Why Does the Indian State Both Fail and Succeed?
AbstractThe Indian state's performance spans the spectrum from woefully inadequate, especially in core public goods provision, to surprisingly impressive in successfully managing complex tasks and on a massive scale. It has delivered better on macroeconomic rather than microeconomic outcomes, where delivery is episodic with inbuilt exit than where delivery and accountability are quotidian and more reliant on state capacity at local levels, and on those goods and services where societal norms on hierarchy and status matter less than where they are resilient. The paper highlights three reasons for these outcomes: under-resourced local governments, the long-term effects of India's "precocious" democracy, and the persistence of social cleavage. However, claims that India's state is bloated in size and submerged in patronage have weak basis. The paper concludes by highlighting a reversal of past trends in that state capacity is improving at the micro level even as India's macro performance has become more worrisome.
CitationKapur, Devesh. 2020. "Why Does the Indian State Both Fail and Succeed?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 34 (1): 31-54. DOI: 10.1257/jep.34.1.31
- D72 Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
- H41 Public Goods
- H70 State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations: General
- O11 Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- O43 Institutions and Growth
- Z13 Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification