Grand Tamasha

Shankkar Aiyar on the Proliferation of India’s “Gated Republics”

Episode Summary

How has India's public sector failed, and what does COVID-19 reveal about the Indian state?

Episode Notes

In a much cited 2009 essay, economist Lant Pritchett argued that India is not a failed or a failing state, but a flailing one. In Pritchett’s words, India is “a nation-state in which the head, that is the elite institutions at the national level remain sound and functional but this head is no longer reliably connected via nerves and sinews to its own limbs.”

A new book the author and journalist Shankkar Aiyar takes the argument one step further. Aiyar’s new book, The Gated Republic: India’s Public Policy Failures and Private Solutions argues that the failure of India’s public sector to deliver on its most essential functions has created a massive gap, which the private sector has had no choice but to fill.

On this week’s episode, Milan speaks with Aiyar about the causes and consequences of the proliferation of India’s “gated republics,” what the COVID-19 crisis reveals about the Indian state, and whether democracy is part of the solution or part of the problem.