Is India a Flailing State?: Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization
India is an emerging global superpower as its rapid growth has transformed its economy and has maintained itself as the worldâ€™s largest democracy. But at the same time India lags in many dimensionsâ€”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 â€œflailingâ€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 driverâ€™s licenses to show that the agents of the state routinely do not implement the tasks they are assignedâ€”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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