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

47 Pages Posted: 17 May 2009  

Lant Pritchett

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); Center for Global Development

Date Written: May 13, 2009

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 "flailing" - 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.

Keywords: Microeconomics, International Development, India

Suggested Citation

Pritchett, Lant, Is India a Flailing State?: Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization (May 13, 2009). HKS Working Paper No. RWP09-013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1404827 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1404827

Lant Pritchett (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4562 (Phone)
617-496-2554 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://ksghome.harvard.edu/~lpritch/

Center for Global Development

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