. Andrews, Matt & Pritchett, Lant & Woolcock, Michael, 2015. "Doing Problem Driven Work," Working Paper Series 15-073, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:anf:wpaper:4. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Ami Dagli (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.