Thursday, August 11, 2022

State Capability in India

My book, State Capability in India, co-authored with Dr T V Somanathan is finally published by Oxford University Press.It has a foreword by Robert Zoellick, former World Bank President and US Commerce Secretary.  

This and this are the publisher pages. It can be bought on Amazon here (India) and here (global).

This is the description

The deficiencies in the capability of the state to design and implement effective policies are arguably the biggest development challenge facing developing countries like India. This book seeks to assess state capability in India, identify weaknesses in policy design and programme implementation, and their causes, and propose some measures to remedy them. Importantly, it does so while recognizing political economy constraints and focusing predominantly on the administrative contributors. To this extent, the book's suggestions are practical enough for adoption by stakeholders at different levels.

It describes the institutional design, constitutional provisions, the organizational structure, and the personnel of the Indian state. It covers a wide spectrum of aspects impacting state capability, ranging from ideological narratives and systemic constraints to procedural and personnel management issues to the behaviours and attitudes of individual bureaucrats. It offers a new analytical framework to think about effectiveness of state on the policy-making process. It also offers a nuanced perspective and suggestions on many of the popular themes in public administration - size of the state, generalist and specialist debates, lateral entry, digital monitoring systems in governance, outsourcing and private participation, use of consultants, risk aversion in bureaucracies, performance-based incentives, programme evaluations, and so on.

Finally, being participants and observers in the bureaucratic system, the authors describe reality without always seeking to locate it in the framework of existing academic literature, thereby offering fresh insights and enriching the discourse on state capability.

I enjoyed writing the book and also learning from my co-author. Readers of this blog would know that state capability is a favourite topic and, in my opinion, its weakness is the most important long-term challenge to development. Hope the readers find something useful from it.

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